News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Religion

February 7, 2014

THE JOY LADY: A half-crazed squirrel, Sister Bertha and secret sins

Today we’re going to discuss Sister Bertha Better Than You. She’s the dear sister who was immortalized in Ray Stevens’ “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival.”

Perhaps a little review of the infamous incident is called for. It seems that as a lad, Ray (by way of songwriter Carlene and Jr. Kalb) would go to Mississippi to visit his granny. He caught a squirrel, put it in a shoebox and snuck the squirrel into church. But when he showed the squirrel to his good buddy Hugh, in the very last pew, the squirrel made a run for it. He ran up Harv Newlan’s coveralls, causing much commotion and consternation, what with Harv’s dancin’ and screamin’ and such. Then, as Harv was kneeling in the aisle, the squirrel made haste to the other side of the room. That’s when, in the Amen Pew, the squirrel ran into (and onto) Sister Bertha Better Than You.

That Bertha. Can’t you see her? She’s looking at the whole thing with a superiority that she wears with well-practiced ease, saying to herself, “For shame, Harv. Acting like that in God’s house!” Oh, dear.

Well, when the squirrel made laps inside her dress, Bertha used sailor-blushing language to confess to sins the congregation never thought Bertha would be involved in. But what got her the most attention was when she started speaking of her love life, “And then she started naming names!”

The rest of the song recounts how people were saved, money was raised and volunteers got ready for the Congo. I’m sure you can sing along with me the last verse of the song: “Now you’ve heard the Bible story, I guess/How He parted the waters for Moses to pass/All the miracles God has brought to this ol’ world./But the one I’ll remember to my dyin’ day/Is how He put that church back on the narrow way/ With a half-crazed Mississippi squirrel.”

Know what makes that song so funny and memorable? It’s got some truth in it. We commit our secret sins, and when something comes along that scares us into obedience, we find ourselves back on the narrow way.

But the most truth is found in Bertha. She’s the one who says, “Since I was created in God’s image, I have more than returned the favor.” She’s the one who criticizes the preacher, the sermon, the music, the deacons, the elders, the Sunday school teachers. She’s the one who goes out for dinner after church and criticizes the crowds, the service, the food. She knows all the church gossip and repeats it, sometimes adding extra details as she thinks they’re needed. She feels justified in doing so, for she knows that she is better than you, me or anyone else in the church. Truth be told, Bertha would be shocked to know that church is not all about her.

Don’t laugh. You know a Bertha, don’t you? Or maybe you are a Bertha? Do we need to let a half-crazed squirrel loose in our churches for revival to occur? God forbid.

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, may be reached at vrdspeaks@ yahoo.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Religion
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Today in History for April 16th Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge Combat Vehicles in East Ukraine Fly Russian Flag India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast
NDN Video
Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series VP Biden: "World witnesses ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things" It's Official! Michael Strahan Joins "GMA" Blood Moon Time-lapse Actress Lake Bell Goes Topless The Five Weirdest Local Taxes in America
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity