Liturgy coming to life

“Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?
The tourists are having coffee and doughnuts on Deck C.  Presumably someone is minding the ship, correcting the course, avoiding icebergs and shoals, fueling the engines, watching the radar screen, noting weather reports radioed in from shore.  No one would dream of asking the tourists to do these things.  Alas, among the tourists on Deck C, drinking coffee and eating doughnuts, we find the captain, and all the ship’s officers, and all the ship’s crew.  The offers chat; they swear; they wink a bit at slightly raw jokes, just like regular people.  The crew members have funny accents.  The wind seems to be picking up.
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions.  Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke?  Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it?  The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning.  It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.  For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”[1]

This booklet began life as weekly inserts in the Pew Sheet written to say something about the Sunday liturgy.  Do we wonder what we are doing?  Are we ‘sufficiently sensible of the conditions’?  Does the liturgy give us life?

[1] Annie Dillard Teaching a Stone to Talk Harper Collins 1982 p45


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