Saturday, October 16, 2010

Episcopal Church Offers a "Seusscharist"

Perhaps you've heard of the clown Eucharist. Or the U2charist. Or, for that matter, the pirate Eucharist.

Now there's a new spin on the sacrament:

Here's what's posted about this event on the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh's website:

With brains in your head and feet in your shoes
Please come to Calvary from any direction you choose.

Friday, October 22 will be the day.
Fun is waiting, so get on your way.

We'll have a light supper and share together
A little Seuss fun, no matter the weather.

A movie, and popcorn, and stories, too.
We'll finish with a Seusscharist designed just for you.

Five thirty is the time that we will start.
We know you will join us, if you are smart.

Weezie is the one that you should call
She'll take reservations for family, friends and all.

Age is no limit, bottom or top.
We know that our gathering won't be a flop.

Have any questions you'd like to ask?
Just call Adele. She's up to the task.

Calvary Episcopal Church
315 Shady Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15206

Robert S. Munday, Dean of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, clarifies why this trivialization of the Holy Eucharist is a serious matter in a blog posting entitled "Pittsburgh's 'Seusscharist' sacrilege":

Now, before someone calls me a GRINCH for casting aspersions on this program, let me be clear about my reasoning. The Eucharist is to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ's death, whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, until He comes again. That is its message, and that is the meaning. It needs no other metaphor. Dressing it up in other garb can only obscure—not enhance—its message and its meaning.

The concept of a sacrilege teaches us that "sacred objects are not to be treated in the same way as other objects." That's the point of the matter. And no, this kind of display (Clown Eucharists and Seusscarists) isn't what the Apostle Paul means when he calls the preaching of the Gospel foolishness in I Corinthians. ...

"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup" (I Corinthians 11:27-28). Literally interpreted, this text means that we should not approach the Eucharist with impure motives or unconfessed sins against God and our neighbor, thereby having little regard for the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But does it not also mean that, when it comes to the Eucharist, we shouldn't be clowning
around? We are dealing with holy things in the Eucharist, when God in the flesh died for the sins of humankind.

Amen, Dean Munday!


Joe Rawls said...

What will they do, consecrate green eggs and ham? Bless the cat in the hat? I can hardly wait.

Kelso said...

Dear Beloved Dr Seuss: I’m sorry. Just so so very sorry. It’s now been 31 years since we destroyed the most beautiful worship services in western Christendom by closing the 1928 BCP and opening up the 1979 BCP.

But you see, we had to do it because otherwise all the nuts in our church wouldn’t be able to flourish as they do now. There was no provision in the 1928 BCP for Clowns, Puppets, Cheap Music, Hip Hop Masses….and sadly to say, Suesscharists.

Please forgive us dear Dr Seuss, we’re turning charismatic and we often get hysterical.

[10] Pos

Bryan Owen said...

And there's no provision in the '79 Prayer Book for those sorts of things, either.

Bill Dilworth said...

Are we sure that this actually represents some sort of Eucharist transposed into Seussspeak, as opposed to simply a cutesy name for a common or garden-varity Eucharist?

Bryan Owen said...

Bill, perhaps (as some have accused me before) I'm just being cranky and insensitive, but I personally don't think it matters whether or not this is just an advertisement for a "garden-variety Eucharist" or whether or not they also plan to dress up as Dr. Seuss characters and do the Eucharist in Seussspeak. Of course, the latter is worse than the former, but to even advertise the Eucharist in this manner demonstrates a shocking lack of respect and reverence for one of the holiest things the Church does. I think that Dean Munday's responses to comments basically suggesting that we lighten up about all of this are well said, such as this: "We should enter into the experience of the Eucharist joyfully. But there is a BIG difference between joy and silliness or irreverence."

amonkswimming said...

I have to say, clown Eucharists and Seussachrists don't offend me. If sacraments are ways in which we point toward the sacred. If celebrating the Eucharist is so central to our identity as Episcopalians, why can we not participate in the meal in new ways? Each time inclusive language us used, each time a hearing congregation is able to witness the Mass signed, each time we intentionally pay attention to nonverbal language in church- our hearts and minds remember Jesus' commandment to us in a a way we would never have recognized it before. I am not saying that "anything goes" but I am saying that, as Protestants, we embrace finding the sacramental life in everyday things that point toward transcendance. Why not think about how mystical and transformative Dr. Seuss was to us in our years when we were such sponges for the intertwining of sacred and profane things?

Bryan Owen said...

Thank you for commenting, amonkswimming. It seems to me that there is a divide in the Church between those who find profound meaning by doing the sacrament "in a new way" (a la the "Suesscharist," etc.) and those for whom such innovations are a betrayal of the sacrament's integrity. The two perspectives strike me as incommensurable and irreconcilable.

Evan said...

Good gracious. R.A. Cram, the designer of Calvary Church, would be horrified at the use to which his magnificent building is being put these days.