Episode 61:
Responsive Bleating
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Editorial Notes

This episode deals with what is to me the most brain-dead of all the "ritual bites" that Iíve encountered during my years of going to church and sitting through worship services. This is what is known as "responsive reading." You have a special book with these alternating normal and bold printed sentences. The person behind the pulpit reads the normal sentences and you in turn read the bold sentences out loud. The congregation continues reading in turn with the pulpit person until the little ordeal in mindlessness is over.

What exactly does this accomplish? Is there something to be gained by proving that hundreds of adults can drone the same text out of their mouths at the same time? How do we benefit each other by doing this? Iím really not reading whatís in front of me because Iím trying to match the droning pace of the rest of the congregation. This doesnít help me concentrate, but rather is distracting. Iím not reading to the rest of the congregation because theyíre reading it already. Theyíre not reading it to me because Iím reading it myself. So whatís the point?

I did a Google search on "responsive reading" and found many web pages dedicated to this practice, mostly from sites related to Christianity. Then I did a Google search on "reading in unison" and also found many web pages, but they were mostly sites dealing with child education. This should tell us something.