Sunday, January 09, 2005

Change or decay?

Rather later than most of the world, I've been reading Richard Giles's "Repitching the Tent". It's excellent stuff, especially when you are confronted by a church like ours. He has a very accessible style, and it all makes sense both practically and theologically....though I fear it may be a while before we can persuade our congregation to attend a course based on his outlines.
However, one chapter did give me the opportunity to experience something of the feelings of those who sense that their most cherished aspects of church life are under threat,- be they pitch-pine pews or processions for Corpus Christi. Giles does not have alot of time for the "English Choral tradition", feeling that it has little to offer to the 21st century world...but this happens to be the context in which my own faith grew, the route that led me through the deaths of my parents and the tortuous process of growing up. Quite simply, I love it, so reading his words, my hackles rose.
This doesn't mean that I cannot understand that Byrd, Tallis, Howells et al may have little to say to a casual post-modern enquirer....but nonetheless, the prospect of a church without their contributions saddens me. So, I find myself briefly on the other side of the tracks. Instead of frustration at the conservative outlook of my congregation, I feel the anxiety and grief of those who see the things they love swept away in a tidal wave which threatens all that they've considered essential to their faith.
I'm fortunate.
I'm among those who have some say in the way worship is expressed in a local context, but others, with different loves, will feel every bit as distressed at the changes that I embrace with enthusiasm. I pray that God will allow me to hang on to these feelings, so that I can hear their lament clearly.


Mark said...

I can't see how we could casually dispense with any of the church's music traditions without loss to ourselves. Thanks for expressing this point so well. I have not read Giles, but other writers on postmodern church are far more generous to such traditions, viewing them as a valuable resource for our age, one to be treasured and 'included in the mix'.

Tony said...

This kind of thing really makes me angry. I mean, the kind of fascism that goes with some of the emergent church: that unless an expression of worship or liturgy is in contemporary idiom, it's not worthy of the Gospel. (Or something.) This is just so outrageously stupid that it wouldn't be worth commenting on, unless there were some quite prominent people seeming to lend credence to it. Yet in all sorts of other areas, old stuff is being 'discovered' as having some value: Benedictine chant for meditation, etc. It looks like another example of the Church throwing out its most precious possessions, just when the rest of the world begins to realise how precious they are. What we need in the Church, is more confidence that we have something of worth, and less lusting after the nakedness of Fraulein Zeitgeist.

Tony said...

Gosh, that sounded a bit rabid. Sorry, it's getting late.

Kathryn said...

Having had such wonderfully indignant reactions, I'm now of course wondering if Richard Giles actually said what I thought he said...Have had to return the book to its owner, but I was given "Creating Uncommon Worship" for Christmas so will see what his approach is there. But what really did interest me most was the way his words pushed my buttons...even if I did him an injustice, or misinterpreted every word he wrote...the situation is probably alarmingly close to that of people in our congregations at times.

Tony said...

Well, who cares whether he actually said it or not? All that indignation felt gooood. And there's so little opportunity for it in the church .... :-