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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

"Happy-clappy, huggy-and-feely worship"

Following on from my previous post, this video shows a priest dancing a jig in his chasuble along with others prancing around in their liturgical vestments in a manner which elevates Whirling Dervishes to a different level. Yes, rejoice in the Lord always but surely not like this. There is a time and a place for everything. Vestments help to emphasis the other worldliness of worship, something that has become lost in the tit for tat arguments about who or what is responsible for the decline in Christianity. A former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie made clear his view of "happy-clappy, huggy-and-feely worship" in the context of the decline in Christian belief. Read it here.

The author of the article, Andrew Brown, argued: "A decline in Christian belief and practice is one of the most important facts of this century, at least in northern Europe. It is a much larger phenomenon than the 3 per cent annual drop in Anglican attendances which sparked off the latest round of ecclesiastical backbiting."

Jump forward a decade or so and the headline is even more startling. Christianity gone haywire, and going down: "What would Paul the Apostle have done with some 100 million followers under existential threat? Has there been a time like the present when every hour another Christian is martyred?" We are "witnessing the total extinction of Christendom in the Middle East". (My emphasis-Ed.)

There is no doubt that Christianity is in crisis. It is a disgrace that the threat to Christianity by Muslims around the world is met with alarming indifference by secularist politicians. But it is also a disgrace that Christians are being marginalised in their own church by other Christians as they advance their brand of sexualised feminist theology discarding the unwanted in the process unless we dance to their tune.


  1. A little bit of that would do wonders for the Cathedral - inject a little bit of life and joy. Did I spot a Bishop or two in that clip? Fancy that. I do remember Desmond Tutu visiting Wales some years ago and dancing at the Eucharist - was one of the most moving sights I have seen. The author of this site would chastise him for doing so - "wordly" he would say. A prophet and a priest I would respond and one of the most remarkable advocates of Christianity in our time. None of us could hold a candle to him, none of us.

    1. I think you are confusing cultural identity with frivolity littleoddme.
      I have met the exuberant Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I didn't chastise him. I admire his humanitarian work but not his liberal theology.
      While I understand his sentiments it is difficult to reconcile the statement of someone you regard as a prophet and a priest ("I would not worship a God who is homophobic") with the Ten Commandments amplified by Jesus: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. This must be unconditional.

  2. If he saw this, St. Paul might change a word or two of what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 14. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all whirl around like dervishes, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

  3. His work is not "humanitarian" but of the kingdom and there is a difference. The work you admire springs from his liberal theology so it seems odd that you can, on the one hand, admire his works of justice and on the other eschew the very theological stimulus that drives him to do what he does. Precisely because he does not worship a God who is homophobic is why he does the works that he does - do you not see the connection? I long for the days with the Catholicty (capital C) of the church was measured by its commitment to social justice not by where and when and why and how it wears its vestments. The last two articles on this site have been facile to say the least

    1. Facile! I think whoever wrote the last two pieces about priests abseiling down towers or dancing around altars in their tat should get out more!
      As for the mixed messages about Desmond Tutu - anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to stand in that man's presence should have no doubt that everything he stands for is rooted in prayer and a devotion to Christ. So much so that even people who have no particular religious affiliation sense his holiness. (Something I have observed at first hand incidentally).
      How someone can draw a line between DT's pronouncements on justice and homophobia is totally beyond me. Perhaps they live in a sequestered world where everyone they associate agrees with them?
      The Ancient Briton and his/her fellow travellers really need to get out a bit more. Their version of the Church looks very claustrophobic to me whilst oddlittleme seems to be making connections between the kingdom and the needs of everyone - isn't the Church for everyone - that's what they taught me in Sunday School. Perhaps I had a liberal Sunday School teacher!! Ho hum - must get on - there is a world outside!

      I'm glad that I'm outside looking in!

      Love and Peace,

      The Outsider

    2. It may be totally beyond you Outsider but it is quite simple. Because someone is perceived as being 'holy' it does not follow that their every utterance is correct. I admire the work and spirituality of people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Rowan and the late Metropolitan Anthony ('This Holy Man') but I do not have to accept that their views on the ordination of women are correct. That is simply an opinion not shared by the majority in the church.
      You pose the question, isn't the Church for everyone? Of course it is. That is the point.

  4. It rather puts me in mind of 2 Samuel 6 - if it's good enough for king David ...
    (by the way, that's a bishop presiding, not just some priest - note the purple cassock visible from about 58 seconds)
    Surely being joyful in the Lord is a good thing. But it can't be the only thing. As an exceptional outpouring which this appears to be (how often can that church welcome so many bishops?), surely no harm done - and perhaps much good done. What we don't see, which matters very much, is how (and if) the president calls the people back to something more "orderly". This was not chaos, but the service could have fizzled out into chaos - and that is the thing to worry about. Joy is good, but let's not go too far. Nor should we allow liturgy to become dour. That is the other enemy of true worship.

  5. I agree Father. The joy, particularly of the children, is palpable so where to draw the line?
    Back in June I posted an entry which included a modern wedding video

    Prior to that I had attended a 'church' funeral at which everything other than the building was secular, including the smutty jokes. The priest appeared to be little more than an attendant reading the required 'churchy' bits.

    As you say, let's not go too far.

  6. Interestingly, this clip is from the closing moments of the Consecration of the Bishop of the new diocese of the American Mid-West, presided over by one slightly embarrassed Robert Duncan, Archbishop of the ultra-traditionalist American Church in North America. Duncan was previously deposed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Shorti, having deemed Archbishop Rowan Williams and the Lambeth Conference as lost. It could just be that we Brits (ancient or otherwise) prefer our worship to be a wee bit more reserved than even our traditionalist cousins over the Pond. But thank you for bringing this infectious joy to our attention - there's hope for you yet!

  7. This will go well in Llandaff with the Diocesan bubble making machine, big screen and projector.
    Pass the sick bags please.

  8. You guys don't seem to get it. This is not some liberal wing of the Anglican Church, it is equivalent to the Third Province, consecrating a PEV, The 'priest' dancing in the chasuble is actually the newly consecrated flying bishop; truly flying! I think I'll stay with the staid radicals...

    1. Than you didaskolos. Perhaps I should clarify that the pun used at the end of this entry was employed to draw attention to the way that traditionalists have become marginalised by Christians in their own church. I did not intend to imply that the exuberant dance sequence was necessarily characteristic of a particular wing. It was simply not not to my taste. There is another example here but each to their own

      Interestingly nobody has commented on the central point that 'every hour another Christian is martyred'.

  9. Some of the comments indicate how much anger there is within the Church. The posting itself and some other comments show how distracting are these innovations happening within a Eucharist. A women presiding at the altar is a distraction and a confusion about what a priest represents when he is at the altar -he represents Christ and without doubt we know that Christ was a made man and a man. There are churches in South Wales when you can find breakfast being cooked at the same time as the Morning Service! It's fine to have a knees up in the Church Hall afterwards, but let us teach our children that the Eucharist is sacred ,precious and what is more does not need enhancing by priests and others loosing their decorum . I absolutely agree with Ancient Briton that some are confusing" cultural identity and frivolity". Is not attendance at church and partaking in the Eucharist much more than going to one's social club? Let us not reduce our devotion to a mere social activity.