Monday, December 28, 2009

David Cameron's church

Courtesy of the delightful Ruth Gledhill at The Times (from whom Cranmer was sorely tempted to accept an invitation to meet a few months ago), this is the church at which David Cameron worships.

It is St Mary Abbots, the Parish Church of Kensington(-on-Sea?).

Their website says: ‘Past worshippers have included Isaac Newton, the Scientist, William Wilberforce, the anti-slave campaigner, and others such as George Canning, Beatrix Potter, Joseph Addison and HRH Princess Louise. In 1997 it became a focus of mourners for our late parishioner, Diana, Princess of Wales, with the lighting of many thousand votive candles and a remembrance service with over 1,000 people in attendance.’

While His Grace hopes (and prays) that this bizarre video is not indicative of the church’s spiritual life and worship, he asks his readers and communicants honestly to consider what their response might be if such a video had been made by the church of a more 'fundamentalist' (would-be) Christian MP, Kulveer Singh Ranger's gurdwara or Baroness Warsi’s mosque.

It is mesmerisingly cultish. Not only does there appear to be an abundance of scarlet-clad cardinals in the virtual congregation, but Silent Night is inexplicably sung in PC-Eurocentric German.

Is this meant to attract worshippers? Is it supposed to communicate something of the joy of Christmas or the ineffable wonder of being born again?

If this were indicative of Anglicanism in Kensington, Cranmer might be tempted to seek refuge at The Holy Ghost and St Stephen’s...


Anonymous not a machine said...

Issac Newton and William Wilberforce ,I am encouraged good at maths and a desire for freedom from slavery ,just the pm we need .

Whilst this is perhaps not what would be considered a modern church I have mixed views on how some churches become trendy and cultish , in some instances I have found genuine family worship and firm historical teachings , in others cultish popularist comparisons (imagine sitting through a 40 min sermon on the Incredibles !). I had the privilidge of being told that future ministers in said church would walk the thinnest of lines between popular culture and ministry , as god didnt discriminate .

When I queried if said ministry was just comfy morality , making apsotles of sand , whilst selling must have books , like scientology , I was then told, somewhat tersley, it wasnt my church it was gods , which is the point I thought I had been making .

28 December 2009 at 18:29  
Anonymous IanCad said...

Such a beautiful church. Why didn't they show the real thing? The video appears to have been cobbled together by a first year architectural student. How creepy and pathetic!

28 December 2009 at 18:52  
Anonymous Ginro said...

And why is there what appears to be a bush (about 2mins 30secs) floating in the sky?

28 December 2009 at 19:52  
Blogger Tommy 3 Lions said...

), this is the church at which David Cameron worships.

dont you mean ' attends'?

28 December 2009 at 20:06  
Anonymous Anguished Soul said...

Weird, Your Grace. Doesn't attract, as puts one off. Indicative of modern churches it seems these days, who are more concerned with being thought 'with it' and 'hip and happening' than full of the Holy Spirit and sanctified to God...

Whenever I complain about the apostasy in the church, I inevitably get a snooty sniff and a 'Well, you can't expect any church to be perfect, you know' type of response. I don't expect a church to be perfect, just to preach the word. Not much to ask is it?

Indeed, I've always thought it was what the Lord expected of us and commanded us to do.

Sigh...I must remember that it's Biblical prophecy being fulfilled. (2 Thess 2)

Hope you had a good Christmas, Your Grace and your mince pies were not too leaden.

28 December 2009 at 20:26  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Something out of an Ingmar Bergman film - a dream sequence - a bit creepy. The whole edifice seemed to be floating on water.

But I notice a Monstrance displaying the Blessed Sacrament. Thus this must be Anglo Catholic

28 December 2009 at 20:31  
Anonymous Stuart said...

You lucky sod, some of us dream of meeting Ruth....

