Uglier Than Sin


“Stop it!”

“What did I do?”

I had to know.

My wife was scowling and preparing to whack me again and she wasn’t the only one. We were in church and heads were pivoting in my direction.

What could be wrong?

I did a quick inventory. I wasn’t snoring. Nor was I even nodding off. In fact, I was on my feet singing. Granted, my singing voice is not the most harmonious. It has often been described as the sound of ten thousand goose farts on a murky day.

Again Whack!

I simply lowered my voice and ignored her.

From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay
And from Galway to Dublin town
No maid I’ve seen like the sweet colleen
That I met in the County Down.”



Suddenly I realized I was singing the wrong lyrics.

The hymn was “Canticle of the Turning” written to the melody of the old Irish ballad, “Star of the County Down” and my musical memory sent me skipping down the wrong path.

But they do this to me all the time. “Be Still My Soul” is written to the tune of “Finlandia” ( Finland’s national anthem), so I bellow out.

Oi Suomi, katso, sinun päiväs koittaa
Yön uhka karkoitettu on jo pois
Ja aamun kiuru kirkkaudessa soittaa”

Alright, I might have fibbed a little. I don’t know Finnish, but why do they do this to us?

Christians have a long glorious tradition of gorgeous music. Why would anyone pen lyrics to pop tunes or for pity sake bring DRUMS into church?

And don’t get me started on uglier than sin modern church architecture.

We once went to a church in The Cities which I confused for a Wells Fargo. The only thing about the building that did not say “bank” was the swooping steeple, which one could easily mistake for a skate board ramp. But then maybe it was.

Okay, I admit it. I am a curmudgeon. A stuck in the mud traditionalist – but the world needs us.


Especially now with the advent of the new woke religion.

The simple truth is, most new ideas are bad ideas. That is not to say all new ideas are bad – just most.  By definition, most new ideas are untested, unrefined and untempered by reality. A good many are just plain goofy.

That is why nature in its infinite wisdom has created curmudgeons, bureaucrats, conservatives and the heavy weight of tradition to slow down the giddy onrush of impulsive notions.

Sadly, in our wokeness, we have tossed off these restraints and launched forward into the untethered territory of very bad new ideas.

We have been here before and as any student of history will tell you, it does not end well.

Author: Almost Iowa

39 thoughts on “Uglier Than Sin”

  1. I came here, Greg, after reading your comment on my Florence post. 🙂 Yep. Like that you sang the original tunes. And that your wife beat you for it, like all good wives when they are embarrassed by their husbands. Grin. –Curt

  2. I couldn’t agree more about churches and music. “The Gathering” is one of our local mega churches, and it recently put up it’s first structure. It’s made entirely of metal, painted orange and grey. A small, single, rusty cross is the only sign that it is a church. Honestly, the outside alone is enough to keep me away. And don’t get me started on “praise music.”
    But I realize that this post is about much more than churches. And I also agree with that point….why in the world, when we find one thing that needs fixing, do we decide we need to restructure everything? I swear, if I hear just one more person say, “the system is working!” I think I’ll scream.

    1. Well, darn, “isn’t working,” I meant. I hate that word press doesn’t allow us to edit our comments, because I never see the typos until after I hit the “post comment” button.

  3. I remember when I was young, I’d doze off😂😂 and my mama would let me wake up after almost falling off the bench 👶🏻you just , took ,me down memory lane for wile, lol 👣💪🏽 and yes your right🥴 ” Most new ideas are bad ideas”

    1. When we were kids, we drew straws for who had to go into church and take notes on the sermon, while the rest of the kids ditched. Later, we would review the notes before going home.

  4. Not a curmudgeon here. But I agree that having something to say then saying it clearly is important. I drive by some dubious looking churches around here, wondering what message I am to take away from their facades and roadside sermon signs. If you confuse me, I won’t bother with you. Works for both churches and listening to the news.

    1. The son of a old friend got married last summer. The ceremony was in an Episcopal in the neighborhood we grew up in. The building was stunning, the choir spectacular, the sermon a pleasure to listen to. I didn’t want to leave.

  5. “We once went to a church in The Cities which I confused for a Wells Fargo.”
    Whether protestant, Catholic, or evangelical Christian, size is a sign of what matters and what’s inside a Wells Fargo is your first clue.

  6. This morning, I was giving a running critique on the news commentary hubby and I were listening to. He remarked that I sounded like a curmudgeon, and to that I readily agreed. So, if you start an online curmudgeon group, please sign me up. 🙂

    1. I’ve given up on critiquing broadcast news. Now I just throw shoes at the TV. I used to start my mornings with NPR’s Morning Edition and commute to All Things Considered. Now I can only listen to public radio for five minutes at a time. I mean, the first 500 stories on race, gender and LGBT issues had something to say, but that was years ago. I can listen to the BBC and CBC (Canadian) because even though they have their center left biases, I can hear through them.

      Gosh, remember when Walter Cronkite told us what was happening in India, South Africa, Egypt and Ireland? That is when news was new.

  7. Leo Kottke, in the cover notes on the back of one of his LPs, likened his singing voice to the sound of geese farting. I’ve heard him singing, and it’s not THAT bad!
    Is it? Lol!

  8. There’s a megachurch not far from me that has no cross and no sign. It’s a huge, concrete block with “” on the outside in large, sculpted letter. It took me two years after it opened to figure out it was a church and not a social service agency, and that happened only because I drove by two Sundays in a row, saw a lot of cars in the lot, and realized no self-respecting bureaucrat would be working on a Sunday morning.

    1. Like Stan said after an old girlfriend dragged him into a mega-church, “Seems like believing is more important to them than living what you believe.” No truer words ever spoken. Faith is not a commodity.

    1. Got to admit there was a great store front church on West 7th in Saint Paul that served the best ribs you ever bit into on weekdays. The preacher/cook was GREAT. A real human being.

    1. Give me a stone church, a million colors of stained glass, a full choir loft and a sermon that you can remember after brunch. It’s all I ask. 🙂

  9. They lost me when ‘they’ decided Saturday night was a great night to have a Folk Mass complete with guitars and bongos. I think not.

  10. I have to forward this to my wife. At some point in my future, I will hear the following words: “even your blog buddy agrees with me!”

    Thanks Greg, I owe you one.

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