Thursday, 22 December 2011

Members of our congregation: Part 3

Imagine yourself in a warm summer’s evening, sitting in the vestry, behind the heavy purple curtain, halfway down a good bottle of ‘communion red.’ It’s a good place to start.

You have found the Evangelists in rude health. Often vulgar, discordant and indeed tuneless, they are going forward full of vim & vigour in their tatty community centre. So why is it that friends in your own choir, who have perfect pitch, whose voices melt the most frozen of hearts are struggling to pull in the congregation on a Sunday evening?

Pour yourself another glass and have a nibble of that Cashel blue. Wafers? We have box loads. Help yourself.



The answer is that it’s all our own fault.

Yes. Quite simply, we found the Evangelists difficult to get on with and so took a couple of steps to the right of the melee and carried on without them. After all, why sing beautifully if everyone else is screaming and shouting and no-one is listening?

So, we spruced up our own places, so that they are fresh and beautiful. Now the calls and responses are once more a wonder of cadence and style. Gone are the strident hoodlums who wrecked our happiness; they have all joined the others in the shabby hut.

However, as wonderful as it is to sing with like-minded folk, we are generally singing the same material every Sunday with the same accompaniment. It’s a beautiful experience but every now and then it’s good to try a little modern music. The lyrics may not always be to our taste but just occasionally there is a blinding flash of brilliance: a new voice soaring above the hubbub with such clarity and strength that everyone is drawn to it.

But why did the new chorister gravitate to the brash community? This is easily answered: Why would he go anywhere else?

The Evangelists advertise themselves constantly. They are magnificent at ‘networking’. When new choristers appear, straight away they are welcomed into the bosom of that family. The new boy may be inexperienced, raw perhaps, but all can see his qualities. Over time, more and more new boys arrive and so the other place becomes more vibrant with every recruit. The lights are brighter than ever whilst over at our place we are singing to our friendly but dwindling, ageing congregation.

What we should never forget is, as well as being members of the choir, we are part of the same congregation. Broadly, we hold the same beliefs. We should take an active part in all the community’s affairs. Not all the other services are ‘shouty’ and brash. I suppose we can ignore the worst of those places, as that is good for our blood pressure. I am aware of a few high profile choristers who rarely make an appearance at others’ services and are bemused when there is the occasional remark made about their apparent aloofness.

So, this is a call to re-populate the other places. Putting your fingers in your ears and ignoring it is not a healthy option. There are choristers out there who need to get down and dirty and mix it with the new crowd. When you meet them in the flesh, they are not a bad lot. Try it. You’ll love it.

I’ll have another glass of that ‘communion red’ now, thank you.


  1. I'll be the one up the back looking in....

  2. It would appear, brothers and sisters, that Father Sloman has been tempted by the fleshpots of the evangelists and his faith is weakening. Maybe a message from the back benches of the Wee Free Bloggers General Assembly might instil in him - just a little bit of backbone.

    "Oh I see ye now, sinner that ye are, sitting there typin' yon dirty wee messages intae yon forum doubt on a SUNDAY...when ye should be staunin' here in front o' me getting telt big licks aboot how ye should be behavin'! "Ye'll burn in the fiery pits o' Hell, man."

    "Doomed....that's what ye are...doomed!"

    Then again, maybe that wasn't one of my better ideas (sigh)...

  3. Too Subliminal for my brain!
    I have been on the Port though!

  4. ..and could I just mention that here at the Buddhist Temple of the Single Celestial Step there is no singing or guitar playing. Just the repeated chanting of our mantra - OM....

  5. It's a big church right enough - room for us all. Pretty tricky for the vicar to keep up to date with all of the parishioners however. I think you're up to the job however, your reverence.

  6. Carl: One of our shiny new stars. :-)

    Tookie: A chap with possibly the best handle on the who's who of the Broad Church. :-)

    Robin: A Big Business Blogger with his ear to the ground - an example to us all. :-)

    Ken: What can I say? Maisie's carer and builder of redundant structures. Cook, raconteur and Religious Splitter!

    Mad'n'BadAndy: Muddled Wino (Porto?) and thoroughly good chap.

    OM: If you haven't visited his particular Buddhist temple, get over there and catch up. Well worth settling in with, with a glass of something warming.

    Mark: I would like to say he was a lovely bloke, but I have said this so many times before it would be boring. He's a wonderful git who has a wonderful way with words and pictures. Get over to his place with the second bottle of Scotch.

  7. Have you ever thought of going into marketing? You're bound to get some takers from the red wine brigade - and I've got a feeling you'd be sought after by a couple of churches :)

  8. Ahhh, I see ...

    You are right, of course, the congregation of outdoor bloggers is on the increase, and continues to cater for an ever-wider audience. I'm a relative newcomer to the world of blogging, but in that time I've found it to be a constant source of inspiration and information, and I love it. My magazine subs have now lapsed!

    Anyway, enough of that. Merry Christmas and all that!


  9. Point very well made Sir. On that note I'm off to use my deserved time away from the godforsaken office to do some catching up - may as well start here....

