30. PHEW! WHAT A SCORCHER!
There is something so bizarre and implausible, even slightly mad, about the notion of spontaneous human combustion that it tends to bring on embarrassed titters when mentioned in polite company – and something rather more robust than brazen mirth among coarser companions. And it has to be said that this grisly phenomenon does hold the potential for grotesque comedy. That paragon of reliable journalism, the Weekly World News, took due advantage of this in its “completely verifiable” report of 18 November 1986:
PREACHER EXPLODES DURING SERMON Horrified congregation sees evangelist blow up in the pulpit
– and assures us not only that at the time “Pastor Lüger” was warning his flock that “they were headed for the blazing inferno of Hell” but that “not a single page” of the Bible he was holding (thumping?) “was so much as singed.” A fiery sermon indeed. One is almost surprised that the late Revd Dr Ian Paisley lived as long as he did without suffering such an acausal meaningful coincidence to accompany his habitually incendiary rhetoric. There are rather more serious accounts and analyses in the books we discuss here, though that doesn’t preclude a leavening of madness...