Saturday, August 8, 2009

CLOWN SUITS

At some point, a site dedicated to chronicling what not to wear during Christian worship must deal with the phenomenon of the clown Eucharist. These seem to occur in all Christian denominations(this one is Episcopalian).

All I can say is that if you think it's a spiritually good idea to dress like that while performing the most solemn, meaningful and important of all Christian ceremonies, you don't understand or value that ceremony and you really should start sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

I feel the same about the "rocking wedding" video that has been making the rounds. When what should be a solemn ceremony turns into theater, it makes a mockery of marriage, just like this makes a mockery of the sacrifice of Christ. Call me a spoil sport, but that's what receptions are for.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard of it in any denomination except Episcopal and Roman Catholic. A Baptist preacher's congregation would be out the door and the church empty before the service was half finished.

Jim Olson said...

I am sitting with two Unitarian Universalist ordained ministers who think this is appalling. Says a lot, I think...

Steve Martin said...

I'm wondering why the Unitarian's would think it is appalling.

And then maybe we discuss some other beliefs and practices that are appalling to orothodox Christians...like universalism.

Jim Olson said...

Well, these two UU ministers (one of whom happens to be my spouse) are well trained, and understand that symbol matters, no matter which tradition. And they understand that this particular combination of symbols makes a mockery of the central Christian rite.

Jim Olson said...

And, throught the miracle of the Interwebs, there is video of this travesty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ6KWt49wIA

Anonymous said...

#2, I'd say that some variation of it does occur in many conservative, evangelical Protestant churches. Like, the polo-shirt-vested pastor telling all the little kids in church that the Lord's Supper is "snack time." That's documented.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes traditionalism blinds us to what can be the present hand of God. I was performing an outdoor wedding. At the end we had comunion. Most people at the wedding were unchurched. As soon as they took the bread and wine they suddenly started fellowshipping. They didn't know you should be quiet and solemn. Feeling that this was inappropriate, I started getting uncomfortable. Then I suddenly got a mental picture of the wedding feast in heaven. No formalism, just Christ welcoming His bride and everyone enjoying the event. Are we missing the possible symbolism of clown Euchrist because the symbolism doesn't agree with us because it doesn't have the solemness we feel should be present?

Out of curiosity I went and looked up clown Euchrist. I had never heard of it. It's not down in my area. I am one of those evangelical pastors. I would wear a polo shirt if I could getaway with it. I don't think I would ever call communion snack time though. I found it interesting the symbolism they placed in clown Euchrist. From a site that talks about this specific event: "clowns represent the underdog, the lowly, the remnant people. Their foolishness is a call to unpretentiousness. They take incredible risks -- balancing on tight ropes, eating fire, keeping silent, being poked by others or getting soaked in water. Clowns are parables in themselves, spending great amounts of energy uncovering small things, then showing forth the hidden treasure of life (like the kingdom of God) and, surprisingly to us, giving their most cherished possessions to others. ... Clowns look at the world, like parables, inside out and upside down: the last shall be first, the smallest seed is the greatest tree, and those who work all day get paid the same as those who worked an hour. To the world, this is foolishness.

"Yet foolishness -- the foolishness of God -- is wiser than man. It brings light, laughter, joy, renewal, salvation, and life. Whose fool are you?"

Good symbolism if you ask me. But then maybe I am just a dumb ole southern evangelical pastor. What would I know?

Maybe the question we really need to ask is does this offend me or does this offend God?

Steve Martin said...

Clowns belong at a circus.

Is the church becoming a circus?

For many, it is.

And that is not funny.

Edward said...

Firstly, I have not seen nor heard of this happening in a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation. Maybe I haven't been looking hard enough. :)

Secondly, whether it offends God or not, I can't tell you. But I'm pretty sure that 1 Corinthians has a passage about Christian freedom. We are free to do anything, but if it offends a brother and it may cause him to sin, then we shouldn't do it out of love for our brother. So if someone sees this photo and, rightly or wrongly, says this is idiotic and whoever does this is a ______ (fill in the blank with your choice of off-color word), then we have to ask ourselves, have the actions in the clown Eucharist caused some brothers to sin? (Hint: Christ said hating someone or calling someone a "fool" is the same as committing murder.)

