Comments: Opinion - 21 June 2017

I'm disappointed to see such a poor article as 'The History of Pews' featuring on this normally sane site. Not only is its tone unnecessarily abrasive, it is also historically uninformed. See Cox and Harvey, English Church Furniture (1907) and Howard and Crossley, English Church Woodwork (1917) for some early scholarly work on the subject.

Posted by Evan McWilliams at Wednesday, 21 June 2017 at 4:14pm BST

Oh no! Not another article about "Vicar School". This hackneyed phrase is over-used and detracts from the dignified and humble calling to the priesthood.

Posted by FrDavidH at Wednesday, 21 June 2017 at 4:18pm BST

FrDavidH - i agree, "Vicar school" is jejune and to my ears dismissive. When I was an asst DDO I observed its use predominantly by those who seemed embarrassed by their calling and were determined to wear clericals in public as little as possible. But maybe I'm just a curmudgeon.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse (Fr William) at Wednesday, 21 June 2017 at 7:47pm BST

I have two quite separate reflections on Greg Goebel's piece.

1. I agree with him absolutely. I have come to feel that we come together for a funeral for four distinct reasons. All four need adequate attention, and I frequently introduce a funeral by stating these four purposes: We come together
a) to remember
b) to grieve
c) to farewell the deceased, and commend her/him to God's keeping
d) to dispose of the body now that s/he doesn't need it.
"a" is terribly important, but if that becomes the only thing that happens, you can't really describe the service as a Christian Funeral.

2. I note that this comes from Anglican Pastor, meaning Anglican as opposed to Episcopalian - part of ACNA. it is refreshing to be reminded that in the wide spectrum of theological views held by Anglicans/Episcopalians world-wide, we probably are in total agreement 90% of the time. It's the other 10% that divides us. I expect that Greg Goebel and I could argue forcibly about justice, sexuality, and interpretation of the bible, but if we were ever in the situation that he needed to take my funeral, I can tell that he would do so beautifully.

Posted by Edward Prebble at Wednesday, 21 June 2017 at 8:59pm BST

Greg Goebel, thank you for expressing my own thoughts better than I could do. I have increasingly been disturbed by the multiplication of funerals which are called celebrations of someone's life. In secularist funerals this is appropriate, because no future hope can be offered either for the deceased or to their relations. This should not be the case with Christian funerals.

I also would be content for the Prayer Book service to be used at my funeral. There is no glossing over the solemnity of death, or the fact that we are sinners needing forgiveness from our loving, merciful God; yet there is massive Hope offered to us all. Combined with liturgical dignity and language which is a glory of our English heritage, this approach to a funeral is Christian, serious, expressive of grief, yet also (in the true sense) joyful.

I differ from you only in requiring any who wish to celebrate my life to do it with a glass of good burgundy.

Posted by Barry at Thursday, 22 June 2017 at 1:45pm BST

Evan McWilliams: I don't doubt that there are inaccuracies in the article about pews. But what is your problem with the main argument? Pews turn people into passive spectators rather than active participants in the liturgy, and by keeping the 'people' static prisoners while allowing the professionals to perform and move around the 'stage', reinforce clericalism.

Posted by David Emmott at Thursday, 22 June 2017 at 8:10pm BST
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