March madness in Lent! Oh, wait…

lenten brackets

I made this March Madness bracket for Lent last year and… wow I wish we had basketball, in-person church, in-person Greek Independence Day celebrations etc., to make these jokes actually work. Sigh…

Families add sound track to webcast liturgy

1280px-Lenovo_ThinkPad_E520 (2)The Orthodox Church of All Saints of Southern North Dakota featured its usual level of noise at Divine Liturgy this week even without parishioners in the church. Father Athanasios Nikoladis didn’t know how to make a webcast, so instead he used a web-meeting app but could not figure out how to mute the other participants.

As Father Athanasios, one reader and one choir member conducted the liturgy at church, the laptop lit up with parents providing an assortment of answers about our world punctuated by commands, including,

“Fish don’t snore. Pay attention to the liturgy.”

“I don’t know if the Holy Spirit is a girl or a boy, it doesn’t say what kind of dove it is in the Bible. Be quiet.”

“My head is not a drum. Stop.”

From there, the parishioners were silent for about ten minutes until Andrea Olson was heard saying to her 15-year-old daughter: “Get dressed, will you? It’s still church!”

Mandy Olson replied in a low moan, “Even when I’m wearing clothes, Joshua never notices me, so what’s the point?”

A minute later, Mandy Olson’s phone made four text notification chimes, followed by Mandy saying “Ew.”

Andrea was then heard saying, “Mandy, we don’t use our phones during church, what wait did they say?”

Joshua and three other boys had texted Mandy. Josh’s text said, “We sure would notice if you weren’t wearing clothes,” and Silouan’s was “please send pictures 😊” and the other two texts were similar.

Andrea then took her own phone and texted the mothers of Joshua, Silouan and the other two boys about this. Sixty seconds later, text notification chimes filled up the webcast followed by four mothers saying, almost in unison, “You said WHAT?” another mother adding, “No phone privileges for a week!”

For services next week, Father Athanasios intends to either get a tech-savvy parishioner to show him how to run a real webcast app or have people park their cars in the lot and not get out, with a set of loudspeakers turned up to maximum on the front step of the church.

Orthodox guy thinks Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim is too literal for 2020

DSC05021_resizedPeter Markov, a parishioner at the Orthodox Church of All Saints of Southern North Dakota, is having a hard time with this year’s Lent, especially the prayer of St. Ephraim, as he finds it entirely too literal for our country’s predicament with COVID-19.

“Take from me the spirit of sloth?” he asked. “Sloth is what the government is telling us to do, stay home and stay inside.” Some friends had advised Markov to leave his house and go for a walk without getting too close to other people, but he just couldn’t deal with the cascade of changes. “First they close the schools, then the restaurants, and now the libraries. Next thing, I bet they’ll turn off the corona of the sun, and I sure don’t want to be outside when that happens.”

Markov similarly couldn’t handle the “despair” part of the prayer. “How can I not despair? I despair every time I see an e-mail from the church.” A few weeks ago, the church advised parishioners not to kiss during the kiss of peace, just bow. Then they canceled coffee hour. Then they closed church.

“The fifth Sunday of Lent is coming up soon and I’m sure what’s next is that the bishop is going to send a letter telling us to practice St.-Mary-of-Egypt-in-the-desert-style social distancing. How can I not despair? That St. Ephraim needs to loosen up,” Markov said.

Another member of the parish, veteran homeschooler Tiffany Page, said she was having a very difficult time with the “not to judge my brothers and sisters” part of the prayer as she watched friends tear their hair out over having to homeschool their kids while the schools were quarantined. “Usually I’m the weird one,” Page said, “but when my friend posted on social media that her new homeschool fired a teacher for drinking on the job, I couldn’t stop laughing.”

