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» Ship of Fools   »   » Oblivion   » The Sign of Peace - Why? (Page 3)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Sign of Peace - Why?
L'organist
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One solution to The Peace: be an organist and sit in a loft [Biased]

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Kitten
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Too right. Perhaps those of us who'd rather not, thanks, could hold a service book in our hands, like the folks not receiving the Eucharist?

Even that doesn't always work, I've been seated in a prayerful attitude with a service book in my hands only to have someone reach in and yank my hand out just so that they could shake it.

I can cope with the peace at the small, Agape service I attend where you share the peace only with the person on your immediate right and left, what I cannot cope with is in the main Church service where a few people bound about like over excited puppy dogs trying to tag as many people as they can

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Ad Orientem
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The peace is really a piece of liturgical archealogism. The liturgical reformers of the twentieth century (may God have mercy on their souls) thought it would be good to resurrect a long forgotten practice without really having any understanding of how it was practiced in ancient times. It was thus introduced under the guise of authenticity and a theology was invented around it.
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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
I admit to disliking it, and it's part of the reason why I don't usually go to a Sunday service. Besides, it's false: you sit there surrounded by people you don't know, who don't speak to you and you don't speak to them, suddenly for half a minute you're all smiles and handshakes, then you ignore each other again for the rest of the service and leave separately. What it doesn't do is engender any sense of community. It comes across as hugely contrived and frankly quite pointless. We never used to have it and I wish they'd scrap it.

So the solution to an almost-total lack of real community within the church is to remove the one part of the worship that tries to promote it?

I suppose then we'll be completely free to turn up at church and utterly ignore all those nasty humans surrounding us. A whole church full of isolated individuals, with the concept of Christian Unity nothing more than a weekly geographical curiosity. How wonderful.

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
I admit to disliking it, and it's part of the reason why I don't usually go to a Sunday service. Besides, it's false: you sit there surrounded by people you don't know, who don't speak to you and you don't speak to them, suddenly for half a minute you're all smiles and handshakes, then you ignore each other again for the rest of the service and leave separately. What it doesn't do is engender any sense of community. It comes across as hugely contrived and frankly quite pointless. We never used to have it and I wish they'd scrap it.

So the solution to an almost-total lack of real community within the church is to remove the one part of the worship that tries to promote it?

I suppose then we'll be completely free to turn up at church and utterly ignore all those nasty humans surrounding us. A whole church full of isolated individuals, with the concept of Christian Unity nothing more than a weekly geographical curiosity. How wonderful.

Whereas the fakery at the moment which causes active distress to a minority (albeit lots like it) is a good thing? Personally isolated individuals coming together to worship and receive the sacraments is a heck of a lot more wonderful than an opportunity to disconcert and marginalise as currently practised by the ambulatory ones. One lady at the service I was at last week actually hit me (and I do mean punched) on the arm to get my attention and shake her hand. Truly twinning discomfort with contact with the inability to make and hold eye contact has been a blessing to me. I was kneeling at the time.

Ban it. Asap.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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SvitlanaV2
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betjemaniac

Why don't you just have a quiet word with your minister (or other church leader), requesting them to ask worshippers to be sensitive to people who may be at prayer, etc, during this time?

If people are in the habit of hitting someone who's at prayer, that's pretty bad, but there's no need to ban the Peace for that. It's their poor behaviour that needs to be dealt with.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
I admit to disliking it, and it's part of the reason why I don't usually go to a Sunday service. Besides, it's false: you sit there surrounded by people you don't know, who don't speak to you and you don't speak to them, suddenly for half a minute you're all smiles and handshakes, then you ignore each other again for the rest of the service and leave separately. What it doesn't do is engender any sense of community. It comes across as hugely contrived and frankly quite pointless. We never used to have it and I wish they'd scrap it.

So the solution to an almost-total lack of real community within the church is to remove the one part of the worship that tries to promote it?

I suppose then we'll be completely free to turn up at church and utterly ignore all those nasty humans surrounding us. A whole church full of isolated individuals, with the concept of Christian Unity nothing more than a weekly geographical curiosity. How wonderful.

It may "try to promote it", but in fact it merely obscures the fact that it's not really present. It may be that getting rid of the fake community ritual of "the peace" will actually expose the lack of real community and encourage real building of community.

