Lucille Ball’s Gossip Pantomime

Comedy often sheds light on human weakness. In this classic I Love Lucy sketch, Ethel exposes our eagerness to hear the “juicy”details of situations that are none of our business.

Lucy, on the other hand, exhibits our desperation, at times, to share a story about another’s difficulties and failures. In this case, she’s sworn not to talk about it, so without technically breaking her word, she breaks her word.  Beneath the brilliance of comedic delivery we see a deep flaw in our nature:  our curiosity about the affairs of others.  The couple whose troubles Lucy exposes in her pantomime are not present to defend their reputation or silence the “conversation.”

How often (sharing “prayer requests,” “seeking “advice,” “needing to vent”) do we allow a cloak of technical moral correctness to justify gossip!

We are not loving the other when we do.

There’s a gem of a reflection on the tongue in Stages on the Road, a collection of essays by Sigrid Undset, whose Kristin Lavrandsatter won her the Nobel Prize.  Her purpose in writing “A Letter to St. James,” author of that razor-sharp New Testament epistle so concerned with Christian mastery of the tongue, comes down to this:

So that we may get out of the way about talking so much about our neighbors, may refrain from passing on everything we know for certain and a great deal of which we know nothing at all for certain, may be content to see a rumor fly past our door without asking it to come in so that we too may have a look at it.

Let us begin.

sparrow.clrReads & Other Seeds

For more on Stages on the Road, the Undset collection Elizabeth Scalia calls a “thumping good read,” see Sigrid Undset’s Real Passion Revealed.



This post is part of a series (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence).  To receive new installments, you’re invited to Follow Sparrowfare. We’d love to have you join us in sharing the quotes that speak to you.

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