A third member of the parish, church extrovert Evie Barr, when contacted by phone by the Daily Podvig, similarly said St. Ephraim’s prayer was just too hard. “Idle talk? Idle talk? I’m stuck at home without any talk here, I’d give an arm and a leg for some idle talk right now and by the way what have you been watching on Netflix, because I really like…”

The interview with Barr continued for two hours without The Daily Podvig reporter getting a word in edgewise.

Top seven rejected Daily Podvig Headlines

headlines

Editor’s Note: We’ve received numerous inquiries (ok, one) about our lack of posts over the past two months and would like to let you know that we do care about you, dear reader, but none of the stories our staff came up with passed our organization’s rigorous editing process. We at The Daily Podvig are committed to bringing you the highest quality nonsense, so we will not be sharing these rejected stories today, just the headlines:

P.K. Embarrassed After Letting it Slip that Mom and Dad Wear Dresses to work

Oreo Cookies Determined to be Lenten, but Are They Food?

After years of lost noodles, COROC church switches to New Colander

Mormon health insurance denies claim for spiritual counseling; soul defined as pre-existing condition

Girl Tells Boyfriend He’s Convinced Her to be a Virgin Martyr

Aid Fund Established for Victims of Censer Injuries

Priest accuses bishop of corrupting parish’s altar boys after Vladyka tells popcorn-in-the-censer story

 

Reader ends epistle two octaves higher than planned; offered job as soprano

 

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Apologies flowed freely at the Church of All Saints of Southern North Carolina last Sunday after Reader Barsanuphius Johnson misjudged the length of the Epistle reading at the Divine Liturgy.

“I didn’t go over the entire reading in the Epistle before I started,” he said. “All I saw was a block of text with a line of bold text at the bottom. I thought it said, ‘End Sunday reading’ like it always does.”

Reader Barsanuphius reads Epistles with an ascending pitch, starting the reading at the bottom of his range, raising his pitch as he chants and ending at a high but beautiful note. On Sunday, however, he was suddenly stuck in an Octave Crisis as he got to what he thought was the end and found that the bold text at the bottom really said, “Skip verses 3-6, continue reading verses 7-16.”

“I thought about stopping, but Orthodoxy is an uninterrupted tradition,” said Reader Barsanuphius, “So I felt obligated to keep going.”

Reader Barsanuphius kept ascending and ascending until he had finished what was the most memorable epistle reading in the parish’s history.

During coffee hour, however, apologies flowed freely.

First, Father Polycarp apologized for his remark, “Peace to thee that screecheth.” He also encouraged all readers to look over the entire epistle reading before starting, and, he added, if you get stuck at the top of your range, “Faking a coughing fit of 5-7 seconds should be enough to get people to forget what pitch you had been at.”

Second, Reader Barsanuphius apologized for the windows that he had broken.

Finally, Deacon Florus apologized to those who had been injured by the hot flying incense that he accidentally flung during an over-enthusiastic censing with the belled censer in an effort to drown out Reader Barsanuphius.

However, choir director Eupraxia Smith was encouraged by Reader Barsanuphius’ falsetto fling and offered him a job as a choir soprano. He said he’d consider it just as soon as he took the icepack off of the front of his neck.

Bonus post for #bloginstead

Welcome #bloginstead readers! There’s this lovely on-line festival going on right now for Orthodox bloggers started by Melinda Johnson over at melindajohnsonwriting.com, the idea of which is to communicate with people over blogs instead of social media. Melinda has made a list of 30 or so blogs and is encouraging us to reach out to one another. So hi there world! It’s the Daily Podvig, a humor and satire site. The articles on this site don’t refer to real events, but are rather pretend news articles that I hope could make you laugh, including topics such as parenting in church, dating in church, running out of sermon ideas and the dangers of making one political comment on-line and then going to bed while your friends go nuts in a comments war.

Now this is still a humor blog, so I need a couple of jokes. Ok, here’s one: If the guy you’re dating is roasting marshmallows over the candlestand, it might not work out.

Or, another half-developed idea that I have: 12-year-old shocked to learn closing eyes during prayers isn’t more pious: Mom just does it while blessing food to avoid thinking about missing utensils.

