7WD answers the internet’s best questions of 2014

questionsIn what has become a beloved (by me) tradition on New Year’s Eve, I like to answer actual questions people have typed into search engines to find their way to this blog during the previous year. This has been going on for several years, proving that the fun never ends (2013, 2011, 2010, 2009).

These are actual queries, edited only to add capitalization and punctuation. Until next year, enjoy!

Can you charge a fee to enter a church?
Yes, plenty of churches do this, so it’s clearly possible. If you meant to ask whether it’s a good idea, opinions differ. I think it’s fine, when circumstances warrant.

Do dioceses have to follow resolutions of General Convention?
A timely question, since the Big Event is coming right up this summer! No, dioceses do not have to follow resolutions from General Convention for the most part. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the digital archives and read all the things dioceses have been required to do which are left undone. This is because we like to pass aspirational resolutions whilst avoiding most anything that might look like it has consequences.

Is it difficult to evangelise these days?
Obviously the spelling gives away this interlocutor as a Brit. I’m not sure about the situation in England, but in the US, I don’t think it’s particularly hard, though it’s desperately needed. My experience is that people are hungry for meaning and purpose, and that they aren’t in church because church is too concerned with institutional survival. So we should talk about Jesus more, inside and especially outside our churches. You know, share the Good News? For some reason, most Episcopalians seem to believe this is a terrible thing to do, even though Jesus was pretty clear we’re supposed to do this.

What do clergy men wear during Advent?
Sensible clergy men (and women) wear black clerical shirts when they’re on post. During the liturgy, they’re free to wear whatever color they like, so long as they don’t put on airs and get all snooty about so-called Sarum Blue.

What if churches were canceled vs cancelled?
First of all, I salute your concern for spelling. That’s too rare. The other part of your question is more interesting. Though I’ve been called a “Gonzo Priest” for saying it, I don’t generally think church services should be called off due to weather. There are exceptions, but when the mall is open, it means conditions permit the church to be open. No matter how you spell it, the church should stay open so that praises and prayers can be offered on the Lord’s Day.

What is appropriate to say in email after visiting a church?
If you’re referring to whether or not it’s OK to tell the church what you thought of your visit, please do it! They need to hear the good and the bad of your experience. I once had a guest who wrote to say that we shouldn’t have welcome cards without pencils for people to use. He felt so strongly about it, he mailed us a box of 500 custom-printed pencils with our church name. Best critical feedback ever. Other times, I’ve learned valuable things about what we did well and what we could have done better from guest feedback. So send your email!

What is wrong with works of supererogation?
Well, strictly speaking, they’re not necessary. However, if you want to test their efficacy, perhaps you should do astonishing good works for the author of this blog? He loves great espresso and travel. Be creative.

Which Sunday do we celebrate Epiphany?
None, unless January 6 falls on a Sunday. The prayer book of the Episcopal Church does not permit the feast of the Epiphany to be moved. Why not celebrate it on the proper day with all thetrimmings?

Why celebrate prayer book holy days?
Because moving through the rhythms of the liturgical year is one of the charisms of Anglican Christianity. We are able to commemorate events in the life of Jesus Christ and some of his followers. It will be good for you, so try it if you haven’t done it. If your church can’t be bothered, you can always pray the daily office and keep the feasts on your own. Or find another church.

Why is Christianity hard?
Because following Jesus is hard. Anyone who says Christianity is easy isn’t doing it right. Jesus wants us to sell everything, to take up our cross, and to be ready to lose our very lives. There’s nothing in the Gospels about “I’m ok, you’re OK, let’s have a warm cocoon of feelings with cozy self-actualization.”

Are we living in a brave new world?
I think we could use a bit more bravery — which would require us to reject fear a bit more — but our world is clearly new. So yes and no.

I was asked several questions from previous years. My very favorite repeat question was this one: “Which mountain did Captain Kirk scale?” See for yourself.

And on that note, have a happy new year!

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1 Response

  1. Gary Goldacker says:

    As I recall, you once had a bishop who directed that churches would be open for Sunday services regardless of weather conditions!

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