Fools for Christ

By Diogenes (articles) | May 20, 2005

How is New York's Trinity Church (Episcopal) celebrating Trinity Sunday (universal)? With a clown liturgy.

On May 22, Trinity Sunday, we will have a Clown Eucharist, "doing church" as if we were a circus come to town. We will celebrate the Eucharist and learn about the basic traditional outline for Eucharistic worship by experiencing it and participating in it from a new perspective. ... All are invited to come in clown dress, big hats, floppy shoes or some sort of foolish garb. Those watching on the Internet might even be foolish enough to put on some white face or a big grease-paint smile as we worship God and learn about the structure of the Eucharist by being the circus which came to town and to church on that day. I look forward to worshiping with you. (from MCJ).

Personally I've never been partial to the once-fashionable "Christ the Clown" theology. I can, however, accept as possible (in theory) that there is a sliver of truth to be found therein -- roughly as much as might in found in the theology of "Christ the Actuary" or the theology of "Christ the 155mm Howitzer Battery Commander." And while I don't believe that these are especially profitable seams to mine for spiritual bauxite, I concede (in theory) that an extraordinary artist might exploit any of the three in a way that is at once edifying and consonant with Christian orthodoxy.

Incoming!Yet we don't have to pronounce damnation on the circus per se to find something out of joint here. There are 167 innocent free hours in the week in which to play clown. Why should these folks choose the 168th hour, the hour of Eucharistic worship? Simple: it's an act of aggression. Don't be gulled by the floppy shoes and oversized bow-ties: the point is not to add something but to take something away, namely Christ Priest and Victim.

Skeptical? Try this empirical test: suggest to its proponents that the circus take place on a Saturday afternoon in the auditorium, and see whether you meet with good-humored laughter ... or with fragmentation rounds.

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