Holy Hair, Beware of the Behive

You’ve all seen her, that sweet little old lady sitting in church. Her shoulders just barely clearing the back of the pew. This is the church member you need to be afraid of, seriously afraid. Sure she has her Bible and is a lean, mean praying machine, but your concern need not be of the supernatural type. See what you don’t know, is that her hair is a dangerous weapon.

If you are old enough, you will probably remember sitting in church behind someone who had their hair in the ever popular Beehive hairstyle. This classic hairdo was a symbol of piety and tradition. It was said, “the higher the hair, the closer to God”.

Now, I am not skilled at the Beehive, but I do know they require various types of hairpins to keep them in place and that is what got me thinking about holy hair. See Pentecostals are not known for sitting still in church, especially back when I was young. Everybody had their own style of expression in church and interestingly enough the ladies with the elaborate hairdos were always the head shakers.

See when heads start shaking, hairpins go flying. This creates a dilemma for everyone sitting near these ladies. Of course, we regular attending church members knew to steer clear of these ladies and sit somewhere else in the sanctuary. It was easy too because these sweet little ladies always had their designated spot. You would know it was their spot was due to the foam cushion permanently left on the pew. At about 3-4 inches thick the cushion would not only serve for comfort during a long sermon, but would give a little boost to some of the shorter ones.

Imagine your first visit to a church (especially if you were not Pentecostal) and this sweet little lady in front of you starts shouting and shaking her head. Before you can process what is happening you are being pelted by various types of hair pins. You have no idea if you should duck and cover or head for the door. The worst part is that not all hair pins were the fancy ones we use today with the smooth round tips. Many were the straight hair pins that did not have plastic caps and could easily do some damage.

We had one little lady whose hairdo was nothing short of a deadly weapon. She took hair pinning to a whole new level. She did not waste her money on those expensive hair pins, she got her hairpins right out of her sewing box. That’s right, she used the straight pins with the little colored balls on the end for easier grabbing.

I remember sitting behind this particular lady on many occasions when I was young trying to figure out what all those tiny colored balls were all over her head. It looked like hundreds. One Sunday the service reached and intense moment and her head began shaking. Fortunately I was not injured, but as a small child finding straight pins in the floor was a new form of entertainment. It was like a matching game seeing how many I could find of a specific color.

Nowadays I can just hear someone from the church staff trying to explain to this lady how dangerous her hairpins are. We thought nothing of it back then, but looking back I am surprised that no one every stepped on one and got hurt. It was not uncommon for women to take their shoes off to be more comfortable in a long service. Not to mention the many children, like myself, who spent their fair share of time crawling around on the floor under the pews.

Pentecostal church has other dangers too, like how we tend to fall out in church. Now I haven’t ever had this experience, but have witnessed it many times. I remember the first time I saw it happen something in my brain clicked and said “let’s not do that, it looks painful”.

So even as I tried to stay focused in the altar praying, if the preacher thought I should fall he wouldn’t mind giving a subtle push during the laying on of hands and I would have to shuffle my feet around to keep from falling. This is where you’re praying stance become vitally important. NEVER (and I can’t emphasize this enough) stand with your feet close together because one push and you are gone. You need a runners stance, with one foot in front and the other behind to stabilize you. This way the preacher can push all he wants, but you are not moving.

Another option is the slow dance. See some preachers will push your forehead till it is tilted upward and just hold it there moving their arm back and forth. This one gets tricky because you have to pray while focusing on moving your feet to the rhythm of their arm. Certainly not a beginner technique, and it is hard to sustain for long periods of time.

I highly recommend that if you plan to participate in an altar prayer that you find a spot to kneel and keep your head down. I have seen some make the mistake of sitting straight up while on their knees and a skilled preacher will take the challenge. This too can end up in a fall, but usually a side fall and does not look to be so bad.

The biggest problem with the kneeling technique is that it can turn into a side-to-side type of dance as your feet go to sleep. If you stay in this position too long you will be shifting back and forth to allow the blood flow back to your legs one at a time.

My last tip is probably frowned upon my most, but can keep you safe if you get stuck standing at the altar in a crowd. Try to keep one eye open or at least do so periodically. You will find that not everyone has perfected their altar safety stances and if they are standing in front of you, then you become a target. I have seen many people get knocked down from another altar member that was in the middle of a fall.

Remember folks, watch out for flying hairpins and practice, practice, practice you’re praying stance. Y’all be safe.

A Bit of Bible Belt Humor

Made some updates. Hope you enjoy!

Bible Belt Humor

I grew up in North Carolina right in the heart of the Bible Belt. We did not need to ask a lot of questions to get to know you, we only had to ask one. “Where do you go to church”?

Notice the question starts with the word where because not only do we assume that everyone goes to church, but we judge you according to the church you attend.

We learn from an early age (as we are attending church shortly after birth) that although those other well-meaning Christians go to church, because they don’t believe as we do, they just aren’t “going to make it”.

Nonetheless, I was still very jealous of what we called the Sunday Morning People. The ones that had the luxury of going to church on Sunday morning, checking in with God to make sure He still remembers them and then leaving to…

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A Bit of Bible Belt Humor

I grew up in North Carolina right in the heart of the Bible Belt. We did not need to ask a lot of questions to get to know you, we only had to ask one. “Where do you go to church”?

