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to have felt un-Christian about this mobile phone?

(241 Posts)
JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 21:30:07

I have had an beautiful weekend, so I'm really not seething with anger, but wondered what you would make of this!

Earlier today I was at a church service for Advent, with a choir who'd trained very hard. They were excellent, and some of them are children, so it's hard work. The service begins almost completely in darkness, then as the choir progress very slowly up the church, lights come on level with them, until eventually the whole church is lit up. It's meant to represent the light of Christ coming into the world, so it's not just a pretty effect - if you're religious, it is something that has liturgical meaning.

The order of service explained that, because of the darkness, it would sometimes not be possible to read the booklet. We were all in there for at least 20 minutes before the service began, so plenty of time to read the note telling you about this before the lights dimmed, and in any case, we'd all been told weeks ago that the service was partly in the dark.

There was very little congregation participation, but there were two hymns we sung while it was still quite dark. A bloke near me took out his mobile phone and turned on the light, flashing it around, and used it as a torch to read the hymns.

Would you think this was both rude, and actually quite disrespectful? I really thought it was.

Fallingovercliffs Sun 30-Nov-14 21:35:10

YANBU. Some people just don't have a clue. I had a lovely carol service ruined a couple of years ago by knobs beside me talking, humming along to the carols, taking photographs etc.

LadyLuck10 Sun 30-Nov-14 21:37:27

Yanbu he was very rude and thick headed.

Hatespiders Sun 30-Nov-14 21:38:50

Well the problem is, if people don't know the words and there's a hymn sheet but no lights, how are folk to sing when they're meant to?
I'm a churchgoer and love the Advent service, and I see what you mean about the choir having trained hard and the spiritual atmosphere. And most of the congregation would know the words. But not all. Difficult one, but really the man was only trying to see the hymn sheet, so I suppose one has to be tolerant.

Purplepoodle Sun 30-Nov-14 21:51:01

Er how are you supposed to join in hymns if you can't read the sheet?

Trills Sun 30-Nov-14 21:52:43

The organisers are at fault here, if they expect everyone to sing hymns when it's too dark to read the words.

I doubt the man intend to "flash his phone around".

manicinsomniac Sun 30-Nov-14 22:27:26

I can see how it spoiled the atmosphere but, if the man wanted to join in and didn't know the words, what other option did he have?

I'm on the fence.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 22:37:04

Sorry, got called to the phone.

I just think if you've been given plenty of forewarning, you should accept if you don't know the hymn and can't sing along, you should accept it. It's not as if there were loads of hymns and it was heavy on audience participation. It wasn't. The organizers plainly didn't expect everyone to be able to read and sing along - that's why it said in the programme that it'd sometimes be too dark to read.

Surely often you go to carol services and come to one you don't know, so you can't manage it (if you don't get the music as well as the words)?

addictedtobass Sun 30-Nov-14 22:37:10

If he's using it to read the hymns then it must have been pretty dark and for at least two hymns sounds like a long time as well. If someone said to me about lights going on like that I'd think it would happen over a couple of minutes.

It's a shame, I could see why it had annoyed the ambiance but I don't think it's disrespectful.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 22:41:35

addicted, it was meant to be dark.

It explained very clear that some parts of the service would be in darkness and you wouldn't be able to read. It's a service where the liturgical point is that you spend time in darkness as the light slowly advances.The vast majority of the service was carried out by the choir. There were only three or four congregation hymns in total in a 90 minute service.

But, if you didn't realize that - surely, seeing everyone else standing politely and many people not singing and not getting their phones out, you would realize that you were not supposed to?

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 22:43:05

I'm trying to explain that it wasn't just 'ambience'. It wasn't a concert. It was part of the liturgical performance, like someone using incense or bowing in front of an altar. If you didn't like the smell of the incense, you wouldn't fish out some joss sticks and light your own, would you?

ErrolTheDragon Sun 30-Nov-14 22:44:36

Hopefully whoever arranged the order of service will learn from this and only have the congregational hymns once the lights are up enough to read by - and ideally have them printed on a sheet larger than usual if not full illumination. (It's one of those things you just don't realise till you get to a certain age yourself).

The bloke probably didn't realise how obvious his phone light was to other people.

SanityClause Sun 30-Nov-14 22:44:49

It sounds a bit "style over substance" to have it so dark you can't read the hymnsheet, when you are supposed to be singing a hymn. I love to sing, so having to bumble along in the dark would really upset me, and detract from the meaning that the organisers were trying to convey.

