Sunday, September 21, 2014

Who Else Hates Alice in Wonderland, and Who Hates it When Alice Shows Up in a Sermon?

I knew I was in trouble this Sunday when our preacher began his sermon on the parable of the laborers in the vineyard or the parable of the generous landowner (Matthew 20:1-16) by describing how "Alice in Wonderland" was one of his favorite books. I was in trouble because when I was a child I HATED "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

Yes dear readers, I, the person who would not harm a spider, the person without malice, the person who loves everyone and everything on God's green Earth, HATED Alice.

It may have been the crazed Queen of Hearts screaming "Off with her head!" that frightened me as a child. Or maybe it was the other characters who were ready to follow her commands. Or perhaps it was the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar that created in me a distrust of people using inhaled intoxicants, or maybe it was nightmares of waking up to see our pet kitty turning into a Cheshire Cat, sitting on the chest of drawers, staring at me, grinning, and breathing that awful cat food breath that affected me so deeply.

Or maybe it was the wedge that broke up an early romance.

No, it was none of that.

It was the utterly pointless, unending insanity accepted as normality that I despised.

So when an Episcopal priest praises "Alice" in his sermon, I know that I am going to be in for a long morning, and we were.  During today's very long sermon my mind went down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass, got smaller, got taller, and watched as scenes of strange characters wafted in and out.

And the characters spoke to me,
Alice: "Curiouser and curiouser!" (The words of our preacher as he described the parable).
The Duchess: "Tut, tut, child! Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it." (As our preacher explained that there is only one meaning to any parable).
The Mock Turtle: "Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense." (In response to that idea).
The King: "Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (As our preacher tediously reiterated every word of the Gospel lesson).
The Mock Turtle: "What is the use of repeating all that stuff, if you don't explain it as you go on? It's by far the most confusing thing I ever heard!" (Did I say tediously?)
Rabbit : "Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!" (As I glanced at my watch)
The Mock Turtle: "We called him Tortoise because he taught us." (Slowly taught us,  Zzzzz...)
The Queen: "Now, I give you fair warning, either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!" (If only I could have heard a good stopping point). 

This is not the first time that I have heard an Episcopal priest go all gaga over "Alice in Wonderland". What is it with Episcopal priests and their love for this book? Perhaps a few more quotations will help you to understand.
Alice: "I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I ?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!" 
Alice: "I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see."
This lack of certainty is characteristic of many Episcopal clergy persons. You just can't pin them down. They identify with Alice's confusion.
Eaglet: "Speak English! I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and I don't believe you do either!" 
Many Episcopal priests are notorious word twisters, spinning new meanings into ancient words. (See The Revised Revisionist Dictionary).

And finally,
The Cat: "We're all mad here."
You see, it is the utterly pointless, unending insanity accepted as normality which has been typical of life in the Episcopal church these past several decades that draws these Alice in Wonderland lovers to the church like dormice to a tea party.

Of course there is another theory out there, and that is the "Old hippies never die, they just become Episcopal priests" theory.

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall
And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call...
Call Alice
When she was just small
When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know
When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the Dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head - Jefferson Airplane

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