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Source: (consider it) Thread: SF - How far is too far?
see-man
Apprentice
# 2331

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Hey - i'm new to all this - hope you don't mind me joining in... I've thought the debate so far pretty interesting.
Wondering if Jonny had read the 'Intro speech' thing from Steve Collins' post... It picks up a lot on that side of dirt, and explains some other stuff people have been on about. Worth a look...

Posts: 19 | From: Staines | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
steve collins

Shipmate
# 224

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i've got a different spin on hostie's two kinds of people in this debate:

one kind sees the bread and wine as, actually or in effect, the person of christ - and therefore deserving to be treated with dignity and respect.

the other kind sees the bread and wine as an event - which can therefore be restaged according to the methods of art. but things that are valid as restagings of an event would be indignities if visited upon a person!


Posts: 287 | From: london | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
chukovsky

Ship's toddler
# 116

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quote:
Originally posted by steve collins:
i've got a different spin on hostie's two kinds of people in this debate:

one kind sees the bread and wine as, actually or in effect, the person of christ - and therefore deserving to be treated with dignity and respect.

the other kind sees the bread and wine as an event - which can therefore be restaged according to the methods of art. but things that are valid as restagings of an event would be indignities if visited upon a person!


but these same indignities - being broken, being spilt - were visited upon a person, namely Christ.

My position on transubstantiation, like most of my theology, is fuzzy at best, but I wonder if there's anyone who does fall into camp A (person of Christ) but would be interested in more alternative presentations of the eucharist?

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Posts: 6842 | From: somewhere else | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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See-Man, you are very welcome to join in. Thabnks for your input.

quote:
Originally posted by steve collins:
things that are valid as restagings of an event would be indignities if visited upon a person!

I think this hits the nail bang on the head. Frankly, if the bread and wine contain the "real presence", however you construe that, it really limits how you do what you do - discussion after discussion in MW has basically proved that.

But it's not a question of trans-or con- substanwotsit people being unimaginative or anything. It's not a question of imagaination. It's a question of deeply held belief.

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Narcissism.


Posts: 7842 | From: Wood Towers | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Septimus
Shipmate
# 500

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quote:
Originally posted by Wood:
But it's not a question of trans-or con- substanwotsit people being unimaginative or anything. It's not a question of imagaination. It's a question of deeply held belief.

Actually, to a certain extent I think this is about people being unimaginitive; we are living a culture nowadays where people are either unable or unwilling to exercise their imaginations, to make the effort to understand anything which is not immediatley obvious. I remember once during my youth complaining to a priest that mass was boring and being told "you obviously weren't taking part". Participation isn't always about jumping up and grabbing the mike.

I am not suggesting for a second that this argument is the crucial point here, but not one that should be forgotten. Why should we assume that people are unable to appreciate less obvious forms of symbolism just becaue they are Urban?

Should people turn up to Mass as an audience (as described in the article), a word which suggests to me a either a need to be entertained or a priviledged meeting with an elite few? Certainly it wouls seem to suggest a one way flow rather than a sharing act of worship.

Re: the black mass comments, Steve, I assure you I have never been to one either(though as a Roman Catholic there may be some shipmates who would disagree); there was simply somthing vaguely reminiscent based on my limited experience of descriptions of them. I am sure that people attending High mass might freely associate to their own expereinces/knowledge in a simlilar way.

As a fairly new-comer to this whole Alt thing, could I just ask whether the sort of Service described is the only one those particular parishoners go to or do they tend to visit more mainstream masses too?

S.

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"The man of 'perfect manners' is he who is calmly courteous in all circumstances, as attentive outwardly to the plain and the elderly as he is to the young and the pretty."

Mrs. Humphrey, Manners for Men


Posts: 442 | From: England's Garden Gnome | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
steve collins

Shipmate
# 224

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of course there's another way of looking at it. supposing that Person were prepared to suffer indignities, like an actor? i've never had the impression that christ was careful of his own dignity at all, especially when it came to making a point or reaching someone.viz 'suffer little children' or the woman at the well. [i guess beside the cross all indignities pale...]
Posts: 287 | From: london | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fiddleback
unregistered


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All this Jesus in the cowshit stuff is the sort of damp-eyed pap we hear from pulpits every Christmas. It entirely ignores the fact that our Lord was a member of the comfortable middle classes.
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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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Cosmo wrote

quote:
If you really want God to be in the dirt with you and you to be with him then go to Mass today. At mass you will have a little piece of dirt rubbed onto your forehead in the shape of a cross with the words said to each individually 'Remember thou art dust and unto dust shalt thou return'. [Or repent and believe the Gospel] Then receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord which he gave for all people to receive and give thanks for,O Lord, you gave your body and blood for us all ...

