Saturday, September 13, 2008

This Worship Malarkey (1)

Preamble (or is that pre-ramble?):

I have been intrigued by a discussion that has been taking place over on Jonny Baker's blog about worship. I find, on my travels through the blogosphere that the is a significant amount of discontent around the whole issue of worship, though I think what we are really talking about is communal worship. I can engage up to a point with this debate, as a bog-standard worshipper ... but the debate is largely based in protestant circles, and well, I'm ... a Catholic. I am very conscious of the fact that whenever I interact with blogs my comments tend to have me saying in almost apologetic tones, "I'm a Roman Catholic". No, I'm not embarrassed about it, I have had many opportunities to jump ship, I've even had invitations to do just that, but in spite of my own personal frustrations I remain, for the time at least, at home. I'm also aware that I started this blog to share the trials and tribulations of being an average worshipper in the Catholic church and I rarely, if ever mention it here. So today, I am going to look at 'The State of Worship in the Universal Church from an Offbeat Catholic's Perspective.

Disclaimer: I ain't no scholar and these are just rambling personal opinions, many of which are in a constant state of flux anyhow. So don't expect much in the way of wisdom here, more a working through of thoughts.

Big bones of contention 1: Singing as the main focus of worship

My exploration of the Protestant denominations will largely be based upon my forays into Anglicanism as that is where most of my journeying has taken me but brief excursions into the Methodist church and free Evangelical setups have also influenced me. I remember first attending an Anglican church in 2000. I was amazed by the use of such things as electric guitars and microphones in the service. They had songs which, OK, a fair proportion of them were embarrassingly sh*te, but some of them wouldn't have sounded out of place in the pop charts. And when I listened, they were like love songs - WOW! love songs to God, now there's a novelty. These are now spoken of somewhat disparagingly as 'Jesus is my boyfriend' songs, but for someone like me who had spent all her teen years listening to soppy soul classics in her bedroom, yearning for something other than unrequited love from the spotty lad on the No. 11 bus, it seriously spoke my language. And as an added bonus, it added a more spiritual flavour to my shower repertoire of Memories (Gladys Knight) and the theme from Mahogany (Diana Ross). But it seems that the church's reliance upon the sugary worship song is beginning to wear a bit and some folk (good Anglican word) are becoming quite vocal in their desire for a change in direction, worship-wise. Charges of cosiness and lack of engagement with pain abound.

The Catholic church can be categorised into 3 main types: The real progressives who sing 'modern' folk hymns from such recent times as the 1970s, though a rogue one or two Graham Kendrick numbers may have crept in there; the traditional hymn lovers to whom the accoustic guitar is anathema and only the good ole organ will do; those who don't like any music at all. These three groups can be accommodated in most parishes by just having a mass in each of the styles. The mass is the mass, that is a non-negotiable but we can mess about with the music bit. As we can be a bit insular, we haven't yet discovered modern worship songs so haven't had the opportunity to tire of them. Perhaps I am being a little unfair - I gather there are one or two Catholic churches in the country where the modern worship genre is the way but I have yet to encounter one myself. They are the stuff of legend, like the unicorn and the Holy Grail. If there is one thing that bugs me, it's that we have some really fantastic stuff going on in our Catholic secondary schools and yet none of it filters through to the churches. And we wonder why the teens lose interest. A lot of the adults lost interest long ago but are too set in their ways to do anything about it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The LHC all rapped up...

Could someone please explain to me what this LHC thing is?

No sooner said than done...

Huge thanks to Dadube from the Sanctuary crew for enlightening me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Altruism back in vogue...

Most TV these days is complete dross (she says in complete sweeping generalisation). But one programme I am loving at the moment is Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire. For those who haven't seen it, the premise is that a millionaire goes undercover into some of Britain's most deprived areas and lives in the community for about 10 days. During that time they blend in, do a bit of voluntary work and seek out people/groups to be the recipients of sums of money from their own personal fortune.

What I love about the programme is that it highlights some of the fantastic work which is being done by ordinary people all over the UK for the benefit of others in the community. The programme manages to avoid becoming all about the wonderful yet patronising deeds of some rich bloke/woman. What I really love is the symbiosis that takes place. I am just as touched by the way in which the millionaire is affected by their time with others less fortunate as by the handover of a cheque. I have heard a number of the 'philanthopists' who admit to something lacking in their own lives, whether it is lack of time to spend with loved ones or a lack of a sense of belonging in their own neighbourhood (easier on a council estate than a vast estate, I suppose). Every week without fail, I cry, well not exactly cry, but my eyes overflow a bit on account of the feelgood factor.

It is fairly easy to put your hand in your pocket for a 'good cause' but the best kind of giving is based on a relationship. The fact that the millionaires have worked alongside many of those they help and formed a relationship seems to make it a much more fulfilling transaction for both parties. I would like to think that many of the millionaires gain personally from the experience and continue to be involved in their communities in some capacity or another. Whatever, it makes great TV!

Check out some of the clips here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The family continues to grow...

On Saturday we visited my newest great-nephew (God, that makes me sound old!). Little Michael Craig was 6 days old. I even got to feed him his bottle. I'm a bit out of practice but it soon came back. This is actually a big thing for me as babies do scare me a bit. I am not the kind of woman who instantly grabs a new baby and does all the coochy-coo bit. I politely say how lovely the child is, let it practise its grasp reflex on my finger and then make my excuses to leave. That's me holding the baby with his nana, my big sis looking on.

There is something so good about being part of an expanding family. It gives me a sense of being part of something that will continue long after I'm pushing up daisies. And it is good to know that even when it seems the world is conspiring against you, there is a whole bunch of people who would gladly fight your corner for you. Since my mum died, we have been really close as a family, not that we weren't close before but it has somehow been strengthened. That is the legacy that she left us with. I feel very privileged.

Friday, September 05, 2008


I am feeling in a generally disgruntled mood today. The incessant rain does not help as my mood is very much affected by the kind of weather we have. But I think the General Teaching Council (GTC) is the major cause of my being cheesed off. The GTC didn't even exist until a few years ago. It is supposed to be a professional body/register for teachers, something along the lines of the British Medical Association. In reality it is just another bureaucratic thorn in the side of teachers. I could go on about how, if you want to create a professional body you might actually pay teachers something in line with other 'professionals' instead of the equivalent of an average business graduate trainee starting salary. But that is not today's particular gripe. I was awarded 'Qualified Teacher Status' at the start of July. But to prove it, I need, not my graduation certificate as you might think, but another certificate from the GTC. These are sent out in August. Upon receipt of this, I was required to cough up £33 for membership of this Mickey Mouse body. Here's where I show myself to be a great, humungous plonker - I put the wrong bank sort code on the Direct Debit form, without which, they will not register me. D'oh! I received the letter giving me the good news this morning. It has taken them a fortnight to discover this. Why is the whole process so unwieldy? There should be enough slack in the system to even accommodate dopes like me. Now it will be another 2 weeks before I can even hope to have any work. Why does it take so long? Have they done no processing of my application at all in the past fortnight? Surely it should be a fast track process now? I am not allowed to work without this. Perhaps I should apply for any old job. I'm just being picky expecting to get a job in teaching after spending over £3000 of my own cash to train. A bit selfish of me really...

I do shudder at the chronic lack of strategic organisation in cowboy outfits like the GTC. Come the revolution, they will be the first against the wall...