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Easter - Sally's Journal
March 27th, 2005
09:31 pm

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Easter
Hmm, I'm worried this post will be pissed and offensive. However, I'm currently worried that I am pissed and offensive, and so I feel duty bound to use this LJ as a true record of who I am and what I'm doing. And I love you all, so please forgive me...



As background, it is worth noting that I don't seem to get on with lsm church very well. I love the people, the conversations I can have with them, the things they think and do. But plodding slowly through a service sheet churning out replys I don't quite believe in, hymns I don't know the tune to, and listening to the choir sing things I can't decipher isn't my idea of worship. And it takes so long! Surely it'd be better to worship for 20 minutes and then spend an hour feeding the homeless. Anyway, I'm not sure. And just occasionally it touches me. But there are so many weeks when I'm wrapped up in the world and it's a lonf waste of time that doesn't take me anywhere.

On Friday I went to Tenebre, and didn't dare talk afterwards. It was strange. I turned up in the dark, and was given a service sheet I couldn't see for the whole service, which people handed in again at the end, in the dark. You have to wonder what the point of that was. I got confused for large chunks, thinking that the point was to listen to the choir (who I couldn't understand. I find it very hard to understand sung stuff. Or stuff in a funny accent) Or that the point was Easter, and none of the bits I could glean seemed to be about Good Friday. But apparently the point was just to sit in the dark and look at the candles and think and wonder. And I managed that.

Today it was easter. I woke up ludicrously early, although the clocks doing weird things made me oddly confused about how early early was. Cycled in with Sarah (odd how responsibility to other people makes you far more likely to do mad things you'd never do on your own) as the birds started to sing, chattering away to each other. (I haven't seen enough of Sarah recently.) Strange though, later the sermon was all about coming in the dead of the night, and my cycle ride had nothing of the dead night about it, more the very first light breaths of day. The service was incredable. I'm so glad I went. Although it's amazing how impressive turning on the lights can be with enough build up. Odd. Makes you wonder how much is marvel of God, and how much is brain washing and ritual. Candles and fires, and light and bells and joy, and strings and saints, and saying the peace and looking into the eyes of people feeling such a fierce joy I wanted to cry. And it didn't feel like it took a long time, which LSM always does, to a certain extent

And then breakfast. Sitting in the corner ment we were a long way from the food. Although there was just about enough. And then champagne. Then wandering back to LSM and helping Lois put eggs in bowls. She looked lovely in her dress, and was very fond of the fact her mummy had picked her up and given her a cross. Her appreciation would have been better shown by not trying to eat it though. Ah well, we were all 5 once. Except those of us that are under 5. The easter garden was blessed and there was a strange sense of dejavu about the whole service. Church twice in one day is an odd sensation for me.

Coffee in the parish room. I wonder what the answer to what to do with drunks is? City would probably just let them stand up and speak if they wanted to. LSM seemed to ignore him when he asked to partake in the service, which felt harsh, but were welcoming into the church and coffee etcetc. Ah, I don't know. Phoned M, who was feeling better!!!

So we all went to wildeabandons for lunch. It was lovely. Many many wonderful people, and good conversations, and great food and wine. Err, maybe too much wine. I have a bad feeling I was a drunken fool, and all the beautiful people will hate me for it. Ah well, I have had my fifteen seconds in the sunshine of the social elite :-) Must remember that they all probably all strange social outcasts and Cambridge types like me, and while idolising them for being wonderful isn't a bad thing thinking of them as something better than me probably is. Ah, but it was great. If I talked boringly about all the people I am worried about who you barely know, I apologise. It was great to see Angela again. Everyone was lovely. Long hours of good food, sweet wine, and beautiful interesting people.

If I was being at all coherant, I would try to talk about what this all means to me. Jesus Christ is risen, alliluia! And I have felt that joy. (Still, I've felt the joy of great pieces of fiction before now) Or even if I was a scrap coherant, I'd worry about how you seperate the God from the ritual, and reveal myself to be a raving protestant. But I am tired and drunk, and those rants and wonderings can wait for another day.

Although as cathedral_life pointed out, she is still waiting for my musings on City Church and the last Little St Mary's talk. So maybe I'm lying.

