Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bloodsucking Fiends for Jesus

It will be Halloween in Advent at St. George's Episcopal Church, in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

Apparently, the church is trying out a "Goth Liturgy" on Saturdays in December, in an effort to reach the puffy-shirts-mascara-and-corsets crowd.  Serving as we do (ahem) a landmark church built in the American Neo-Gothic style and possessing an organ well-suited to Saint-Saens, we considered something similar a couple of years back, and still find the idea intriguing.  Frankly, the service described by the Times-Leader story (linked above) sounds pretty familiar:

The church is dimly light, lined with candles and full of the aroma of burning incense. Gregorian chants from the 12th century and faith-based music from techno bands such as Depeche Mode and Love Spirals Downward played softly during the hymn segments.

The servers were dressed in black robes and the guest celebrant ... was clothed in a flowing white robe

We look poorly upon recorded music, and our servers wear surplices over those "black robes," but otherwise, not much of a stretch from our Easter Vigil.

The story fails on several counts, principally by failing to interview many of the worshipers.  We'd like very much to know who they were, and what they believed.  (When we proposed a Goth Liturgy of our own, one church leader snapped, "Well, they're all Satanists anyway."  But surely not.)  

It also makes lame effort to talk about church history, and seems to confuse the modern-day Goths -- basically kids with a vampire-movie aesthetic -- and the historic Goths, those robust Germanic tribesmen of the Arian persuasion who sacked Rome in 410, thus indirectly forcing generations of theology students to buy The City of God and leave it on their shelves half-read.  (Brother Krauser no doubt excepted).  

Furthermore, we have grave doubts about the custom of targeting specific demographics with a customized church service.  It reminds us of the now-comical "Folk Masses" and "Contemporary Services" of yore, in which the Greatest Generation, seeing their Boomer kids wander away from church, swallowed their pride and began pandering, only to see the same kids walk faster in the same direction, while gradually dumbing down much of American Christianity in order to please the remnant.  (And, yet again, we bless God for GenX).

Still, it sounds like a pleasant way to pass the winter evenings, and we can't help envying the good folks in Nanticoke a little.

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