Notice the question starts with the word where because not only do we assume that everyone goes to church, but we judge you according to the church you attend.

We learn from an early age (as we are attending church shortly after birth) that although those other well-meaning Christians go to church, because they don’t believe as we do, they just aren’t “going to make it”.

Nonetheless, I was still very jealous of what we called the Sunday Morning People. The ones that had the luxury of going to church on Sunday morning, checking in with God to make sure He still remembers them and then leaving to act like heathens the rest of the week. I really wanted to be one of those people. They seemed to have it made.

You know who else had it made? The 12:00 people. These lucky folks got out of church every Sunday at 12:00 like clockwork. Unfortunately, we were on the Spirit Lead plan. If the preacher really had your attention then the Spirit would lead him to keep talking. (It didn’t help when the preacher’s wife was sitting on the front row shouting “Amen, preach on pastor!”)

While I am watching the clock hand push 12:45 I am not sure if I heard someone’s stomach growl or if somebody was speaking in tongues. At that moment you start praying hard that all you heard was a stomach growl because the other means you are going to be there a lot longer.  If you have ever wondered why many Christians tend to be a bit on the heavy side it’s because by the time we get to eat lunch we are starving and eat everything we can stuff in our face.

As we became more progressive as a congregation we got smart and decided to hang a clock on the back wall of the church. That way, when the preacher would speak, he could clearly see when his time was up. There is nothing worse than seeing a preacher take his watch OFF and put it in his POCKET. He might as well have said, “Settle in folks, it’s going to be a long flight”….

It’s tricky being the pastor of a church and having what seems like 1100 bosses all telling you something different to do, but our preacher tried to make the majority happy by cutting off his sermon at a reasonable time. Notice I said reasonable time, not the desired 12:00. So he would aim for 12:15-ish which in real-time was closer to 12:30. At least we had a definite stopping point, so we would take it for now.

As luck would have it we soon got a new pastor and we were ready to start things out right! He was aware that there was a clock on the wall and that we wanted to get out at 12:00. See when you want to eat lunch with 50 of your closest church friends it’s hard to get seating if you are not the first ones to the restaurant. Not to mention if you get there late, by the time enough tables open up for your whole party it’s close to 2:00 which would not seem so bad if you did not have to be back at church at 4:30 for choir practice.

The problem we made was hiring a pastor with a doctorate degree because he was so much smarter than our entire congregation put together. Unlike the other denominations (such as the Presbyterians) that were filled with the well-educated people in the community (and who were members of the 12:00 lunch club) we were Pentecostal and many of us had not even been to college, much less achieved a graduate degree.

So Doctor Pastor was trying to make the 12:00 cut off work, but he really had a hard time keeping his sermons short. For instance, he used a lot of really BIG words and after seeing the blank stares from the congregation he would have to back up and explain what he just said. You would see church members leaving their Bibles at home (they already knew what was in there) and bringing their dictionaries so they could get through the sermon with some grasp on what was said. So the sermons kept getting longer. First 12:15 turned into 12:20 then 12:30 so we knew it was time to say something. Well he happily agreed to stop by 12:15, BUT now we start church 15 MINUTES EARLIER. Yep, smarter than us….

Most of the congregation still has not caught on that he gets his full 45 minutes to talk just like before. What I don’t understand is how it takes him 45 minutes to say what the Presbyterian Pastor says in 20. Hmmm….

There were so many things we learn in Sunday School that I found very confusing. For instance we were told that we should be careful who we choose as our friends. We need to stay away from anyone that would be a bad influence. If they were not a Christian, we should NOT make them our friend. The problem was they always encouraged us to invite friends to church. We even had special days set aside for these occasions called Friend Day and Homecoming.

So when the Sunday School teacher would tell me friend day was the next Sunday and I need to invite my friends, I would look to the left and right and say “Y’all make sure to be here.”. Not sure what I was supposed to do with Homecoming either. It was when we encourage people who used to attend our church to come home for a Sunday. Yeah, I didn’t know any former members, I was just a kid. So once again, I looked left and right and said “Make sure you come home next week”.

I would always notice that the adults never really got into this tradition either. If they did bring someone it was a family member that happen to pick the wrong weekend to visit. You would think that the pastor would have really given the congregation an incentive to invite more people. I mean, after all their paycheck literally depended on how many people were members of their church.

Nobody really could get into this inviting people because “it’s the right thing to do” or “we have what they need” idea. Seriously, if you went to work on Monday and your boss asked you to make more sales because “it’s the right thing to do ” and “they really need our product” but was not going to give you anything in return, how inspired would you be?

Since we weren’t like those lucky Baptist that believe once you are saved you are always saved our pastor could dangle our eternal security in front of us, but that didn’t seem to work. What he really should have done is made it a contest. You know, maybe offer a gift certificate our favorite buffet for 3rd place, maybe a $200 prize for 2nd place and a really big prize for the one that brought the most. Like a trip for two to Las Vegas, you know… so they could go pray for all the sinners and find some new people to invite to the next Friend Day.