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From:naath
Date:March 27th, 2005 09:58 pm (UTC)
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In mother's church the vigil starts at sun down, there is also a dawn mass and a morning mass... people tend not to go to them all! Also priests suck at getting the time of sundown right.

You are supposed to be able to read in the dark! (not that I've ever been in a church that managed true dark).

Also if I believed in your god I would hate City because I hatehatehate the happy clappy whereas ceremony has, well, ceremony which IMO is a good thing, but only worrks if you happen to think that it is a good thing. You need to give in to the theatre. It might help to read the service book in advance to find out what is supposed to be happening. The sung mass is fairly standard things and will have spoken equivalents in the book (which is probably the book of common prayer in LSM).
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From:feanelwa
Date:March 27th, 2005 10:38 pm (UTC)
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Fluorescent ink is the way forward. It doesn't even need to be radioactive anymore :D
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2005 09:37 am (UTC)
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Hey, since when did he become my god? :-p

It might help to read the service book in advance to find out what is supposed to be happening

Naath, don't patronise me, I have a perfectly good idea of what goes on in a standard sung mass. What I have trouble with is sung psalms (like Tenebre, when I didn't have a clue what they were supposed to be singing about, and it didn't sound like anything to do with Good Friday, err, because it wasn't) and the sung Gospel, because, well, it's not written out on the service sheet. Yes, I could carry a bible round with me and just follow, but TBH on top of the service sheet, the hymn book, and the blue book this really would just feel like documentation gone mad. And I'm not sure what the point of preaching the word of God so it's really hard to understand is. (/me wonders if LSM should go the whole way and just preach in latin)

It would be nice if your comment had some content, I'm actually interested in why you think ceramony is a good thing. But "because it's ceramony and you should give into it" could do with a bit of elaboration before I'll have a clue what you mean.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2005 09:42 am (UTC)
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Hey, since when did he become my god? :-p

We could avoid 57% of arguments if we had different words for 'my' to mean 'my book', 'my mother' and 'my city', and people couldn't accidently or deliberately imply the wrong one :)
From:yrieithydd
Date:March 28th, 2005 10:52 am (UTC)
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What I have trouble with is sung psalms (like Tenebre, when I didn't have a clue what they were supposed to be singing about, and it didn't sound like anything to do with Good Friday, err, because it wasn't) and the sung Gospel, because, well, it's not written out on the service sheet.

I agree Tenebrae was a bit bizarre from the point of view of the service sheets. The first time I went (3 years ago) there was more light and so it was just possible to read the sheet. I coped this year with a tiny bit of use of my bike light (with my fingers over it to keep the light down) and the fact I actually know some psalms quite well now due to offices (for example we started with Psalm 4 which is a compline psalm so I basically know it!)

Re the gospel, I find I can follow the chanted gospel fine, but it might help you to know that one can pick up an A5 sheet at the back of Church which has the collect and readings for the day on it.

(which is probably the book of common prayer in LSM)
It isn't though. It's Common Worship (Order 1 Trad Language i.e. BCP type language but using the traditional western order for the Mass not Cramner's strange one!)
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From:ilanin
Date:March 28th, 2005 12:39 pm (UTC)
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I believe the argument is that you can't separate the God from the Ritual, the God is in the Ritual, that's why He taught you Rituals in the first place.

Not that I actually know anything about this, so I'll go away now. Hiding over ----> there from all the Christians if you need me.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2005 09:43 am (UTC)
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Jomsburg is bad enough at sun-times and we're supposed to *cause* it :)
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From:ptc24
Date:March 28th, 2005 11:08 am (UTC)
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You could have some funky digital devices with backlighting for reading in the dark.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you the PsalmPilot.

(Sorry, couldn't resist)
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From:marnanel
Date:April 3rd, 2005 01:04 am (UTC)
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I thought you did believe in him, just didn't believe he was who he said he was?
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 27th, 2005 11:20 pm (UTC)
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Which Sarah? Is that a sarah I knew?

