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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  • Posted by: Sterling - May. 23, 2005 12:52 AM ET USA

    Odysseus, I was just about to submit a comment with some of you points, but you were more imaginative and better spoken. I know a lot of people dislike clowns (I love them) but I also love parakeets. I don't want clowns or parakeets at the sacred liturgy.

  • Posted by: - May. 21, 2005 12:20 PM ET USA

    Just as an aside, and I'm not saying that this guy is a molester, but dressing like a clown has been a tactic of child molesters for years. See and, of course, the notorious duo of Ed Gynn and John Wayne Gacy. Just a thought...

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - May. 20, 2005 9:58 PM ET USA

    let's here it for more "vibrant" liturgies! hip, hip... (btw, are "The Fountain Square Fools" still making the rounds?)

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2005 8:29 PM ET USA

    I object to the term "Fools for Christ" there are a number of Eastern Christian saints thus called. These Episcopalians are more like "Fools for Satan" who wishes to destroy authentic worship. Good thing that Episcopalians don't have valid apostolic succession, -- it's less of a sacrilege.

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2005 5:25 PM ET USA

    NO NO NO You are missing the point here. This should be encouraged at the Episcopal Church.......think of it as developing future emplyment opportunities for former American Catholic bishops....after all we cant promote them all to the Vatican

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2005 2:26 PM ET USA

    What, by the way, does any of this have to do with the Trinity? And, while I'm at it, I have no idea what the "structure" of the Eucharist might be. In the context of "clown" liturgy, I tremble at the answer.

  • Posted by: - May. 20, 2005 10:51 AM ET USA

    Or what about a clown holocaust celebration or clown MLK day celebration, or that matter clown black history month. Let's do a clown Vagina Monologues. Clown Earth Day. Clown lynching reinactments to "never forget." Clown Ramadan celebrations. People can make clowns, urine, and feces out of our religion and we are not supposed to bat an eye. "Why are you getting so uptight? We don't mean no harm." Right.