Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Incessant Divigation ~ Special Tuesday Edition



“THE STORY YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ” 
by Rick Jones, Husband of the Minister's Wife

A few weeks ago I mentioned a joke I told in my first sermon as a full-time pastor. When I sat down to write about it [an article I have yet to complete], I started thinking about aspects of writing humor based on personal history. How much should be disguised for the sake of other people? How much can I exaggerate?

I tend to avoid clearly identifying people, places and institutions. I don't have a set of hard and fast rules to guide the process. Sometimes I follow the example of the old FBI TV program: “Names have been changed [or more often, just omitted] to protect the innocent”. Other times, details have been altered to protect the guilty. It's also prudent to avoid identifying people who may be prone to violence or litigation. Most often, though, I just don't want to embarrass anyone. Which means that I don't bother altering details concerning the exploits my brother, who is nearly shame-proof. He has a “colorful” past, and since nothing he's done ever seems to embarrass him, nothing I say can, either. [Which doesn't stop me from trying occasionally]

It's true that sometimes I've “embellished” a story a bit for comedic effect. I did actually stagger into a hospital's emergency room, Lois steadying me with one hand while carrying a wastepaper basket in the other hand in case I threw up; I didn't actually vomit in front of everyone there, nor did I really hear a child sing “Weebles wobble but they don't fall down”. These articles, after all, are intended as amusement; they're not my memoirs. In fact, my memory is poor enough that if I wrote strictly from recall, my stories would have enough blank spots to look like redacted government files about Area 51. So I have no qualms about altering details until the content is about as reliable as a batch of emails released to a senate investigatory committee.

In other words, what you're reading is more like an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond than Sixty Minutes.

I've decided that when I tell tales about my pastoring days, I'm going to think of my place of service as Goodold Baptist Church, of Smalltown, Indiana. A few of you know its real name, but since a heaping helping of that exaggeration and embellishment I mentioned will probably be involved, I think this is for the best. Not that anyone there is prone to violence or litigation.

18 comments:

  1. I really had no idea you are a minister! That's awesome :) When I tell real-life stories on my blog; I change names (unless it's my name or my husbands). I don't want to upset the people involved in the story. So unless they happen to read the blog posting of mine and ask me to use their real name (which I doubt would ever happen lol) then they are "john doe" or "jane doe" or whatever silly name fits the story ;)

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    1. To clarify my "status": When Lois started her blog, I was the pastor of a small church, and she chose to identify herself as "The Minister's Wife". Since then, health issues led to my resigning the pastorate. I suppose Lois could have changed her description to "former minister's wife", but [1] changing a blog's name is no fun, and [2] the new name could sound like she divorced me or I died.
      This year, when I started writing my column, I felt that my status here was as a guest and aide, so I identified myself not as "The Minister" or "The Former Minister", but as "Husband of Minister's Wife". I also liked the sound of that, as explained in one of my articles, for other reasons.
      While I am no longer a pastor -- leader of a church -- Lois's choice of title should still be suitable. One of the Greek words translated "minister" in the New Testament is DIAKONOS, also translated "servant". It wasn't a strictly religious term used only for a particular occupation. The verb form of the term is used in I Peter 4:10, where all Christians are told to use what God has given to therm to serve their fellow believers.
      In that sense, I can always be a "minister" even though I am no longer a pastor.

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  2. I can relate. I don't use real names as well, so I won't upset the people involved.

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  3. I guess it's always best to change the names of people and places to avoid embarrassing the people concerned.

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    1. For the most part I agree. There area few times I have used real names, but only after asking permission.

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  4. You never really know who might come across your writing on the internet so I guess it's best to play it safe. And embellishing probably makes the story more entertaining.

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    1. And he can really embellish when he wants to. It's kind of fun when he does, but don't tell him that!

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  5. A lot of stories need a little extra humor so this makes sense. I definitely get why you don't use names too.

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    1. Well, he can add humor to almost any story! Keeps life really interesting around here!

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  6. Your blog post is really meaningful and so true. God bless you!

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  7. I think I know you as well as anybody does. I have always thought of you as a minister even as you are now without a church. This is because you have always reached out to others in their time of need and you unbashfully proclaim what God has laid on your heart. I think some folks are preachers that proclaim the gospel and some may be a pastor which generally watches over their flock as if they were in a pasture. But a minister always reaches out, doesn't matter if he has a pulpit or not.
    As far as your brother goes, maybe he is the 'black sheep' of the family, I doubt the title bothers him. And much like you, he wouldn't trade his brother for anything this world has to offer.

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    1. You are so sweet Randy!! And I agree with what you said, except for the black sheep part. You are more the ornery sheep maybe....and we love you for it! of course this is coming from the black sheep of her side of the family, so who knows!!

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  8. I have never considered trading my brother for anything, but no one told me that was an option. Now I'll have to think about it. But there was an advantage to having "the black sheep" for a brother when we were kids. No matter what I did wrong, I knew Mom and Dad wouldn't stay mad at me long because I could always count on my brother to top it soon enough.

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    1. You are so bad! And both of you crack me up!!

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  9. I personally have a hard time exaggerating my stories. I will keep names disguised, for their privacy, but my stories are pretty straightforward. I love reading your articles because they always entertain me. I love a little embellishment if it makes me laugh ☺

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    1. Well he is good at embellishing things! Glad you enjoy the column!!

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