Finally, as for the solemnity of the Lord's Supper, 1 Corinthians 11 has some words about that for us to remember. Holy Communion is not just another fellowship meal or "wedding feast" where we can have fun and do whatever we want. It is something instituted by our Lord Himself and we shouldn't mock Him by treating it too lightly.

Anonymous said...

"I was performing an outdoor wedding. At the end we had comunion. Most people at the wedding were unchurched. As soon as they took the bread and wine they suddenly started fellowshipping. They didn't know you should be quiet and solemn." --southern evangelical pastor

Do you think it's OK to have open communion at an outdoor wedding, or you do this all the time?
(If it's just bread and wine to you, I suppose it doesn't matter.)

SingingOwl said...

I have never heard of such a thing, and if I ever saw it I'd be out the back door. Appalling. And I'm an evangelical pastor too, "anonymous" but this is just bad bad bad bad taste.

Anonymous said...

Why are the "unchurched" or "unbaptized" receiving Holy Communion? It isn't snack time. Remember- in the parable of the wedding feast, those who refused to put on the wedding garment where tossed out. That's Baptism, in which one "puts on Christ" before one can eat at the table. And St. Paul says "He who eats and drinks not discerning the body eats and drinks damnation unto himself".

A bunch of clowns goofing around surely won't communicate the solemnity of someone being crucified for humanity. Such a LAUGHING matter eh?

WRGII said...

If this happened in a Roman Catholic Church, the local Ordinary better put a stop to it ASAP! If not, Cardinal Arinze should put a call into the man and remind him of the GIRM!

Anonymous said...

One at a time:

1.) Edward: I'm Methodist. I've never seen or heard this occurring in the Methodist church either.

2.) Edward: What does it mean to offend and cause someone to sin? If I make someone mad have I caused them to sin? If so Paul caused people to sin by penning that passage because he surely offended some by his words. Could it be that causing someone to sin is literally that. Example: We could argue that using wine in communion can cause people to sin. Which is worse making someone mad or causing them to fall back into alcoholism?

3.) Edward: What does 1 Cor 11:27 mean? What does taking the Lord's supper in an unworthy manner mean? Context is everything. This passage is talking about not loving the poor or insignificant. It says nothing of solemn ritual. Don't read your own ideas into the passage.

4.) Anonymous: Methodists believe in open communion. We hinder none from receiving the grace found in communion. That includes saints and sinners. My father as well as seminary professors taught me that when you serve communion at a wedding all people present may receive. Most Methodists are offended when communion is closed. Where is God's grace in that?

5.) Anonymous: Were the disciples who took the first communion baptized? Were they ready for this event? Or did Jesus give them grace they did not deserve or earn?

6.) Anonymous: "He who eats and drinks not discerning the body eats and drinks damnation unto himself". Context is once again everything. Does discerning the body mean our idea of solemnity or God's idea of solemnity? 1 Cor 11:17-33 communicates a problem the Corinthians had. When they celebrated communion, they ate with common food and excluded people. People went hungry and people got drunk. Paul's response seems to indicate that communion must have love for the lowly at its center. Paul's response calls for the Corinthians to consider that communion is sacred by loving all Christians regardless of class.

7.) Anonymous: Neither does robes, albs, candles, stoles, hats, gold, silver, bronze, acolytes, holy water, incense, etc. "communicate the solemnity of someone being crucified for humanity." All of that only has the value we assign it. The same with clowns. I like the value they assigned it.

8.) Steve Martin: I sometimes wonder the same question. But let's not limit it to the clowns, because they don't just have to wear make up to make a fool of the church. Maybe that is the church's problem.

9.) Singing Owl: As a pastor,I probably would never do this. I am not a high church pastor. I have probably done things that would have driven members of this group up the wall. However, as much as you all are offended by this act, I am offended by what I see as arrogance of people in this group. Many in this group seem to be worship snobs: you've got it figured out what it means to worship God. Anything that doesn't fit into that standard is deemed unworthy, unholy, and possibly not even real worship. To the worship snobs I ask: do you know the heart of God? Can you truly know what pleases him and what doesn't? Is it a solemn ritual that fits the standard or is it the heart in worship or is it the love we exhibit day in and day to those who don't fit with our precious standards?

