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» Ship of Fools   » Ship's Locker   » Limbo   » Purgatory: What are cathedrals for? (Page 3)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: What are cathedrals for?
Anselmina
Ship's barmaid
# 3032

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Thanks for your considered reply, Leprechaun. You were very patient in wading through my humongous post! I'll be kinder with this one [Yipee] .

I think we must see the work of the Body of Christ in different ways, and that perhaps colours how we post. Ministry, to me, is more than proclamation as important as that is, and I would see Cathedral ministry as very much at the point where meets that potentially stuffy institutional 'clubby' and exclusive church membership - as represented by all those churches where 'belonging' is essential for acceptance - and those who simply drift in the direction of God because of who knows why. (He does move, after all, in mysterious ways [Biased] !)

It's an area that many churches - regardless of denomination or churchmanship - rarely inhabit because they don't have the far reaching appeal and role that Cathedral churches often have, by virtue of the fact that they exist and function in such a unique way. For example, many people will assume that in order to attend a certain church they actually have to be a certain kind of Christian first. What use proclamation then?

Cathedrals are a different 'voice' of God, to the voice he uses when in other kinds of churches. But still singing the same tune, if only we could recognize it being played in a different key, or on a different instrument. Not a better voice, necessarily, but different. Only better insofar that human beings respond to different ways of being 'sung to'.

There are issues of expense and good use of resource and fidelity to the gospel, as you quite rightly point up. I think, however, that unless the very different and peculiar nature of a Cathedral community is understood and appreciated, it's quite difficult to come to a reasonable assessment of its effectiveness for the Kingdom.

Thanks for the discussion. I've found it really interesting and will, I promise, look around the next Cathedral I wander into with slightly different eyes!

Posts: 10002 | From: Scotland the Brave | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged
Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
Wood let's agree to leave this personal crap out of it. I have no intention of calling you to Hell and I don't think anything I've said has indicated that I want to do that.

Then shut up about it.

quote:
Your statements are overgeneralised. You seem to be suggesting that overtly evangelistic church services are aimed at recruiting the unchurched. I don't think so, they are aimed at the fringe, at drawing people into deeper commitment, or those who are seeking spiritually.
Since when? Every single evangelistic meeting in every church I have ever been to in the last ten years, while it may have had a subsidiary aim of bringing the fringe people closer to God, is there for the express of purpose of getting converts.

quote:
That implies a prior interest and often some kind of familiarity with churchy things. There remain large numbers who've been to church in childhood, or at least had contact. Significant numbers of people dropped out of Sunday School and many more had familiarity with worship as a result of going to a church primary school.
If that were true, I'd totally commend it. But in a church like mine where the Gospel is preached in the sermon in some way every single week, one really has to conclude that regular church services should be bringing everyone - including the fringe people - closer to God every single week. Certainly, the "friends services" we have are specifically for the unchurched (in a way that would be hilarious if it weren't so frustrating).

quote:
On the other hand, I probably agree with you that for the entirely unchurched, a church service is not necessarily going to be the best starting point for the 'process'.
At last! Some progress!

quote:
quote:
I'm saying that services which are for the purpose of evangelism are fundamentally a stupid idea.
Again an overgeneralised statement which is patently untrue in the experience of other Christians.
But not, weirdly, the experience of almost every Christian I know. As I said, I'm baffled that you're arguing the toss on this.

quote:
This is back to the level of anecdotal experience and whether my anecdote trumps yours.
Maybe. If it was down to my own experience, I might concede this point.

quote:
My belief is that there are many ways for people to come to faith
OK, with you there.

quote:
and overtly evangelistic church services can be part of the process - and a major part for some people.
...but usually the last part, after the process of acclimation (or maybe institutionalisation) is done. And since they're usually not primarily intended for people who have been brought in gradually, one has to ask... why?

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Narcissism.

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English Ploughboy.
Ship's tiller
# 4205

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quote:
Originally posted by LydaRose:
And I knew a guy who was a hard drug dealer who was a pillar of his Bible church.

I hope he got his just deserts and was turned into a gargoyle!
[Devil]

[Edited out extra citations and code.]

