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The Sicilians Guide to Doing Church: Choices

February 9, 2010

You pick. A or B. That is the choice in the movie The Princess Bride. It is what made Let’s Make a Deal so memorable. Well, maybe that and the crazy outfits. But still, in the end what you loved was the choice they had to make. Take what’s behind door number one or door number two. Choose the cash or what was in the box.

The idea of choice made it fun. The idea that a wrong choice could get you a zonk, you know a goat or a cow or an old bicycle is what kept you coming back. Did the contestant choose wisely?

That is the premise that The Princess Bride plays on. The notion that one choice is superior to the other. A battle of wits to see if the Sicilian can make the right one. In the movie a great exchange of dialogue takes place between Vizzini and Westley during the epic battle. I mean take a look at what they said. Please, do use the proper accent when reading the lines, it is so much better when you imagine the actual Vizzini voice. (Please no Mario voice, that is not what we are going for.)

Man in Black: All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right… and who is dead.
Vizzini: But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You’ve made your decision then?
Vizzini: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
Man in Black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
Vizzini: Wait til I get going! Now, where was I?
Man in Black: Australia.
Vizzini: Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder’s origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You’re just stalling now.
Vizzini: You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? You’ve beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you could’ve put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
Man in Black: You’re trying to trick me into giving away something. It won’t work.
Man in Black:Then make your choice.
Vizzini: I will, and I choose – What in the world can that be?
Vizzini: [Vizzini gestures up and away from the table. Roberts looks. Vizzini swaps the goblets]
Man in Black: What? Where? I don’t see anything.
Vizzini: Well, I- I could have sworn I saw something. No matter. First, let’s drink. Me from my glass, and you from yours.
Man in Black, Vizzini: [Vizzini and the Man in Black drink]
Man in Black: You guessed wrong.
Vizzini: You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha…

That is good stuff. Vizzini is confident in his choice. If you have seen the movie, well wait a minute. If you have not seen the movie you really need to. You need to stop right now if you have never watched it, go over to Netflix and do the Free Trial. Fill everything out and then put The Princess Bride at the top of your queue. Better yet, you can just play The Princess Bride right on your computer. I checked. You can just skip the queue all together. I will even mark your place so you can resume where we left off. X There, hurry along now.

At this point you are wondering if I have a point. Fair enough. But I do, I promise I do. I mean remember what happens to Vizzini after the promise that you shouldn’t go up against a Sicilian? Since everyone reading has seen the movie now you know, he keels over.

Vizzini: [Vizzini stops suddenly, his smile frozen on his face and falls to the right out of camera dead]
Buttercup: And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.
Man in Black: They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.

There you go. The punch line. The reason I started writing yesterday. Either way Vizzini went he died. It didn’t matter which one he chose. So much for Let’s Make a Deal. So much for a superior selection.

I think the church today often falls into the Sicilians mistake. The belief that we not only can win a battle of wits we should and are supposed to try. I think the church has driven itself down a long dead end while trying to choose between A and B. Insert the A and B. We choose and believe like Vincinni that we can win.

What if we can’t? What if we weren’t even supposed to? What then? Well from here on out that is what we will discuss. Don’t we have 101 choices to talk about?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimberley permalink
    July 15, 2010 3:10 pm

    Can you elaborate on this a bit in comments? I found your blog while searching for this segment of The Princess Bride and your commentary is interesting. Can you give some examples? I agree that it’s foolish to argue with a fool.

  2. July 17, 2010 6:28 pm


    Thanks for stopping by. Building a new church building could be one of these choices. We want to draw more people so lets build a new building. When you get the new people they are already saved looking for a better experience. New people come but do not become an active part of the fellowship.

    The assumption is new building is better and yet it may not be so. Both might be killing the church in America, one just might be doing it in nicer surroundings.

    Does that help?

    This was the first post in an entire series that I did inspired as you can see by the Princess Bride. Additional posts might also help explain.

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