So maybe those aren’t real laugh riots, but I promise I’ll get to something better soon.

–Thomas Eric Ruthford, editor

Parents delighted self-appointed church child-shusher has loud grandchild

All but one parent at the Church of All Saints of Southern North Dakota was delighted to hear a toddler shrieking in liturgy this week. The crying child was Naomi Duncan, an 11-month-old who is the first grandchild of self-appointed child shusher Russell Holman.

For the past 10 years, Holman has taken it upon himself to provide over-stressed parents with helpful advice such as, “He’ll need to be taken outside to finish crying,” when toddlers are babbling happily and, “They can’t play here, it’s not a playroom,” when preschoolers are making their stuffed toys dance while their parents are struggling to calm their 6-month-old siblings.

Little Naomi discovered gravity and object permanence in the same day, finding that if you let go of an object, it will fall to the floor, but once on the floor, it still exists but is, tragically, a Very Long Ways Away. The toddler was being held by her mother, Irina (daughter-in-law of the famous child shusher) when Naomi dropped her toy at the moment when Deacon Paul called out, “Singing the triumphant song, crying, calling aloud and saying!” from the ambo. All of the adults were looking at the altar and none saw or heard the toy fall, and no one picked it up, unlike the other eight times Naomi had tried this.  This loss caused Naomi to begin a loud cry that alternated between sounding like a worn-out fan belt and a howler monkey.

Naomi’s mother turned to walk to the center of the church and down the aisle, allowing everyone to hear the intense shrieking and causing every other parent in the church to crack a smile in barely concealed schadenfreude.

Dozens of parents complimented Holman on the intensity of the crying during coffee hour, saying things such as, “Wow, impressive lung capacity on that granddaughter,” and “I bet she becomes a choir member,” and, “What a joyful noise unto the Lord!” It was unclear as of press time whether Holman would change his policy on disruptive children as he spent all of coffee hour downloading and adjusting an app on his phone that could adjust hearing aids via Bluetooth, and he answered “Eh?” to everything people said to him despite the fact he’s never worn hearing aids.

Orthodox dating app matches woman with ex-boyfriend

In yet another sign of how darned small the community of church-going Orthodox singles is in this country, the Orthodox dating website saintlycourting.com matched Antonia Walter to a man she’d broken up with a mere six months earlier.

At first the dating profile looked interesting, but then something seemed too familiar with his headline of ‘I’ll work seven years for my Proverbs 31 woman.’

“I’d heard that before when he first walked up to me in coffee hour. He said, ‘I’ll work seven years for the seven digits to your phone,’” Antonia recalled last week.

“But at least he’s not in prison like the other guys I’ve been matched with,” Antonia said after clicking ‘dismiss’ on the match. “I think they ought to just change the name of the damn thing to apophaticdating.com – you find out what you want in a relationship by negation.”

For his part, ex-boyfriend Jeremiah Munoz said at first he was quite interested in her after seeing that she picked Tone 4 as her favorite (the only one he can accurately sing) and then thought, “It really is amazing how many girls like the song ‘Where is my hairbrush?’”

He began to get concerned when he saw the end of her ‘about me’ section: “I don’t care what Proverbs 31 says, I’m not wearing scarlet, dammit!”

That prompted Jeremiah to look back to her profile name of Agape95, reminding him of the last thing she said to him six months earlier, “I love you, but it’s just agape now.”

Jeremiah’s despair at the memory of the rejection changed to mortification that Antonia was going to send “ha ha check this out” e-mails with the link to his profile to her friends (who totaled half of the eligible church going women in their part of the state). He deleted his account immediately and has gone back to reading books by Fr. Alexander Schmemann in bars and waiting for girls to ask him ‘What’s that book about?’ to which he responds, ‘It says we are meant to be doxological, eucharistic beings.” As of press time, Jeremiah had not managed to win any phone numbers with this method.