Monday, 27 May 2013

The perils of Church Tourism

We took the chance yesterday to go to Church away from home and to "pew dwell" together.  I nearly wished we hadn't.  On the good side, the pews we visited were architecturally stunning and medieval and the sermon was good (if nothing much to do with the Trinity which had evidently be covered the week before).  The liturgy was well done, normal 1982.  Sadly, the visiting choir were not quite as good as I think they thought they were (which may explain why they are the "former choir of St X's RC church" - musical egos not being pandered to by the clergy perhaps?).  They were fine on the modern hymns (3 out of 4) which were done with the piano and their anthem was fairly nicely executed, but they were desperate at the Gloria and the Sanctus/Benedictus (as, it must be said, were the congregation) and their rendition of the Introit hymn "Holy, Holy Holy" by Bishop Heber was dire.  They obviously ain't used to singing classical hymnody (which IMHO Bernadette Farrell isn't) and were utterly overwhelmed by the pipe organ.  Which brings me to that painful subject.  It really wasn't so much the organ supporting the choir and congregational worship as "The Organist Entertains".  Fairground style.   Not good with hymns, choirs and congregations.  And the Postlude was just showing off. Loudly. The choice of a particularly gaudy French piece wasn't to my taste for a start. I didn't applaud afterwards.  I don't really believe in giving some folks delusions of adequacy.

I had rather hoped the post match service might have made up for it, as this particular church is a serious tourist magnet and they should be pretty slick at welcome you would think.  Nope.  The priest was - but then again he's known me for 20 years and him saying hello was no surprise.  Congregational welcome - nil. Coffee - utterly disgusting, the worst church coffee I've had in years.  The previous Sunday in Cheam was a much better experience all round, even if I struggled with the heaps of noisy kids in an Aspie sort of way. One up to the C of E I regret to say.

The Aspie bit brings me to the worst bit of the whole service.  The intercessions. Too long for a start, with too much in them. Mate, God knows what's going on, he doesn't need your take on "What the Papers Say". But the utter disorganisation of the petitions was a nightmare.  I gave up by the 2nd section.  I also nearly blew a fuse when prayers were offered for the "mentally ill and those with autism".  I have Aspergers, I'm on the Autistic Spectrum and I am not mentally ill.  And I get steamed up when some idiot in a tweed jacket suggests otherwise in intercessions.  Maybe that wasn't the intention but you would think that some thought might have been given during training of intercessors to phrasing things in a way that doesn't gratuitously offend visitors because you have no idea what's going on in the lives of the visiting tourist and this is a church that gets a lot of those thanks to Dan Brown.

Sorry to be so critical of my fellow Christians but sometimes you gotta let off steam and sometimes unless stuff gets said places just poddle on with delusions of adequacy.

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