SLOAN COLUMN: Parable of the editor and the church ladies
Acting like they owned the place, three “church ladies” walked into the newsroom. The possessed an “I’m here and I mean business” kind of swag. You could not help but notice them as they paraded past each desk on their way to the editor’s office.
Remember watching Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s? Picture a smirking Dana Carvey wearing a blue-gray wig, a pair of cat eye glasses, an ultra conservative wool dress, and exclaiming with great sarcasm, “Well, isn’t that special!” This trio fit the “church lady” stereotype to near perfection.
It seems something printed in a recent edition of the newspaper had ruffled the plumage of these three birds and they had decided it was high time someone had a little chat with the person in charge.
The editor warmly welcomed the ladies into his office and asked them to take a seat. He then quietly closed the door and took a seat behind his desk.
What transpired in the office after the door was shut remains a mystery. Here’s what we do know: A conversation, which began at a quiet and respectful level, ascended rapidly to an exceptionally high decibel level. The entire newsroom was soon aware of the heated squabble taking place. Eavesdropping as best we could, it remained unclear what was being said. What was unmistakably clear was that no one in the office was the least bit happy.
The unintelligible, but intense back and forth between the ladies and the editor went on for several minutes. When the door finally opened, the three “church ladies,” all with a perturbed look upon their face, marched out of the editor’s office. The lady leading the pious parade stopped suddenly and the others followed suit. They turned simultaneously and looked sternly at the editor, who was standing in the doorway of his office with a similar steely-eyed expression.
“Mr. Editor, we are going to pray for you,” announced the lady in charge so that all could hear.
Without missing a beat, the editor glared back and responded just as loudly.
“Ma’am, I don’t want you to pray for me. I don’t need you to pray for me.”
There was a collective gasp from everyone in the newsroom and adjoining offices. Did we just hear what we thought we heard?
The ladies and the editor stared at one another, as if waiting to see who would make the next move. Finally, the spokesperson for the “church ladies” hrumphed and said, “Well, good day, sir!” The ladies, each with a King James tucked securely under her wing, then made their exit from the newsroom.
The editor did a quick about face and retreated to his office. The “boom” of his door slamming shut behind him reverberated through the newsroom, signaling that the show was over.
I don’t think we ever found out what caused this particular ruckus. The editor went home that afternoon without saying a single word. As best I can remember, we never spoke of it again.
The moral of this story is to never, under any circumstances, turn down prayer. I don’t care what the situation is. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care how right you think you are or how wrong you think they are. Let them pray. You want to pray for me? Well, have at it, my friend. I’m not too proud to admit I can use all the prayers I can get. You should feel the same way.
After cooling off a bit, I feel certain the editor realized the error of his ways. I’d also be willing to bet those fine ladies still prayed for the editor. Now, what they prayed for God to do to him, that’s an entirely different matter.