Coleraine, my home town, is not a big place. It may have pretensions of bring bigger particularly since Lisburn was made a “city”. Oh, that smarted in the plush red velvet lined town council parlour as resentment of just being a “town” was heavy in the lord mayor’s chain of office … I digress … Coleraine is, as I said, not a big place, you can walk from one end of the town centre to the other in about 5 minutes.
Small as it is, we seem to have attracted more than our fair share of street preachers. This in of itself is not a bad thing, a tad annoying at times when a preacher gets all worked up and at the zenith of his or indeed her declamation of the sin infested nature of the citizens of Coleraine starts to froth in a rather louder than is acceptable fashion, when I am having the guilty pleasure of a sleekit wee moccha outside Ground.
I was in town getting Euros and Czech Crowns for my trip next week and it was on the face of it a normal Friday mid morning, shoppers where doing the shopping thing and people like myself where doing banking business. In the walk from the car park to the bank, some 300 yards. I passed 5 different street preachers witnessing to the passing population. I paid them little attention at the time, other than to note that most of them professed to an impressive array of pre-salvation but now repentant sinning. “Fornication and fleshy pursuits” appeared to be the common denominator in this public confession of yuckiness.
As i have said Coleraine is not a big place and as a result these street preachers were somewhat closer to each other than is wise.This became evident when I came out of the bank and 3 of the gentlemen had given up on the unwashed masses and were now pointing accusatory fingers at each other. It appeared to be a theosophical dispute about the nature of being nice to each other. It seems that one chap felt that the Jehovah’s Witness should not be allowed to sully the truth of his witness with his heretical and un-biblical sermon. The JW was adamant that he had every right to spread the truth that Jehovah had given him “Just last night”. In summary he argument was that his truth was more accurate than the other gentleman’s truth. The third gentleman started off as an arbiter of reconciliation however when it was discovered that he was a member of one of the “big 4” denominations the other 2 started to point out what was wrong with that. Meanwhile some Korean missionaries set up their stall outside Cafe Nero some 10 feet away got out a guitar and started to loudly sing “Onward christian soldiers”. This discomforted the debate somewhat as the singing was somewhat strident, so they moved off up towards the post-office to continue their discussion on the truthfulness of their truths outside the chemist.
I propose that there be an SI unit for the safe distance between Street Preachers called “The Knox” or perhaps “The Luther” the appliance of this unit will ensure that overlapping magisteria of different truths does not lead to a sectarian cascade in the public space.