Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AoC: "...our world turned upside down, joy made possible."

I don't usually go along with him, but sometimes we can agree, even if it is only on a small bit taken out of context.

From the Archbishop of Canterbury's 2011 Easter Sermon,

"Christian joy, the joy of Easter, is offered to the world not to guarantee a permanently happy society in the sense of a society free from tension, pain or disappointment, but to affirm that whatever happens in the unpredictable world – sometimes wonderfully, sometimes horribly unpredictable – there is a deeper level of reality, a world within the world, where love and reconciliation are ceaselessly at work, a world with which contact can be made so that we are able to live honestly and courageously with the challenges constantly thrown at us. And on the first Easter morning, it is as if ‘the fountains of the great deep’ are broken open, and we are allowed to see, like Peter and John at the empty tomb, into the darkness for a moment – and find our world turned upside down, joy made possible."

(I might like to see his "can be made" changed to "has been made")

When I experience people radiating with that joy from God even during their times of challenge and pain, I think I see the world turned upside down too.

Sometimes the world is turned upside down when other improbable events occur, such as my agreement with the AoC.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Church Stats: Where have all the Baptisms Gone?

                                Water Lilies Blooming on Easter 2011

Easter used to be a traditional time for baptisms, and the season got me to thinking about the future church, what with its embrace of the new sexualities and all, and the question came to mind, "Will TEc go extinct?" I know that some may consider that to be an inappropriate thought for Easter, but to be honest,  Easter scares the devil out of me. We might be more comfortable with a God who stayed in the grave and didn't live among us, but this ever present God of Easter keeps opening our eyes to new directions, and one of the ways that we see those new directions is by paying attention to the works of God occuring in our daily lives, in the lives of our Parish, our Diocese, and our demonination.

Lo and behold, this eye opener came around last week from that usually reliable source, Statman.

From the comment section at MCJ (details in parentheses added for the uninitiated).

April 19, 2011

"...Surely, ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) is a big problem for TEC (The Episcopal church). But Infant Baptisms are much more alarming. From 2002 through 2009, TEC lost 19.3 percent of ASA but it lost 31.7 percent of Infant Baptisms. In 2009, the following dioceses had LESS THAN ONE Infant Baptism per church: E. Oregon, N. Michigan, and W. Kansas. It is absolutely depressing to sit in church for an entire year and not observe even ONE Infant Baptism. Statmann"

I went over to the Episcopal church's statistics pages and updated the numbers using 2010 data and teased out the numbers for "domestic" dioceses.

2002 data found here.
2002 ASA 869,065 (22,425 was in non domestic dioceses)
2002 Baptisms of children: 47,232 (2,237 were in non domestic dioceses and 44,995 domestic baptisms).

2010 data found here.
2010 ASA 724,789 (41,826 was in non domestic dioceses)
2010 Baptisms of children: 33,778 (3096 were in non domestic dioceses and 30,682 domestic baptisms).

So we see

A 19.45% decline in domestic ASA from 2002-2010, and

a 31.8% drop in Baptisms from 2002-2010.

Give Statman credit once again.

The ASA numbers may not be 100% accurate since we stopped using those handheld clicker type counters long ago, but the baptism numbers are probably valid.

I went back and checked out the numbers for the Diocese of Upper South Carolina (DUSC) to include burials and marriages and got the following,

406 children baptised in 2002 in DUSC
71 adults baptised in 2002 in DUSC

309 burials in DUSC in 2002
38154 burials in TEc Domestic Dios in 2002

171 marriages DUSC in 2002
18798 marriages in TEc Domestic Dios

1.5:1 ratio of DUSC baptisms to burials in 2002

2:1 ratio of DUSC burials to marriages in 2002

ASA of DUSC was 9103 in 2002

For 2010,

377 children baptised in 2010 (down 8.2%)
43 adults baptised in 2010 (down 39.4%)

317 burials in DUSC (up 2%),
30,853 burials in TEc Domestic Dios (a drop of 19.2%)

121 marriages DUSC (down 29.3%),
11,647 marriages in TEc Domestic Dios (a drop of 39.1%)

1.3:1 ratio of DUSC baptisms to burials in 2010 (a drop in this ratio is not a good sign).