I find myself agreeing with some parts of Cosmo’s post

Last night I went into my local High Anglican church for the first time ever last night for the Ash Wednesday ceremony. The ash-ing reminded me that we’re only visitors, the need to let go of the stuff that gets in the way. The communion that follows was a reminder of the eternal and that God is with us “in the shit”. It was very powerful and extremely thought-provoking. In alt w* services I’ve seen ash-ing used, but not usually followed by communion – which is a bit like getting half the message.

I can’t help feeling that something like that – if done well in an alt w* context – might be a more effective way of saying to people “God is with us, in the shit” than throwing the elements on the floor. I’ve thought about this and I can’t get away from the following:

  • If you need to explain what you’re doing and why then maybe something is wrong. Universal symbols tend not to need explanation as that’s the whole point of them imo.

  • Vaux has regular worshippers who know the group, trust them and would understand the group’s culture and dynamics. Although they might be shocked, the relationship the enables them to step back and wait and see what happens next … But what about the casual visitor?

  • Although my opinions on what happens to the elements in Communion are fairly woolly and ill-thought out, if I saw someone just toss the elements down and tread on them I would be appalled at the lack of, well, respect. That would make it very difficult for me to be open to what happened next or what the people doing the service were trying to achieve. (I realise that this is my problem btw). I couldn’t help feeling that they were adopting shock tactics just for the sake of it. [And I did try and read the intro!]

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am


Posts: 12701 | From: Someplace strange | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
dyfrig
Blue Scarfed Menace
# 15

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Three things strike me from the above:

1. Steve C's reference to the church as providing a "McDonalds" type service. This made me jump, because of course McD's is often associated with the commercialisation of the world. But of course, Steve is right - the Church has one product and tries to make it the same everywhere. It may well be that the English obsession with commonality drives out the creative and localised elements of worship - after all, even McD's have local variation around their standard Big Mac n fries.

2. Tubbs referred to "universal symbols". I think part of the problem - and hence a drivign factor in alt.w - is that there aren't any universal symbols. Through their abuse (by Church and non-Church alike) our symbols have simply stopped meaning anything. Even the regulars probably don't know what bits mean - after all, how many congregants know why we break the bread so late in the service, and not at the actual words of institution, which seems a far more logical place to do it? And all the other "universal symbols" - the "Gradual" hymn, the censing of the gospel - all of these had pretty mundane, practical beginnings, and yet have been invested by some with meaning, meanings which are then assumed to be universal and not explained. Despite Peter's exhortation to explain what you're doing and why, the Church is very, very at this.

3. All other things being equal, why is it worse to spill Jesus on an altar than to rip him apart at the fraction?

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"He was wrong in the long run, but then, who isn't?" - Tony Judt


Posts: 6917 | From: pob dydd Iau, am hanner dydd | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
chukovsky

Ship's toddler
# 116

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quote:
Originally posted by Dyfrig:
Even the regulars probably don't know what bits mean - after all, how many congregants know why we break the bread so late in the service, and not at the actual words of institution, which seems a far more logical place to do it?

I'll put my hand up to that one.

Tubbs said:

quote:
If you need to explain what you’re doing and why then maybe something is wrong. Universal symbols tend not to need explanation as that’s the whole point of them imo.

Sadly symbols cannot be universal unless everyone's had them explained (or learned them in some other way). Even quite regular church-goers haven't learnt all the symbols whether through lack of teaching, lack of initiative, or something.

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Posts: 6842 | From: somewhere else | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
steve collins

Shipmate
# 224

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[replying to septimus]

quote:
As a fairly new-comer to this whole Alt thing, could I just ask whether the sort of Service described is the only one those particular parishoners go to or do they tend to visit more mainstream masses too?

vaux itself has only been going for three years. many of the people involved in vaux also go to other churches and have wide experience of liturgies. some have ordained parents. they're experimenting on the basis of considerable theoretical and practical knowledge, not ignorance.

it's not that they don't understand the older symbolic language, but that they don't think it communicates well enough anymore in a changed society. ultimately the whole purpose of symbolism is to communicate [pun unintended]. if the language is not widely understood then it's not much use, however good in itself [the mass in latin is a fine thing after all]. it becomes arcane, and i don't think the church was meant to be arcane. that's as true of ritual or visual symbolism as it is of written or spoken language. note that this isn't an argument for a 'lowest common denominator' approach. "urban" people appreciate "less obvious forms of symbolism" too - in a different language. maybe you don't appreciate the less obvious aspects of their symbolism.

in fact there is a more serious charge, which is that old symbolic language can actually obscure or corrupt what was originally meant. the church tends to 'freeze' symbols for so long that they cease to mean what they originally meant - like those words in shakespeare or the book of common prayer whose meaning has altered [the father incomprehensible, the son incomprehensible, and the holy ghost incomprehensible!]. so there is a work to be done from time to time of recovering the original intent by changing the language. this is part of the point of alternative worship. it means taking a risk and trying out things that look very different from what has been customary. and it means allowing for the fact that the new language has not yet been perfected.

and any language that cuts deep is unlikely to be universal. why should it be anyway? how many culture-hopping strangers do you really expect to turn up to your worship? the big irony is that the non-christian 90% probably don't struggle with the word shit or violent symbolism. it's the ones used to the very un-universal culture of church that do!


