Reflections on Praising and Tasing
Many have leapt to her defence, claiming religious discrimination, and musical intolerance. Some have drawn comparisons between her abandoned praise and King David’s undignified approach to worship nearly-au naturel. (Please don’t give her ideas!)
To my percussion-loving brethren: Whilst I respect your right to express your devotion to God in any manner you see fit, I really must inform you that tambourine-playing is simply not an acceptable pastime in our modern, post-enlightenment world!
(Someone had to tell them!)
Before you accuse me of unwarranted cruelty and begin quoting the Psalmist’s exhortations to praise God on all forms of percussion, I would remind you that David expected his hearers to ‘play skilfully’ (Psalm 33:3), a requirement I doubt this worshipper fulfilled! Mark Myers from the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department is quoted as saying that “she was not being very Christianly.” I’m not entirely certain what ‘Christianly’ means, but I can only surmise that Myers’ erratic and somewhat aleatoric approach to the English language is a kind of clever metaphor for Beyersdorfer’s own rhythmic stylings!
Put simply: if churches wish to be taken seriously, they must wise up to the threat of unwanted percussion, and put precautionary measures in place. Metal detectors on the doors are a must for any self-respecting church. If you do take the decision to permit tambourine-players (for the sake of tolerance, or to avoid a discrimination lawsuit – coward!), their actions should be carefully policed and stringently restricted. There ought to be a dedicated area for tambourinists; ideally well out of sight and soundproofed. I would recommend a rigorous audition process and permission for public use should only be granted to those who can demonstrate a skill level of Grade 5 or above.
At Ring of Bright Water our policy is to ban all free-wielding percussionists entirely. Nothing good can come of their wanton jangling. A little leaven leavens the lump, and a single tambourine can derail an entire worship time. It is, after all, a slippery slope. One moment you permit a tambourine and the next you’re actively encouraging full-blown morris dancing!
Even Paul, on one occasion, became greatly annoyed with a loud follower who kept shouting out and interrupting him (Acts 16:16-18). I can well imagine she was a tambourinist!
But when all is said and done, I must admit that I am a little uneasy with the pepper-spray and taser approach to church discipline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no lily-livered pacifist who balks at the idea of a bit of force here and there. I just think there is an altogether more biblical technique, something along the lines of Paul’s approach with Elymas the Magician:
‘Saul, who was also called Paul looked intently at him and said […] “behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.’ (Acts 13:9-11)
With that kind of apostolic precedent, who needs pepper-spray?