Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Man, this really hits home! Got this from Lyn F., the Organ-ic Chemist, via e-mail this evening. This reminds me of the alleged reason that I was sacked on 11/15/07. Enjoy!


"TURN - IT - DOWN!!!"
Charles Richard Lester

More often than not, the person who chronically complains that the organ is too loud is the same person who complains that the sermon is too long (or too short), the temperature too hot (or too cold), the pews too hard (or too soft), there are too many hymns (or not enough of them), the cookies at the after-church social hour are the wrong kind, etc. etc. etc.

And this type of socially dysfunctional person ["Does not play well in groups"] fully expects that by expressing their "humble opinion," their complaint will not only be heard but acquiesced to.

DON'T DO IT. Or you will be forever sorry.

It's the old "give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile" cliché.

Take a garden-variety compulsive griper, stir in a pinch of "Control Issues," and you have your typical Church Complainer.

I too have "been dere, done dat." I too have learned to just smile nicely, thank the complainer for his/her input, then do nothing. UNLESS, of course, the complainer is the pastor, choir director, or some other authority figure. Other than that, I simply "file the complaint in the circular filing cabinet" and am done with it.

Arrogant? Perhaps. But decades of experience sometimes do bring along a bit of arrogance, of the educated variety.

I'll never forget one church in particular where there was this grumpy old man who EVERY SUNDAY would come charging down the aisle during the postlude with his fingers in his ears, loudly belly-aching that the organ was too loud. One Sunday he apparently was having a particularly bad day (had not gotten his way elsewhere, most likely): He charged down to the front of the chancel and bellowed to me at the top of his lungs,"TURN - IT - DOWN!!!"

Shocked, I stopped playing. What else could I do?

There was a moment of stunned silence; all eyes were trained on the man who just stood there, red-faced and quivering with rage.

I shut off the organ, pulled down the roll-top, took off my robe, changed my shoes, and left.

That afternoon the pastor called me and we had a long talk. I told him if he did not tell that man to stop harassing me, I was going to resign. The following Sunday, the man, meek as a little lamb, kept his distance- although glowering at me from afar. I was just waiting for him to stick his fingers in his ears but he knew he did not dare.

An extreme case, perhaps, but illustrative of the sort of person you are usually dealing with in a chronic complainer. They just want to get their way and will go to extraordinary lengths to that end. (BMP's note: in the case of my former parish, that would be either the complainer either leaving the parish or at least cutting his/her weekly budget donation substantially, and then "blaming the music". The old lesson to that is the same as the one in politics I used to hear the when my father made an unsuccessful bid for a city council seat back in the mid '70's - "Money talks and bullshit walks.")

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