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The Theater Is on Fire

In a sermon, the Reverend Ethan Magness quoted the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard who told this parable:

A crowded theater hosted a variety show, with various acts in it. Each act was more fantastic than the one prior, so it created louder and louder applause from the audience. Suddenly, a clown rushed on to the stage and said, “I apologize for this interruption, but I regret to inform you that our theater is on fire! You need to leave right away, and in an orderly fashion.”

But the audience thought he was part of the act, so they laughed and applauded. They thought he was very committed to the role. But the clown again implored them that they needed to leave right away or they would get seriously injured, maybe even die. And again, they greeted him with loud and thunderous applause. At last, he could do no more, and so he left the building, and the people were destroyed.

And Kierkegaard concludes in this sobering way: “Our age will go down in fiery destruction not to the sound of mourning but to applause and cheering.”


Rev. Ethan Magness, Sermon: “The Theater is on Fire,” Grace Anglican Church (12-1-19)

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