Jim Olson said...

I may or may not be a worship snob; context is everything, and snobbery depends on where you are standing when you lob the accusation.

However, clowns presiding at the Eucharist, whether your view of it is high or low, is inappropriate. It simply conveys the wrong message about what is going on, no matter what your view of the Eucharist/Holy Communion/Lord's Table. Over on FB, my friends, a truly theologically diverse group of people, have universally condemned this as an abberation outside of the pale. When you get a Unitarian, an Evangelical, a Congregationalist, two Episcopalians (of different sorts), a Presbyterian, two Methodists and a Pentecostal to all agree that this is just wrong, something must be right about that opinion.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of clown eucharists in any tradition, and it strikes me as dubious at best (as though my opinion matters). That said, there are a lot of ways to beclown oneself in church. I see men with ridiculous brocaded caps, croziers suitable only for herding elderly or infirm sheep, and wearing perversions of a Roman courtier's outfit all the time. They seem to think by doing this that they are more convincingly impersonating an apostle. I see people dressed up as Judge Wapner. And the brocaded apostles and devout Wapnerites seem to take themselves very seriously. That's pretty funny; maybe even funnier than a clown communion.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the lengths that anyone would go to defend this, especially considering the universal understanding among Christians of all stripes that the Lord's Supper, even the most joyous observances, is still extremely serious. Proclaiming Jesus' death is a serious message. The potential of eating and drinking judgment upon yourself is serious business. For all its joys, pastors have an intense and serious calling.

And I have no idea what "croziers suitable only for herding elderly or infirm sheep" is supposed to mean.

Anonymous said...

Which is more important? The actions or the heart? People can go through the actions, get them all right and still be all wrong because their hearts are all wrong. Likewise people can miss all the actions have the right heart and be all right. Heart is what worship is all about. NOT ACTIONS OR RITUAL. Now if we are going to talk about actions, then make sure you have the right actions. The actions that seem to be praise worthy are to love the unlovable, to do good, and bring people to God. Ritual is just ritual. RITUAL WILL NOT MAKE AN ACT MORE OR LESS ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. I will not condemn anyone for a doctrinally correct expression of worship that comes from the heart, even if it stands outside my expression. I will however challenge the folk in this group to consider your statements. In this forum as well as other places on this site I have seen unloving statements and often times seen a bunch of high church snobs. In fact the whole intent of this site (dedicated to subjecting particularly awful Christian liturgical vestments to the ridicule they so richly deserve) reeks of high church snobbery. Which is God more displeased by: a bunch of clergy officiating communion as clowns where their hearts may or may not be right or a bunch of self righteous snobs standing in judgment of other people's expression of worship that doesn't fit their limited experience? The more I listen to this group the more I am glad I am in a low church experience where we are not caught by this type of snobbery, other types yes, this one no.

For whatever this is worth, I am not defending the clowns. I could care less really. What I am doing is challenging this group because I smell the death that is reeking from white washed tombs. You speak of right ritual but carelessly condemn other people's expression of worship because it doesn't agree with you. I think that is more in line with taking communion in an unworthy manner than the clowns' actions. That destroys the solemness of communion long before we step up to officiate the act.

You condemn the clowns for their irreverent handling of communion yet you fail to see the foolishness of your own words. Who's the bigger clown? Those who dress up or those who act the part all the time.

Albert Meier said...

To Anonymous of August 10 10:23 pm

I'm jumping into this conversation, but if I may I'll try to provide some answers to your questions.