Posts: 287 | From: london | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ChastMastr
Shipmate
# 716

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Um... this all makes me wonder if there's a place to post thoughts, discussions, etc. relating to my own experience. Those here who follow my posts, or see me in the Cafe, know I'm pretty odd, and if people read between the lines they can figure out that I am very odd indeed. I am used to rather unusual things, devotionally, which work quite well for me (and even apart from devotion) -- though I have not done them in church -- and was wondering, well, if a thread relating to all this would be appropriate or not here on the Ship.

(If this means anything to anyone reading this, I'm a sexually celibate Christian leatherman. The only reason I have not gotten involved with groups like The Defenders (WARNING: This link is G-rated, but if you follow links to linked pages there you may run across some things which may shock some -- please be aware of that!) is that I believe in sexual celibacy apart from male-female marriage, and as far as I can tell, Dignity, the parent group of the Defenders, specifically believes the opposite -- so strangely I can deal better with my local, non-religous leather groups much better, as they don't have a doctrinal concern I must be troubled with, and I may simply abstain from certain activities when necessary.)

So, um... is there a place one could discuss all this (in a non-lascivious manner, of course)? I haven't read Small Fire much in the past but perhaps this is a place for just that sort of issue.

Or is it just a tad too "alternative"? I've kind of tried to be cautious here on SoF... and people have generally accepted me and been polite, which is very, very welcome. And I don't want anything to change that...

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My essays on comics continuity: http://chastmastr.tumblr.com/tagged/continuity


Posts: 14068 | From: Clearwater, Florida | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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Hostie and Dyrig wrote stuff along the lines of:

quote:
Sadly symbols cannot be universal unless everyone's had them explained (or learned them in some other way). Even quite regular church-goers haven't learnt all the symbols whether through lack of teaching, lack of initiative, or something.

Which is a fair point ... I wish I'd thought of it ...

Although I still think that if you have to explain why you're doing something in such detail then something has got lost in translation somewhere.

Interesting post btw CM ... I just can't think of a decent reply

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am


Posts: 12701 | From: Someplace strange | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
see-man
Apprentice
# 2331

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Thanks for the welcome!

I am missing something? I thought the elements were basically dropped on the floor... 'Tubbs' suggests they were trampled on too. Is this right? If not, aren't you just exaggerating for effect... which might be a bit unfair on Vaux seeing as you weren't there?

Having read the intro bit, I didn't see that it sought to 'explain' the communion - it didn't mention any dropping/ throwing. I just thought it gave stuff a context.... Which could have been kind of helpful.


Posts: 19 | From: Staines | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Reepicheep
BANNED
# 60

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CM - sounds like a thread of its own.

That way it lets people who find it to be "too weird" avoid it, and lets those of us who want to know more find out.

Like how do the symbolisms involved in leather relate to the symbolisms at communion? And what are those symbols?

Love
Angel


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Ariel
Shipmate
# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by Dyfrig:
All other things being equal, why is it worse to spill Jesus on an altar than to rip him apart at the fraction?

I once went to a service where the priest had his microphone on too loud. The breaking of the host was horrible - like the snapping of bones. I've never been able to get this out of my mind since.

There are too many images of pain, dirt and desecration in the Vaux service to appeal to me. It would certainly make me think but I would not come away feeling refreshed or spiritually uplifted. Reading the article actually made me feel sad that such shock tactics seem to be necessary for some people. I also felt, on reading the explanation, that it might not have been out of place in the Pseud's Corner section of Private Eye.

If this is to be performed each week for a given period of time the shock value will obviously wear off. What then? How do you keep the impetus going? Use real raw meat for the Body of Christ? Real blood instead of wine?

Frankly, I think the people who dreamed this up need to get out more. This sounds to me like the beginning of something that could become increasingly unhealthy.


Posts: 25445 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Edward Green
Review Editor
# 46

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quote:
Originally posted by Hostie:
it seems to me that there are two types of people on here...

I think this is far too polemical. I know plenty of people who find a range of liturgies helpful, and enjoy a range of music and artistic expression in worship.