[ 11. May 2004, 22:04: Message edited by: Tortuf ]

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Christmas: celebration of un-created love let loose upon a needy world,

Posts: 386 | From: Sussex and Rwanda | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged
English Ploughboy.
Ship's tiller
# 4205

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No one has yet mentioned what an improvement dropping a few hundred tonnes of incendary bombs can make to the message of a Gothic Cathedral. I am thinking of course of Coventry. The modern cathedral is certainly no match for the gothic splendour of the old but the two sat side by side speak volumes about the Christian message, death and resurrection, winning through against disaster and adversity, and of course their wonderful work with peace and reconciliation. A wonderful worldwide work is being done from there and I do not think that anyone could visit without being profoundly moved,truly a place for our time. I am not however advocating this for our cathedrals in general.

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Christmas: celebration of un-created love let loose upon a needy world,

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Adam.

Like as the
# 4991

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
What is the earthly good of Christianity - to glorify God. Which is most effectively (but not exclusively) done through people coming to know and trust Jesus

Agree completely. Where I think we disagree is how we understand that word "know". It's a pretty ambiguous word, covering a whole range of meanings. By "know", you seem to mean what would be rendered in French by faire sa connaissance - "make the acquaintace of" carries the meaning in English, but with an undesirable cursory connotation. You seem to mean making a first encounter.

This is but a small part (albeit an important part) of what I mean by "know[ing] Jesus". I mean connaitre; I mean the formation and the maintenance of a relationship; I mean approaching an ever deeper knowledge of the face of Christ that draws you in, consumes you, utterly transforms you. I hope the witness of people on this thread from many different traditions (and comments made on the MW thread about Coventary cathedral's new charismatic service) can show you how important cathedral ministry (in which I include simple cathedral presence) can be in this.

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Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Preaching blog

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Spawn
Shipmate
# 4867

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quote:
Originally posted by Wood:
Since when? Every single evangelistic meeting in every church I have ever been to in the last ten years, while it may have had a subsidiary aim of bringing the fringe people closer to God, is there for the express of purpose of getting converts.

You failed to understand my last post. I don't know about your experience in your own church which seems to frustrate you, but most churches which have overtly evangelistic services recognise that they are reaching the fringe and the spiritually interested rather than those who have no experience of church. I tend to credit church leaders with a little more sophistication than you seem to. On the other hand, we could be talking about entirely different things. I am talking about 'seeker services' or whatever individual churches call them, rather than evangelistic rallies or missions, although in my experience these have their place as well.

I get the sense we're both banging our heads against a brick wall here in trying to communicate with each other. It is still my sense that you are being far too dogmatic about one of the many appropriate means of outreach.

Posts: 3447 | From: North Devon | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Lyda*Rose

Ship's broken porthole
# 4544

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quote:
Originally posted by English Ploughboy.:
quote:
Originally posted by LydaRose:
.. And I knew a guy who was a hard drug dealer who was a pillar of his Bible church.

I hope he got his just deserts and was turned into a gargoyle!
[Devil]

Amen, brother! [Overused]

[Edited out extra stuff.]

[ 11. May 2004, 22:08: Message edited by: Tortuf ]

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"Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how BIG... thank you. Thank you for my life." ~from Joe Vs the Volcano

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Wood
The Milkman of Human Kindness
# 7

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quote:
Originally posted by Spawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Wood:
Since when? Every single evangelistic meeting in every church I have ever been to in the last ten years, while it may have had a subsidiary aim of bringing the fringe people closer to God, is there for the express of purpose of getting converts.

You failed to understand my last post. I don't know about your experience in your own church which seems to frustrate you, but most churches which have overtly evangelistic services recognise that they are reaching the fringe and the spiritually interested rather than those who have no experience of church. I tend to credit church leaders with a little more sophistication than you seem to. On the other hand, we could be talking about entirely different things. I am talking about 'seeker services' or whatever individual churches call them, rather than evangelistic rallies or missions, although in my experience these have their place as well.
I understand you perfectly. I just happen to think you're wrong.

Show me a church we're they've really thought about it that much and said so, and I might give you some ground.

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Narcissism.

