Droning on and on and on


Have you ever sat in a meeting with a boss droning on and on and on and thought, oh, please, shut up; and then wondered for an instant if you said that out loud?

Droning sermonisers are not limited to the meeting room. The original speaker who held villagers captive through sheer social expectation was the clergyman; for what humble villager could get up, half way through the Sunday sermon, and stalk down the aisle to the exit, proclaiming: this is unedited, unentertaining drivel, Vicar, and you should be ashamed of yourself for expecting the village to listen?

One would be a social pariah, possibly condemned to the unforgiving flames of Hell. And in the early days, quite possibly arrested and clapped in the stocks.

Yet clergymen were not the most powerful members of the community, and thus a little piece of apparatus began to appear in the churches who depended on the bounty of the local gentry.

A timer.

Yes: I happened upon one at the  Cirencester church of St John The Baptist. I took a picture badly, and it blurred, but now I can find no other pictures of the timer and must rely on this one. It is another reason to return, along with the desire to find out how long it will time for.

For some of these timers could go on for two hours.

Phil has launched weekly video magazine programme for the people at the airline he works for. It is a telly programme. It has taken off as well as one of their great airliners, and he swears it is because the whole weekly offering is kept to two minutes.

That is the perfect time for the modern attention span, it seems.

So how does the thoroughly modern clergyman handle such flightiness?

Well, as it happens, there’s an app for that.

Lauded in ChurchTechToday,  Podium Timer is the equivalent of that sand timer, all teched up for the 21st Century. No more droning on and on and on: now Podium Timer can give you time elapsed and time remaining at the sweep of a finger. And you can choose which colour you want the time to be. Purple, perhaps, for lent, or a festive red for Christmas.

You can watch the demo here.

Now the leading edge sermon need never prompt yawns and inward groans.

Though I notice its demo uses twenty minutes, and has not quite reached the heights of a two-minute sermon.

Give it time.


43 thoughts on “Droning on and on and on

      1. It does Kate – by the way there was an article in my local paper last night about old pubs in Gloucester, one of which it is claimed the beams came from the Mayflower. I thought of your recent post on this and wonder how many buildings claim such heritage?

  1. I have a vague recollection of getting up in the middle of a tedious sermon or mass, gathering my belongings, and heading for FREEDOM! (But it might have been a daydream spawned by yawning in the pews.)

    I’m glad that Phil’s a hit . . . with 2 minutes of air time each week. When attorneys argue before the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals (State or Fed), the podium has timers built in:

    Green ~ you may speak
    Yellow ~ your time is waning
    Red ~ we just turned your microphone off and will NOT listen to another word!

  2. Brilliant! I wonder if there’s a way to anonymously forward the info on to “certain people” about this app…or your post might do it! If a speaker is engaging, minister or other, I can do about 20 minutes, and that’s it. I do remember when 40 wasn’t too long, but those days have sailed. And if you can say it well in two minutes, thank you, Phil, all the better! Years ago there was a talent/game show competition on the television called the “Gong Show.” If the contestant didn’t wow the judges in a short bit of time, they rang a huge “gong” and the disappointed contestants were exited off the show. Sometimes it required a crook to gather them about the waist and pull them off stage. I have often thought (while sitting in church) that I would like a gong! 🙂

    1. Ooooh, a gong would outclass an hour glass, for sure, Debra 😀 What a fantastic idea. I shall visualise a gong from this day onwards in all droning on and on situations.

  3. Childhood memories of when I was dragged to church by my parents… I could have used the app then as I always fell asleep in the middle of the sermon…. as an adult I never went back!

  4. Did you notice if there was a trap door in the pulpit floor that opened up when the sands of time had run out?

    Better still would be a Dragons’ Den kind of arrangement, where the vicar would have a panel of parishioners who would fix her or him with a steely glare, and if the theological argument lacked quality the dragons could say “I’m out”.

    There could still be a Mephistophelean trapdoor for the failed entrepreneur, er, vicar to exit their lofty station, more entertaining than the spiral staircase in the TV programme.

  5. I have been in that very meeting you mentioned at the top of this post, but what made it even worse, was that I was also starving. Back in the day when my parents forced me to attend church services, I recall one priest who would mumble his sermon in a monotone. I’m not sure if a timer would have made a difference in his case, but I am sure he contributed to making me the atheist I am today.

  6. Tom uses a timer app all the time. Actually, I think he’s programmed it to go off at 5 minutes, which is just about when my famous “rants” start to pick up steam. haha!

  7. The vicars also needed something to jab them with a pin every now and again to stop that monotonous, sanctimonious tone and persuade them to inject some vibrancy and interest into it. ‘Drone’ is the right word. To this day, any speaker who lapses into that mode has me nodding off in sheer self-defence.

  8. Wow! Why limit this to just vicars? I’d love to see it installed in meetings that seem to go on F-O-R-E-V-E-R! It’d be a best seller, but it might be hard to convince your boss that it’s a necessary business expense. 🙂

  9. Well one thing I can say about MegaChurches on this side of the Atlantic, they know how to put on a show. Your ears might bleed, but halleluiah, you’ll stay awake for the Lord!

  10. We put a large clock at the back of the church next to the organist. She or one of choir would stand and point to it if the pastor went beyond 20 minutes. After all, he was preaching to folks who already knew the story.

  11. Love it. There are many people that I would like to give such a timer to. And hurray to Phil for his invention. I have learned the same about blog posts Kate – 500 words seems to match the modern attention span.

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