As for myself I have no problem going to mass, and no problem putting on some neo celtic arcane stuff with a downbeat D&B soundtrack. I love it all. It all means something.

[sp.]

[ 14 February 2002: Message edited by: sacredthree ]

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Posts: 4893 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
steve collins

Shipmate
# 224

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quote:
If this is to be performed each week for a given period of time the shock value will obviously wear off.

actually they knew when they planned it that it could only be done once [unless they do it again at greenbelt....so look out!]


Posts: 287 | From: london | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Siegfried
Ship's ferret
# 29

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Sorry, I meant to add this earlier in the discussion, but kept getting sidetracked.
With regards to the throwing down of the elements, I probably would have been rather startled and uncomfortable--in part because, even though I view them as symbolic, it strikes me as disrespectful, and also because I know that others view them as more than mere symbols.
An interesting note,however--in a music history class we listened to a bit of Leonard Bernstein's Mass. Our textbook reprinted a portion of the libretto, including the stage directions. At the point of the elevation of the elements, the celebrant (first time I'd seen that term, btw) instead flings them to the ground.
So, nothing new under the sun here...

Sieg


Posts: 5592 | From: Tallahassee, FL USA | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dave Walker

Contributing Editor
# 14

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[Aside to ChastMastr - if it's discussion of worship within an alternative lifestyle community then yes, Small Fire could be a place for such a thread. But it does need to be discussion about worship, not the lifestyle itself. PM me if any clarification is required. dave]

quote:
Ariel asserted:
Frankly, I think the people who dreamed this up need to get out more.

Ariel, (May I call you that?) by all means say why you don't like the sound of what went on, but I find this kind of stuff about people who will quite possibly be reading quite unhelpful.

dave

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Cartoon blog / @davewalker


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Hooker's Trick

Admin Emeritus and Guardian of the Gin
# 89

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quote:
Originally posted by steve collins:
but that they don't think it communicates well enough anymore in a changed society.

Surely that is a solecism. Why should our society be any more changed than our parents' or grandparent's or Queen Victoria's or Samuel Johnson's?

Ever since the Prayer Book (or Mass, or Resurrection story even, if you like) was written, new generations, in a changed society, had to confront and deal with it.

What makes the changes in our society so special?


Posts: 6735 | From: Gin Lane | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
starbelly
but you can call me Neil
# 25

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Posted by Rachel...
quote:
Some of us, who have been lurking, have been forced to think about Communion from a new perspective, and to question our reactions. So maybe it's OK that people have highly polarised opinions and state them firmly. Discussions don't have to lead to unanimous agreement. If people react as we might expect them to, given what we know of their background, then that's fair enough. It doesn't devalue this discussion at all.

The girl speaks sense!

Posted by Fiddleback

quote:
All this Jesus in the cowshit stuff is the sort of damp-eyed pap we hear from pulpits every Christmas. It entirely ignores the fact that our Lord was a member of the comfortable middle classes.

But even if he was then he was still lowered to the lowest place, mixing with scum and dying a criminals death, that sounds pretty shit to me.

Neil


Posts: 6009 | From: High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
chukovsky

Ship's toddler
# 116

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quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Hostie:
it seems to me that there are two types of people on here...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think this is far too polemical. I know plenty of people who find a range of liturgies helpful, and enjoy a range of music and artistic expression in worship.


I think the above will be a mess but... anyway ST, it wasn't meant to be polemical, it was actually meant to stop the degeneration that seemed to be happening... But then maybe that's not my best skill.

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This space left intentionally blank. Do not write on both sides of the paper at once.


Posts: 6842 | From: somewhere else | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Edward Green
Review Editor
# 46

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quote:
Originally posted by Hooker's Trick:

Ever since the Prayer Book (or Mass, or Resurrection story even, if you like) was written, new generations, in a changed society, had to confront and deal with it.

That's not true, and you know it. The form of words may have remained substantially unchanged, but the way it had been enacted, the actual communication has changed significantly.

Does your church has the holy table sideways in the nave, or perhaps has high sided box pews, or perhaps the responses are said by a clerk? The only reason the actual BCP remained unchanged for so long was that the English were so fed up of it changing every other year depending on theological fashion. Even though by the time of QE1 it did not reflect the eucharistic theology of the churches head they stuck with it for utilities sake.

Liturgy, written or otherwise is continuing not static. Perhaps Cranmer is both flattered and disappointed at the exclusive use of the BCP in some churches today, I don't think an everlasting memorial to English compromise was what he intended. Those who know me will remember I am no "Prayer Book Hater", I regularly sing the Evensong Office, and serve at BCP communion, and find it helpful. But the Prayer Book or any other liturgical text or formula is not carved in stone. If I reject scriptural inerrancy I can't then ascribe it to a tradition.