Also, *random easter hugs*
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From:atreic
Date:March 28th, 2005 09:14 am (UTC)
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Sarah my housemate Sarah. Hence the fact we were cycling in together at 4am in the morning.
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:March 28th, 2005 09:40 am (UTC)
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Doh! Of course. I always forget her name, I'm sorry, Sarah.
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From:trinity_gal
Date:March 28th, 2005 04:55 pm (UTC)
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sorry if you are all forced to fall in love with something (religion) you can't...
(facetious, I know...)

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From:robert_jones
Date:March 28th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
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[P]lodding slowly through a service sheet churning out replys I don't quite believe in, hymns I don't know the tune to, and listening to the choir sing things I can't decipher isn't my idea of worship.

cathedral_life said yesterday to libellum (who, as you know, has been complaining recently about the impossibility of following the services at LSM), that Christianity is a mystery-cult, of one huge mystery, and that it takes at least twenty years to understand what is going on. I'm not sure I quite agree with that, but there is something in it. The liturgy is not something which can be easily followed by the casual visitor, because our faith is not a casual faith, but something learned through immersion (or, as you might say, brain-washing). The rhythms of the liturgy enter slowly into the soul, so that they remain inescapable even when heart and head are doubting, which is why, I suspect, that lapsed catholics rarely succeed in putting their faith entirely behind them. After a while, one learns the tunes to the hymns, and then they come to one at odd moments, gently prodding or consoling. One can sometimes even decipher the choir!

The great liturgies of Holy Week, which include some of the earliest in the church, are particularly laden with mystery.

Surely it'd be better to worship for 20 minutes and then spend an hour feeding the homeless.

There seems to me to be a danger here of the homeless becoming a token of service to others. Of course, it is important to help them, as the Bible often reminds us, but that help is only going towards a very small proportion of society. I liked the preacher's sermon on Maundy Thursday, when he pointed out that washing the feet (metaphorically speaking) of those in obvious need can be easy, but Jesus' command was to wash one another's feet, which is to say to find a way of serving those who are our equals. And I also liked (and libellum also liked) what he went on to say, that it is through our participation in the mass that we are empowered for that service.

I am also reminded of a sermon of Ben Quash's from Holy Week of 2001 (I think), when he talking of Mary's washing of Jesus' feet with her precious ointment and the making of extravagent gestures to God. A twenty minute service would seem rather a shoddy offering. Similarly, it is not, in a sense, important whether or not the service "takes me anywhere"; the offering of praise and worship to God is an end in itself, not the means to some other end.

On Friday I went to Tenebre, and didn't dare talk afterwards. It was strange. I turned up in the dark, and was given a service sheet I couldn't see for the whole service, which people handed in again at the end, in the dark. You have to wonder what the point of that was.

I was puzzled by that. I think it was an oversight. In previous years it has not be so completely dark, with the choir being downstairs and all.

I got confused for large chunks, thinking that the point was to listen to the choir (who I couldn't understand. I find it very hard to understand sung stuff. Or stuff in a funny accent)

Again, it's easier to understand as the psalter becomes more familiar. It may be worth pointing out that the choir were being delibrately muffled (by singing in a different room, with all the connecting windows closed), because it was felt they were too loud in previous years.

none of the bits I could glean seemed to be about Good Friday.

Tenebrae is matins and lauds for Saturday by anticipation, so it isn't a Good Friday service at all, strictly speaking. I think it's fair to say that large chunks of the service were connected to the theme; those extracts from the Lamentations and the antiphons particularly. Again, it probably helps if you have some idea of the way matins and lauds would usually sound, so that the differences are significant.

Must remember that they all probably all strange social outcasts and Cambridge types like me

Indeed. LSM is largely made up of waifs and strays, who some how manage to redefine themselves as beautiful people (as indeed also happens in other counter cultures).
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From:cathedral_life
Date:March 29th, 2005 10:00 am (UTC)
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I agree with all of this post (which is part of a continuing tradition in itself!), and would have said something along the same lines if Robert hadn't already put it all very well.

[NB - this turned into a sort of reflection, when it was meant to be a paragraph...]

See my Live Journal, as I wrote it as a post, instead of a comment.
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From:robert_jones
Date:March 28th, 2005 06:40 pm (UTC)
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By the way, when are you coming to drink that sweet wine? I'm leaving Cambridge on Thursday. It would be good if you could come before then.
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From:atreic
Date:March 29th, 2005 10:16 am (UTC)
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That would be lovely. What are you doing on Wednesday evening? I'd usually be at the LSM course, but there isn't one due to Easter and Belgiums.
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From:wildeabandon
Date:March 29th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)
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That would be fine, although be warned that there will also be book club here.