2.6:1 ratio of DUSC burials to marriages in 2010 (a rise in this ratio is not a good sign).

ASA 8337 ( a drop of 8.4%) in DUSC from 2002

People will say that the drop in marriages and church attendance merely parallels the pattern seen in other old denominations, but that is an excuse that they will have a hard time passing along to the man that just walked out of the grave.

Could it be that young families seeking a safe, God fearing place to raise their future precious young Christians are using reason, tradition, and scripture, to vote with their feet?

There are still plenty of old people left in the oldline denominations to bury, but at the current rate of replenishment, there won't be enough new old people to pay the bills fifty years from now.
Our living God is warning us that we are headed in the wrong direction. Will we listen to His call to turn from the error of our ways, and to rebuke the words of the false teachers who would take us along  paths of licentiousness and desires of the flesh?
Or will we heed his call to walk away from the way of sin and death, and instead become fruitful, multiply, and go out and gather all to Him?
Jesus' resurrection is a serious call for us to get out of our comfortable tombs and start producing flowers for His garden.

That call, to come out of my cave and walk with Him, sacres the devil out of me.

Sorry if I spoiled anyone's Easter.

collect For Easter (1928)

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the Same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Collect For Easter Even (1928)

Easter Even.
The Collect.

GRANT, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying* our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

* "the continual mortifying of" in the 1786 Prop. Book


Friday, April 22, 2011

Collects For Good Friday (1928)

The Collects.

ALMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified; Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest* the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics; and take from them† all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

* "wouldest" in the 1786 Proposed Book

† Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them ... in the 1928 Book.

- From

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Collect for the Thursday Before Easter Commonly Called Maundy Thursday (1928)

Thursday before Easter.

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, did institute the Sacrament of his Body and Blood; Mercifully grant that we may thankfully receive the same in remembrance of him, who in these holy mysteries giveth us a pledge of life eternal; the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

- From

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Collect for the Wednesday Before Easter (1928)

Wednesday before (Easter Collect added in 1928).
The Collect.

ASSIST us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the medi-tation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- From

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Collect For the Tuesday Before Easter (1928)

Tuesday before Easter Collect was added in 1928.

The Collect.

O LORD God, whose blessed Son, our Saviour, gave his back to the smiters and hid not his face from shame; Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- From

Monday, April 18, 2011

Collects For the Week Before Easter (1928 Prayer Book)

Yesterday, as I was pumping a little iron, my eyes fell upon a little white book wedged between assorted secular texts. It was the 1928 Prayer Book my mother received on her wedding day. It opened straight away to the Collects for the week before Easter. This week, I will post the Collects as resources for prayer and reflection. In searching for an online version, I found that these were found in the 1786 Proposed, 1789, 1892, and 1928 U. S. Books of Common Prayer.

The Collect for the Monday before Easter.

ALMIGHTY God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- From

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Confabulation: Good Friearth Day

"Too much hope for Earth had led men to try to make it Eden..."- Walter M. Miller Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz 1959.

Because Earth Day and Good Friday fall upon the same date this year, there is a buzz out there about finding ways to incorporate the two into worship services. The Episcopal church's web page for this conjunction begins with the following,
"Earth Day 2011
This year, Earth Day falls on Good Friday--a profound coincidence. On the day we mark the crucifixion of Christ, let us remember that when Earth is degraded and species go extinct, a part of God's body experiences a different type of crucifixion, and another way of seeing and experiencing God is diminished.

To fully honor Earth Day, we need to reclaim the theology that knows Earth is 'very good' and holy. When we fully recognize this, our actions will create a more sustainable, compassionate economy and way of life."
The Episcopal church web site contains additional resources for Gaia worshippers, and a link to a certain religion with which the Episcopal church is not in full communion (but might as well be). I found the following after clicking on the link. But first, let's see if you can guess the religion.

10 points if you have guessed it already.
5 points if you guess it half way through.
1 point for being a good sport and reading the whole thing, clicking on the link, and using your low flow toilet only once this Friday.
Responsive Reading: A Declaration of Interdependence

Leader: We believe it is imperative to care for the Earth, its vital ecosystems and all living beings who inhabit it.
Congregation: We are relational creatures, capable of both good and evil.

