Thursday, July 29, 2010
Circ de Soleil -- From Church to Circus
I recently watch a video from the formerly stodge Presbyterians that shows they are no longer your grandfather's stern church. You can watch it HERE. Compare it to Roman Catholic spooky puppets HERE or a thousand other YouTube vidz and you get the idea... And it is not just limited to youth oriented gatherings.
The point of this is that the entrance rite is just that -- the entrance. It is not a circus or a parade. For the festive Sundays and holy days of the church calendar, that entrance rite is enhanced -- BUT with the accouterments of the liturgy and not with all the outlandish and goofy stuff we can find. The ordinary procession may include processional cross/crucifix and candles and we may add to this banners, the Gospel book, incense, choir -- even a second processional cross/crucifix. I am not fond of but think that very tastefully done and well prepared liturgical dancers can possibly be added. But where on earth do we come up with those giant, spooky puppets (sure to cause nightmares for young and old alike)? When was it decided that a hundred streamers (more like the old wind socks that people used to hang on their front porches) were a good fit? When did it begin to be good taste to multiply the numbers of participants and the things brought it during the entrance rite?
And another point... When did the procession become THE focus? What began as the somewhat utilitarian need to bring the participants in the Divine Service to the Chancel has become its own focus and the parade has been magnified until it detracts from everything that comes after it. The entrance rite is not the focus but just that -- the entrance rite. Let the music not accompany this rite but be the primary focus -- a processional hymn perhaps with choir additions and not simply accompaniment to the movement. It is a scandal the way these things have turned into their own focus and the entrance rite an event that towers over the main event of Christ's presence in Word and Sacrament.
You can all add your own examples and when you read these words, you may remember the most egregious examples of such overdone circus style church events. Through it all we might do well to remember St. Paul's valuable words about moderation in all things and the constraint of wisdom that says "all things may be possible but not all things may be beneficial" and, I might add, profitable unto salvation.
Consider the difference between this photo above and this photo to the right.