Alt.Worship, New Liturgies, Montessorian Christian Education, Explorative Worship, etc are all part of this evolution and continuation of our liturgy. Vaux are playing an important part in that, not trying to be "cool", "radical" or "trendy" but drawing from their own culture and experience in their worship. I hope I share that goal.

Alt.Worship for me flows out of the way I naturally worship God; when I pray I do the same stuff on my own that I would do with others in a group. If I didn't do group alt.worship I would be being dishonest to my spirituality. If you 'get' it, great, if you don't that's fine. I don't do what I do to shock or impress, I do it to worship God.

[fxd]

[ 14 February 2002: Message edited by: sacredthree ]

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Posts: 4893 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Esmeralda

Ship's token UK Mennonite
# 582

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Have read posts so far with interest though extreme tiredness. I personally was really excited by Steve C's article as it chimed in perfectly with the book I am currently thinking about writing, on incarnational spirituality, working title: Digging for God in the Shit. The premise is that God is not 'out there' or 'up there' (so we do floaty little dances lifting our arms up to reach him) but is in the very earth beneath our feet. Every day we tread on God, swallow God, breathe God (this is not pantheism but perhaps 'panentheism'). As regards communion, it occurred to me many years ago that one of its multiplicity of meanings is that God is willing to become shit - which is what happens to the bread and wine after we have eaten them (they also, of course, become the blood and cells of our bodies). I wrote a poem about this, imagining a place in the dust of Israel where Jesus may have squatted, his excremement fertilising the ground to grow wheat which would be ground into flour to make bread which we chew and swallow, and which conveys for us 'his willingness/ to become shit again'.

Read also the bit of Julian of Norwich which is usually omitted, where she reflects on the goodness of God in the fact that 'at the right time' our bodies 'open like a purse' to expel our waste products, and 'all this is by the goodness of God' (she must have had regular habits...). All this is why I was excited at reading Steve's report, and would like to discuss it with folks from Vaux. Do they have a website?

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I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand.

http://reversedstandard.wordpress.com/


Posts: 17415 | From: A small island nobody pays any attention to | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
FCB

Hillbilly Thomist
# 1495

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This is probably a gross misperception, but the description of the "Vaux mass" comes across to me as a bunch of people who have grown bored with Christianity and are trying to jazz it up.

Edward is right, worship is never static. Een the Latin Mass, the text of which was largely unchanged for 1500 years, looked very different in 1800 than it did in 700. But it is a peculiarly modern notion that a bunch of people should get together and figure out how it should change in order to mae it "meaningful" or "moving." Nobody ever said, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool to rub ashes on people's foreheads. That would shae 'em out of their complacency!"

FCB

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steve collins

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# 224

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vaux do have a website but it's being rebuilt atm. email them on info@vaux.net.

wrt shit, i've always been struck by the bit in ezekiel ch 4 v 12 where god tells ezekiel to bake his food over human excrement in public as part of his prophetic performance art. and ezekiel is so appalled that god backs down! so i've never felt it possible to offend god with this kind of art, since he invented it. it's the humans who get shocked.


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Adrienne
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# 2334

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Those of us from the higher end of the tradition span are the most used to heavy symbolism, and are probably the ones most in need of this sort of challenge. An we should be the one's to best appreciate a newly minted symbolic act...but I fear not.

I personally do not like the Benediction service, because veneration of the host itself, removed from the eating and drinking symbolism of assimilating Christ (for me, symbolically), seems off beam. So I suppose the cut-off point for me would come with consecration - and by the same token I wouldn't want to see the consecrated host thrown around, because from then on, we're acting in response to Jesus's command to 'Eat...Drink...' Up to that point, I suppose using the bread and wine as a visual aid is fair enough.

I was interested that the person leading the service isn't a priest - which I think makes a big difference, but I don't know why, as I disagree that it negates it as a 'real' Eucharist to the high-church eye. It is what it is; do we have to say that it's actually 'a device that symbolises the Eurcharist' ?

Reading back over what I've written, (I'm nervous of breaking the rules!) it all sounds very clinical - I think I may have proved to myself that those sort of challenges are just essential.


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steve collins

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# 224

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quote:
bored with Christianity

no, bored with the available expressions of church. they're very excited by christianity.

quote:
it is a peculiarly modern notion that a bunch of people should get together and figure out how it should change in order to mae it "meaningful" or "moving."

it's a peculiarly modern necessity, since churches ceased to engage adequately with the culture around them.


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Hooker's Trick

Admin Emeritus and Guardian of the Gin
# 89

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quote:
Originally posted by Hooker's Trick:
Surely that is a solecism.

