Monday, December 07, 2009
Why there are so few men in church:
"There was another baneful consequence springing this time from the newly acquired professional standards of the clergy and their desire to see the ideals they had come to regard as obligatory to their calling practised in their parishes. In their path, to take one of the most dramatic examples, lay the haphazard independence of the gloriously unprofessional, unapologetically male, fiercely proud and deeply culturally entrenched world of church bands so affectionately and movingly described by George Eliot and Thomas Hardy. The bands however could not long withstand the more refined, middle-class sensibilities of college-trained clergy. These modern clergy preferred ‘organ-music to any other’. It was cultural imperialism just as insensitive as any imposed by missionaries in ‘darkest Africa’. And with very baneful consequences. For in came organs and in came choirs. And out went men. ‘[F]or the first time in their lives’, Hardy observed of the male musicians in church after their displacement, ‘they all felt awkward, out of place, abashed, and inconvenienced by their hands’. And that tragic cultural displacement was permanent. Men have not returned. The balance shifted for the clergy ‘decisively away from their congregations to themselves. Whatever the wishes of the villagers, Anglican services became more dignified, more feminine and more clerical.’ And, as they did so, they created a special Anglican worship ambience – grand, beautiful and reverent perhaps – but ever more remote from ordinary people, particularly men."
Found here (pdf) (Original found linked on John Richardson's blog).