Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Garrison Keillor on "Those People called Methodists"

It was bound to happen. At some juncture a pronouncement would come forth from Lake Wobegon about the second largest Protestant denomination-- namely the family of Methodist Churches. And sadly and indeed humorously, many of the insights are true. So here are some of the highlights (P.S., along the way you discover that Garrison is a Methodist-- which explains a lot! I sprinkle in a few comments of my own along the way in square brackets).

"We make fun of Methodists for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed, and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like them....If you were to ask an audience in New York City, a relatively Methodistless place, to sing along on the chorus of 'Michael row your boat ashore' they would look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this with Methodists, they'd smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road!"

"Many Methodists are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. Its natural for Methodists to sing in harmony. We are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you are singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords,all two hundred of you, its an emotionally fulfilling moment. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other."

"I do believe this: People, these Methodists, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you are dying, they will comfort you. If you are lonely, they will talk to you. And if you are hungry, they will give you tuna salad!" [N.B. That's in the north. In the south its definitely potato salad]

'Methodists believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud." [N.B. I remember a Thanksgiving dinner when my Dad was suddenly asked by Aunt Harriet to say the blessing. Flustered, and unprepared, he said "Dear Lord, please pardon this food and bless our sins, in Jesus' name. Amen" Well Aunt Harriet, never let him live that one down, having spent so many hours in kitchen fixing the meal!]

"Methodists will usually follow the official liturgy, and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins....You know you are a Methodist if when you watch Star Wars and they say 'May the Force be with you,' you instinctively respond 'And also with you.'"

"Methodists think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace. "

"Methodists believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate."

"Methodists believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there!"

"Methodists are willing to pay up to a dollar for a meal at church....They drink coffee as if it were the third Sacrament."

"You will know you are a Methodist when its 100 degrees outside with 90% humidity and you still serve coffee after the service."

"Methodists still serve jello in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna casserole adds too much color." [especially if you are not in Ordinary time].

"Methodists feel guilty if they don't stay to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall."

"You know you are a Methodist when doughnuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee."

"You know you are a Methodist when it takes at least ten minutes to say goodbye!"

Several years ago I was speaking at the North Georgia Annual Conference and another Methodist was on the docket as well--- Jeff Foxworthy. He did this hilarious routine entitled "You might be a Methodist if....." a take off on his "You might be a redneck if...." Here is my personal favorite line from that occasion--

"You might be a Methodist if those cross and flame boxer shorts seemed just the perfect Christmas gift for you."


rocksalive777 said...

I remember that conference. While my parents went to see Jeff Foxworthy, my sister and I went swimming. I don't know if I can ever forgive my self for missing that.

(And it takes my mother a good half hour to say goodbye)

Fran Szarejko said...

I love it. However I originally heard most of these as pertaining to Lutherans. Here's another -- "Lutherans feel guilty about not feeling guilty."

Ben Witherington said...

That's o.k. Methodists are Lutherans without the angst and guilt and mea culpas :)

Sandalstraps said...

So, where do you find those cross and flame boxer shors, because I've got to get some!

Ben Witherington said...

Believe it or not, you can get amazingly tacky Christian boxer shorts for any and all denominations at some websites. Don't linger long their lest you go on a spending binge-- in 'short' 'be brief'!

Try http://www.cafepress.com/buy/methodist/-/c_375/fpt___b

Gary said...

Has anyone found any evidence that Keillor actually wrote this? I'm just leery of the accuracy of the internet when no source is actually given.

From what I have heard from Keillor on his show and in his books, he is of a Lutheran/brethren background.

This isn't to say the stuff isn't funny, but I'm just not sure it was written by Keillor.

Unknown said...

You might be interested in hearing
"The Methodist Blues"
(as an OLD former Lutheran converted to Methodist I'm just glad to be done with all that "squatting"

Rev. Daniel McLain Hixon said...

The one that I remember was "You might be Methodist if you were Baptist...until you went to college"

And several of us exchanged knowing glances.

Don Yeager said...

Unfortunately, Keillor had some not so nice things to say about United Methodists after a speaking engagement at Highland Park UMC in Dallas last year -- something about their support of torture, etc.

Do a search of Keillor and Highland Park UMC and read the coverage in the Dallas Morning News. HPUMC Folks weren't too happy with him after that.

Goalie said...

I spent some of my formative years as a Methodist (and others as a Lutheran). "And also with you" sticks!

Sue said...

I'm a Free Methodist and my husband is a Lutheran, but as he says, 'It's all good we're Christians now.' Your article made me laugh, thanks.