Robert (sub nom Elise)
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From:lavendersparkle
Date:March 28th, 2005 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Have you met Sam Dennis from Peterhouse? I know he sometimes potters into LSM. He's a sweet little camp very earnest undergrad historian (there should be some punctuation in there).

Some of my thoughts on ritual. Intellect and discussion will only get you so far. You're supposed to love G-d with all your heart and soul as well as your mind. Ritual helps to deliver some insights which years of study couldn't achieve. I remember the experience of fasting and prayer during my first Yom Kippur had a deep impact on my understanding of redemption and our relation with G-d.

Well those are my thoughts which are probably already obvious to everyone. I still don't understand all the elements in a normal Shabbat morning service. Still, I'm reading a book at the moment which is explaining a lot of it and I'll hopefully get my own copy of the RSGB prayer book this week, which should help.
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From:mair_aw
Date:March 29th, 2005 12:14 am (UTC)
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why are you going to a church you don't like? why don't you go to one you do like and feel comfortable in? why don't you go to a short 8am service and then go and feed the homeless? why don't you not go to church altogether and go and feed the homeless instead?
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From:atreic
Date:March 29th, 2005 10:20 am (UTC)
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why are you going to a church you don't like?

People do lots of things they don't like. I have often been to lectures I have not enjoyed in an attempt to understand something that I don't understand but find interesting. Often the unenjoyable lectures have helped. Besides, I don't think I said I didn't like LSM. I like lots of things about LSM. I can't think of a single thing in the universe that I like everything about.

why don't you go to one you do like and feel comfortable in?

I don't think there is one. Possibly due to my background leaving me in an odd position when I actually want contradictory things out of a church.

why don't you go to a short 8am service and then go and feed the homeless?

Because being awake at 8am on a Sunday is too hard. And because then the wonderful people would not be there.

why don't you not go to church altogether and go and feed the homeless instead?

I tried that for a bit, it didn't seem to do any good. There were just as many homeless just as hungry the next day, and maybe we even made things worse for them
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From:meirion
Date:March 31st, 2005 07:41 am (UTC)
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Besides, I don't think I said I didn't like LSM.

it certainly came across that way to me. i felt attacked.

i'm sorry your experience of easter at LSM was so unenjoyable. i'm not sure whether i ever got as far as articulating how much i was dreading Holy Week (too many services, at unpleasant times, when i was already completely knackered and could have done with spending the entire weekend in bed asleep) but in the end – although it wasn't as magical as last year – it was really very uplifting. which i was very much in need of.

i doubt L. was trying actually to eat the cross. more chewing on it as a fiddle object. better that than sucking and chewing her hair (which is what i did at her age ...)

-m-
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From:mr_ricarno
Date:March 29th, 2005 08:30 am (UTC)
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Only just picked up this post.

I think I know what you mean about LSM services - sometimes they go on for an age and I wonder whether I'm only staying there for the ceremony and ritual. But at other times it's not like that at all - it seems like that's what you experienced on Easter Sunday. One thing I've learned over the years is that there will be times, sometimes huge stretches of time, when you 'can't feel God' or Christianity seems to be a load of wishful thinking, or whatever.

I kind of agree with mair_aw here - if LSM doen't float your boat, and you're still interested in exploring Christianity again, then why not find a church where you do feel at home? There are plenty of churches in Cambridge to choose from...
From:mtbc100
Date:March 31st, 2005 12:41 am (UTC)
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plenty of churches> Indeed. YMMV. It really is worth trying a good few out, if nothing else to gather good ideas with which to return to LSM with. There's plenty of diversity in churches because different things work for different people.

I find Dawn's mother's Roman Catholic church very unwelcoming from a WTF is going on POV. I read fast, I have a sharp analytical mind, and can pay prolonged, meticulous attention, and I have no idea how to follow the book around from jump to jump between sections in order to follow the service. I have no idea how they win new adult converts without marrying them to other RCs. Unless, maybe, they don't.
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