Thursday, August 11, 2011

St. Elmo's Fire

An ugly scene from New Welcome Baptist Church in St. Elmo, Alabama: the minister fired the director of music. The director of music asked for his back pay. A deacon attacked the director of music (and the director of music's mother, and some other people) with a knife. The director of music attacked the pastor with a taser.

Just -- sigh -- another day in the life of God's people.

The news reports are sketchy, and it may well be that the tasing began before the stabbing. We don't know and we don't care. Here's the best writeup we've seen so far, if you want details.

Sadly, all this takes Father Anonymous back to his own first call, at a profoundly disordered church in the South Bronx. Meetings, even of the most innocuous committee, were laced with rage. Several members -- "deacons," appointed for life by a previous pastor whose strategy seems to have been "keep your enemies closer" -- were prone to screaming fits. On one memorable occasion, an usher managed to so offend a communicant that they left the nave, and went down to the kitchen where the communicant pulled a knife and attempted to stab the usher. Bad enough on its own, but when poor foolish Fr. A. brought the subject up with his church council, their collective response was not to propose loving discipline or thoughtful care, but to take sides. As if either of those guys could have been, in any meaningful way, "right."

And yet there are some people who do not believe that human nature is utterly depraved. We're looking at you, Jacobus Arminius!

As a St. Emo sheriff's office spokeswoman says, "I'm sure, now, there are all hopefully looking back on it, saying, 'Hmm… We could have done something a little different there.' " We only wish we could be so sure.


PrSBlake1 said...

WOW - I have served as a pastor, a music director and as a music minister for years and in all that time I never felt a need to carry a taser gun to work with me. What in the world was he thinking?

Father Anonymous said...

That there might be a deacon with a knife, apparently.

In my Bronx years, my brother (who is in law enforcement) urged me to buy a gun, which I naturally declined to do. But I don't think he imagined me using it to resolve staffing problems.

Pastor Joelle said...

My friend's father was a pastor. When he met with someone in his office he thought might give him trouble, he would take his gun out, put it on his desk and say "Well now what can I help you with?"

I've never been afraid I would be physically hurt. I was more afraid I might be FRAMED for some terrible crime. My attackers have always been just more sneaky like that.

mark said...

From Wikipedia: A Taser is an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles. Its manufacturer, Taser International, calls the effects "neuromuscular incapacitation"[1] and the devices' mechanism "Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) technology".[2] . . .

St. Elmo's fire is, in fact, a mixture of gas and plasma (as are flames in general, and also stars). The electric field around the object in question causes ionization of the air molecules, producing a faint glow easily visible in low-light conditions. Approximately 1000 volts per centimeter induces St. Elmo's fire; however, this number is greatly dependent on the geometry of the object in question. Sharp points tend to require lower voltage levels to produce the same result because electric fields are more concentrated in areas of high curvature, thus discharges are more intense at the end of pointed objects.

Conditions that can generate St.Elmo's fire are present during thunderstorms, when high voltage is present between clouds and the ground underneath, electrically charged. Air molecules glow due to the effects of such voltage, producing St. Elmo's fire.

The nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere causes St. Elmo's fire to fluoresce with blue or violet light; this is similar to the mechanism that causes neon lights to glow.[6]