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Cod
Shipmate
# 2643

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I have nothing to add to the excellent comments made on this thread so far, simply to say that I myself have long felt God in the beautiful architecture of cathedrals. It is not wrong to give our best to God in art and architecture. For me, the CofE architectural tradition was a powerful pull for me in the direction of Christianity when I was not a Christian. However, it is impossible for this ever to be registered statistically.
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Ethne Alba
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# 5804

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Judging by ....the people who hide in the shadows... 'insignificant and forgotten folk'....the people on their own...the silent and hurting...people who turn up and can barely even think, much less string a sentence together....the people who stand and listen, or sit, or kneel.
Judging by the very many people who turn up at a cathedral Just in time for the prayers-on-the-hour, or evensong.
Judging by that little lot, I think Cathedrals do a fantastic job.
Where else can I go and sit/stand/kneel through a superb corporate act of worship that centres on Jesus and not get talked at...interupted...helped or ministered to?

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Leprechaun

Ship's Poison Elf
# 5408

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I recant. (I feel like Cranmer.)

If I were Rowan Williams I would not hand them over to the National Trust. Not immediately anyway.

Thanks especially Anselmina and ACOL-ite for explaining so much to me. I still have my reservations, but I understand much more. If a cathedral near you burns down soon, it won't have been me. [Smile]

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Jane R
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# 331

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Well, Leprechaun, yesterday York Minster was a place I went to pray for my father-in-law, who is dying of cancer. So it has some uses, even for mothers of young children who don't worship there regularly.

Today I can look out of my living-room window and see its towers in the distance and remember the Christians who have lived in this place for almost two thousand years, especially the mediaeval ones who gave their life savings and their labour and (in some cases) their lives to make it. It's a witness to the glory of God in stone which is visible for miles. Every time I look at it I see the Church rooted in time and space, terrible as an army with banners (to paraphrase C.S. Lewis and the Song of Songs slightly). It makes its presence felt over a much wider area than the street evangelist who stands in St Helen's Square sometimes telling people about God: halfway up Stonegate and you're out of earshot. I think you take a far too narrow view of evangelism.

Jane R

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Adam.

Like as the
# 4991

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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
I recant. (I feel like Cranmer.)

If I were Rowan Williams I would not hand them over to the National Trust. Not immediately anyway.

Thanks especially Anselmina and ACOL-ite for explaining so much to me. I still have my reservations, but I understand much more. If a cathedral near you burns down soon, it won't have been me. [Smile]

You're very welcome, Lep. Thankyou for forcing me into writing about my feelings - it's helped me to a better understanding of my relationship with God.

It's been a difficult day, but your post has made it feel much better. [Smile]

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Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Preaching blog

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Cod
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# 2643

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Now I feel I do have something to add to this thread although it is not of my own opinion.

I love cathedrals. They're one of the (few) things I miss about England having emigrated about three years ago. NZ hasn't much of an architectural heritage, and current architectural theory is based around the "elegant shed" concept. Not good. [Disappointed]

But the point has been raised that cathedrals have great symbolic importance, they have been houses of prayer for centuries, they are the culmination of the worship of God through art. And they keep God in the marketplace, so to speak - every city in the UK has its cathedral which are as often as not some of the most important features of the skyline - such as St. Paul's in London.

Yet one might argue that this can be taken the other way...

The person who would flog them off to English Heritage could argue that their symbolic importance is very much a two-edged sword, reminding all and sundry of the 'Christian' excesses of the Dark Ages. I guess the only way to deal with that problem would be to demolish them all.

Houses of prayer: well, yes, although one could argue instead that this is of no particular importance as we can and should pray anywhere and everywhere. Or, perhaps argue that this is the point where the tradition of the church stops guiding and starts chaining.

Finally, a big empty cathedral, seen in the public eye as a magnet for tourists and scarcely as a place of worship illustrates nothing more than the decline of Christianity.

I think those who would decommission cathedrals look to a church free of the temporal shackles of rude brick and mortar, so that the church is better able to concentrate on its mission without having to worry too much about replacing the West Window.

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"I fart in your general direction."
M Barnier

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Chorister

Completely Frocked
# 473

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I think it is the very fact that cathedrals are seen as a magnet for tourists that makes it seen as okay for some people (who would not normally feel comfortable going into a church in their own community) to visit. Rather like Princess Diana's death (another big picture) gave 'permission' for ordinary people to grieve.