1. Not a question.

2. What does it mean to offend and cause someone to sin? This is often confusing because it is referring to a specific biblical concept and not the normal idea of offense. It does not mean to "make someone mad/angry." Rather "giving offense" refers ti causing someone to stuble in their faith or even to lose their faith. Ways of giving offense include teaching false doctrine or (as is used in this case) the incorsiderate use of Christian liberty. In 1 Corinthians 8 (especially v 13) Paul speaks of something that isn't a sin (eating meat offerred to idols). Yet some people felt it was wrong to eat the meat and were they to eat it, it would be a sin (defying your conscience is a sin). Therefore Paul says that anyone who by their words or actions lead these weak ones to eat and sin, would be themselves sinning. Even if there wasn't anything inherantly wrong with the Clown Eucharist would it be causing some of those participating to believe they were treating holy things disrespectfully and by participating to violate their own conscience? Would it be encouraging those who saw it or heard of it to treat other aspects of God, his Word and his Church with less respect or seriousness? Would it obscure the actually promises attached to the Lord's Supper or cause a believer or unbeliever to dispise the Supper or assume that there really is no true importance attached to it.

Your example of the use of wine in communion would have to be considered in the larger context of 1) what actual instruction are given in Scripture regarding the elements, 2) all the reasons for using wine and all the reasons for avoiding it 3) the possibility of other solutions to problems with wine which still involve using it and 4) the Gospel nature of the Lord's Supper and how this would bear of the possibilty of the elements leading to sin.


3. The worthy manner mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:27ff generally has been understood by Lutherans (from the immediate context) as the recognition of Christ's body and blood being present in the sacrament (v 27, 29) and the recognition of one's own sinfulness and need for the forgiveness offered in the sacrament (v 28). Should worthiness mean "being good enough to attend the Supper" (even were it limited to "loving the poor and insignificant") would anyone be able to recieve the Supper in a worthy manner?


4. Closed or close communion takes into account 1) the stern warning of judgement from unworthy reception in 1 Corinthians 11:29 (see #3 above) 2) the fact that grace found in communion is also found in the written and spoken Word which is usually far more suited to be an unbeliever's first contact with the Gospel (indeed, based on the definition of "unworthy manner" it would seem clear that the Lord's Supper is a sacrament of grace intended to strenthen and comfort the believer rather than to bring the unbeliever to faith) and 3) the teaching of church fellowship found in Scripture that leads one to refrain from expressing unity with those clinging to error and false teaching for the loving purpose of testifying to them the seriousness of this situation (also, it is not truly denying them the Sacrament for they would have their own congregation in which to recieve the Lord's Supper).

Albert Meier said...

[continued]

5. Baptism isn't specifically a prerequisite for the Lord's Supper, but instruction is (see #3). In the course of instruction it would be incredibly odd for Lord's Supper to be taught without Baptism also being taught. A Christian who has been instructed in Baptism will desire it and so in the ordinary course of events an unbaptized person wouldn't (and usually shouldn't) recieve the Lord's Supper. Certainly the disciple recieved grace they did not deserve and so does everyone who recieves the Lord's Supper, but to imply that Jesus would allow them to recieve it without necessary instruction is to imply that Jesus either didn't know about the need to understand what they were recieving or that Jesus didn't care if they recieved it to their judgement--both of which I assume you would not believe.


6. See #3. A passage that does speak of propriety during worship is 1 Corinthians 14:26-33. It certainly applies to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, but I suppose how it applies could be argued.


7. Certainly symbols have only assigned vaule/meaning and not intrinsic value/meaning. The problem is the clowns already have an assigned meaning that will be nigh onto impossible to completely replace within a congregation, not to mention in visitors or people who hear about the practice. At the same time nearly two millenium of experience has attached certain meanings and values to the symbols and rituals the Church has historically used. We must remember this when making decisions about what symbols to use in specific situations.


8. I agree that we (as churches or individual Christians) can at times make fools out of ourselves. It is important that we embrace being thought fools for the right reasons (adherring to teachings the world despises) and not for the wrong reasons (silly attempts to grab attention or make ourselves appealing to the world).


9. Can some Lutherans (can I?) be arrogant? Sadly yes, we are sinners too and I well know my daily need for forgiveness. Can the focus on outward forms and propriety ever give one a sense of security while the content of the Law and Gospel are forgotten? Sadly yes, the sinful nature and the devil will try to use anything to separate us from God and deprive us of the blessings given to us through the Lord's Supper (and through the Word preached in our worhsip). But this doesn't mean that outward forms and propriety aren't important and useful. This doesn't mean that the concerns raised on this blog aren't valid. Ideally form neither overshadows nor downplays the meaning of our worship and of the Lord's Supper. Rather, when done well and accompanied by instruction, these things can complement our worship and aid in our remembering the meaning and significance of these sacred acts.