Leader: We have experienced enough brokenness, within and beyond ourselves, to seek the power of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Congregation: We are called to make choices that help to heal and transform the world, and ourselves, and to move toward solidarity with all beings.

Leader: Why? Because we believe it is our responsibility to be stewards of the Earth and mindful of the impacts of our choices on communities around us.
Congregation: We believe in the beauty and renewing power of nature.

Leader: In response, we become more willing to replace the desire to consume with the responsibility to sustain. In this way,
Congregation: We recognize the need for discipline as we build a world that is both just and sustainable.

Leader: We are called to be stewards, working cooperatively with dignity and humility to make whole the parts of our interdependent web that have been broken or damaged.
All: As we manifest this vision, may we cast ever widening circles of compassion.

Leader: Take a moment to consider the 40/40Pledge on the insert in your order of service [Silence]. I will take this pledge; will you join me? If you are so moved, say with me:

40/40 for Earth Pledge
Congregation: As an expression of our (if you haven't guessed the religion click here) values, we pledge to change aspects of our lives and behaviors for 40 days, for the sake of the Earth and all who live on it.

Leader: May it be so.
Congregation: Amen.

In addition to the above, links eventually wind their way back to TEc where members of the Diocese of Minnesota (where our bishop hails from), have started their own form of druidization of the calendar:
The membership of MEESC (Minnesota Episcopal Environmental Stewardship Commission) across the Diocese of Minnesota meets quarterly on a weekend close to the quarters of the solar year (solstice and equinox) and usually include an overnight at a church or other local facility. The meeting dates and locations for 2011 are as noted below:

Vernal Equinox (March 22): March 25-26, 2011 at St. Andrew's By-the-Lake Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN

Summer Solstice (June 21): June 10-11, 2011 at the Mary Brown Environmental Center, Ely, MN (come a day early to help with Spring Clean-up)

Autumnal Equinox (September 22): September 23-24, 2011 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area (location to be determined).

Winter Solstice (December 21): January 6-7, 2012 in the Duluth area (location to be determined). (Link found on these pages)
Everywhere I turn I see the beauty of spring. I have to pray long and hard lest that beauty divert my eyes and heart from the Lord, nailed to the tree.

Have a Holy week and a Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"I felt it better to speak to God than about Him"

                             Front Yard Azalea "Pink Ruffle"

Upon returning from last Saturday's First Theological Council For Upper South Carolina, between the punishing hail storms that pelted the upstate, and before beginning my reflections on the Council, my eye turned to my reading stack. I was drawn to a little book that was passed to me from my mother's library. Randomly opening the pages, I was presented on page 58 with "Little Flower's" self identification as such a flower and the following passage which spoke to my heart,
"Some of the other girls, former pupils like me, had friends among the nuns with whom they could spend these afternoons. But I hadn't. I sat and worked in silence at my sewing and then, when I had finished, as no one took any notice of me, I went to the chapel and climbed up into the tribune. There I remained before the Blessed Sacrament until Daddy came to take me home. There I found my sole comfort: Jesus, my only friend. I could talk only to Him. Talking to other people bored me, even when we spoke about religion. I felt it better to speak to God than about Him. There's often so much self-love involved in chatter about spiritual things!"
- The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux: The Story of a Soul, translation by John Beevers, Image Books, Doubleday 1957.

I am experimenting with video using my cell phone and the following is a reflection of a typical early morning in April in Rock Hill.

Next time I will use a tripod.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reflections from the First Theological Council of Upper South Carolina

This past weekend, a number of us attended a special convention of the clergy, wardens, and delegates of the diocese, the "First Theological Council of Upper South Carolina."

This "Council" was called by the Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, Andrew Waldo. As he explained to all present, the reason for the convention was because of the upcoming General Conventions of the Episcopal church in 2012 and 2015 and what we all expect to come forth from those conventions, which should be some form of endorsed trial liturgies or materials for same sex blessings in 2012 and perhaps some sort of authorized version in 2015. Bishop Waldo identified his fear that "we" might "lose people" as a consequence of the actions of General Convention. Our gathering was intended to help us develop a means to discuss the touchy subject of same sex blessings in a manner that would not result in such a loss. We were divided into groups of 6 per table for small group, "facilitated," reflection on the various "meditations" that Bishop Waldo presented over the 24 hrs of the convention. Ground rules for table discussions included confidentiality and speaking only in the first person singular.