If taking it away means there's no community left, there was none there in the beginning. You lose nothing, except the pretence. For fuck's sake go down the pub together or something real if you really want to build community.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
betjemaniac

Why don't you just have a quiet word with your minister (or other church leader), requesting them to ask worshippers to be sensitive to people who may be at prayer, etc, during this time?

If people are in the habit of hitting someone who's at prayer, that's pretty bad, but there's no need to ban the Peace for that. It's their poor behaviour that needs to be dealt with.

Sorry, I'm just pretty raw about it at the moment. I would of course not seek to ban it, but it doesn't stop me fervently hoping that it'll just die out...

In terms of talking to the vicar, I've only been going there a month, I've never spoken to him about anything to date.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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SvitlanaV2
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Maybe you could try other churches in the vicinity and see if they do it differently. Otherwise, you'll probably have to wait until you know these folk a bit better and can talk to them about it, or come up with some strategy such as nipping to the loo, etc.

As I said before, it must be difficult for someone who has to it every week and doesn't like doing it. I might really dislike it as well if I had to do it every week!

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Bishops Finger
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This whole subject is so fraught with difficulties and possible awkwardness! As I have said, my own practice (as liturgical Deacon) is to make the effort to exchange the Peace with visitors/newcomers/peeps I haven't seen at Mass for a few weeks, but leaving 'How are you?' etc. to the post-Mass coffee-time.......

.......OTOH, I do sympathise with those who say that the verbal exchange between priest and assembly is all that is needed!

ISTM that this is just one of those many church situations where you're simply never going to please everybody all of the time.....but that does not mean that the Peace should be unduly prolonged beyond the minute or two it should take!

Ian J.

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Our words are giants when they do us an injury, and dwarfs when they do us a service. (Wilkie Collins)

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Ariel
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
I admit to disliking it, and it's part of the reason why I don't usually go to a Sunday service. Besides, it's false: you sit there surrounded by people you don't know, who don't speak to you and you don't speak to them, suddenly for half a minute you're all smiles and handshakes, then you ignore each other again for the rest of the service and leave separately. What it doesn't do is engender any sense of community. It comes across as hugely contrived and frankly quite pointless. We never used to have it and I wish they'd scrap it.

So the solution to an almost-total lack of real community within the church is to remove the one part of the worship that tries to promote it?

No. If you really want to engender a sense of community get people properly introduced by someone as they arrive, i.e. show them to a pew and ask (without pushing it) whether they already know anyone who might be sitting there, and if not, offer to introduce them. This sort of thing could take place easily before the service starts, and there can be a coffee event afterwards they can go to to continue it if they want. The fake handshake thing is just a waste of time.
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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
You lose nothing, except the pretence.

And the visual reminder of what you need.

Earlier the argument was that the practice was painful because of the lack of real community.

Would the practice become less painful if there really was a community?

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
You lose nothing, except the pretence.

And the visual reminder of what you need.

Earlier the argument was that the practice was painful because of the lack of real community.

Would the practice become less painful if there really was a community?

No, it's pointless where there's a lack of real community. It'd be pointless if there were, as well, because shaking hands with people where the rubrics say I should do so has very little to do with real community and real relationship. It's bizarre, strange and uncomfortable and is as far away from my real interpersonal relations as it is possible to be. This may shock some people, but I do not shake hands with my friends - it's something I do with work associates. It's formal, not friendly. I'd be more likely to offer a hand then take it away and stick my thumb on my nose going "ner ner! Got you!" to my actual friends. I have a feeling that'd not go down very well in the middle of the service. A real greeting to a real friend is a genuine smile and an enthusiastic "eyup" or "hello" - something that cannot be faked and cannot be scripted. Trying to promote community in this way makes as much sense to me as trying to get a girlfriend by wanking to numbers.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Albertus
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So, back to what was said earlier. It's not about community, or friendship: it's about formal, liturgical peace.

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Graven Image
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I dislike the peace. I find it jarring, In our church which is small, everyone must shake hands and hug every other person. I do not feel like being hugged 30 times on a Sunday morning, thank you, nor do I think that is what the peace is all about. I would much rather simply stay in my seat and shake hands with the person next to me, and bid them God's peace. Having said that I also know for many living alone it is the only human physical contact they have during the whole week and it is important to them. So I smile and hug away and relax when it is over.
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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
No, it's pointless where there's a lack of real community. It'd be pointless if there were, as well, because shaking hands with people where the rubrics say I should do so has very little to do with real community and real relationship.

