Friday, 19 February 2016

Rolling in Agony in the Aisles

The Church Sofa mentions ten injuries that can be picked up in Church.  And I read it, then got busy and forgot to add on my own suggestions. So if I could add a few more from my own experiences of church life. But to stress something important. It is essential that churches keep an accident book to record all instances of church-related injury. This will then enable them, through the classic "risk triangle" process, to determine what the risks are of a serious injury arising - as shown in the triangle on the right.
  1. Strained cheek and jaw muscles - caused by maintaining a beatific grin through a whole morning at the sort of church where a sad face is a sure sign of inner sin.
  2. Steward's Droop - a lack of interest in sex caused by spending hours standing around in cold buildings.
  3. Bruised toes from dropping stacks of hymn books. Nobody should be allowed to stack more than 3 hymn books without steel-toe-capped boots and Manual Handling training.
  4. Flea bites from the vicar's inevitable "scruffy old dog". Vicars never get puppies. Instead they go to the special Vicar's Dog Farm, in a secret location in Kimbolton. Just behind that white agricultural building on the Raunds road. There, puppies are raised of that special indeterminate variety which is actually Vicar's Dog breed. They start looking tatty and old at about the age of 6 months, at which time they are randomly allocated to a vicar - and then look much the same for the next 15 years.
  5. Back spasms from over-enthusiastic hand-raising.
  6. Incense-related asthma - some people actually do get a physical reaction to incense smoke. Many more will start coughing even if someone walks past them with an empty thurible.
  7. "Preacher's Knuckle". In this rare condition, a preacher who has been gripping the outside edge of the pulpit for dramatic effect discovers a spasm that means they cannot remove their hands from the pulpit. In extreme cases, the preacher has to be prised from the pulpit with a stick. On other occasions, the congregation do that when the preacher believes they are physically fine.
  8. Frozen bum from sitting through a 2-hour sermon. Common in churches where the pastor suffers from "Preacher's Knuckle."
  9. In churches of the High tradition - candle wax burns.
  10. In churches with a strong tradition of prayer - grazed knees.
  11. "Offertory Elbow" - a condition caused by the person bringing the offering bag / plate up to the front discovering that the contents are too heavy. Rare in Catholic, Anglican or Methodist congregations.
  12. Muscular-skeletal problems caused by trying to pick up adult baptism candidates.
  13. Locked back from over-praying in the "shampoo" position.
  14. In churches that meet in schools - slipped disks from stacking too many chairs at once. See notes on hymn books, above.
  15. Tenosynovitis from too much shaking of hands at the peace (also afflicts ministers of large churches post-service).
  16. Sore head / shoulders from being over-enthusiastically prayed for, for healing. The most ironic of church-related injuries.


  1. In the more heretical churches*, being struck by lightning is always a danger.

    *make up your own definition, here.

  2. From experience of modern Catholic Church interior, with those minimalist pews that look as if they are made out of acrylic or some strange form of bio-engineered wood: bruised kneecaps due to CTS New Daily Missal* (7cm thick and counting) shooting backwards off highly-lacquered sloping shelf if eyes taken off it for a second.

    Mild briuses from tripping over kneelers, though not too bad as these modern things are well-padded and stretch the length of the pew. If you fall carefully you can settle down for a nice rest.

    Flu and coryza (common cold) viruses transmitted by handshaking at the Pax. Do you know why the Queen always wears gloves? Because pressing the (moist, sweaty) manual flesh is the most efficient way to transmit viruses is why. (Alternatively you could always sit in front of Our Desmond who never fails to cough, sneeze and breathe heavily down the neck of the person in front of him.)

    Tennis elbow from polishing altogether too much metalware,and from scraping down candles to fit into sockets that are always 1mm too narrow for them.

    Hay fever from flowers or possibly from the flower ladies who also scare the hell out of me.

    Tangling of the tonsils/bitten tongue due to attempts to pronounce the more outlandish OT proper names as the BBC would wish us to.

    *I don't know why the CTS calls it the Daily Missal since it's got Sundays in it as well?

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  4. Here's another hazard to watch out for:

    Sorry, posted the wrong link last time.


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