Fun with isms: Surely it is not a solecism. What it is is a solipsism.

Now that we've got that cleared up, Edward you misunderstand me. I do indeed mean to say that my Holy Table is not sidewise in the nave and we don't have a clerk (although there are a surprising number of churches with high boxed pews in the Diocese of Virginia). Of course we change in response to new conditions and social realities.

What I meant was Archbishop Laud didn't say "you know what guys, we are an increasingly urban, commerical society. We are different. This old-fashioned Christianity doesn't have any relevance to us. Let's move the Holy Table into the chancel. Oh, let's jazz it up with some rails whilst we're at it."

Of course the forms of our ceremonial change. I suppose I am just taking a cynical reaction to "our society is SOO new and SOO special and SOO different that we need to do some one-off experimental rituals to put the punch back in Christianity."

Now, I'm not saying that one doesn't need to put the "punch" back into Christianity. Perhaps we do. I'm merely adding my voice to this discussion, tho what I have to say is probably all too predictable.

HT [prayer book fudnie]


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daisymay

St Elmo's Fire
# 1480

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I think anything that's "messy" is likely both to offend congregants,and get them thinking and discussing.

It's most likely to be when it's something of great importance to the individual, and eucharist/communion/bread and wine/etc will be high on the list, but the Vaux community seem to be able to cope with that, and thrive on it.

We got into some trouble for having a messy "crib" that spread hay untidily over the church - and then doubly so for putting into it some of the stuff a teenage mother of today would collect to prepare for the baby. Shit again - they couldn't cope with nappies. Obviously Jesus didn't!

We do need to keep finding ways to incarnate God. Always a shocking thing for God to do........

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Ariel
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# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by steve collins:
it's a peculiarly modern necessity, since churches ceased to engage adequately with the culture around them.

No: the culture has ceased to engage adequately with the churches.

I agree with FCB. To me, the whole thing smacks of over-sophistication and emotional perceptions dulled by too much contact with gritty inner-city life. If you start having visions of a "divine turd" there is something fundamentally wrong somewhere. Do you really place modern society as the benchmark rather than the church? We are routinely used to things these days that would have been unmentionable to people a century ago but I feel this is going too far.


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Schroedinger's cat

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# 64

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
No: the culture has ceased to engage adequately with the churches.

Sorry, but it is not the responsibility of the culture to change to stay with the church. It is the church's responsibility to be relevant to the culture in which it exists. If they diverge, then it is the responsibility of the church to adapt.

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Ariel
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# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by Steve:
If they diverge, then it is the responsibility of the church to adapt.

There are fashions in popular morality just as there are in anything else. We are currently in a negative phase. Some of the more depressing aspects of modern culture include the acceptability of drugs, divorce, promiscuity, sexual experimentation, the abdication of personal responsibility, and cynicism. I don't want, for example, a church that condones and adapts to these just because they are widespread features of modern life. I am not saying that all change is bad, but for me a church should have firm moral guidance, not blow with the wind to attract its converts. You can adapt so far that you end up eventually espousing principles which are the complete opposite of the ones you started out with. It might be what people want, but it doesn't necessarily follow that it is good for them.


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Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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But this isn't about morality, is it, Carm-err, Kier- err, Ariel?

It's about a way of 'doing' Church that engages with cultural idioms using new symbolisms, new signifiers, new semes. The morality that underpins these semes stays the same; only the semes change.

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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see-man wrote:

quote:
I am missing something? I thought the elements were basically dropped on the floor... 'Tubbs' suggests they were trampled on too. Is this right? If not, aren't you just exaggerating for effect... which might be a bit unfair on Vaux seeing as you weren't there?

I think one post implied that they were trampled on ... And because I access at work (and often read v quickly) it's highly possible that I assummed that it was from someone who was there, when it wasn't. If I have mis-represented anything in the service then I am sorry.

However, the whole thing still strikes me as way too confrontational and shock tactics for the sake of them ...

But then I'm speaking from the prespective of a particular community with it's own dynamic. It's also possible that if I was a Vaux regular then I would find it easier to get my head around the whole idea. It does sound like a product of a particular group / place / situation. (Worship as a reflection of the community that created it )

Hope this makes sense ...

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am


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dyfrig
Blue Scarfed Menace
# 15

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Ariel said:

I would not come away feeling refreshed or spiritually uplifted

This presupposes that this is the only emotional reaction that these particular symbols should cause in us.