Albert Meier

Anonymous said...

Albert,

Thank you for a well reasoned, respectful response. I don't believe I have so much a problem with people's objections to clown Eucharist as I do the tone of their objections. I understand that the clown Eucharist is irreverent in many people's eyes and therefore offensive. I am not sure I agree because I don't see it as that irreverent. But, that is differences that make the world go round.

I do like your application of 1 cor 8 as applied to the clown Eucharist. The other side of that application is the request from Paul for the weaker brother not to judge the stronger brother in their freedom. This whole set of passages makes dealing with judgment on both sides difficult because of human nature.

I appreciate seeing communion from another point of view. The primary views I come into contact with are Wesleyan, Baptist, Holiness, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and possibly Presbyterian. Our idea of what constitutes irreverence are different. Our ideas of communion are different as well.

As a Methodist I believe communion should be open because it is a means of grace. It communicates what Christ has done for us and therefore has evangelistic qualities that go beyond simple human symbolism. Should I as pastor instruct my people about communion, YES. I have taught them many times. I can respect your view of closed communion I hope you can respect our view of open communion. Please realize though it is still hard for me to accept closed communion just the same as the clown Eucharist is irreverent for you.

As far as church symbols go almost all at one point or the other had a common secular value already assigned to them. That was part of their appeal. They made sense to the common person. Once incorporated into the church they gained the value we assigned. That value is what makes our traditions rich. Does that preclude us from developing new symbols?

Clowns are universal. Almost all modern culture understand clowns. We understand what they mean: foolishness, comedy, risk, lowliness, child likeness, etc. They are also a rich source of symbolism. Do we as a church pass on an another opportunity to communicate important parts of the gospel? The use of the clowns in the Eucharist at this church was to communicate the foolishness of the gospel to the world. Did they succeed? Possibly, the response of some people to this event certainly shows their foolishness to the gospel. Should they have chosen a different time to do this other than the Eucharist? Possibly, but they might have missed the opportunity to expose the foolishness of the church at times. By your statements ("It is important that we embrace being thought fools for the right reasons (adherring to teachings the world despises) and not for the wrong reasons (silly attempts to grab attention or make ourselves appealing to the world)" and "form neither overshadows nor downplays the meaning of our worship and of the Lord's Supper. Rather, when done well and accompanied by instruction, these things can complement our worship and aid in our remembering the meaning and significance of these sacred acts.") I am not so sure this church doesn't meet that criteria for good form. We have to remember that some of the symbols we use today caused problems because they were attached to pagan rites. Today they are once causing some problems as churches struggle with the roots of such symbolism.

One last thought and then I think I am done with this whole mess. Large numbers of people are unchurched. They do not know our rituals or our symbols. What they do know is how we treat one another. Many are appalled at a group that preaches love as one of its central tenants at yet snaps at one another. Maybe the scripture we need to begin with is 1 co 13. If our form, symbolism, and ritual have not love, is anything more than just colorful rackets? It is for that reason I still believe that how we act in love says more about what makes us unworthy for communion than how we respond to ritual.

Christian Soul said...

Many Christians understand that a pastor or priest officiating in the Divine Service or Holy Communion is standing in the stead and by the command of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this light you can understand why we believe Jesus should not be represented by a pastor dressed up like a clown?

Vestments are meant to cover the man as a sign that the sinful man is covered by the righteousness of Christ. What kind of message is conveyed by a pastor in a clown suit?

"Heart," or the condition of my heart, is not what worship is all about. Humans are not what worship is all about. Jesus is what worship is all about. Is Jesus a clown? I guess in a way He was one, for us. He was laughed at, ridiculed, spat on and mocked, for us. Yes, He even died like a poor miserable fool, for us. That is, He was seen as a a poor miserable fool or clown to the world, but His disciples did not see Him this way and we still do not see Him this way today. We see Him as the very Son of God, risen, glorified and seated at His Father's right hand. He comes to us in His Word and Sacraments and will return on the last day to judge the living and the dead. And that's no joke.