And for people who find it OK and quite like it, and do find some meaning in it, can you accept that or are you clear that they are simply wrong?

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Ariel
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Each to their own and all that, but having grown up not having to shake hands with the people next to me (and it would feel odd to do this with members of your own family, surely?), it does feel disconcerting having it enforced suddenly in the middle of the service.

I was once unexpectedly hugged by someone I didn't know at an Anglican service, which was also quite disconcerting. Friends and family are fine but complete strangers are another matter.

I think churches ought to do a vox pop and see if the majority of their congregations actually like it and want it. I suspect there may well be a sizeable element who don't but remain silent about it.

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
(and it would feel odd to do this with members of your own family, surely?)

Often I'm in the choir so I don't notice this, but when I'm in pews and the peace is announced neither me nor my wife can bring ourselves to shake hands, and we don't really feel like kissing or hugging in public to order either.

[ 29. October 2013, 05:47: Message edited by: mdijon ]

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
No, it's pointless where there's a lack of real community. It'd be pointless if there were, as well, because shaking hands with people where the rubrics say I should do so has very little to do with real community and real relationship.

And for people who find it OK and quite like it, and do find some meaning in it, can you accept that or are you clear that they are simply wrong?
I'm happy to let them got on with it. But if anyone thinks that it's actually building community that otherwise wouldn't exist I think they're barking, frankly.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
So, back to what was said earlier. It's not about community, or friendship: it's about formal, liturgical peace.

To be honest, I'm not sure I know what "formal liturgical peace" means. If it's a general desire for our neighbours to experience the peace of Christ, then it doesn't require individual greetings.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Albertus
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What I mean by it is a symbolic expression of being at peace with your neighbours before you receive the Sacrament with them. This is why, when occasionally I have been irritated by someone else's behaviour during the service so far or, more rarely, have had a serious disagreement with them, I make a point of sharing the peace with them.
If you are at peace with those around you, a token acknowledgement should be enough- and should be accepted by others as being enough.

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L'organist
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Perhaps the real problem with The Peace is more (and less) fundamental:

It was decided to re-introduce something that had (they thought) been part of the liturgy so long ago that no one knew how it was done/how it worked.

So far, so unpromising.

But the real genius for liturgical confusion and upset was that it was decided to dump this into the middle of a service by a group of people most of whom rarely, if ever, were in the congregation for a run-of-0the-mill service.

I don't think this last point can be over-emphasised: it was decided to be something "good" for congregations to embrace by people who hardly ever were in a congregation.

And as far as I can find out, little if any trialling was done in normal parishes before it got included in the service booklets and parishes were expected to accommodate it.

You shouldn't underestimate how little many clergy know about being in a congregational setting or role. Some of the most joyous and sustained laughter I heard in my childhood was after a group of clergy wives had all 'fessed up on their strategy for churchgoing during the holidays - and almost unanimously they all said they let their priestly husband take the children alone because it was the only time he ever went to church with his own children and he would get to discover the unique joy of 3 (or more) offspring hell-bent on playing up.

So, The Peace was foisted onto congregations by people with little idea of how it might have worked in the past, little concept of what its impact might be at the time, and without the sense to think through or imagine the outcome of their little experiment.

And the much later justification on the grounds of "building community" would be laughable if it didn't show just how out-of-touch these people really were/are.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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LutheranChik
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Not only little trialing, but no explanation to the congregation about why their worship service was suddenly being interrupted for a round of hand-shaking/hugging.

I love liturgical worship (the Peace excepted...). But I think the Church has done a terrible job, over the years, explaining the WHY of the liturgy to laypeople.

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
But the real genius for liturgical confusion and upset was that it was decided to dump this into the middle of a service by a group of people most of whom rarely, if ever, were in the congregation for a run-of-the-mill service.

I don't think this last point can be over-emphasised: it was decided to be something "good" for congregations to embrace by people who hardly ever were in a congregation.

And as far as I can find out, little if any trialling was done in normal parishes before it got included in the service booklets and parishes were expected to accommodate it.

