REJECTED BABYLON BEE SUBMISSION
I’ve always been a big fan of satire and parody. I think these forms of humor, when employed well, use just enough truth to sting us into awareness about culture, ideologies, and more. Since its launch earlier in 2016, I’ve greatly enjoyed following the articles on The Babylon Bee, a Christian satire website akin to The Onion. I have submitted a few pieces myself, but as most of the Bee‘s material seems to come from in-house, I haven’t been successful. As the Internet swirls with theories about how to prevent the unfunny kind of fake news stories from going viral and swaying people’s opinions, I thought I’d share a little taste of what I think fake news should be like, instead of what it unfortunately has become in this political season. This particular article does not point to a serious subject, nor does it convey any biting truth, but I enjoyed writing it and I thought others might enjoy reading it.
Pastor’s World Record-Holding Alliteration Streak Terminated by Typo
Pleasure Park, Pennsylvania—Paul Pryor, Preaching Pastor of Pleasure Park Presbyterian Church in Pleasure Park, Pennsylvania, recently ended his 15 year streak of alliterating the first word in each of his sermon points. The 523-sermon streak was the longest-running in recorded church history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The streak slid to a stop during last Sunday’s service at Pleasure Park, when an apparent typo in Pryor’s notes replaced the letter “F” with the letter “R,” so that instead of “Fear ends with faith,” Pryor’s third sermon point read “Rear ends with faith.” This broke the alliterated string of “F” words in Pryor’s sermon outline and caused Pryor to mutter a few other “F” words himself after he realized what had happened. The typo was both projected on the screen at the front of the sanctuary and accidentally read out loud by Pryor. Witnesses reported recognizing both shrieks of shock and stifled snorts as those in attendance reacted to the error.
Pryor refused to be reached for remarks. Members of the Pleasure Park congregation are concerned about their minister, saying they have seldom seen him so sorrowful. Sandra Sue Saylor, chairwoman of the church’s congregation care committee, has founded a Facebook group seeking support for Pryor during these difficult days, called “Please pray for Pleasure Park’s precious Pastor Paul Pryor’s preaching problems.”
Emily Ellis-Edwards, an English expert employed as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, commented on the clergyman’s curious calling card when Pryor preached the record-setting sermon in 2010, explaining, “Public speakers—particularly preachers—are prone to practicing alliteration at the beginning of each principal point of their presentation to piece the points together and to assist their audience in applying the meat of the message to memory. Pastor Pryor especially excels at engaging this element of English with enthusiasm and elegance.”
Throughout his stunning streak, Pryor employed each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet to alliterate at least one sermon.
Ellis-Edwards points to a 2009 sermon titled, “XYZ: Glorifying God In Your Golden Years,” as the pinnacle of Pryor’s perfect pattern. In this sermon, Pryor used the elusive letter X to highlight ways seniors can continue to serve God as they grow older. The three sections were X-Rays: Wisdom and Discernment; Xylophones: Gifts and Talents; and Xenagogy: Learning and Teaching.
Pryor’s alliteration in this case was labeled legitimate by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Committee for the Continued Creative Concentration of Correct Consonants, causing controversy when long-time rival, Reverend Ron Roy Richards of Richland Reformed Church in Richland, Rhode Island, also preached an X-themed sermon in 2009 that was ruled illegitimate by the committee. Richards preached a sermon in 2009 called “X-alt Him,” in which he described the attributes of God as X-cellent, X-pert, and X-tra Special.