Monday, July 26, 2010

Pagan Worship Processionals?

What messages do we communicate by not only the words we say in worship, but also by the things we do? And are those messages consistent with the Gospel?

Those questions came to mind as I watched the following processionals (hat tip to Christopher Johnson at "Bad Vestments").

First, here's the opening worship processional for the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA (be sure to wait for the giant papier-mâché Calvinist puppets of doom):




And here's a processional for a Roman Catholic mass:




In response to the first video, a Presbyterian friend of mine said, "Another clear sign that paganism has taken over and Jim Henson is the underworld overlord of mainline Presbyterianism."

So what messages do you think these processionals communicate?

9 comments:

BillyD said...

Seriously? I think they say "We seriously have no clue about what why we're gathering, or how liturgy works, or what the role of the congregation is, or what to do with a thurible."

At least it wasn't an Episcopal liturgy this time. :-)

Reformation said...

Loons.

JC Fremont said...

From the booklet accompanying a CD called "BLACK MADONNA, Pilgrim Songs of Montserrat, 1400-1420":

"...a report from Bernard of Angers from 1010, on a practice in the church at Conques: According to ancient custom the pilgrims hold their vigils in the Fides Church with candles and lamps. Since they do not understand the Latin chants of the office, they help to pass the long nights away with uneducated songs and other nonsense.

"These lively dances in the church led naturally to a ban and at the Council of Avignon in 1209 came the following declaration: We decree that, during vigils for the saints in the churches, musicians must not perform either leaping dances with obscene gestures nor round dances; nor shall love-songs and similar songs be sung."

Looks like the Presbys are trying to revive something...

JC Fremont said...

I finally had time to look at the second video. First, a quick correction to the title of the CD whose booklet I quoted from before...it should have been "BLACK MADONNA, Pilgrim Songs from the Monastery of Montserrat, 1400-1420".

OK, now for the second video: Bert and Ernie and a cast of thousands! (well, at least hundreds) And I thought the megachurches were into entertainment...

Joe Rawls said...

I used to think that the only thing worse than a Roman Catholic priest trying to look cool is an Episcopal priest trying to look cool. They've both been surpassed by the descendants of Calvin, who's undoubtedly doing 1000 rpm in his grave as we speak.

Fr. Reich said...

Here's a little something to clear all of this up...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6AOvStZS64

Fr. Reich said...

Sorry, I didn't think the first comment posted.

On a serious note- I have seen and been part of processions of the Blessed Sacrament, processions with statues of the BVM and other saints...which might be called idolatry by some...but I can't figure out what those puppets of doom are supposed to represent...nor can I figure out what the big puppet things are in the R.C. video.

At the least, I think a serious, or pious connection can be made to Jesus Christ through the processions of saints and of course the Blessed Sacrament...but in all charity, I cannot see how these connect others to our Lord, or point to our Lord.

It gave me the heeby-jeebys...but for once, at least it was not us!

hawk said...

I have never been accused of being creative in liturgy. A liturgy professor suggested that I was unwilling to stretch the boundaries of propriety. I took her suggestion as a compliment. I agree that the Presbyterian procession is a bit of a stretch, especially considering the suppression of the procession in early Calvinism. I do think there is a hint of paganism and Mardi Gras, though I happen to be a fan of Carnival as preparation for Lent. No group of people are more willing to commit themselves to the Lenten observance than a church down the bayou, and I think Mardi Gras sets the tone (I'm not speaking of the Bourbon Street travesty of excess).

I don't want to critique the Roman Catholic procession because I don't understand the context. I'm not a fan of liturgical dance (I always want to look away) and I'm confused by the large costumes, but the people there may understand what's going on and be uplifted by the whole thing.

The best procession I ever witnessed was the consecration of Charles Jenkins as bishop of Louisiana. It began with a New Orleans brass band playing "O When The Saints" followed by a whole host of dignitaries and choirs and clergy. I don't remember any puppets or liturgical dancers or strange costumes. I remember thinking "this is outstanding" and being excited to be a part of the church and looking forward to the new ministry of my bishop.

There have been times when I've taken my place in the procession and wondered what in the heck we are doing. I think about newcomers and what they must think about the entrance into the church. What is the message that we are sending by entering in this way? Is this frivolous or are we conveying the importance of the rite that we are about to celebrate? Sometimes I feel kind of silly. My guess is a few of the Presbyterians did too.

Wilf said...

If you don't understand the puppets of doom, this site might help:

http://whatofthedead.doompuppet.com/index.html