02 May

No dumbing down in the C. of E.

    The Church of England has been accused of dumbing down after drawing up a new service in which worshippers use Post-it notes, clap like football fans and move their fingers like “twinkling stars.” This new pantomime – sorry, this creative invention of the Church’s Liturgical Commission – was performed in parishes for the first time at services on 1st May. So what is it meant to do? Answer: “to celebrate the role of godparents.”
    Acting true to character, the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has criticised this innovation as “reflecting the Church’s now familiar desire for being trendy.”

Surely it is long past time for so-called traditionalists and reactionary backwoodsmen such as Bishop Michael to cease their endless carping? Can’t you get it into your head, Michael, that this new service for godparents was produced by some of the finest minds in the Church of England?

He mocks the service, saying, “It’s like a game of bingo.”

This is a typically elitist remark and an insult to members of the Liturgical Commission who, as a matter of fact, enjoy nothing better than a game of bingo on a Saturday evening after watching Strictly Come Dancing.

The new service is redolent with intellectual and theological substance and it is yet another example of the erudite and scholarly productions we have come to expect from the Liturgical Commission. For instance, worshippers are urged to write their thoughts about godparents on notes to stick on a “memory wall” and to tie ribbons to a “prayer tree.”

This is in the same glorious tradition we noticed in the Commission’s worship suggestions for Lent – such as arranging a Christian line dance for the Lord or cutting out bits of yellow paper and pasting these on larger pieces of blue paper.

It is hard to imagine anything more spiritually significant than this.

At the opening of the service, the congregation is told to act like a football crowd and in response to the call “God is great!” – a nice ecumenical touch expressing Christian solidarity with our jihadist brothers and sisters – perform “a double clap with an arm raise” as they shout out “Let the people praise you!” 

In case the congregation has difficulty in appreciating the sacramental profundity of these gestures, the priest is instructed to get them to repeat the exercise “as often as feels right.”

Then everyone should “Shout ‘bingo’ or ‘housey housey’ really loudly!”

(Sorry, I misread that. They should, of course, shout “Hallelujah”)

Then they are all asked to touch their feet and put their hands over their ears in a prayer asking for God’s help “during life’s journey.”

They are then invited to draw a heart shape over the front of their bodies, and think of members of the community such as teachers or social workers.

Worshippers should then hold up their hands and move their fingers “like twinkling stars” to honour people that shine in their lives.

How dare Bishop Michael suggest there is anything dumbed down about all this!