Anonymous said...

The Pastor stands "In the stead and by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ", correct. Then how should he dress. What, properly, represents Christ. Does the way a Pastor presents himself show the type of god he is representing and professing. I think so. I am so glad to say that in my Church the Pastors (2) represent Christ in dress on the alter on Sundays and through the week. For this I thanks God.

Jim Olson said...

Just a note; It is a mis-reading of Wesley to suggest that he believed that Communion could be a converting sacrament and could be made openly available to all, esp. the unbaptized. So for Methodists to claim historic precedence for open communion is slightly erroneous. Wesley was very clear elsewhere that Baptism was and remains a prerequisite for admission to the Lord's Supper. It's also very clear in the Discipline. I'm not Methodist, but worked for them and was taught by one of the very best Methodist liturgists.

Anonymous said...

Jim, Wesley probably never believed in open communion is correct. He was a 17th century Anglican. He never left the Anglican church. He tried to reform it. As an Anglican Wesley probably might have been equally upset with open communion as many of you are.

With that said,I can tell you are not a Methodist without you saying so. It is not very clear in the discipline. The statements about communion in the discipline come in two places. One is in our articles of faith the other is in our organization. Neither one preclude open communion. They basically say, give communion. As far as very best Methodist liturgist please let me know who. I might agree. Best Methodist liturgist in Methodism is very hard to nail down because we are very middle of the road in almost all areas. Some Methodists are very liturgical other Methodists are very non liturgical if not anti liturgical. Some Methodists are very sacramental while others are very unsacramental if not anti sacramental. Who is best is a matter of opinion in our church. This is an aspect of our faith that is frustrating to many both within and outside our church. This is part of the reason why there has been attempts to define ourselves in these areas more in recent years.

Be careful Jim when you make claims about another denomination. I've learned that lesson here in this group. I can appreciate our differences. I hope you can also.

If you really want to understand Methodist's stance on open communion I would refer you to document on the web: http://www.upperroom.org/bookstore/downloads/Stamm.pdf. Part of this is the man's opinion but it does express some of our belief.

Jim Olson said...

Anon:

I'd prefer not to drag this individual's name into this discussion publicly...contact me above, and we can continue this discussion privately if you wish.

R. Scott Purdy said...

Should we not be bringing our unadorned repentant selves to communion - rather than some caricature of ourselves disguised behind greasepaint?

I find the whole concept of this repugnant. Even if we have the liberty to do this, we should refrain out of respect for weaker brethren.

SB said...

<< 5.) Anonymous: Were the disciples who took the first communion baptized? Were they ready for this event? Or did Jesus give them grace they did not deserve or earn? >>

My guess is that, yes, they were in fact baptized. Remember how scandalized John the Baptist's disciples were when Jesus turned up baptizing too close to their franchise? And if Jesus was himself baptized, and was baptizing, wouldn't his closest associates most likely have been among those baptized by either John or Jesus, or another of their company?

Were they ready for the Last Supper? Well, we can only guess at that one, but surely following Jesus, observing him, sitting at his feet and asking questions would help them to be prepared.

We all need "grace (that we do) not deserve or earn," but if you're not prepared in some way to receive that grace, we may not appreciate the gift.

I don't see the point of giving communion to "the unchurched and the unbaptized."

SB

Jim Olson said...

Here is Trinity's take on this.

http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/news/articles/trinitys-clown-eucharist-a-companion-resources-page

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this thread is still being read.

It doesn't help much to understand, but so much has been done in the Episcopal church that offends a great number. What's being done with vestments is a prime example. This site is a response of that pain. More of the "if you don't laugh, you cry."

My understanding of the vestment is that it was to "cloak" the individuality of the wearer, so that the wearer was a representation of God to us. I make vestments from time to time. "It's not about me." You will note how many of these new type of vestments are void of Christian symbols. That is part of the pain.

The response to the pain is sarcastic, but it also lets the rest of us know we aren't alone in finding them offensive to those of us in this denomination.

