You Shall Not Pass!
I'll probably get in trouble for this one.
I said this on our morning show this week tongue in cheek, but I stand by it. You remember the Miracle on the Hudson. The famous US Airway flight 1549 piloted by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger where everyone got out ok. You know the one made in to the Tom Hanks movie? Well, I'm convinced that had that plane been full of Mormons, no one would have made it out. Why do I say that? They would all stop at the exits to talk to each other.
Need proof? If you go to church this weekend, take a look and see where everyone stops to get caught up on the latest news and neighborhood happenings (ie gossip). You got it, right in front of the exit to the chapel. Or I should say exits. The only option I've seen in some cases is to go all the way back and hop up on the stage (not the podium) and go out that way.
I thought this was a phenomenon was limited to my local congregation, but last weekend when we were visiting family in Utah's Dix.....er, lower Washington County, the same thing occurred – in fact they may have it perfected. Pretty much every exit covered with the gabfest of the day.
So may be this is a pet peeve, but can we take a minute to think about it. There was a time where I taught a class on Sunday (they've since wised up) and the time between meetings was somewhat limited and unless you were really prepared (which, of course, I wasn't) you would need to get to the library to get materials, run to class and try to be set up and ready for the thirty second window you would have to be able capture class members before they would escape to the local convenience store for a soda. You see, time was of the essence.
We all love to visit, I understand, I really do. I'm just wondering if we could find a better place than at the exits. You know how they have started designating “free speech zones” (another pet peeve)? Well, maybe we could take parts of the cultural hall and mark them off as “gab zones.” I'll supply the materials!
This got to such a point that I queried AI with what do you do when people are blocking the exits to church. AI wasn't much help.
The first thing AI said to do is to identify the situation at hand. Is it a fire drill, or is there an emergency? Well, no, as much as I'm trying to get to the next thing it is not an emergency, so maybe they would have gotten off the plane.
The next thing AI suggested was look for alternative exits. No go, they're all blocked
The next AI suggestion I thought was kind of cute. Politely ask people to move. Hahahahahaha! Next suggestion!
Get help from church staff. Well, if they all weren't talking to each other I would.
Finally AI suggested stay calm. It's crucial to stay calm, AI said. Do not panic, as it can make the situation worse. Find a safe place to wait and try to remain calm. But, lunch is waiting at home! Thanks, AI.
Am I the only one here? Does this happen in your congregation? Does it extend to other faith traditions? If so, I empathize with you.
Since none of the AI suggestions seem to be workable to me, I've taken things in to my own hands. Since I tend to sit in the same place when I attend church I've taken my cue from watching The Great Escape or perhaps more appropriately Hogan's Heroes. I've emailed my bishop asking him if it would be ok if I dug an escape tunnel under the place where I sit.
I expect I'll hear back from him any minute now.
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