That's a fascinating point. Maybe it's obvious to most people in the more 'clerical' traditions but from my faith context, where the senior pastor won't be taking a lead role in every service, it's not obvious at all.

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Bostonman
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
What I mean by it is a symbolic expression of being at peace with your neighbours before you receive the Sacrament with them. This is why, when occasionally I have been irritated by someone else's behaviour during the service so far or, more rarely, have had a serious disagreement with them, I make a point of sharing the peace with them.
If you are at peace with those around you, a token acknowledgement should be enough- and should be accepted by others as being enough.

My community has a weekly practice of confession and of addressing grievances with one another, followed by the Peace. I'd say it's extremely effective as a symbolic restoration of right relationship with one another.
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Albertus
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It sounds like it would be. You say 'my community': are you a member of some religious Order, then? I'm not sure how it'd work in a parish context.

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Aggie
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Too right. Perhaps those of us who'd rather not, thanks, could hold a service book in our hands, like the folks not receiving the Eucharist?

Oh I wish!! I have tried that - grabbing my hymn book and holding it tightly with both hands as soon as I hear the priest say "let us offer one another a sign of peace", but unfortunately some people are very persistent,and thrust their hands at you. I have even had my shoulder yanked by some enthusiastic "peace-nik" behind me whose proffered hand I had tried to ignore. Why can't other members of the congregation respect the fact that some of us do not wish to do the peace?

I used to do the peace as I did not wish to appear churlish by refusing to do it, but now I won't do it at all, even though I have seen people roll their eyes or tut or giggle when they approach me and I won't shake hands, I just smile or nod.

I am in agreement with the Shipmates who think the peace is unnecessary, intrusive, coercive and false - and I am so pleased I am not the only one who thinks this.

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“I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.”
(Joseph Mary Plunkett 1887-1917)

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L'organist
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I still think the best introduction/comment I've ever heard at The Peace was from a cleric some years ago who did as follows:

1. Notices from the Chancel step.

2. Banns - requesting couples present to stand so that people could see them and wish them well.

3. "You may, if you and they wish, offer each other a sign of peace. The Peace of the Lord be with you."

He would then share the peace with 1 person on either side of the aisle before turning to walk back to the altar.

This meant (a) it was quite clear that the peace should be something shared willingly.

And pre-wedding couples could be identified which not only rendered the reading of banns more meaningful but also meant people could welcome them at the end of the service.

As for sharing the peace with the congregation, he always walked straight to the door at the end of the service so was available to every member of the congregation as they left the church.

Howzat!

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Roselyn
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quote:
Originally posted by betjemaniac:
quote:
Originally posted by Roselyn:
feeling uncomfortable is not a good reason to deny people the comfort this can give,


Yes but that's putting all the "blame" and responsibility for not being able to do it back onto me/others that struggle with it isn't it? "This is something you have to do because their need is greater than yours." Frankly, that's an awfully big assumption to make - and ignores the fact that really people aren't *choosing* not to do it - they can't, and they get judged for it because they're not being "nice" to the people who only get to touch someone once a week...

Entirely selflessly I could of course just grin and bear it, but if we laid our souls bare, I wonder sometimes if the hypothetical person would do it if they realised the pain they were inflicting was potentially greater than any comfort they were getting in the process? At the moment, this line of argument is applied only to the refusers when in fact it cuts both ways.

This is no-win on either side, which is why I still think it's a damaging and divisive thing to be doing, albeit for the most noble of reasons. I agree entirely with the post up thread:

"The Peace of the Lord be always with you."

Cong: "And also with you."

Is (assuming we go wild for a second and take you as being plural rather than a singular response to the Priest alone - and hey, we make crazier mental leaps...) quite enough in my opinion.

People that want to touch each other and have a chat can do so after the service, no one is stopping them. But at the moment we are making a small number of casualties through our actions every Sunday - one side getting offended, and the other disablingly anxious. I wasn't aware that we went to church to hurt people, but one way or the other, that is what offering a sign of peace does. In the great scheme of things it probably matters less than a whole host of dead horse issues that inflict pain and damage on a variety of sectors of congregations, but the pain is real for the sufferers none the less - and I think there's a regrettable tendency to want people to just "man up" and get on with it.


