O Tidings of Gluttony and Joy

Of all the perfectly understandable reasons to complain about a global pandemic, Zoom church isn’t one of them.

Zoom church is awesome.

You can attend in your bathrobe, with or without having brushed your teeth. 

Recite the Nicene Creed with a mouthful of Cheerios. 

Write a column while Passing the Peace. Which I’m actually doing. 

Back in the ’90s, the New Yorker ran a cartoon featuring two dogs sitting in front of a computer, with one dog saying to the other, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Still true today. At Zoom church, nobody knows you’re scratching yourself.

I do miss seeing my friends, but to be honest, I don’t really miss all that Episcopalian choreography.

If you go to church in person, in the course of less than an hour you’re going to stand, sit, stand, sit, stand (there’s that Nicene Creed), kneel, stand, sit, stand, walk, kneel, stand, walk, sit, stand, and — if you want to listen to Dr. Frank Corbin’s splendid organ postlude — you sit one last time.

Zoom church is way simpler: you’re going to sit, sit, sit, stand, walk (to the bathroom and back), sit, sit, sit, stand, walk (to the fridge and back), sit, sit, and then do some more sitting.

After the pandemic, when we go back to in-person church, I’m going to be mightily tempted to bring a sandwich. A Tupperware container with a fancy cross on the lid could become a thing.

This past Sunday, the Sunday after Christmas, was perhaps the most important day for Zoom church.


Because of the sinning.

Let me explain.

My wife and daughters outdid themselves this year, producing the finest Christmas dinner in memory; but the sad side-effect of such a culinary triumph is that those same dear loved ones who prepared the feast become your mortal enemies in the contest for leftovers.

Greed, gluttony, duplicity, larceny? Do anything to get your fair share of the gourmet mac & cheese.

No sin is too sinful when mashed potatoes and gravy are on the line.

When Christmas dinner happens on a Friday evening, the precious final globs of oyster-and-mushroom stuffing will be in play on Sunday morning.

The hour you spend in the pews could cost you the last of the roast goose. But Zoom church keeps you in the leftovers game. Hallelujah!

Before the service began, I stuck out my leg to trip my 19-year-old on her way to the fridge so I could snag the last of the amazing Southern collard greens, which had been expertly slow-cooked with big, crispy mouth-watering chunks of butcher-quality ham.

During Sunday’s liturgy, as we offered prayers for “those we love but see no longer,” I bowed my head in memory of the green bean casserole.

Did I feel any guilt about my conduct?

“We are truly sorry and we humbly repent,” I mumbled halfheartedly. “Have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins….”

However, may I just say: The homemade pumpkin pie was bitchin’.


Doug Brendel counts calories at Dragonhead, his 203-year-old house on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Check him out at DougBrendel.com.

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