If you come from a community where it is seen as soft to have spiritual needs, you can hide behind the tourism excuse to visit a cathedral and privately gain a lot of benefit from it.

I see it as no coincidence that, whereas churches have an increasingly aging membership, those visiting cathedrals are of very mixed ages, including those largely missing from the churches.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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Amazing Grace*

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# 4754

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir George Grey.:
Now I feel I do have something to add to this thread although it is not of my own opinion.

I love cathedrals. They're one of the (few) things I miss about England having emigrated about three years ago. <snip>

But the point has been raised that cathedrals have great symbolic importance, they have been houses of prayer for centuries, they are the culmination of the worship of God through art. And they keep God in the marketplace, so to speak - every city in the UK has its cathedral which are as often as not some of the most important features of the skyline - such as St. Paul's in London.

Yet one might argue that this can be taken the other way...<snip some more>

Finally, a big empty cathedral, seen in the public eye as a magnet for tourists and scarcely as a place of worship illustrates nothing more than the decline of Christianity.

With that being said, a cathedral with a beautiful facility and central location which is active in the social life of its community (weekday opening hours and services, hosting concerts/lectures, interfaith services, various good works) is, in my opinion, very much a force in the community for witnessing to the Good News of God's love for us. Generally a quiet one, but I've been on both sides of it so I know.

Charlotte

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.sig on vacation

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Freddy
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# 365

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quote:
Originally posted by Amazing Grace:
With that being said, a cathedral with a beautiful facility and central location which is active in the social life of its community (weekday opening hours and services, hosting concerts/lectures, interfaith services, various good works) is, in my opinion, very much a force in the community for witnessing to the Good News of God's love for us.

That is very true of the cathedral in my town, which is an exceedingly active center of this religious community. It is in constant use, and is frequently filled to capacity.

Its role as a magnet for tourism is somewhat in conflict with this, but the two roles coexist peacefully most of the time.

In times of tragedy, such as 9/11, places such as this are where many people turn for prayer and reassurance. During that time our cathedral was completely filled every day, mostly with strangers, for services just because it was a well known local house of worship.

Although it is in America, and is only 100 years old, it is very similar to many European cathedrals I have visited, in both feel and function.

A cathedral has a very deep emotional effect on people, being so often the scene of many significant life events. I have seen people come back to ours after some years away and just sit and weep with emotion. I have done this myself. [Tear]

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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The Black Labrador
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# 3098

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While Leprechaun makes some reasonable points about use of resources in the C of E I think cathedrals are a very bad example to use in this context, for the following reasons:

i. As others have noted, some cathedrals have seen noticeable increases in attendance in recent years - I don't know if these are transfers from other churches or whether this will be sustained - but the pattern is more positive in cathedrals than in many other churches (including some evangelical churches)

ii. Cathedrals attract far more visitors than average parish churches, they are probably more likely to have visitors at their services, they host many civic services and events which attract non Christians, etc. The cathedrals I've visited all advertise courses, lectures, study groups, etc. - so there are plenty of opportunities for discipleship - I don't know how many people take advantage of them.

iii. I'm no expert on cathedral finances, but I would expect them to be in a better position to maintain themselves than many churches - many charge for admission, and they would presumably have greater access to grants from english heritage/the lottery/charitable trusts.

I would close large numbers of parish churches before closing a single cathedral.

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Chorister

Completely Frocked
# 473

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As Black Labrador says, cathedrals are very special and have a special ministry at which they appear to be very successful. In addition, there are many parish churches, particularly in areas where there are no cathedrals, which run on a small-scale cathedral style, for example, Minsters, Abbey churches. They too have daily services, good choral foundation and act as a central resource for area festivals (which cannot be held in smaller churches due to size, lack of parking, etc). I would argue that in more far-flung areas these churches act as 'cathedrals' for their deaneries and thus also do invaluable work. I go to a similar one myself - our nearest cathedral is about 45 miles away. Because of this, many people do seem to use our church as they would a cathedral: to light a candle, sit and pray, listen to the music, be anonymous for a while, because it is the closest thing they have got.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

Posts: 34626 | From: Cream Tealand | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alogon
Cabin boy emeritus
# 5513

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No one yet has mentioned the place that the choir schools play in the expenses of a cathedral.

