Thursday, January 22, 2009

England their England

One of those days in England, again: The Revd Dr Ewen Souter, Team Vicar of St John’s, Broadbridge Heath, near Horsham in West Sussex, has removed the crucifix from the front of his church, because it was scaring the children. The sculpture, by Edward Bainbridge Copnall apparently sent out all the wrong messages. It will be replaced by “a symbol of hope rather than hopelessness,” a crucifix by one Angela Godfrey. The removal of the crucifix (which could not await the arrival of its replacement, but had to be done right away, presumably in case any more children were frightened) is shown in the Church Times.

According to St John's,
What will not be clear to readers or radio listeners who have not seen the crucifix in person is the fact that the artist chose to portray Christ's facial expression as one which indicates despair and hopelessness. While this makes it an interesting piece of art, it also means that this artistic choice made by the sculptor makes this particular crucifix a misleading version of the symbol of the cross, failing to communicate the significance of the crucifixion of Christ as an event which brings eternal and undying hope to this world. Christ did not approach the crucifixion with any sense of despair or hopelessness; he did not suffer on the cross in an attitude of hopelessness; and he did not die in an attitude of hopelessness.
Rly? So how about Matthew 27:45-46 then? Well, how about it? The standard Evangelical excuse is that Christ was quoting the Psalmist at this point in his crucifixion. The Evangelicals do not like to be reminded that the Gospels present conflicting accounts and that the Crucifixion stories are complicated and ambiguous, as is the notion of Christ's Divinity. They like everything to be simple, cheerful and cretinous. Art is not like this, so Art has to go.

If further evidence were needed that Enthusiasm is ruining the Church of England, such evidence can be found on the St John's website. Evangelicals hate Art. They like stock photography: lots of images of children, animals, plants even. They like quilts and other homely crafty things, so long as they are made by the Community of Worship. Above all, they like words, words like Fellowship, Ministry, Evangelism, Discipleship.

I suppose I should not be bothered by this. England is not my country any more and the CofE is no longer my Church. But verily it pisses me off to see the material culture of the Church being vandalised by these philistines, while its intellectual culture descends into idiocy.

4 comments:

Lyndon said...

Team Vicar: Art Police

stephen said...

Perhaps you can be a Philip Pullman Anglican atheist - "The Church of England is so deeply embedded in my personality and my way of thinking that to remove it would take a surgical operation so radical that I would probably not survive it."

Grace Dalley said...

Doesn't Richard Dawkins comment that the C of E is more a cultural institution than a religious one?

Having said that, Christianity only makes sense if Jesus' suffering and death were real. Otherwise there's no sacrifice.

Keri Hulme said...

Since there is actually no good historical evidence for the biblical "Jesus" where does reality come into the picture?