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"He was wrong in the long run, but then, who isn't?" - Tony Judt


Posts: 6917 | From: pob dydd Iau, am hanner dydd | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Adrian
Electric angel
# 298

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i'm interested by the 'shock horror!' response to this report. we actually did something similar a couple of years ago - it was a creation/new life/resurrection themed service and after the congregation had washed their hands in sand as a confession ritual, the wine was split onto the 'dirty' sand as symbolic of the spilling of christ's blood that purifies creation.

the congregation included at least 4 or 5 clergy, loads of lay preachers and plenty good ole traditional methodists. nobody seemed to have a problem with it.

my point? maybe you have to be there.

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www.emergingchurch.info
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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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quote:
my point? maybe you have to be there.

I second that!

Tubbs

--------------------
"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am


Posts: 12701 | From: Someplace strange | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Ariel
Shipmate
# 58

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quote:
Originally posted by Dyfrig:
Ariel said:
I would not come away feeling refreshed or spiritually uplifted

This presupposes that this is the only emotional reaction that these particular symbols should cause in us.


This presupposes that you should expect a wider variety of reactions. Can I ask what people actually go to services for, what they expect or want to get out of them?

If you are in the right mood the Mass itself in its normal form can be shocking. It can also be deeply moving, uplifting, boring, frustrating, and deeply unfulfilling. It isn't the Mass that's different, it's my personal reaction to it.

Wood: no, this isn't directly about morality, but to judge by the postings on this thread I'd say it was indirectly a moral issue. I don't know what a "seme" is.


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FCB

Hillbilly Thomist
# 1495

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quote:
Originally posted by Adrian:
i'm interested by the 'shock horror!' response to this report. we actually did something similar a couple of years ago - it was a creation/new life/resurrection themed service and after the congregation had washed their hands in sand as a confession ritual, the wine was split onto the 'dirty' sand as symbolic of the spilling of christ's blood that purifies creation.

the congregation included at least 4 or 5 clergy, loads of lay preachers and plenty good ole traditional methodists. nobody seemed to have a problem with it.


I don't have a "shock, horror" response; it's more "schlock, boredom" response. And the fact that the clergy have a desire to seem hip should come as no surprise. I imagine the peer pressure not to seem shocked must have been intense.

Regarding to "church must adapt to the times" perspective, all I can say is that it has been tried repeatedly (Constantine, Charlemagne, the German Christians) and the church almost always looks back in regret. Who are the heroes of German Christianity? It is the up-to-date theologians who decided that Christianity must be purged of its jewish elements (following the best modern scholarship of Harnack, et al.); it was the "conservative" like Bonhoeffer and Barth and "antiquarian" communities like the Bruderhof.

FCB

--------------------
Agent of the Inquisition since 1982.


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Adrian
Electric angel
# 298

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quote:
Originally posted by FCB:
I don't have a "shock, horror" response; it's more "schlock, boredom" response. And the fact that the clergy have a desire to seem hip should come as no surprise. I imagine the peer pressure not to seem shocked must have been intense.

you couldn't be more wrong. there's a very healthy attitude of discussion and questioning at the ministers/preachers meetings. they wouldn't have hesitated had they felt something was out of order. the fact is, the context of the worship was one of thought and love, not one of staginess or 'schlock'. like i say, you gotta be there.

--------------------
www.emergingchurch.info
www.the-scriptorium.org


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dyfrig
Blue Scarfed Menace
# 15

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
Can I ask what people actually go to services for, what they expect or want to get out of them?


God.


Who is often neither restful nor spiritually refreshing, but rather terrifying and awe-ful.

--------------------
"He was wrong in the long run, but then, who isn't?" - Tony Judt


Posts: 6917 | From: pob dydd Iau, am hanner dydd | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
daisymay

St Elmo's Fire
# 1480

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"If you start having visions of a "divine turd" there is something fundamentally wrong somewhere." With the DivIne fundament or ours?

Ariel, our last vicar deliberately snapped the wafer close to the mike to remind us every time of the pain of Christ's breaking. It did send shudders, and rightly so.

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Dave Walker

Contributing Editor
# 14

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quote:
Originally posted by FCB:
Regarding to "church must adapt to the times" perspective, all I can say is that it has been tried repeatedly (Constantine, Charlemagne, the German Christians) and the church almost always looks back in regret.

So, lets go back to services all in Latin, or even better right back to Acts chapter 2, speaking in tongues and the like.

Of course the church has to adapt and change in the way it does things. (The changing it's morals issue is of course entirely separate). It's just that some of us want to enforce the adaptations that we personally like upon everyone else.

dave

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Cartoon blog / @davewalker


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dyfrig
Blue Scarfed Menace
# 15

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I always find it very curious that those who dismiss innovation in worship themselves participate in practices that were at specific points in history incredibly innovative and creative.

Two examples, I think, will suffice:

1. The English prayer book. Totally barmy compared with traditional church order. Only two offices, and a communion service that's the wrong way around. Shape and content determined very much by the theological impulses of Cranmer. Highly idiosyncratic, highly individual - and defended (quite rightly) by the people who recognise its value.