We began, as planned, with reflection on the Introduction to the proposed Anglican Covenant. This discussion did not appear to be intended to come to any theological conclusion on the merits of the Anglican Covenant, but was likely intended to give everyone around the table (especially the facilitator) a glimpse of how your particular group interacted while examining a question. In particular, the question of how you interact with someone who you think is wrong. Bishop Waldo had opened the convention by talking about opposing truths. I think he said something to the effect of "my truth may not be your truth." In our small group, I pointed out the fact that there can be no "my truth" and "your truth," there can be but one Truth. I can't say that there was universal agreement with that truth, but I do think it may have planted a seed in a few minds.

Following the table discussions, an open microphone "plenary" session ensued where the Bishop tried to enforce the ground rules, in particular keeping to "I" statements. Everyone seemed to agree that it was pleasant to discuss things freely. One Priest was especially thankful that there were no "jerks" at his table.

Oh, if only I had the luck of being the other jerk at that table...

On Friday night, after most of those who spoke during the plenary session had finished, Bishop Waldo took up the microphone and expressed his disappointment that one voice seemed to be missing from the session, and that was the conservative voice (Uh..oh.. he went and used a label. Shame on you Andrew). He then proceeded to let the conservatives know that they had nothing "to fear" and that he had hoped this would be a safe place for them to express themselves.

Silence reigned.

At this point, "I" felt that the Bishop, by using the "fear" word, was baiting his conservative clergy and delegates. If someone had taken the microphone at that point and gone into a tirade, the conservative cause would not have been helped. Andrew must not understand that most who hold a conservative stance on the issue of same sex blessings in the church have no reason to fear, for they are walking with the Lord on this matter. Besides, it was late, and most of us were ready for the real discussions at the Phoenix Literary Society which followed the evening session.

The following day, the train seemed to jump from the track as we deviated from the originally planned reflections on the scriptures when Bishop Waldo began the sessions with his reflection on how he has arrived at his personal position on same sex relationships and blessings. If it had been a secret to anyone that he favors including these things in the life of the church, it should be secret no longer. He cited as his reasons for supporting the full inclusion of the LGBTs and the blessings of their pairings, personal experience, the "shellfish argument," his understanding of the scientific/genetic argument, the idea of "sexual orientation," and the "oppression" argument.

None of these are new to those of us who have been studying the issues, but for many lay delegates, who for years have been told that we are mission oriented and not issue driven, delegates who have not done the theological reflection and study needed to make a decision but instead are using their hearts for guidance, the favorable judgement of the Bishop regarding these arguments carries great weight. For many, once the Bishop has given his sweet, loving, soft spoken reasons, the issue is settled and there really is no need to do the hard work of Christian formation which, in my case leads to the conclusion that Bishop Waldo is an enaging but false teacher. I know that name calling was not allowed yesterday, but he is what he is.

Then the bishop threw in a little caveat, that he "might be wrong." if this attempt at sounding like a "moderate" is at all helpful.

What kind of shepherd is this who selects his green pasture, explains to his flock that this is where he wants to go, but then flusters and tells them that that he could be wrong? Here is a truth: Our Bishop is no Moses.

After the table "reflections" another open mike plenary session allowed people to get up and express their feelings, and that was pretty much what we got, feelings. It appears that the liberal mind is convinced that the "love thy neighbor as thyself" commandment means that since personal happiness in fulfilling your "sexual identity" is a sign of the Holy Spirit in action, that to "deny" others the all important self actualization attained by living in a committed homosexual union blessed by the Church would be to break Jesus' commandments.

It would take more than a few open mike speakers and more than the few minutes alloted to straighten this bunch out.

In the afternoon meditation, Bishop Waldo began by stating that people had misinterpreted his earlier comments. He now claimed that he believes that the burden of proof for going ahead with same sex blessings in the Church lies with those who favor such blessings. To top it off, he firmly stated that he has not seen any convincing theology to support same sex blessings.

Somebody got to him during lunch.

