WORSHIP, FESTIVALS & PRAYERS

Religions have always made good use of theatre. Music exerts its seductive power in most halls of worship and, usually, congregations are invited to join in. A shared pleasurable experience bonds people together in just the same way that members of an audience talk about a film they have attended, or spectators relive a match they’ve seen. Even a scary story stimulates and binds us together - united in adversity whether by Hitler or ‘the Devil’.

 

Houses of worship are often made of dimensions and surface materials to reverberate sound enabling the preacher, standing at the focus, to be heard everywhere and the singing to be impressive, encouraging participation. In fact, the churches that have kept up to date with musical trends are the most successful. The decline in Anglican attendance may have had something to do with the retention of the old church organ - cutting edge in its time but long since superceded in popular esteem by the electric guitar. The growing Evangelical Christian movement uses a rock band style of accompaniment; do you think that’s helping recruitment?

 

The visual experience is usually exciting too with the main players often wearing impressive outfits of the best colours and most expensive threads. Gold and silver is often visible and fine works of art can be seen, even on the ceiling. Religious gatherings may also include story telling, ritualistic calls and responses, food, drink, dancing, fiery candles, fragrances and even sacrifice! They try to stimulate all the senses and make a memorable performance. All of this encourages attendees to put on their ‘Sunday Best’ and the meeting becomes an occasion. In the days before cinema, television and the internet, attending a religious event was the highlight of the week.

In many countries it still is. It’s even more

special at the time of religious festivals.

 

The festivals are an interesting

phenomenon. Early Christians

arriving in Britain sensibly made their

new religion more palatable by merging

it with the existing Pagan celebrations

of Saturnalia (Christmas), the Great

Mother Goddess Eostre (Easter) and

haverfest or harvest time (Michaelmas).

 

The dates are all a bit suspect partly because we have had three major changes of calendar in the last two millennia. An early Roman calendar had ten months and a winter gap! Then July and August were added, named after Emperors Julius and Augustus and, later, it was decided to start the year in January instead of the third week of March - no wonder there’s confusion!

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

 

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a prayer and a spell?

 

The weird notion that

mere recitation can actually

achieve something is losing

credibility in educated

societies. Speech is just a

tiny vibration in the air.

Rational people are able to

perceive that words are cheap

- we can voice something we don’t mean and renege on it later. Even written contracts can be broken. Some people are giving up on the religious vows of baptism, marriage and funerals. This is bad news for the priests who have insinuated themselves into the landmark occasions of our lives for a fee - they’re losing income!

 

What matters is actions! Don’t you think an act of loyalty counts more than a promise of loyalty?

 

Muslims at prayer after a massacre

11b

11b

Why Worship? Click here

Left: Pagan Sun-god,

Birthday: 25th Dec

Notice halo similarity

with glow of Santa’s Holy day (on right)

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