2. The Holy Week and Easter liturgies. Now, this is interesting. They started (natch) in Jerusalem, with "re-enactments" of specific events at the traditional accepted locations - they could do this because they had them to hand and they added something to the worship. But these services only came into existence after the Constantinian peace and developed as something new and different. When visitors, such as the nun Egeria, saw these, they said, "Wow!" and took the ideas back to their own communities throughout Europe.

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"He was wrong in the long run, but then, who isn't?" - Tony Judt


Posts: 6917 | From: pob dydd Iau, am hanner dydd | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
FCB

Hillbilly Thomist
# 1495

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quote:
Originally posted by Wibblethorpe:
Of course the church has to adapt and change in the way it does things.

Did I say that the Church does change? Sorry if I gave that impression. My point is that "changing with the times" happens inevitably, for good or for ill. I just think that when the church makes changing with the times an explicit item on its agenda it is usually making a mistake. In fact, I think that if you had to err on one side or the other, I'd rather err on the side of resisting the times. Put another way, I find the Amish admirable whereas I generally don't much admire mainline liberal protestantism or evangelical megachurches (two different kinds of cultural accomodation).

Regarding Dyfrig's two example (in reverse order):

2) The Holy Week rites didn't originate because some committee was trying to make the liturgy relate to the culture.

1) I think the BCP is a great example of innovation that is later regretted. The 1549 book was, at least on the surface, fairly traditional. It was in 1552, when Cranmer tried to adapt to the latest in continental protestant thinking, that he produced the miserable eucharistic rite that every subsequent revision of the BCP has sought to reverse.

FCB

--------------------
Agent of the Inquisition since 1982.


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dyfrig
Blue Scarfed Menace
# 15

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quote:
Originally posted by FCB:
2) The Holy Week rites didn't originate because some committee was trying to make the liturgy relate to the culture.

But we don't know this. Unless you're imagining that clergy and laity just turned up one morning and the words came out of nowhere, I think we have to concede that at least some innovative thought and planning went into this.


1) I think the BCP is a great example of innovation that is later regretted.

You'd better not let HT and PaulTH hear you say that - or indeed the Church of England which preserved these services in Common Worship.

--------------------
"He was wrong in the long run, but then, who isn't?" - Tony Judt


Posts: 6917 | From: pob dydd Iau, am hanner dydd | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Septimus
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# 500

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quote:
Originally posted by Wibblethorpe:
So, lets go back to services all in Latin, or even better right back to Acts chapter 2, speaking in tongues and the like.


I'm not sure that one has to go back terribly far to encounter the latter; as for the former no rear-glancing is necessary, just pop into any of a number of churches which I am sure any members of the MW Tat Demagoguery would be pleased to provide...

I am in agreement with the people saying that change for the sake of change might not always be too constructive, but here we get into a debate about evolution vs. revolution and other well known Fast Company articles.

What's wrong with trying to change ourselves or our outlook rather than everything else being "innovated" to order because we decide we're bored?

S.

--------------------
"The man of 'perfect manners' is he who is calmly courteous in all circumstances, as attentive outwardly to the plain and the elderly as he is to the young and the pretty."

Mrs. Humphrey, Manners for Men


Posts: 442 | From: England's Garden Gnome | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Hooker's Trick

Admin Emeritus and Guardian of the Gin
# 89

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quote:
the culture has ceased to engage adequately with the churches.

and later...

quote:
It is the church's responsibility to be relevant to the culture in which it
exists.

I can't get away from the feeling that there is some golden age-ism going on here. The feeling that once, in the mists of our collective memory, the Church and Society were hand-holding partners in a civilisation-wide mission of do-gooding and relevance. But when was this idyllic time?

E'en when church-going was compulsory, I doubt the fit was as neat as this. And even when people's world view was seen through the lense of the Faith of the Church, even when secular and spiritual was a false dichotomy, can we REALLY say that the church and the society it lived in cohabitated in perfect harmony? And are those the days to which we wish to return?

quote:
It's just that some of us want to enforce the adaptations that we personally like upon everyone else.

Surely everyone wants to impose his way on everyone else, if he is honest. Even liberal broad churchmen secretly pine after the fantasy that everyone would instantly recognise "dearly beloved brethren" as the beginning of a service.

And Dyfrig, of course you are quite right about the Prayer Book and innovation. But you've forgotten that all radicals become conservatives once radicalism becomes status quo. Then it all just gets boring and the same and irrelevant...

HT

By the way, what does "relevant" mean? It is one of those words that is oft used and rarely defined.


Posts: 6735 | From: Gin Lane | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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