If The Choir by Trollope is true-to-life, it is a considerable expense indeed. The main conflict in the story was between a dean who wanted to close the choir and its school in order to redirect these expenses to the upkeep of the building, vs. various supporters of the choir who were aghast and grieved by this proposal. In this case, the choir survived, and the author made an eloquent case that the choir ought to survive and the dean was mistaken in his priorities. As long as children sing daily to the glory of God in our cathedrals, they are alive. If you want to see a dead cathedral, try France.

Over on the American side of the pond, I find it very impressive how much better known and honored the English cathedral and collegiate choirs are now than they were thirty or forty years ago when I was a student. Then, the Schwann catalog listed only a relative handful of recordings from them, and these were mostly from King's and St. John's Colleges. There were one or two from Westminster Abbey, a couple from St. Paul's, a couple from Salisbury. Anyone wanting to go beyond that would have quite a sleuthing job on his hands.

Although the classical record market as a whole is in increasingly dire straits, one finds today a relative cornucopia of recordings-- entire series, in fact-- from various English cathedral choirs. Their musical standards have palpably increased in most cases. They are now appreciated as groups of the highest caliber in the musical world at large-- belatedly IMHO, but it is a very gratifying thing to behold. Their singing serves as a model and an inspiration to many choirs in this country, and presumably all over the world.

Now back to the expenses of cathedrals, about which so much objection has been expressed in this thread: insofar as the choirs figure prominently as an expense, I must point out that this expense actually goes largely to the education of children: the choristers' remuneration is applied directly or indirectly to their schooling. Hence it is a significant charitable outlay and an investment in people. Without the opportunity to sing in the cathedral choir, these boys and girls would in many cases not be able to enjoy such a good education.

The lay clerks and organists, too, aren't usually among our wealthier citizens. They may be university students trying to pay the rent. They may be schoolteachers. Or they may hold their positions largely as labors of love-- living where they are living solely in order to sing in the choir, and trying to make ends meet from some part-time job or other that doesn't happen to conflict with their service and rehearsal schedules.

I can understand questioning whether the church is spending too much money on bricks and mortar. I can even understand questioning whether she is spending too much money on music per se (hypothetically: I doubt that any church spends too much these days in practice). But I find it very hard to see any goodwill in questioning money spent on the education of a child. Please let us bear in mind that the cathedrals are in this line of work significantly.
Children are among the poor we make so much noise about wanting to help as an alternative to "spending money on cathedrals." They are also among the souls that we wish to evangelize. The issue raised is, to that extent, purely a false dichotomy.

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Patriarchy (n.): A belief in original sin unaccompanied by a belief in God.

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Chorister

Completely Frocked
# 473

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It is also worth remembering, lest anyone think that cathedrals are only interested in an elite of independent education, that they work extensively with schools in the state sector as well, holding festivals, exhibitions, study days, for any church or secular schools which wish to come along.
(Added to which, any child with a good, clear voice can be offered a choral scholarship - and many places are heavily subsidised so that children are not barred because of lack of parental income).

I have many happy memories of attending Exeter Cathedral as a child, for a schools' festival, where art, music, history and faith all combined to make a very special day out. I'm glad to see that these events are still counted as very important.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

Posts: 34626 | From: Cream Tealand | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
ange_joyeux
Apprentice
# 6719

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To me, cathedrals are glorious channels through which we touch the past, similar to the pyramids of Egypt. I love the beauty and cultural significance of the stained-glass panes in many cathedrals and I think of them as beautiful historical art pieces that are hung in a church instead of an art museum.

For me, the true immense, powerful and lasting testaments to the glory of God, are the Cascade Mountains that rise in majesty in my front window and the magnificent and vast Pacific Ocean sparkling in my back window.

Driving thru British Columbia and Alberta several years ago, I was blown away by the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies as a stunning panorama greeted us at every turn of the highway. Miles and miles of majestic beauty that I believe that are the true monuments of the work of our Lord; God’s own temples.

Ange

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It is better to entertain an idea than to take it home to live with you for the rest of your life.

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