Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Sermon Discomfort Rating Chart

Dear Readers, the Archdruid is "temporarily indisposed1" at the moment, so I have taken over the Blogging apparatus. I've been doing some particularly interesting research, and I'd love to share it with you.

What I've done is devise a Sermon Discomfort Rating system, wire up the Sermonometer to a number of willing guinea pigs at numerous churches It is quite a complex apparatus, with the least said, soonest mended when it comes to the probes, as you will see when you consider the things that are rated for the Sermon Discomfort Rating. And I have to ask people to fit the apparatus themselves - as many, seeing me approaching with the "fundament firmness tactileometer", tend to hit me with any large objects that are handy.

In any case, the Sermon Discomfort Rating index scores from 0 to 10, as follows:

0 - Happy with life, and looking forward to an exposition of God's holy scripture.
1 - Mildly irritated with the preacher, inclined to fidget.
2 - Slightly more irritated with the preacher, starting to tap foot.
3 - Moderately irritated. Shuffling in seat.
4 - Really quite bored now. Alpha waves start to shut down.
5 - Bottom completely numb. Shuffling between buttocks to restore blood flow.
6 - Really quite angry at the thought that you could be watching telly.
7 - Peripheral organs starting to shut down.
8 - Blood supply removed from hands, feet, bottom and brain.
9 - As brain encounters oxygen starvation stage, imagine you are walking up a bright tunnel towards a bright light.
10 - All previous states eclipsed by overwhelming realisation that you need to go to the loo.

As I say, I tested this rating system on a number of people, across a number of denominations. And I discovered that for some reason - maybe training, maybe an evolutionary affect caused by the natural selection imposed by people sitting in drafty chapels for hundreds of years - the onset of each stage happens at a different time for each denomination. I attach the results below.

The results are fairly clear, I believe. Certainly we should learn that nobody should preach for more than 20 minutes in an Anglican village church with no toilet. Additionally, I note that after 60 minutes, Pentecostal discomfort starts to decline again. I believe this is because they are starting to realise they will be able to boast to all their friends from other Pentecostal churches about how seriously they take the Bible, if the sermon is well into its second hour.

I would like to stress that no preachers were harmed in the preparation of this experiment.

1 Drank a pint of Pimms neat at Hnaef's 94th barbecue of the year, and is currently dreaming dreams and seeing visions.


  1. Catholics of the traditional variety come to church armed with large numbers of children. These are our secret weapon against long sermons. Breastfeed a baby, or pinch a toddler to the brink of hysterics, and the priest soon capitulates. Some old deaf Missionaries are impervious, but if you hand your collection fiver to your toddler to play with, it usually has the desired effect.

    1. Getting children to walk anti-clockwise round the pulpit repeatedly can be very effective. Even better if it's one of those trendy priests who like to wander around while preaching without a pulpit.

  2. Absolutely! Though I'd change no 6 to: 'Really quite angry that you could be listening to TMS.' I mean, it's the Champions' Trophy on Sunday and I'm on duty as Deputy Church Warden which means I won't even get home until halfway through the match! *sobs*

    1. Champions' Trophy FINAL I should have said!

    2. If either team plays like South Africa it could all be over before the sermon.

  3. I'm a great believer in the 60 second sermon. Because for the 11am the pubs are already open. The best one is the BCP, because most clergy are so uncomfortable with it, they dispense with a sermon and go straight on. You can be at the river fishing within 30 minutes, and often with the Vicar & Curate alongside you.

    No, sermons are for freezing cold, wet Sundays, when there is little else to do and your central heating boiler at home has broken down and you know that the Church boiler has recently been serviced and you can always huddle with others for body heat (in the nicest possible way off course).

    1. You are truly an anglican, Ern.Though if you joined the Catholics you might find the bar a bit closer.

  4. All prosy dull society sinners,
    Who chatter and bleat and bore,
    Are sent to hear sermons
    From mystic Germans
    Who preach from ten till four.


  5. As a neurophysiologist I do find point 4 a little inaccurate regarding the alpha waves.....otherwise, some useful information and feedback which, at our next PCC meeting I will suggest are printed out, laminated and stuck to the pulpit handrail.

    1. As a quantum Health and Safety person, thanks for the warning.


Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl