Thinking Anglicans

opinions before Whitsun

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that MPs did not drop from the sky.

Last week, Paul Vallely wrote about The lost art of the expenses claim.

Terry Waite wrote earlier this week in The Times that We independents could bring on reform.

Jonathan Sacks writes today in The Times about How Jacob conquered the defining crisis of his life.

Jonathan Romain writes in the Guardian that Faith communities could improve places of worship by learning from football fans.

Andrew Brown wrote at Cif belief about the trip From Avignon to Geneva.

Mark Vernon reported from the Hay Festival on Rowan, Dostoevsky and a world without God.

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Erika BakerBillyDJohn-Julian, OJNchoirboyfromhellfFord Elms Recent comment authors
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Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Holy Cow! This Yank has never sat through a worship service that was as mind-numbingly boring as a football match that ended up tied at O! [I have heard a few sermons that have had the same effect, however.]

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Last week the Church of Scotland upheld the right of a congregation to choose its own minister, even if he is a gay man who shares the manse with another, despite tremendous efforts by the Western Isles to stop them. That’s rather further than the Church of England has come.” – Andrew Brown, Guardian blog – It makes one think about the relative difference between the Calvinist Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church of England – where erstwhile Presbyterians can affirm the ministry of a gay person, and the Church of England still struggles with the reality of gays… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

Cynthia, why do you think some of us in the choir sneak “Crackberries” into the stalls? It would boggle the minds of some clerics if they know how much text-messaging is going on between Decani and Cantoris during sermons.

BillyD
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While Rabbi Romain’s suggestions for the most part seem helpful* I think has rather missed the point of liturgy. Every service doesn’t have to be – I’ll go out on a limb here and say *shouldn’t* be – so “vibrant” and full of “passion” that it sends the worshipper out “with a bounce in your step.” Sometimes the proper effect is to make the congregation not more excited, but calmer, or more thoughtful. So much bad liturgy I’ve experienced has arisen from the desire to make every service the ecclesiastical equivalent of a Broadway smash hit. *except for his suggestion… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“Sometimes the proper effect is to make the congregation not more excited, but calmer, or more thoughtful”

And really, it should not be about what the priest or rabbi want’s to “make” the congregation, but it should be about giving the congregation the space to meet God at that moment in just the way they need to. That can be inner calm, peace, thoughtfulness, joy, despair, sadness, openness, outwardfocusness, inner focus – the very last thing it is about, or should be about, is what the priest decides is desirable.

BillyD
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“That can be inner calm, peace, thoughtfulness, joy, despair, sadness, openness, outwardfocusness, inner focus… “

Maybe going *into* the service, but any Christian service that *leaves* its participants in despair, or worse *causes them to feel that way*, gets a great big FAIL in my book.

chorboyfromhell
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chorboyfromhell

Thank you Erika, what you’ve said speaks volumes about the countless mistaken intentions of control-freak clerics who manipulate their congregations.

It really is about letting go and letting God.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

BillyD
I would not want a Service to lead me into despair, no. But some life situations can be so severe that expecting a Service to just lift you out of them is unrealistic.
I may need to be allowed to remain in despair before God and with God, for as long as healing takes.
A Service is a gateway to God, it’s not a quick fix for problems, or worse, a sticky plaster, there there, all’s better now.

fFord Elms
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fFord Elms

“So much bad liturgy I’ve experienced has arisen from the desire to make every service the ecclesiastical equivalent of a Broadway smash hit.” Bingo! Fr. John Julian of the Order of Julian of Norwich, and this is how I understand his words, not what he said himself, so don’t hold him responsible for what I say here, wrote a while ago to the effect that liturgy is, after all, work. We come to the liturgy to do the work of worship, which is the way we act towards our Friend. Now we don’t expect every enounter with any friend to… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

“NO wonder congregants are now calling themselves the ‘audience'”

When I hear clerics and congregants squabbling about the liturgy becoming a “performance” (and I’m not just talking about the choir), I think that we should be aware that there is indeed an audience, and audience of only One.

And I must agree with you Ford, the few times I have been in the congregation (most recently in a wonderful university town in the UK), I mostly just want to be left alone; often moreover to cry at the gloriousness of the liturgy working it’s magic. For me that’s what it’s all about.

BillyD
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Erika, I agree that services shouldn’t be a quick fix. To me, though, even pointing towards God is an action of hope, an action against despair. Simply leaving you to wallow in despair without at least that is not a legitimate function of Christian liturgy.

Maybe it’s a semantics thing. Depression is one thing; despair is something else – the sin of Judas.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Billy I agree, a Service should not deliberately leave you in despair. But when they first told me that my daughter had leukaemia 4 years ago I would have jumped at anyone who had expected me not to feel despair (not depression!), and who had tried to impose their Christian hope on me. God needs us to be real to be able to heal us, we do not have to conform to any expectations of what Christian Worship is “supposed” to do. Maybe I’m really only trying to say that worship, even in a corporate setting, is between God and… Read more »

John-Julian, OJN
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John-Julian, OJN

Well, Ford, you represent me pretty accurately, I ‘d say. May I only add the following from the estimable Blessed John Keble himself: ““Next to a sound rule of faith, there is nothing of so much consequence as a sober standard of feeling in matters of practical religion: and it is the peculiar happiness of the Church of England to possess in her authorized formularies, an ample and secure provision for both. But in times of much leisure and unbound curiosity, when excitement of every kind is sought after with a morbid eagerness, this part of the merit of our… Read more »

BillyD
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“…and who had tried to impose their Christian hope on me.”

Well, that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about, either. But Christian liturgy necessarily points to God in the life of Jesus Christ, doesn’t it?

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“But Christian liturgy necessarily points to God in the life of Jesus Christ, doesn’t it?”

Well, that depends. If that’s the priest’s aim and if he or she realises that they are a channel for God, then it does.
But if they wrest it from God and make it “their” Service and “their” agenda, then it can sometimes be impossible to find God through it all.