Credo # 42.1: Beware the pulpit phenomena

Posted: July 29, 2010 in Credo

Adam Smith is hard to peg down as a believer, a Theist, or a Deist. He didn’t seem to have too high an opinion of the Roman Church of his day; that we can be sure of.

He has made this observation which is appropro to describing my thought for you, though:

“A man of low condition…is far from being a distinguished member of any great society…His conduct never excites so much the attention of any respectable society, as by his becoming the member of a …religious sect. He from that moment acquires a member of consideration he never had before...”

The pulpit phenomena is the label I apply to a few different syndromes or behaviours. We see it when a man finds his self worth in the fact that he stands up behind the pulpit (a bad idea). We see it when ladies elevate their esteem for the man in the pulpit because he is, after all, some simulacrum of an alpha male if he is speaking and others are listening. We see it when younger brothers somehow get the idea that the only route to respectable society in the Christian world is to speak and have others listen and attend. We see it finally when the man behind the pulpit becomes so enamored of the sound of his voice that he no longer hears the Master, or when it enters into his mind that he is in fact God’s special friend.

I didn’t write this Credo so much to warn you about such a man. I wrote it to warn you not to be that man, and to give you a buzzword and  a framework with which which you can identify and understand some of the behaviors that you see in Church culture.   And that are latent within you, as well.

Related:  #63

Edit 5/2011: Related, by another man, with a twist.

  1. Hi Singlextianman,
    Thanks for the post. I have been in the situation, myself, where I’ve spoken just to have other people listen to me. I spoke because I wanted to look good in their eyes. I still have that problem, sometimes. I look back and regret that I didn’t choose to be more quiet at times.

    It’s often better to just let others speak and simply smile or shake your head when others say something foolish.

    Thanks for your post.

  2. singlextianman says:

    Glad it seemed to spread insight. Spread the word.

  3. Badger says:

    Interesting stuff, thanks for the link. My blog doesn’t have a particularly theological bent to it but it touches on a lot of the same issues as this post.

    Someone who just digs being in the pulpit (the sectarian version of being on stage, being the center of attention, etc) will be admired and adulated. It’s the way we work as people, especially women, who like leaders.

    That fact can be disappointing or it can be motivating…good men need to learn how to get into the pulpit position, lest they leave leadership to mediocre men, but not be corrupted by it, lest they lose their goodness.

    Think of Moses, who asked God to send his brother because he was a better speaker. God wasn’t having any of it.

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