Monday, July 29, 2013

A Cat, a Hat, and a Eucharist!

If I was not already familiar with the so-called "Seusscharist" (see here and here), I might have thought that this video was a production of The Onion.  But sadly, this is footage of an actual service at St. George's Anglican Church in Guelph, Ontario on Sunday, June 13, 2010:

In the video, the rector says this about the service:

It's exciting to be able to do something a little different.  It's also a little daunting for a priest.  Some would say going to dress up as Cat in the Hat is bringing silliness into worship.

Yes, I can see how some would say exactly that!

The coordinator of family ministry offers this explanation for why St. George's did a "Seusscharist":

The intention of this service is to create an experience for children and give them the language to make sense of that experience.  So that's why we're doing the Dr. Seuss Eucharist.  And what I've learned in the past is we have a connection with the children at a younger age, and if they experience God at a younger age, they have a better experience of church, and the chances are when they're older they'll want to stay.

It's hard for me to get past how seeing a middle-aged man with a goofy hat on his head in church, flanked by "Thing 1" and "Thing 2",  is going to help anyone "make sense" of God.  

The rector sums it all up:

In our house we try to make room for everybody, and this is an intentional 'making room' for all generations to come, to play.  And we take the Eucharist at its center seriously, but we do so with humor, with love, and with invitation that we hope speaks across generations and to the child that's in all of us.

The problem, of course, is that this attempt to "make room for everybody" necessarily excludes anyone who believes (as I do) that dressing up like Dr. Seuss characters and substituting "Seusspeak" for the language of the Eucharistic prayer models a shocking lack of respect and reverence for one of the holiest things the Church does.    

I agree with C. Wingate at Tune: Kings Lynn: I Would Not, Could Not, in a Church.


C. Wingate said...

I must confess at this point that I didn't watch more than about fifteen seconds of this. But really, who of us who have watched liturgical stunts over the years needs to watch any of it?

I also must say that at this late date the phrase "radical hospitality" is an unintentional dog whistle to anyone hoping for a traditional, dignified, orthodox liturgy, warning them to expect that at least two of the three will be violated, and that they will be made to feel unwelcome if they have a problem with this.

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for bringing this video to my attention, C. Wingate. And also for commenting here.

Sadly, I agree with you about the term "radical hospitality." If anyone who values traditional, dignified, orthodox liturgy hears that term in a church, they should run away as fast as they can!

TJ McMahon said...

Once upon a time, long ago... well, within my lifetime actually... the rector would occasionally drop in to Sunday School classes (always before or after Mass, never during) to talk with children about the meaning of the Eucharist, and what some of those "old fashioned" words meant, and why he wore vestments, and why we knelt for the Lord's Prayer, but sat for the Epistle.

Now, instead, the rector puts on outrageous clothes and spouts a liturgy that is blasphemous, and for that matter, an insult to Dr. Seuss.

In all likelihood, this sort of thing happens because "priests" are commonly "ordained" without knowing the meaning of the Eucharist, what the words mean, the significance of their various vestments, or why you kneel (well, more often than not nowadays, stand) for the Lord's Prayer (usually in some modern, and questionable, translation), and why you sit for the Epistle (again, in some modern, questionable, translation, or interpretation).

Anonymous said...

I blogged about this and the rash of other oddball Eucharists out there a few months ago:

We appear desperate and lacking in both self-respect and theological coherence. The Seuss-charist is bad. So were the Clown-charist and Pirate-charist. We even had a priest do a 2 minute "PDQ-charist" in the quad of a local university that left the college students wandering past gazing in amusement at our bizarre awkwardness.

Chris Roussell said...

The notion that we, as liturgists, must bring the Eucharist down to a level that is understandable or relatable to children today is beyond my comprehension. As a child, I was in awe of the holiness of the Eucharist. When we diminish the sacred simply because some adults think that it's the only way to get children engaged with the sacred and holy, we arrest the theological development of our children.

If we we were to embrace the "Seuss-achrist", then what becomes the bridge between that silly approach to one of greater maturity? Do we, then, develop a One Direction service for the teens and a Eucha-palooza for the college students?

God has humbled Himself enough to become our life-sustaining food and drink in the Eucharist. Shouldn't we, through prayers, sacrifice and penitence, allow Him to elevate us to meet him halfway, rather than ask Him to descend further by entertaining us with rhymes and silliness? God put on the cloak of humanity for our sake, must we put on the cloak of inane fiction for Him? I think not.

Larry McCallister, Jr. said...

I can only imagine what John Wesley, lifelong Anglican priest, would think of such perversion.