How to gaffe – here’s my lesson

OK, so I was preaching and started with this opening gambit

“I know of a man who, if he wants to take a conversation beyond the superficial will ask three diagnostic questions. What makes you laugh, what makes you cry, and what makes you dance?

If we were talking together I’d give the same answer to all three – the church!

The church makes me laugh [… followed by a hilarious example]

The church makes me cry [… followed by a sad example]

The church makes me dance [… followed by”

well at this point I noticed a change of atmosphere in the room. Mystified faces peered back at me. The pastor of the church glanced at me with raised eyebrows. There was a nervous rubbing of the lips to mask uncertainty from the man behind him. My colleague gazed at the floor in a vain attempt to stifle the shaking of his head and a low mutter of ‘Oh no!’ My host was grinning broadly as if to say “Ian, I know something you don’t and I’m going to enjoy watching you trying to get out of this one!”

And why all these misgivings about an innocent comment? It seems that in Romania Christians don’t dance. It’s a big no-no. Dancing is worldly and has nothing to do with Christian joy. So my innocent comment had landed me a cultural gaffe.

Thankfully a few words of explanation from my interpreter seemed to lower the temperature. But I had comprehensively put my foot in it and we all heard it. Thankfully the people at the seminar appeared to forgive me.

At least, I hope they did.