Saturday, 30 April 2011

The sight of a

verger doing cartwheels down the aisle of Westminster Abbey after the Royal Wedding will, I am sure, be criticised by some as "disrespectful" but was it really?
There is a chapter in Elizabeth Goudge's book, "The little white horse", where the young heroine is taken to visit the church early in the morning. Maria is surprised to find it full of children playing. The parson tells her it is a way of keeping the children out of the way while their mothers prepare breakfast and get their fathers off to work. Sadly, such an activity would now be considered highly suspect.
In Cynthia Harnett's book, "The Load of Unicorn" there is a description of the scribes working in Westminster Abbey. In "The Woolpack" Nicholas's mother takes her small dog into church.
On a weekend stay in a small English village I met a cat who went to church each Sunday. He belonged to the parish priest. He would apparently stroll in through the door along with the parishioners and jump onto a window ledge and remain there for the duration of the morning service. He never appeared at any other time. Nobody ever suggested he should be removed.
One of our local churches recently had an art exhibition. After a lot of discussion some of the pictures were displayed in the church. Why not?
My father, as was expected of the local school principal (unless a Catholic), used to take regular Sunday services when we lived in rural areas. The Anglican priest, Methodist or Presbyterian minister would usually only manage to reach each community in their vast parishes once a month. In between the services would be taken by people like my father or the local bank manager. My father would teach rather than preach. He used puppets and conjuring tricks to illustrate the points he had to make. People would travel quite long distances to attend church, particularly if he was taking the service.
We did the usual Nativity plays. Once we did parts of Handel's "Messiah". It was not terribly well done but people enjoyed it. We did the "Missa Luba" too - with a group of visiting Africans. Much of that involves drums and wild, African exuberance.
All those things are a far cry from the quiet reverence usually demanded by traditional churches. Those things are fun. They are there to be enjoyed.
My siblings and I no longer attend church. I think we all hold certain beliefs as a result of our church attendance but they are not beliefs that require the attendance of church on Sundays in order to believe what we now believe.
It would appear to be the same for many other people. The congregations in traditional churches are all too often elderly. I rather suspect that churches might get more customers if children played in them, if people sang loudly and exuberantly in them - and if more vergers did cartwheels down the aisles.


Melinda Szymanik said...

The verger doing cartwheels was a highlight. Weddings are joyous occasions - a cartwheel is not only appropriate but should be mandatory :)


Anonymous said...

I am with Melinda ... the cartwheel should be a part of every wedding, in a church or anywhere else!

All in all a very nice wedding.

Judy B

jeanfromcornwall said...

I'm only jealous that I could never have done it as well as he did. Outbreaks of spontaneous joy are very good for the world.

Neil said...

Sorry all

This was a spoof in an advert for t-mobile!

Visit to see it all.

catdownunder said...

Maybe so Neil but it still had to happen - the possibility is there and that is what matters!