1 October 2015

Feminisation

I was recently looking round an Anglican country church ... which was in the charge of a womanpriest ... and I was struck by the oddity of its arrangements. There were two side chapels. The South chapel was decently set out with a veiled aumbry and a white light (albeit electrical). In the argot of old, we would have used the term 'Moderate High Church'. But the matching altar to the North was arranged for ... prayer. There was a large candle on the step before the Altar, its live flame burning brightly; there were the usual accoutrements for prayer: prayer trees, magical stones; there was an educational display which, among other things, told visitors that the bread and wine of the communion service remind Christians of Jesus.

How revealing; that whoever was responsible for such dispositions had no natural inclination to feel that the place for prayer might just possibly be before the Blessed Sacrament Reserved. Faced with two chapels, she invited people to use for prayer the one which did not contain the Reserved Sacrament (let us not on this occasion get into a discussion about what that aumbry really contained). And the notice board revealed that one was invited to attend "Messy Church", which I suspect does not relate to the French Messe or even to the Italian Messa.

My comments can only be anecdotal and your mere assertion might be enough to falsify them. But my instinct is that the style of liturgical life spreading in the Church of England bears a general relationship to the rapid spread of 'ordained' women. And that it is a style which goes easy on the doctrinal and the objective and puts its money on on the folksy and the feely and the personal.

In a generation they will have transformed the Church of England as surely as the Victorian ritualists, in their very different way, transformed it once before. Thank goodness there is no risk of the same thing happening in the Catholic Church ...

10 comments:

Little Black Sambo said...

Our parish churches are turning into infant schools. "Now SOME ONE is celebrating a birthday today. Yes, Tom, stand up. Let's all congratulate Tom". I actually witnessed this one Sunday morning.

Liam Ronan said...

Attend "Messy Church"? ¡Vaya lío!, I say. Welcome aboard the Bergolio express.

Anecdotally, when and where women once served as sacristans or belonged to the Altar Sodality the Lord's housekeeping was spotless.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

LMAO Touche, Father

Banshee said...

Um... no. That's not "folksy." That's New Agey and pretentiousy and hippie and yucky. It's not even about honest strong emotion and real prayer and devotion about real problems; it sounds like it's about precious wittle cutesy-wootsy pwayer.

Folksy would be a distinct step up. Ugh.

Also, isn't it dangerous to have a candle sitting on steps? Wouldn't it tend to get stepped on or knocked over, or set people's socks or altar flowers on fire, or have toddlers playing with it? It just sounds like an accident waiting to happen, unless you've got some real good safety arrangement.

Banshee said...

Anyway, my point is that as a woman, it sounds stupid to me, and as a person who knows kids get into stuff, the candle arrangement sounds stupid times 500. One can only assume that nobody with kids attends this church, and that kids never visit the place during the week.

Charlesdawson said...

I have heard the expression "messy church" used by a cousin of mine, who is a fundamentalist Baptist, about goings-on in her church. It apparently refers to the practice, there at least, of holding "services" which are in reality gatherings of small children and their carers, who are permitted, not to say encouraged, to treat the entire church as a playgroup environment, with games, toys, painting and cutting-out paper shapes, and other activities suitable to that age group.

Thie idea is, I gather, to encourage the very young to attend church. Quite what happens when they get a bit older and are (presumably) suddenly expected to behave reverently, quietly, and attentively during real services, was not made clear to me. It struck me as remarkably similar to the recurrent efforts to teach reading by means of special phonetic alphabets and the like, postponing the difficulty of actually teaching reading to some vague future.

Victimae Paschali Laudes said...

"Thank goodness there is no risk of the same thing happening in the Catholic Church."

Hah! Good one, Father!

Dale said...

If one looks up images for the consecration of the new Roman Catholic Cathedral of Los Angeles, California, there is one of a group of dancing nuns carrying incense burners around the "altar" that has some semi-pagan thingie in the middle of it.

JKH said...

Ite messy est!

Adrian said...

The "Family Service" arose (when? It was certainly around in the mid-sixties) because well meaning parsons thought that BCP Matins was too difficult and too static and the Holy Communion too esoteric for ordinary people. It was obvious from the start that, rather than being a bridge towards the normal worship of the Church, the Family Service would create a culture of its own - of which Messy Church is merely the latest development. Sadly, for many this is the only form of church they encounter.