Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Double, Double Toil and Inappropriate

Two weeks ago I was making the final preparations for the order of service for our church’s Halloween multigenerational service. I was thinking up ideas for the service’s opening words and from somewhere in the recesses of my mind I recalled the famous scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth in which the three witches stand around a boiling cauldron casting a spell. I even arranged for someone to bring some dry ice and a cauldron so that I could play up the opening words.

It sounded good to me. I sent information to our church administrator asking her to print that the opening words in the order of service would be from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was only after the order of service had gone to print that I bothered to look the reading up. That was when I realized I had made a mistake.

Here is the part of the scene from Macbeth that I remembered,
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Classic Halloween imagery there. Nothing that anyone could object to. Then I read a bit further and realized that this reading was wholly inappropriate. (I solved this dilemma by using the six lines from Shakespeare from above and then composing my own reading using the Bard’s meter and rhyme scheme.)

But, here is why I rejected the passage:

List #36: 3 Politically Incorrect Ingredients in the Witches’ Cauldron in Macbeth
1) “Liver of blaspheming Jew”
2) “Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips”
3) “Finger of a birth-strangled babe / Ditch-deliver’d by a drab”
Note to worship leaders: In order to avoid toil and trouble it is a good idea to avoid making anti-Semitic slurs, to avoid comments about Eurasian facial features, and to avoid mentioning the removal of body parts from a prostitute’s stillborn child that has been abandoned beside the road. This advice goes double, double for a multigenerational service.