    Merry Christmas Alan and the parish of course!

  10. Finding new ones (blogs), particularly if they're to your tastes, can mean the older ones get neglected for a while. Sooner or later we all return to familiar haunts though.

    Football is easier: one team for life and that's it, non-negotiable! On the other hand the blogs are generally dire.

    My cup runneth over. With rainwater.

  11. Alan there are so many messages in this thread, which I suspect you intended, agree that we should be out populating the other places, especially as they seem to be unpopulated at the moment. Many of the congregation I am sure have dabbled with the lighter side, however even the evangelists are now adopting a centrist approach, while waxing lyrically about seeing the light.
    Thanks have a great christmas and see you on the hills

  12. PHEW
    I thought you had religion.
    I was worried you'd be preaching to Dave and I.


  13. Preach it Brother! Amen! A fascinating analogy.

    And a very Merry Christmas to the Choir and all the Congregations, whatever their tradition!


  14. Mr/Ms Cumbria: Were your parents so heartless that they christened you "Connect"?
    If you could send those red wine marketing chaps my way I'll deal with them handsomely! I'm nor so sure about the churches, mind..

    Jules: It's marvellous that more folk are writing outdoor blogs but I believe that there is a place for the fora as well. Moderated properly they can be an amazing source of information. Some of the Scottish examples are superb. We used to have a place where outdoor bloggers used to meet up but there was a bit of a spat between two of the main contributors and it all died. I am sure that with a bit of love and a few ground rules it could be made to work. I'll write more on this in the new year.

    Dude: Another of our shiny new boys (but less new then some!) with an amzingly good place to visit. I heartily recommend visiting Dude's place if you haven't been lately. (He writes, heroically, one handed to get his sermons out!)

    Gordon: Hello! I do too. Where are you starting from this year? Morar for me (I don't usually publicise where we start until much later but this is buried in the comments so no-one will notice!)

  15. Byeways: Hello sir! From the age of three I was doomed to follow Leeds United (it's along story) and wherever I am in the world, I can't stop myself from turning to the English football results. WHY???

    It's the same with Bloggers. (Not just Outdoor Bloggers) There are some that I go back to, even if they haven't written for months, to re-acquaint myself with their wonderful easy style.

  16. Roger: So much easier to deal with so many issues this way. There are the forums, the bloggers, the commenters, the restricted forums (not available to the general public) and the trade's own places. But the same principles apply to all. If you start to section yourself off you have everything to lose.

    I always enjoy popping over to your place. Beautifully lit, excellent architecture and a wonderful chorister singing the most divine pieces.

  17. Mad'n'Bad: Hello Git-Face! A quick note - I have just received the Vetters comments back - AND - thank you for the CD - quite excellent.
    For those of you who haven't been over to Andy's place, brace yourselves. It's exactly as if you were in the same room as him, but with no beers. (Sadly)

  18. His Holiness, the Incredibly Irreverend Dave!: One of the wonderful commenters who doesn't blog but who makes regular valued comments. He does his blogging for real, in a *real* church! An altogether wonderful man.
    Happy Christmas David, Katie & the boys.

  19. I wasn't too sure what I was agreeing to! But, I do like church architecture and the Knave is particularly good.

    What a coincidence: you appear to be starting from the same place as Andrew and the new fellow.

    Me? Lochailort.

  20. Git Face?
    Is that any way to address a member of the congregation?

    Looking forward to here what Pete had to say! :)

  21. Seasons greetings Alan. Wasn't quite sure where you were going with this in the beginning. But a very well written series of posts.
    (from a fellow Leeds supporter!)

  22. Thank you sir but that's probably because I'm a cheap hoor and will drink wa' onybudy ;)

    I'll talk to a swinging gate if squeaks at the right time. ;)

    Merry Christmas :)

  23. Like many, I too was wondering where this one was heading! As entertaining as ever, Alan, and as a relative new kid on the block, I consider it a compliment that you keep returning to my ramblings..

  24. Blog your own blog, hike your own hike. It is a broad church that we are in.

    Happy Christmas Alan

  25. Great stuff.

    Merry Christmas Alan. More power to your blogging elbow, or whatever it is you use!

  26. Alan - You might be on the very meniscus of insanity.

    You are welcome to join FightClubHikers as is anybody else. We don't have a church but we do wander the hills and get pissed a lot.

    Now that I have got you all scurrying for your dictionaries I bid you all....


  27. You'll be glad to hear you've been preaching to the converted, I often leap off into the unknown for a bit of an adventure. (But I'm also very loyal to a few)

    (Buried in the comments hey? You're both (Gordon) starting way further south than me)

  28. Woo - I'm a bit behind in responding to the comments - apologies!

    Greetings to David S!

    Tookie: :-)

    Paul: :-)

    Mark & Scott: A happy new year to you both.

    PeteC: The very meniscus, indeed. It's a good place to be with a beer or three.

    Louise: (spelled carefully) I am the same. I have favourites that haven't written for a while so I try to nudge them back into life. It works sometimes.


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