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I’ve seen people sleeping during sermons, including some of my own.  Luckily they didn’t talk in their sleep, as I, in a sense, was doing.  When people practise somniloquy, recent French research has shown, the most commonly used words are “Non !” and “Putain !” – our Gallic word for “bitch” (like Americans, we say “fils de putain”; the word comes from Old French where “put”, “pute”, meant “prostitute”.  As an expletive, it is usually translated by “Fuck !”).  It could be claimed that I, like every preacher, was talking in my sleep.  After all, one turns off rationality once you step into the pulpit (my late brother, also a preacher, used to call it the “bull-pit” – with or without reference to taurine dejections).

Preaching is, one must admit, a most peculiar form of public speaking.  Like political harangues, it is strictly a monologue – but stump-speeches may be followed by questions from the audience.  After sermons there is no question of questions from the congregation.  What has been said is the Word of God or explanations thereof.  “Ipse dixit” : “He hath spoken”.  Period.  Amen.  Praise the Lord and hold your tongue.  Mind you, even if the liturgy did allow question-time, you can bet the dollar bill (or, more likely, the small change) you were about to put in the collection-plate, that the preacher would have the last word.  He’s got Gott on his side.

So dream, little dreamer, dream on.  Both preachers and their congregations might just as well be asleep, sharing fantasies about that land, somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, they all dreamt of, once in a lullaby.

RIDENDA      RELIGIO

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