Monday, August 27, 2012

Holy Netflix & liturgaerobics

I found one of those sacred spaces just after lunch Sunday. It is called Netflix.

Or at least the next few hours were spent meditating on "Stephen Fry in America" --- with breaks to clean house (timed intervals with vacuum, Windex and paper towels between entertainments is a strategy that works sometimes to keep squalor at bay).

I'd been wanting to see the Fry piece --- six-plus hours of it, an hour and a half to go. It seemed providential  when the Netflix promotion popped up on screen just after church and the credit card was within reach.

It's fun and useful to see America through non-American eyes and British wit and actor Stephen Fry provided a rollicking tour when he set out behind the wheel of a London taxi during 2008 to visit all 50 of these United States.

Understandably, the visits to individual states were brief and some might quibble about the representational points of interest visited --- does Mahareshi Vedic City really represent Iowa, for example? At least we came off better than Ohio, where brief and passing focus was on the 1970 Kent State shootings.

Massachusetts was represented in part by the great (and sadly late) Peter John Gomes (1942-2011), then professor of Christian morality at Harvard Divinity School and minister at Harvard Memorial Church. Erudite, witty, black, Baptist and gay, Gomes provided a little insight into an aspect of America that sometimes puzzles even Americans. We almost always prefer simple and frequently thoughtless answers to questions that to be answered usefully require complex investigation, Gomes said.

It's great programming. Worth the investment in time to watch. Netflix optional.


Having successfully reduced Holy Eucharist Rite II to a compact eight-page bulletin complete with non-prayer book/hymnal musical settings for the Gospel anthem, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, I also spent time Sunday patting myself on the back.

Episcopal worship can be a challenge, even to Episcopalians, but most frequently to guests and initially at least to communicants who are refugees from other faith traditions.

First there are the liturgaerobics (none mandatory; anyone who needs or cares to do so is welcome to just sit). But for those who want to follow along, the order of service runs something like this: Stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, rise and walk around, stand, kneel, rise and walk around, kneel, stand, rise and head for the coffee pot.

While doing all of that in a classic situation, it also is necessary to juggle a bulletin, a Book of Common Prayer and at least one and sometimes two hymnals.

My cleverness was gratifyingly praised by a refugee from Roman Catholicism, for whom much of the liturgy was familiar but who had been challenged by the juggling of paper and who could never remember the words to the Doxology. The Doxology, on the other hand, was the only thing her husband, a refugee from the Baptist tradition, had recognized --- other than, of course, scripture lessons (KJV as opposed to NRSV), sermons and familiar hymns.

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