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Roselyn
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Do people who find touch difficult find it difficult to put their hands together (as with a child at prayer) and nod to another person while saying "Peace"?
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L'organist
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Roselyne

Its not just about the touch thing: its the whole false bonhomie, hey, aren't we "in touch" with our softer side, 1970s self-conscious garbage that many of us dislike.

Frankly, putting hands together and saying Peace will only complete the picture of a bad attempt to take off the Hare Krishnas.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Albertus
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On occasions when I have not wished to join in the handshaking gaggle I have found that a gracious and I hope graceful shallow bow in the general direction of those around me, followed by a conspicuous riffling through the hymn book for the next hymn, does a pretty painless job of saying 'I wish you well but please leave me alone'. But then I've never been subject to the rather aggressive approaches that some shipmates have described upthread. I don't think the words 'fuck off' have any place in church but if they did, those situations would be it.
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Jonah the Whale

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It's a handshake. Nobody is insisting on exchanging bodily fluids.* I really don't understand the fuss.

*Not at this point in the service. It may happen later if you share a chalice with someone who drools.

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Liturgylover
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I would be interested to know what our non-Anglophone shipmates think about the peace and whether it raises the same issues for them as identified on this thread. In my travels elsewhere in Europe I have observed a far more practical application of the practice (cross denominationally) which roughly translates as - those who want do it somehow manage to do it with others who want to do it, and those who don't just don't, and now let's get on with the service!
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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by Liturgylover:
I would be interested to know what our non-Anglophone shipmates think about the peace and whether it raises the same issues for them as identified on this thread. In my travels elsewhere in Europe I have observed a far more practical application of the practice (cross denominationally) which roughly translates as - those who want do it somehow manage to do it with others who want to do it, and those who don't just don't, and now let's get on with the service!

While still an anglo, I find it useful in my MW reports to mention how the Peace works out in other places (France/Québec/Spain/Argentina) -- I have found that in non-English-speaking RC churches, I have found it to be non-invasive and workable, and its purpose is clear to me there. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that anglophones are unable to carry out the Peace without offensiveness and problematics. I wish we would just give it up.

In the interim, I hide behind pillars and examine the preface to the prayerbook.

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Gwalchmai
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
P

You shouldn't underestimate how little many clergy know about being in a congregational setting or role. Some of the most joyous and sustained laughter I heard in my childhood was after a group of clergy wives had all 'fessed up on their strategy for churchgoing during the holidays - and almost unanimously they all said they let their priestly husband take the children alone because it was the only time he ever went to church with his own children and he would get to discover the unique joy of 3 (or more) offspring hell-bent on playing up.


It never quite worked like that in my family. We used to do exchanges with other clergy for holidays. The deal was that you took the Sunday services but otherwise were able to have a holiday in another part of the country. So even on holiday my father was able to escape to the safety of the chancel leaving my mother to cope with a recalcitrant churchgoer (me - "why do we have to go to church on holiday?").

The same is true for organist's families. My mother-in-law has many a tale of the mischief my wife and sister-in-law got up to in the pew while their father was safely out of the way in the organ loft.

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Ariel
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quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
It's a handshake. Nobody is insisting on exchanging bodily fluids.* I really don't understand the fuss.

*Not at this point in the service. It may happen later if you share a chalice with someone who drools.

Actually, I did once share the Peace with one man who'd been wiping his nose on the back of his hand throughout the service, and another who'd been vigorously biting his nails throughout, so yes, there was some exchange of bodily fluids. (Well, we all have them.)

But leaving that aside the Peace can come across as false for the reasons already stated. It can also be embarrassing as you stand there ready to shake hands with people, and are passed over in favour of people they already know or are closer to, or they leave you out completely. It can be embarrassing when someone determinedly avoids you. It can be less pleasant when someone is determined to do the rounds and lunges at you. And I don't want to be hugged or given a kiss by a stranger.

It's never felt uplifting, or gone on to engender any friendship or sense of community in my experience, but obviously YMMV.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
It's a handshake. Nobody is insisting on exchanging bodily fluids.* I really don't understand the fuss.

You could try just believing those of us who tell you that it's majorly embarrassing at best, and traumatic at worst rather than assuming everyone's like you.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Jonah the Whale

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I do believe you. I just don't understand it. At all. I also can't understand why there are so many folks on the Ship like this when I have only met one in real life.
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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
I do believe you. I just don't understand it. At all. I also can't understand why there are so many folks on the Ship like this when I have only met one in real life.