28 December 2009 at 20:48  
Blogger Preacher said...

Very very weird, somewhere between Dali, a bad trip & Silent Hill.
This MUST be a send up, even the 'actors' & clergy names were peculiar. I hope this is not what D.C envisages the CofE will be like in the near future.
Who comissioned this rubbish & why?.
I have spoken in some pretty odd places, with some rather strange people but this takes the Gold star. Shows what a lot of work we have to do.

28 December 2009 at 21:55  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

I go to our Parish Church each Sunday because I'm one of the bellringers. We say a brief prayer or two in the ringing room before starting, but only three members of the band actually go to the Parish Communion service - two are in the choir and one is church warden.
Although we have the standard Anglican service, it never seems to be the same twice, and you are given a service booklet together with this week's amendment sheet. Added to which, few children seem to be kept under control, and I just can't understand why many of the teenagers bother to attend, last time I went to service one in front of me spent the whole time texting!
I would prefer to go to the traditional prayer book service, but this is marginalised in that it is spoken only and often rushed through in order that there is time for the pop-group (sorry young choristers) to set up their drums etc.
I just console myself with the thought that I'm sure my God understands how I feel!

28 December 2009 at 22:09  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Brilliant post, Your Grace. Thank you.

In response to your question - I think the video would never have been produced by mozzies: they have neither the freedom nor the intellectual resources. Islam and the desert have 'astonied' them.

On the 'artwork' itself: I suspect satire ... which highlights the incompatibility of Christian values and modern culture. Whether that is an appropriate method for the Church is another question, as I agree it is off-putting for the sincere communicant! It also seems hardly likely to get through to the sorry bunch depicted as the congregation in the video.

On the other hand, is Christianity, as it presently works, getting through to them? Does the montage contain a message about what the Church (as a whole) needs to do in order to re-establish itself and fulfill the mission Christ gave it? Does it ask us to consider what the Church can do to put Christ back into the Nativity Scene - amid all the Arabs and Germans and general filth of the present-day environment?

Chaucer used to be considered 'gently ironic' about the similar problems of his day. I think he's fiecely satirical, myself: that his method was not unlike that used in this video. My question is, how well did it work? How many in his audience ever saw through the wit and the fashionable presentation - to the searing criticism? Did the people who could see respond appropriately? Did the response finally triumph 100 years later through the Lancastrians - Margaret Beaufort and her son, Henry VII (descendants of John of Gaunt and Cardinal Beaufort)?

28 December 2009 at 23:00  
Anonymous no nonny said...

UGOC - yes, I think St. Mary Abbot's has a strong Catholic flavour. For that reason a Protestant flatmate of mine married her Roman Catholic there.

28 December 2009 at 23:13  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Ginro - your question set me thinking, thank you! I believe your 'bush' looks like a disconnected bit of London topiary. I noted that, in the same section, part of a bridge (or was it a building) also detached from its pylons and floated aloft - however, that somehow falls back into place... Certainly, the imagery is not that of the Word/Cross that towers between earth and Heaven, reconciling them.

So much is floating detached here! How did it get so all "at sea," as it were?

28 December 2009 at 23:54  
Anonymous Justin Hinchcliffe said...

What a ghastly video. Is it FiF? Your Grace, if you ever get a Sunday free and you're in north London, you will find a warm welcome at St. Mary's The Virgin, Tottenham.

29 December 2009 at 00:36  
Blogger Steve said...

It is "Second Life" - - a sort of shared 3d world where people can build their own models of things & wander around them & so forth. Not cutting edge graphics by any means, and fairly pointless to boot, but I doubt the authors meant anything untoward by it.

29 December 2009 at 00:40  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, is there any significance in the Foxy Bingo mascot lounging on the front pew? Is there, perhaps, a not so subtle message here?

29 December 2009 at 08:28  
Blogger DDIM 'n HOFFI said...

This business of being sorely tempted Your Grace, has me bothered. How on earth could you not be? And what good reason if any is there to decline.....I am disappointed.

Maybe I could go in your place?

