Monday, 6 April 2009

Quaker Tropes?

posted by Rhiannon

I was recently directed to the website TV Tropes, which went on to eat the rest of my afternoon and most of my evening. They collect 'tropes', patterns of events or behaviour in fiction, which reoccur across many examples in many genres: for example, modes of transport in all kinds of stories may be found to be Traveling at the Speed of Plot.

As I read through the website, open tabs collecting in my browser like autumn leaves in that gap between the wall and the fence were you can never quite get to all of them, I began to realise that there was another genre in which I participate from time to time where tropes occur.

When I was young, we used to call one of these tropes 'Daffodil Ministry'. There would be a week in the spring when, if Quakers were betting types, we would all have had a fiver on someone beginning their ministry with the words, "As I came to meeting this morning, I noticed the daffodils and I thought..." Of course, this trope has subsections, such as the Snowdrop Ministry and the First Frost of Autumn Ministry, and so forth. All can be valid as ministry and speak to the condition of those present, but they are, nonetheless, recognisable.

Later, I came to recognise another trope: Guardian Ministry. This begins from a news story the Friend has read earlier in the week. It can also be Radio 4 Ministry, or sometimes Moderately to High Brow TV Documentary Ministry. One of the more unfortunate subsections of this kind of ministry is Grauniad Ministry, which occurs when the Friend speaking has misremember or misunderstood a key part of the story. (Luckily this is rare! It's also important to note that such errors do not automatically prevent the ministry from being powerful, useful, and appropriate.)

Perhaps even that most respectable ministry, The Quote from Advices and Queries, would get a page were we to have a Quaker Tropes website. (Perhaps Faith and Practice itself could be regarded as a related collection!) If such a site existed, what would you submit? Which kind of ministry do you hear (or give) regularly?

Edited to add that I wrote this post before I saw that The Friendly Funnel had made this post.

5 comments:

Martin Kelley said...

Over on this side of the pond it's often the same--just substitute the New York Times and NPR (National Public Radio) for the predictable news sources.

Having two young kids, I often hear a variation of the daffodil ministry: "the kids sounds as they play is their ministry" (No, no it isn't. It's just kids playing, thank you very much).

Jez said...

There used to be a quaker bingo card available for use in Meeting for Worship. It was put together by Young Friends.

bookgeek:rhiannon said...

Martin, I too have heard the 'children playing' ministry.

Jez, the Quaker bingo card sounds like fun. Is it online anywhere?

Stephanie said...

I guess we could devise another Quaker bingo card for YMG. Something else to do on the train to York. It could feature commonly used phrases such as 'ice cream cone' and 'the pigeons on the roof' among other things. I'm sure you can come up with some ideas!

bookgeek:rhiannon said...

Indeed, Stephanie. We'll make 'I hope so' the free square in the middle!