Maybe the ship self selects *because* we find it easier here.....?

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And is it true? For if it is....

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
I do believe you. I just don't understand it. At all. I also can't understand why there are so many folks on the Ship like this when I have only met one in real life.

also (sorry for double post) catch me on a good day when I'm all srewed up inside with courage and you'd never notice - but equally, you don't know what's going on inside everyone else's head - just because they're not curling up into a ball and shrinking away from you doesn't mean it isn't a huge effort they're making below the surface. Like I say, it's much easier to have this conversation on here than it is in a church, so you might be surprised about wider attitudes....

--------------------
And is it true? For if it is....

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
I do believe you. I just don't understand it. At all. I also can't understand why there are so many folks on the Ship like this when I have only met one in real life.

Don't try to understand why, just understand that it is.

You'd not know if you only knew me IRL. I think it's easier to say we hate it here than in the church where we think saying this would make us Pariahs.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Ariel
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quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
I do believe you. I just don't understand it. At all.

I'm guessing your church community may be different - you possibly go to the same one each week and there are familiar faces. The "community" aspect makes more sense if there are. If you're on your own in a strange town, as a way of getting to know people, the Peace is useless.

What it does is basically introduce a small formal element of acknowledging the humanity of others alongside your own, but it doesn't really do much else really. I'm quite happy to meet people, but this isn't about meeting them. "Let's all pretend we're friends for 30 seconds."

What is it that you like about it?

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Adam.

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:


What is it that you like about it?

Thank you for asking this question. It's been missing for a while.

I believe that each and every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. I believe that they are fallen, but that out of immense love for us, God took on human flesh, lived as part of a family and part of a community, died for us and is redeeming us. My inability to always be aware of the presence of God in each and every person I meet is due to my sinfulness, not theirs. C.S. Lewis put it better than I can in Weight of Glory:

quote:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal... it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit. ... Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.

When I come to worship, I need to reverence that way God is present to us. Christ died for that person sitting next to me. How could I fail to reverence her when she's clearly immeasurably precious in God's eyes, the God I want to become more and more like?

As an embodied human being, touch is a terribly important way in which I express reverence. To exchange the peace does not exhaust that, just as to hear preaching does not exhaust the ways in which God calls me to be open to His Good News all the day long, or to receive communion does not exhaust the ways God feeds me. But it's a symbol (no mere sign!) of my willingness to reverence what God loves and so participate in my own sanctification.

[ 31. October 2013, 12:40: Message edited by: Hart ]

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Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Preaching blog

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
If you're on your own in a strange town, as a way of getting to know people, the Peace is useless.

What it does is basically introduce a small formal element of acknowledging the humanity of others alongside your own, but it doesn't really do much else really. I'm quite happy to meet people, but this isn't about meeting them. "Let's all pretend we're friends for 30 seconds."

It seems to me that this gets at the crux of the issue. The Peace isn't about getting to know people or being friends. I don't even think it's about "creating" community really. Acknowledging the gift of community, perhaps, but not creating it. When it comes to the church, Christ creates community; we live into the community Christ has created.

The Peace is about just that—greeting those around us with a prayer that they experience the peace of Christ. We pray that for them whether they are friends or not, or whether we will ever see them again or not. The important thing is that we say it to them, not about them or for them. The problem comes, ISTM, when this function is ignored and the Peace becomes a meet and greet and a time to chat. Then it becomes about us, not about Christ's peace.

Granted, I'll sometimes go beyond the formula. If it's someone I know has been sick or is grieving or the like, then I'll add how glad I am to see them. But otherwise, I avoid any temptations to chat.

As for physical contact, surely that is culture dependent. I agree completely that no one should be made to feel uncomfortable. If we stick to the formula and take our cues for physical contact from those to whom we speak, it seems to me that it should all work out.

And yes, L'organist, the music should start signaling the end within 15-20 seconds.

--------------------
The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

Posts: 2833 | From: On heaven-crammed earth | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
L'organist
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No, The Peace is not about "Acknowledging humanity" or any other BS that you may care to come up with.

And frankly, that sort of trite explanation just reads like its come from the columns of Private Eye and deserves to be quoted right back in that august organ - in their Pseuds Corner.

