Peace in church
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2:14.
OF?LATE, we have stopped appreciating quiet and calm, their reverence removed by materialism and sheer ignorance.
Not the noiselessness which trailblazing Carl Moore hankers after – desperately and seemingly in vain.
I speak of that peace which at this time of year is wished for all on the earth, but is sadly missing among the pews.
I grew up in the church, where you whispered good morning or good evening to your fellowman, upon entering this holy edifice, and then you said a little prayer to God Almighty – usually confessing the wrongs you did the past week – and set about to worship in glory and with some dignity.
You always remembered that you were in the presence of the Lord.
These days, people think they are at the priest’s or pastor’s house, waiting for a town hall meeting and a chance to sing a song – try a thing; anything!
If for nothing more than Christ’s sake, these sinners who seemingly have little regard for the minister could at the very least show some respect for the hallowed house of the Almighty.
I am appalled at the conversations carried on by Barbadians as they wait for the Sunday service to begin; mortified by the chit-chat before funerals. In the latter case, the noisemakers don’t even talk about the dead.
Topics range from Dwayne Smith and cricket to Doc and John of Days Of Our Lives to what Prime Minister Freundel Stuart hasn’t yet addressed. And speech is loud and makes for a cruel cacophony of irrelevancies.
At the last half-dozen funerals I have attended, I have had to endure this misery. All I wanted was to reflect – in peace – on the life of the departed; how it affected mine; and on my own mortality; and the God-man relationship.
And what am I interrupted with? A man trying a thing in church: flattering aloud a senior citizen on how young she looks – over and over again, wanting to know what she was eating or doing to keep “so lovely”.
A psychologist told me these loud speakers in church are suffering with NPD – narcissistic personality disorder: a protuberance of self-importance, so extended that not even the dead, whose funeral it is, will take attention away from these sufferers. These clinical narcissists, I am told, believe themselves to be extra special and requiring uninhibited admiration and validation. So no amount of glowering from me will stop their intended notice-taking talking.
Their attention span is wide: that look-me-here net they cast upon unsuspecting others. Their fishing for notice is all-embracing and never-ending.
My psychologist friend says these narcissists are incapable of empathizing with others, and think nothing of boasting about the successes of their son or daughter to the bereaved whose offspring is permanently sleeping in the casket a few feet away. These chronic egomaniacs don’t even love the very children they brag about.
They use their young and their successes as a boon to their own public appearances and upward social mobility.
Worse, they don’t believe norms and conventions apply to them. They have no relationship with the rules of right and wrong, and are impervious to the feelings and wants of others. They abhor quiet; and will not permit me to mourn or grieve in church in peace.
They will even find a reason to guffaw at the graveside, once attention has been focused on the lowering of the casket into the ground.
At the odd moment when calm overcomes us all, these callous egocentrics take you back to the days of the silent movies. They begin pruning themselves and preening, hoping for that continuous attention.
Some, more chronically ill, sing aloud, well out of tune and timing, not unstrung by their lack of talent.
None of these chronic narcissists will be grateful to me for identifying them. But at least I will stick out like a sore thumb; and they will keep far from me when next in church, that I might reflect in peace, secure in the knowledge I am having an uninterrupted audience with God Almighty.
• Ridley Greene is a Caribbean multi-award-winning journalist. Email [email protected]