Talk Show as Confessional

By Jim Rosenberg

The talk show is the modern day confession booth.  If the Catholic
church wants to remain competitive in the burgeoning mea culpa business,
it better get cracking.  Right now, a priest is maybe the third person
to hear about a man's really big sin, after a lawyer, a book agent, and
Larry King.  The race is not yet lost, however.  If Bill Gates took hold
of the Microsoft steering wheel and wrestled it hard left to the
Internet, then the church can correct its course.  Every organization,
no matter how big, must adapt.  Here are some suggestions:

 Install "APPLAUSE" signs in sanctuary.  Instruct parishioners to whoop
and holler like frat boys when lit.  This will stand as a show of
support for difficult admissions of sin;

 "Seed" the congregation like Montel does at the end of his shows by
publishing notices in the church bulletin:  "We're looking for
confessions from Naughty Soccer Moms.  If you have cheated on your
husband -- with your son's soccer coach -- contact a Priest today!"

 Build slightly bigger confession booths.  With more room, the Priest
may invite in a Ph.D. to make a few snap judgments and plug his book.
"Maryanne, I know you are struggling with the consequences of adultery.
I have with me here John Gray, whose best-selling "Men are From Mars,
Women are from Venus" -- *now available in paperback* -- explores the
issues surrounding how the sexes communicate. John, what would you say
to Maryanne?"

 Make the process more exciting:  "Maryanne, I can hear the pain in
your voice.  But, you are not the only one in pain.  In fact, during
your entire confession -- unbeknownst to you -- the husband *you* called
"deeply unsatisfying both spiritually and physically" was listening in!
Let's call him in here and get his reaction!  Steve ..."

 Broadcast the confession to the sanctuary, and take calls.  "Thank you
for sharing that, Maryanne.  I know it must have been difficult for
you.  We go to ... Gladys Kravitz in Pew #3 ..."  "First-time caller,
long-time parishioner, Father."  "What's your question for Maryanne,
ma'am?"  "Maryanne, *what about the children*?  (APPLAUSE)."

 At least once a year, treat confessing parishioners to something
special.  "Bless you in your struggle, my child.  Now, sit back and
enjoy ... [The Chippendale Calendar Stud Dancers / The Victoria's Secret
Lingerie Models]!"

It may be too little, too late.  The talk shows have a lead, and they
will be reluctant to give up any turf.  If the talk shows do come to
dominate the world, don't worry -- I've got you covered.  You can rely
on me, and the TV!,

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