Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In His Element

I got an email last night from my father and he had attached a bunch of old documents he found on the computer. Our family grew up attending Rosewood Park Alliance Church and we were quite happy there for many years. It was not a perfect church, as none ever are, and for a while my dad wrote an article for the church's monthly newsletter. He secretly wrote as a ficticious advice columnist named Ms. Rose Wood (clever, n'est-ce pas?). No one actually wrote into Ms. Wood; dad made up the questions and the answers. No one knew who Ms. Wood was, however. It remained a secret and quite a few feathers were ruffled as Ms. Wood poked fun at some of the stereotypical problems that prevailed in church life.
Below is one of Ms. Rose Wood's monthly entries:

"Dear Rose:

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would ever write to an advice columnist, but I was truly inspired by your wisdom last month, Rose. Here is my problem. Two weeks ago, I was fellowshiping with some of my friends in the hallway after the morning service. Just as we were deciding where we would all go for brunch, this stranger walked up and tried to talk to me. Now, it wasn’t too bad this time, because she only wanted to know where the bathroom was for her young son. But the incident left me shaken as I realized that, really, there is little to prevent anybody from just walking up and trying to become a part of our conversation. Rose, how can we protect the sanctity of our foyer fellowship?

-- Insider

Dear Insider:
How traumatic that must have been for you! I cannot understand some people’s thinking. I mean, we come to church to see our friends, right? If we wanted to meet strangers, we would go the mall on Sunday mornings. To protect your friends and yourself from insularity interruptus, it is necessary to observe nature, specifically the instinctive protective behaviours of musk oxen, buffalo, and football players. Whenever musk oxen or buffalo are threatened, they form a tight protective circle of defense to protect their young. Football players have adapted this natural defense one step further into the huddle, whereby instead of facing the intruder, they turn their backs to the offender. Here, then, are the key steps:

1. Mark your turf (carpet) -- occupy the same position in the hallway every week.
2. Stay consistent -- the same people every week.
3. Form a tight protective circle with your backs to the world.
4. Take care not to establish eye contact with any outside the circle.
5. Speak loudly, and appoint the loudest to announce the time and place for brunch -- this is an especially effective tactic.

With consistent application of these guidelines, you may well never have to speak with anyone outside your circle again."
My dad, the king of subtle sarcasm, went on to write quite a few entries as Ms. Wood. None of the members of the congregation knew who was writing these columns. People grew to develop a disdain for this Dear Rose character who seemed to make fun of them, and eventually my dad was asked to stop writing. Rose died a quiet death, and wrote one final entry. Unfortunately, this entry did not "clear military censors and was not to be published" but you are lucky enough to read it here:
"Dear Rose:
I am confused. I am twelve years old and last night I heard my parents having a big discussion. Dad said that Rose is nothing but a sarcastic windbag who ought to be tarred and feathered. He said that Rose is not even a real person -- just someone who makes up the questions and answers. He said that telling imaginary stories about imaginary people is lying, and lying should not be allowed in a church paper. Mom, on the other hand, said that Rose is a sophisticated satirist who uses an innovative literary device to gently point out some of the foibles of everyday church life. I’m not sure what that means, but then she told Dad to lighten up and get a life.
Like I said, Rose, I am still confused. Are your letters made up, and is there really a Rose?

- Virginia

Dear Virginia:
You think you’re confused. Ask Clark Kent if life is easy when you have an alter ego. In the last few weeks, Rose has sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. Your father has not been the only one offering to donate tar and feathers.
Consider what God did when David, his friend, the king of Israel, and a man after God’s own heart, committed a grievous sin against his own friend and lieutenant, Uriah the Hittite. God sent the prophet Nathan to tell David a parable about an imaginary man and his lamb (2 Kings 11-12). The result? David’s confession, repentance, and restoration. Why such a tactic? Probably because David was prepared to ignore or silence a direct rebuke, a la Jeremiah or John the Baptist. The parable allowed David to see his sin from a different prespective. Of course, not everyone reacts so well to being the subject of a parable (Mark 12:1-12).
We have all heard a thousand sermons. And we erect psychological defense mechanisms to filter out what we don’t want to hear. Perhaps, though, a barb from the satirist’s arrow can pierce our defenses and lead us, on occasion, to thoughtfully examine ourselves in a slightly different light.
But, to answer your original question, yes, Virginia, there most definitely is a Rose."
My dad is a man of God. I love that he's always had the guts to stand up for what he believes in.

Amanda Brown at 9:46 AM



at 9:56 AM Blogger Jen said...

hahaha! Go Dave go!

at 10:08 AM Blogger karen said...

I love it!!!!

at 10:11 AM Blogger Isabella said...

Ah, Rose Wood. It's going to be so strange to be there this weekend!

at 10:51 AM Blogger nelly said...

what a lucky girl you are to have such a wise father ,treasure him ! I wish I could meet him 1 every church needs a " rose"' Thanks for sharing Nelly

at 11:53 AM Blogger Danica said...

That's just awesome! Any church who would get rid of Rose probably needs her very much.

at 12:02 PM Blogger Angella said...

I see where you get your quick wit ;)
I like Danica said - she was probably needed. And sadly, is probably needed at MANY churches.

at 2:12 PM Blogger Adele said...

That is so cool I want to hear more from Rose

at 3:07 PM Blogger christy said...

No kidding. If your parents ever move here I'd love to hear more from Rose. He should write a book! I'd read it for sure. And your writing style is very much like your father's. You come by your talent honestly my dear.


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