In any case, he had earlier stated that he had already formed his personal opinion on the need for full inclusion of the LGBTs and for same sex blessings. I suppose this leader of the church does not base his personal direction on solid theological work.

Then he should shut up until he has done the work!

The convention muddled on after our Bishop's backtracking.

During the plenary discussions, we did hear at least two calm, concerned conservative voices at the microphones. No one threatened to leave...except one liberal priest. That was the priest who I described earlier as thankful that no "jerks" were at his table. This particular priest stood at the microphone and told of his 17 year commitment to the cause of same sex unions, and that he has sworn an oath to renounce his orders if these blessings were not approved in his church.

Hope springs eternal.

To give you a little flavor of the high theology that was discussed at the First Theological Council of Upper South Carolina, I will throw in two choice quotes.

1. "We have to take into account past, present, and future sexualities." (From a certain table discussion).

2. "The continuum is pretty much continuous around the room" - Bishop Waldo.

A couple of take home points:
First, people will leave the church over the next several years as these things progress (remember that church time and regular time are two very different things, church time tends to run a lot slower than regular time). We should not worry that "we will lose people." I am not worried about those that seek God elsewhere because of the actions of the Episcopal church for they are truly children of God.
The second and probably most the important thing I took home from this convention is that our Bishop, the shepherd's shepherd, has placed the desires of his heart above the Word of God, and that this Bishop wants to see same sex blessings happen in spite of the Word. The fact that he has not done his theological work and cannot provide solid theological evidence behind his personal decision, but goes ahead and pronounces his opinion, wearing the vestments of his office while presiding over a convention of the church, tells me that he is leading his flock astray.

He is a false teacher, and as such, he must be rebuked.
Article XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.

It is not necessary that the Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever,
through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.
Bishop Waldo, I rebuke thee!

Acts 2:40 "He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'"

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Why My Mother Would Have Cancelled My Subscription to the Episcopal Church Publishing Catalog

I received a special delivery the other day. A copy of the Spring 2011 Church Publishing Inc. catalog appeared on my desk. Church Publishing Incorporated publishes the official worship materials for the Episcopal Church. Turning the catalog over, I noticed that the name and address of the original recipient had been marked through. I immediately suspected the work of that loyal friend, Deep Prie-Dieu. Thumbing through the pages, I was shocked to see what Church Publishing Inc. has been sending through the U.S. mail,

You can download the nasty thing here, but your computer may reject it if parental controls are in place.

Here is a small sample of their offerings.

Keep Your Courage: a Radical Christian Feminist Speaks
by Carter Heyward

"• a new collection of writings by one of the world’s leading radical
theologians, who is widely read and admired by a generation of
feminist thinkers all over the globe..."
" this volume of occasional pieces, the lesbian feminist theologian
bears witness to the sacred struggles to topple oppressive power. these
pieces illustrate feminist theology’s bold and transformative engagement
of its cultural, political, social, and theological contexts."
Gifted by Otherness: gay and lesbian Christians in the Church
by William Countryman and M.R. Ritley
"an affirming guidebook to the journey of those who are gay or lesbian, as well as Christian, and their unique call to reveal the gospel’s central message of inclusion in today’s church."
Radical Love: an Introduction to Queer theology
Patrick S. Cheng
"the first accessible introduction to an important, developing area of
Christian theology"
"Radical Love is the first introductory textbook on the subject of
queer theology.
Queer theology is concerned with questions about the meaning of existence,
as posed by lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and other 'queer' seekers."
As My Own Soul: The Blessing of Same-gender Marriage
by Chris Glaser

Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-Sexuality
by Tobias Stanislas Haller

In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God
by Gene Robinson
Christian Holiness & Human Sexuality:
A Study guide for Episcopalians
Marilyn McCord Adams, Wil GafneY, A. Katherine
Grieb, Louis Weil, Ellen k. Wondra, Rowan Smith,
and Sylvia Sweeney, Contributors

"...a study guide for episcopalians
who want to understand how all Christian people can exercise their
baptismal vocation in the fullness of their sexual identity."
On Being a gay Parent: Making a Future Together
by Brett Webb-Mitchell

Gay Unions: In the light of Scripture,Tradition, and Reason
by Gray Temple

Same-sex unions: Stories and Rites
by Paul V. Marshall
Turn the page and you find the appropriately placed,
Good Lord, Deliver Us: A Lenten Journey by
Leonard M. Freeman and Lindsay H. Freeman

and all this time they have been sending it without a brown paper cover!