If there was no congregational singing until it was light enough to see the words, the problem wouldn't have happened. As it is, it seems really exclusive. Either you know the words, or you don't get to join in.

addictedtobass Sun 30-Nov-14 22:44:57

YEs, but dark for that amount of time? When they did lights out at St Pauls it was literally for a couple of minutes. If someone said about doing lights out I'd think it would be a very short time.

To be honest, unless it was stipulated not to use mobiles then you are going to get some that will use them. He might of thought he was being smart, he might have missed the point about the dark, he may have wanted to sing, he may have been dragged along and not given a shit.

At least he wasn't facebooking.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 30-Nov-14 22:47:45

Some people get really freaked out about darkness. Maybe he wasn't a knob, just not happy with the dark.

smokinggnu Sun 30-Nov-14 22:47:50

For these services our vicar starts by inviti g everyone to participate by switching off all sources of light (ie phones) so we can all let our eyes adjust. Then a single candle is lit. (Everyone gives a little sigh because it is such a dramatic/ reassuring thing)

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 22:52:10

It's not 'style over substance'. It's a liturgical point. It's representing the darkness before Christ coming. It's not something they dreamed up as a new idea and thought 'shall we try this' - it's a really old tradition, and they did explain this in the order of service pretty clearly.

MrsT - if he was freaked out, should he have attended a service where we were explicitly warned beforehand it'd be dark for parts of the service?

He won't have been 'dragged along' completely unaware either. It's one where it's for a fairly small group of people, so you'd usually know quite well what you were in for. I mean it's not a church where you'd easily just walk in on spec (and there I would completely understand it would not be right to have a service people might not be expecting).

I don't think I am saying this well. I'm not super religious, but I didn't find this annoying in an 'ooh, how rude!' way, I found it religiously upsetting, you know? Because it was part of the liturgy, and that had been explained, and he decided that didn't matter and it was more important he should ignore what we'd been asked to do.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 22:53:38

smoking that sounds better. I think maybe they needed to have written in the booklet (or said at the beginning) to turn phones off.

There were some candles, btw. It was never completely dark - it's just a very long chapel and we were at the far end, so the light started at the other end and made its way slowly up to us.

WineWineWine Sun 30-Nov-14 22:53:56

It sounds like selfish organisation to me. All about the show and not about the congregation. I'd have probably got my phone out too. My kids would get very scared in the dark and I would want to be able to read the words.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 22:57:04

It's not a 'show,' though.

I'm not explaining well.

It's liturgy. It's like the way that you might have incense swung about. Yes, not everyone likes the smell, and yes, not everyone who likes the smell can smell it from the back because you might mostly swing it around the altar. But it's making a symbolic point, and that point is to communicate to God.

In this service, we're in darkness to represent the light of Christ coming into the world. It's not to make it look dramatic. It is like a visual form of prayer, and everyone has to participate to make that work (like any other communal form of worship).

addictedtobass Sun 30-Nov-14 22:57:47

I wouldn't use a phone myself because I'd hate to draw attention to myself and it would draw my eyes to it- others may disagree though. I suggest you ask the organisers to actively say to people next time, then hopefully it won't happen.

I can understand that you see it as upsetting and disrespectful but you asked for opinions whether people thought it was and I don't think it was. Perhaps he also felt the same way, especially if it's such a tight knit, as may have others?

mymummademelistentoshitmusic Sun 30-Nov-14 22:58:40

Wow! Religious intolerance at its best. It was a small light. He was trying to see the sheet, to join in. This is part if the reason I absolutely hate organised religion. Very accepting if you, not.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 22:59:11

And wine - would you take your kids to a service if you were pre-warned that there would be parts of it in darkness, and you might not be able to read the order of service? If you knew they didn't like the dark?

I can fully understand that it would be very wrong if a church you could easily wander into had a service where, with no warning, you suddenly found it was dark and it stayed dark - because of course children would be scared and lots of people would hate it.

But if you'd been told multiple times this was how the service would go, before you even came into it, wouldn't you already know it wasn't right for you and not go?

addictedtobass Sun 30-Nov-14 22:59:31

So there were candles? Because before your posts made it sound like it was extremely dark, unable to read, almost complete darkness.

JeanneDeMontbaston Sun 30-Nov-14 23:00:46

addicted - I don't think it is tight knit. Most people won't know everyone else there.

I absolutely don't mind opinions. I was really surprised at my own response TBH.

my - but, how is he not being intolerant? One person, and he spoilt the liturgy for everyone around him.

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