Is it a good witness to others? Maybe not. But it is a relief valve of a sort and it does point to the fact that the focus is not on Jesus, but on self. Something we are painfully aware of.

Anonymous said...

For those who see nothing wrong with this practice, I wonder how you would feel if you were at a funeral for a close relative or loved one and the priest came to the service dressed as a clown, complete with horn and seltzer bottle?

Your objections seem phony and unconvincing, as does your judging the hearts and motives of those who think this is inappropriate. You seem to have more than your share of ocular planks to deal with. Why not remove those first and then deal with the substance of the scriptural objections listed on this thread? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I was once a Lutheran (LC-MS). The pastor started the liturgy one sunday dressed up as an army colonel and said: "Sound off...one, two..." It was then I knew that I had to leave, because I just couldn't worship God that way. Then I found, thank God, the Holy Orthodox Church where liturgy still matters and beauty of service is a reflection of the majesty and beauty of God.

Xpy said...

I love the blogger's comment. I must say that this has never happened in an Orthodox Church. I can say that with confidence. But, that said, I am comforted to know that the great majority of regularly practicing non-Orthodox Christians out there do not find this acceptable.

To the blogger: I just want to say that the way you deal with something so terribly appauling and offensive and give it a humorous spin is something of talent that I admire.

Anonymous said...

The clergy of the Orthodox Church would never allow a clown liturgy. Ever.

Polytropos said...

True — I actually can’t imagine the reaction of an Orthodox bishop if he discovered that such a thing had taken place. But I also can’t imagine how it would happen to begin with. Even if we assume that a priest spontaneously attempted it, perhaps in some sort of dissociative fugue state, he would have about ten seconds before he found the people running either from or at him.

The Eastern Patriarchs once summed it up nicely: “Neither Patriarchs nor Councils could then have introduced novelties amongst us, because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves, who desire their religious worship to be ever unchanged and of the same kind as that of their fathers.”


At the same time, the contemporary Greek holy man Elder Paisios the Athonite was emphatic that the faithful ought not to be regimented in their devotions. The way he put it, as I recall, was that “We are children in our Father’s house, not soldiers on parade.” C.S. Lewis’s remarks, in Letters to Malcolm, on a Liturgy he once attended in Greece are dead-on:

"It takes all sorts to make a world; or a church. This may be even more true of a church. If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell. ‘One fold’ doesn’t mean ‘one pool.’ Cultivated roses and daffodils are no more alike than wild roses and daffodils. What pleased me most about a Greek Orthodox mass I once attended was that there seemed to be no prescribed behaviour for the congregation. Some stood, some knelt, some sat, some walked; one crawled about the floor like a caterpillar. And the beauty of it was that nobody took the slightest notice of what anyone else was doing. I wish we Anglicans would follow their example. One meets people who are perturbed because someone in the next pew does, or does not, cross himself. They oughtn’t even to have seen, let alone censured” (p. 10).

(We American Orthodox, it must be said, have a ways to go before finally assimilating this freedom — the complexes both of the immigrant striver and the convert striver need time to melt.)


Note Lewis’s qualifier: cultured flowers, flowers made more perfectly themselves. Am I called — finally, fundamentally — to be a clown? Will there be clowns in the Resurrection? Why would they be needed? “Your joy will be full.”

If one thinks of a liturgy basically as a piece of performance art with a “message,” then I guess it’s no problem putting on a mask for one’s audience. Maybe it could even be some wacky grease-paint, depending on the message. But, if liturgy is taken first of all as an act of worship for priest and laity both, then it is a different matter. I mean, are you wearing that red nose for God? What vesting prayer might be said while putting it on?

And besides, no one sees it if a priest's facing the altar — with all the others who've come to worship God. :)

S. Durham said...

The Episcopal Church is apostate. One thing is for sure: these people are a bunch of clowns! Is that an elephant ear they're using for a host? Unbelievable.

Monique in TX said...

I too, thought clown liturgies were unique to the Catholics and Episcopalians. Then I had a conversation with my Methodist friend who was telling me about how her pastor and his associate pastor have dressed up as clowns, cowboys, astronauts, etc. I had to invoke the Thumper Rule against myself.

Anonymous said...

Ready, aim.