29 December 2009 at 10:11  
OpenID doctorhuw said...

"Silent Night is inexplicably sung in PC-Eurocentric German"

Your Grace, may I please remind you that Silent Night IS German? That the inexplicable thing is that we sing this beautiful old poem in a variety of mind-numbingly awful English translations? Singing it in German is no stranger than singing Personent Hodie in Latin.

Next you'll be telling us that Cum Cantibus in Choro should be removed from Puer Nobis.

29 December 2009 at 10:54  
OpenID doctorhuw said...

"Silent Night is inexplicably sung in PC-Eurocentric German"

Your Grace, may I please remind you that Silent Night IS German? That the inexplicable thing is that we sing this beautiful old poem in a variety of mind-numbingly awful English translations? Singing it in German is no stranger than singing Personent Hodie in Latin.

Next you'll be telling us that Cum Cantibus in Choro should be removed from Puer Nobis.

29 December 2009 at 10:54  
OpenID doctorhuw said...

oops, sorry, hit the wrong button...

29 December 2009 at 10:55  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr DoctorHuw,

His Grace is perfectly aware that the original poem was German, but the point is that a perfectly good English translation has entered the vernacular and could just as easily have been used for a Church of England 'promotion' (if it be). This is not the case with Personent Hodie, which will doubtless become increasingly obsolete as the Classics are eradicated from our schools to permit more curriculum time for German, Manarin and Panjabi.

29 December 2009 at 11:04  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

You don't think you're guilty of reading far too much into this do you. Seems pretty obvious to me (as "Steve" pointed out above) that this is simply some individuals playing around with some modelling software.

It's actually quite impressive what you can do with the humble PC nowadays ... this probably would have taken several days of mainframe rendering less than a decade ago.

29 December 2009 at 11:54  
Blogger DDIM 'n HOFFI said...

The credits at the end say the builder is one TD Reinhardt - maybe this is the clue to the Germanic version. I rather like it (the music - not the weird vampyre-like church. It reminds me of that spooky dance in the movie Eyes Wide Shut).

29 December 2009 at 12:06  
Anonymous Simon said...

Yes - it's in Second Life, where anyone can do anything. So I completely fail to see how this matters at all in real life.

29 December 2009 at 12:57  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Well just because they're practicing on some website doesn't mean they haven't thought about it at all!! It looks as if they have, a bit, or there wouldn't be the contrasts between their floaty world and the one we all apparently think is solid; or between the absent or moribund Christianity they present and the really vile rest of it that we try to ignore.

'Reading too much into it' is a typical patronising modernism, if you ask me. Saves people from thinking - keeps them like all the people in that church.

Whether or not we ever consider this art, I do think we might give the perpetrators the benefit of the doubt and imagine that they have tried to produce some. It's good exercise for the mind, to try to understand ... and artists don't always act like the posey person in the church aisle, after all!

29 December 2009 at 15:02  
Blogger Theresa said...

I don't see anything wrong with this your Grace, except it's a bit bland (apart from the two lost Glasgow clubbers in the congregation.)The Jesuits have been on Second Life for a couple of years now; their avatars are missionaries sent to preach the Word amongst the Second Life community. The medium might be different; the message is the same.,news-comment,news-politics,jesuits-bring-catholicism-to-second-lifes-lost-souls

29 December 2009 at 16:02  
Anonymous Bob Doney said...

When I dream like this I know it's time to give the bladder some urgent relief.

29 December 2009 at 22:00  
Anonymous graham wood said...

A virtual church for a virtual politician?

30 December 2009 at 09:54  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Well queried - graham wood!

How ironic (but realistic) it is also to note that etymologically, 'virtue' relates to manly strength, power, and bravery; moral excellence and purity (cf Chambers).

30 December 2009 at 21:19  
OpenID mhayworth said...

What are Cranmer's thoughts on the Conservative pledge to repeal the hunting act? Where do cruel and barbic practices fit in this philosophy?

3 January 2010 at 21:54  

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