Thursday, November 18, 2010

A PAT ON THE HEAD

When someone sent me this, I had an immediate and intensely negative reaction to it but it took me a very long time to figure out why.  But then I remembered that the accompanying material stated that this would be ideal in services prominently featuring children and that's when it hit me.

I grew up at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Webster Groves, Missouri.  This was during the early 1960's, the last gasp of Episcopal traditionalism.  That meant that there were still, at least at my parish, rather stringent rules about who could take the Eucharist and when.

Consequently, little kids like me had to be ushered out at some point.  This usually took place at the gradual hymn(for non-Anglicans, that's a hymn sung both before and after the Gospel reading) when an acolyte would lead us up to a lovely little chapel upstairs where we would have what was basically children's church.

If I remember correctly, this was loosely based on Morning Prayer(if you're an Episcopalian and you've never experienced one of those, ask you grandparents) and was usually conducted by a junior member of the clergy.  But what brought this back to my mind where the vestments that that junior member of the clergy wore.

They wore exactly the same relatively restrained vestments(this was also well before the idea of making an Important Artistic StatementTM with one's chasuble had taken root) the clergy for the grown-ups wore.

When you're a kid, what is the one thing in life you most don't want to be?  A kid.  You want to get around town on a vehicle you don't have to pedal.  You want to eat pizza whenever the mood strikes you.  And you don't want to have to ask the big people for money.

More than anything else, you want to be taken seriously.

I didn't know exactly what was going on in kid's church back then(it took me years to figure it out) but I think that on some level, I knew that I was doing something important.  So while I might not have fully realized it, I really think that I would have been insulted if the minister had ever come in wearing something as condescending as this. 

23 comments:

Nickie Goomba said...

There seems to be a Silence of the Lambs quality to this. Creepy!

midwestnorwegian said...

Creepy.

Anonymous said...

there is a souls screaming from purgatory aspect of the design.

Sadly, children are still ushered out of the Eucharist regularly. The last church I worked in, they were corralled in the basement for baptisms - even if a sibling was being baptized.

Children aren't aliens - they can pray, and sing, and listen just like adults. Or they can learn. Their young brains are hard-wired for learning. Years of working with them has taught me they often "get it" a lot more than the grownups sitting over their heads.

monika

Cunjo said...

@monika
I couldn't agree with you more. Kids absorb everything. But most of stuff they absorb is not what we say to them but how we act in the meantime.
They absorb living EXAMPLE.

St. Blogwen said...

What's with the oversized necktie?

Stoles and so on using this "children of the world" tapestry has always irritated me. "It's not about you" means "It's also not about your cute kids." (Curmudgeonly Commenter is curmudgeonly.)

That said, I think the current practice of having unconfirmed children come up for a blessing at the Eucharist is a good one. To echo what previous commenters have said, it integrates them into the life of the church, to help them be ready for full participation when the time comes.

Anonymous said...

At my church, children are ushered IN for the Eucharist! But none of our clergy (even the ones who do the contempoary services) would be caught dead in something like this. -- Elle

Paul Woodrum said...

This children's tapestry I've seen in United Methodist Church catalogs reminds me of a water color print in the church school nursery of my youth showing Jesus with the children of the world gathered about him. Of course, we only accepted white children -- another rant -- except here Jesus seems absent.

I'm not sure that from a distance it's any worse than Portugese tapestry sold by Almy and others.

Jim said...

What was it that JESUS said about letting the children come unto him, not hindering them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these? Some churches need to brush up on their Bible - Matthew 19:14 comes readily to mind.

Denita said...

Again I say, THE 70S ARE OVER! Nothing wrong with children at Mass, however.

romishgraffiti said...

It is one thing to let children come to Jesus. Quite another to use children as a cover for idolatrous worship of youth.

Deacon David said...

Hey, I found Waldo!

Anonymous said...

OK! I have actually used this childrens tapestry to make one stole in the past. Our Episcopal Church has a daily school for children P-K thru Kindergarten. They attend a little church service each morning to begin their day. Our Priest will ocasionally wear this stole during that children's daily service only. The children like it, and I do not think it is sending a negative message to them. They seem to relate to the look and it creates a curious nature in them as they wonder why a Priest "wears all that stuff on Sunday? Even though they are taught this on Sunday morning in Catechism class, I see them remember the
Children's Stole and make a connection that helps them understand the basic concept as they are taught the "why" of vestments in the church.

Anonymous said...

May be my monitor, but looks to me like caricatures, not pictures, of children. Ugh! off2

anothermatter said...

I have had the pleasure of seeing Desmond Tutu wear these vestments. Well, it was a pleasure being at a eucharist with ++Tutu. Unfortunately, this set is quite popular and has the seal of approval from the likes of his grace.

.....CLIFFORD said...

Darn. Deacon David beat me to it. My entry was "Where's Jesus?"

Catherine S. said...

I completely agree. I grew up at another Episcopal church in STL, in the '80's. Our children's chapel services were based on Morning Prayer, we sang hymns from the hymnal (the easier ones: "I sing a song of the saints of God," "All things bright and beautiful," etc.), the officiant wore the same basic vestments as the rest of the clergy, and those of us in the junior choir would complain mightily if we had to sing children's music. We especially hated it when we had to sing anything by Natalie Sleeth; we wanted to sing *good* stuff -- for some reason, we seemed to have a particular fondness for Bach -- and whenever possible, we wanted to sing it in the original Latin, German, French, etc.

Nowadays, in my opinion, children's chapel involves way too much cutesy stuff -- no real hymns, no real similarity to the "adult" service, etc. -- and the "sermons" are the most condescending claptrap I think I've ever heard. And frankly, it bothers me when children who are clearly *way* too young to have any idea what they're doing take Communion. I don't clearly remember when we were allowed to start receiving Communion -- I don't think we waited until after Confirmation (in 8th grade), but I do know that it wasn't until at least 6th or 7th grade.

Caleb said...

There's actually (and unfortunately) a stole made of this material at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN for sale in the bookstore. I imagine it will remain for sale...

Sbdn. Benjamin Harju said...

It strikes me as ironic, since becoming an Orthodox Christian, that a minister wears a Eucharistic vestment featuring children, but the children don't receive the Eucharist.

When I was at CTS they didn't have this stole in the bookstore, but they did have the Rainbow Galore stole. Sometimes a visiting missionary would wear one like it in the chapel. Beware the missionaries ...

Cantor Nikolaos said...

What is even more funny is this vestment is available from Shoop's DIY Pest Control on eBay! Shoop's DIY Pest Control is located in Wichita Falls, TX.

http://stores.ebay.com/SHOOPS-Do-It-Yourself-Pest-Control

Anonymous said...

The Dean of Saint Mary's RC Cathedral in Perth wore a stole with the exact same pattern just a few weeks ago. Sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

The entire idea of a separate church for kids while the liturgy is going on is anathema. Either children are part of Christ's Church or they're not. Thank God I'm Orthodox.

Christopher said...

My mother just bought me the stole version of this as a graduation present.

Phil said...

I own a stole sort of like this. And I wear it gleefully whenever I preach at a church setting wear vestments are the norm. It was a present to me from a group of addicts I minister to; they told me, "Those kids: that's us."