Return of the Chantry

By: | Post date: April 6, 2009 | Comments: 4 Comments
Posted in categories: Culture

I’m still here; I had the ill luck to fall… ill last week (abed Wednesday and Thursday), and spent the long weekend either doing Greek lemmatisation, or socialising. I’ve tried combining the two, it doesn’t work.

I’ve opened up my Greek linguistics blog, in reaction to a post my friend George forwarded me. I don’t think I’ll post there anywhere near as much as I should to relieve my conscience; but it’s something.

A post that’s been waiting to be written a very long time: h/t Steve Benen at Washington Monthly (I’ve remained addicted to American politics after my three years living there; everything was so much larger than life about politics Stateside), I too note the arrival of Information Age Prayer, A New And Exciting Way To Connect With God:

Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget.

We use state of the art text to speech synthesizers to voice each prayer at a volume and speed equivalent to typical person praying. Each prayer is voiced individually, with the name of the subscriber displayed on screen.

Yeah. Of course, having read a history of the Reformation once, I immediately realised that we’ve seen thing kind of thing before. That fine institution in Western Europe that eventually gave rise to the University, but started out as the Chantry college. Where state of the art monastic prayer consultants were used to voice prayers for noblemen as a subvention service, giving them the satisfaction of knowing that their time in purgatory would keep getting shortened even if they woke up dead—but not forgotten.

Assorted wisdom of the interwebs, has any wayfarer before me made the connection between Information Age Prayer and Chantries? Why yes. Someone has:

Ah, it’s like the Reformation never happened – let’s open up the chantries and get some serious industrial praying going!

Also, I want my dog-saint back.

posted by jb at 12:46AM UTC on March 26, 2009

Le Woof. Speaking of the Catholic Church, I went to a christening Sunday (at a time of year which that moiety of Christendom which does not stick to a 2000 year old system to calculate its lunar calendar calls Easter Sunday, and the moiety which does calls Palm Sunday). Not having been to a lot of Catholic services, and not really having gotten the Vatican II memo, I was surprised at how, well, relaxed the whole service was. Hippy guitar songs in the voice of Jesus (1st person), congregants in shorts and T-shirts, lay ministers, no incense or bell, no rood screen. (I told you I didn’t get the Vatican II memo; in fact, not even the Council of Trent memo, since that’s how long ago the Catholics did away with them.) If the priest wasn’t wearing an alb (and the Powerpoint with the Hippy guitar song lyrics hadn’t spelled הַלְלוּיָהּ as Allelulia), I wouldn’t have clicked that the service was Catholic. I didn’t know that there was diversity of liturgic practice in Australian Catholicism; I assumed it was as top-down as the moiety I grew up in…

I wasn’t the target audience of course, and the congregation were very happy with how welcoming and friendly the Mass was. Me, I was missing the sense of awe that comes from having a priest who’s not on speaking terms with the congregation. But that’s neither an unalloyed good, nor an inevitable outcome. (And again, I’m not the target audience, so I don’t get a vote.)


  • John Cowan says:

    … the masterstroke of allowing Greek rite …Óh yeah. Indeed, there's a Catholic opposite number for almost every non-Catholic particular church (not counting the Protestants, of course), causing a tremendous proliferation. Alongside the Latin patriarchate (Latin Patriarch is one of the Pope's three jobs, along with Pope and Bishop of Rome, which may be why he wears a triple crown, but nobody’s sure), there are no less than 22 other autonomous patriarchates, exarchates, eparchates, and you-name-it-archates, using between them five different rites: Alexandrine, Antiochian, Armenian, Chaldaean, and Byzantine. A few of these claim never to have been out of communion with Rome, like the Maronites, but most of them are the result of groups of bishops who decided they’d rather report to a distant Pope rather than a highly local, over-the-shoulder Orthodox or Oriental-Orthodox or Assyrian Church of the East arch-whatever.

    On the other side, there’s Western Orthodoxy, which comes in two flavors: a French one, which uses a slightly-edited Gallican rite, and an American one, which mostly uses a slightly-edited Anglican rite (!). In Ill Bethisad, things are even more complicated, with Kemr (i.e. Wales), Ireland, and parts of North America using the Celtic rite (the Synod of Whitby came out differently, with a compromise leading to Celtic uniatism many centuries earlier), and Iberia and most of South/Central America using the Isidoran rite, which here is confined to a single chapel in the cathedral of Toledo.

  • opoudjis says:

    @John: or maybe I typo’d alleluia at 3 AM. 🙂 I half suspect that Greeks do split into αλληλούλια, since the hiatus of [alilu-ia] is uncharacteristic of the Modern language… Google αλληλούλια : 219 hits, αλληλούια : 24600 hits. Yup, so they do. That was more subconscious Church-Beginning-With-O intrusion into my perception of what was going on, then.

    Ah, the etymological argument on the catholic practice of the Universal Church! And given the masterstroke of allowing Greek rite, not as implausible an argument as it should be! As I found when writing on the Greek Rite community of Cargèse, Corsica, not all the local Latin rite parishioners had quite gotten that memo before Vatican II, either.

  • John Cowan says:

    “Allelulia”, really? “Alleluia” is what I’d expect. I think you either saw a typo or misread.

    If your church calls itself with a name beginning with “O”, you expect them to want everyone to believe and do the same things. If their name for themselves starts with “C”, you expect them to want to include as many varieties of practice as they can, short of compromising on real dogma. Sapir-Whorf strikes again.

  • opoudjis says:

    Hm, I posted that last night (April 14), but because I’d saved the hyperlinks on April 6 before I got distracted, the post was backdated. Ok, good to know…

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