The Peace was dreamt up by a group of saddo liturgists in the 1960s/70s who were hell-bent on showing how "relevant" and "right-on" the church could be when the rest of the world was getting to grips with Timothy Leary's Turn on, Tune in, Drop out mantra.

The Clue to the falsity of it all is in the words "offer a sign of peace" - WHAT is the sign of peace? There isn't one. Its that simple: the church has been going along with trying to offer something that doesn't exist for 4 decades.

Frankly, if something doesn't work after that long then maybe its time to admit defeat.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
The Clue to the falsity of it all is in the words "offer a sign of peace" - WHAT is the sign of peace? There isn't one. Its that simple: the church has been going along with trying to offer something that doesn't exist for 4 decades.

Frankly, if something doesn't work after that long then maybe its time to admit defeat.

Or ask if it's not working because we're doing it wrong, perhaps? I've worshipped in congregations where it fails miserably and in others where it works quite well.

As for the "sign of peace," seems to me that the NT and early church writings are pretty clear that the sign was a kiss. (Augustine and others are pretty clear it was a kiss on the lips, at that.) These days, I'm sure most people would prefer a different sign, hence the preference for shaking hands.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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mdijon
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
Frankly, if something doesn't work after that long then maybe its time to admit defeat.

Works fine for me. I believe those of you who say it doesn't for particular individuals or particular churches, and I've heard people in real life complaining that they don't like it, but I do.

It would be a step forward to extend reciprocal belief across the I-tell-you-it's-terrible/ fine-for-me gap. It strikes me as a gap that probably isn't all that susceptible to rationalization. If you hate it, I doubt I can persuade you that you ought to like it, and vice versa.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
quote:
Originally posted by Jonah the Whale:
I do believe you. I just don't understand it. At all.

I'm guessing your church community may be different - you possibly go to the same one each week and there are familiar faces. The "community" aspect makes more sense if there are. If you're on your own in a strange town, as a way of getting to know people, the Peace is useless.

What it does is basically introduce a small formal element of acknowledging the humanity of others alongside your own, but it doesn't really do much else really.

And why should it? I think there would be much less reason to share the Peace among a tightly knit community of people who all know each other. I don't go to church to join a club or be sociable, I go to join with others in celebrating our common humanity and letting it be transformed by the Risen Christ. So in an unfamiliar church, surrounded by strangers, it seems to me important that I recognise that by this simple ritual gesture. As an introvert, I will happily slink out at the end of the service: I don't want to be back-slapped or dragged along for coffee. But I don't go to church as an individual to express my personal devotion to Christ in isolation; I go as a member of his Body to worship as that Body. A handshake, as sacrifices go, is a small price to pay, surely?

--------------------
Brian: You're all individuals!
Crowd: We're all individuals!
Lone voice: I'm not!

Posts: 12927 | From: The Pool of Life | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Liturgylover
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quote:
Originally posted by L'organist:
No, The Peace is not about "Acknowledging humanity" or any other BS that you may care to come up with.

And frankly, that sort of trite explanation just reads like its come from the columns of Private Eye and deserves to be quoted right back in that august organ - in their Pseuds Corner.

The Peace was dreamt up by a group of saddo liturgists in the 1960s/70s who were hell-bent on showing how "relevant" and "right-on" the church could be when the rest of the world was getting to grips with Timothy Leary's Turn on, Tune in, Drop out mantra.

The Clue to the falsity of it all is in the words "offer a sign of peace" - WHAT is the sign of peace? There isn't one. Its that simple: the church has been going along with trying to offer something that doesn't exist for 4 decades.

Frankly, if something doesn't work after that long then maybe its time to admit defeat.

Though I am not a particular fan of the peace, isn't it a bit of an exaggeration to suggest that it was "dreamt up" in the 1960s. Assimilations of a gesture of peace into the Eucharist were very early and widespread in Eucharistic liturgies based on the New Testament injunction to be reconciled to one another before offering gifts at the altar. And the peace actually appeared as an option in the 1928 Prayer Book.

But simply because you or I don't like it doesn't mean that it doesn't work for the majority of the congregation who may find it helpful. What is unhelpful is the feeling that those who don't want to participate have it thrust upon them by those who should know better.

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