I showed this catalog to a few typical, but diverse Rock Hillians of childrearing age who happened to be gathered around the water cooler. I then asked this simple question,
"Would you and your family want to join this church?"
100% answered, "No way!"

Thank God that someone out there is teaching our parents in the way of the Lord.

So, is there any mystery why the Episcopal church can't attract young people?

(Church Publishing Incorporated is part of the Church Pension Group, so sales will help pay for your rector's and some of these author's retirements.)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Top Five Hymns?

Over at The Lead, a rather unscientific poll was undertaken. 404 visitors participated in a "Hymn Madness" poll. The poll asked people to rank their top 5 of the 13 most common hymns (Okay, now who chose those 13 hymns?). After discarding "faulty ballots" they ended up with 312 entries.

Here are their results

1. Love Divine, All Loves Excelling 755
2. Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty 518
3. O Sacred Head, Now Wounded 440
4. Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken 436
5. Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Jehovah 383

You might notice that these were all written a long time ago.

See the rest at The Lead.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Stultorum Infinitus est Numerus: La Fete Des Fous and the Society of Mother-fool

A while back I posted something from "The Archaeological Album" I found on Google books. In particular, I was looking at The Burlesque Festivals of the Middle Ages. I thought today might be a good day to dig a little deeper and look at the "Feast of Fools." In it I found similarities to some present day church antics of the Episcopal church.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is not totally coincidental.


"The most celebrated and popular of the medieval Saturnalia was the feast of fools, sometimes termed in older writers the fete des sou-diacres, the word sou being here intended as pun on saoul (i. ane. drunken). An interesting treatise on the history of these festivals was published in 1741 by M. du Tilliot, under the title of "Memoires pour servir a l'histoire de la Fete des Fous, qui se faisoit autrefois dens plusieurs Eglises." The period at which this festival was celebrated varied between Christmas and the Epiphany, but it was most generally held on the first day of the year. It had an ecclesiastical character, evidently derived from the religious character of the ancient Saturnalia.

In the cathedral churches they elected a bishop or an archbishop of fools, and his election was confirmed with a multitude of ridiculous buffooneries, which served for a consecration, after which he was made to perform the pontifical duties, giving his public and solemn benediction to the people, before whom he carried the mitre and the crozier. In the exempt churches, or such as depended immediately on the holy see, they elected a pope of fools (unum papam fatuorum), to whom, with similar buffoonery, they gave the ornaments and ensigns of the papacy. These popes, bishops, and dignitaries, were assisted by a clergy equally licentious. They uttered and performed a strange mixture of follies and impieties during the service of the church, at which they attended that day in masquerade dresses and disguises. Some wore masks, or had their faces daubed and painted, to cause fear or mirth; while others were dressed in women's clothing, or in the garb of theatrical characters. On entering the choir they danced and sang songs of the most licentious description. The deacons and sub-deacons ate black-puddings and sausages on the altar while the priest was celebrating ; others played at cards and dice under his eyes; and others threw bits of old leather into the censer to make a disagreeable smell. After the mass was ended, they broke out into all kinds of riotous behaviour in the church, leaped, and danced, and exhibited themselves in indecent postures; and some went so far as to strip themselves naked, and in this condition they were drawn through the streets with tubs full of filth and ordure, which they threw about at the mob. Every now and then they stopped, and exhibited immodest postures and actions, accompanied with analogous songs and speeches. Many of the laity took part in the procession, dressed as monks and nuns. The day was finished with eating and drinking, which merged into all kinds of scandalous disorders, contributing little to the morality of the towns in which these ceremonies were performed. Such was the general character of the feast of fools.

Such also was the Society of Mother-fool (la Societe de la mere Tolle) at Dijon, founded in 1482; a number of curious documents relating to which were published by Du Tilliot, who has also given engravings of the standards, chariots, used by the company in their processions. The standard was painted with heads of fools, and bore for device the dictum of Solomon,

Stultorum infinitus est Numerus." - from Ecclesiastes 1:15 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)
The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite.