Should cathedrals be used as playgrounds?

Aug 1, 2019 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

Another unusual use of a cathedral—another slew of ‘Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells’ letters to the press. That, at least, is how it often feels. The latest episode of this is the conversion of the nave of Rochester Cathedral to be used as a crazy golf course, with each hole featuring a bridge to be crossed, for the duration of the summer. This follows other similar adaptations, including artist Luke Jerram’s Moon installation doing the rounds of a series of cathedrals and larger church buildings, and controversy surrounding Derby Cathedral showing films about paganism featuring full-frontal nudity. Norwich Cathedral planned to install a helter skelter (though I don’t know whether that ever actually happened), and Gloucester Cathedral turned itself into an indoor skate park in 2016, and appeared to avoid the negative comments. And in a similar venture, Blackburn Cathedral produced and sold its own brand of gin to raise funds. It does seem that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our cathedrals!

Such controversies inevitable give rise to awful headline puns, and this one is no exception. ‘Let us putt’ is the weak offering from the Times; the Daily Mail beats that with ‘Holy in One’; whilst the Sun offers a ‘Fairway to Heaven’. My personal favourite is the suggestion that the cathedral is now moving in the ‘par of the Holy Spirit’. But the objections were expressed more directly:

The idea has been met with horror from parishioners and clergy – including some who were ordained there – who say the Church of England is dumbing down and the course is an ’embarrassing shambles’ and ‘sad and painful.’

‘Rochester Cathedral was founded in AD 604. It survived the Norman Conquest, 2 fires in the 12th century, and several rounds of pillaging. St. William of Perth is buried there. And now*’

‘What an embarrassing shambles.’

‘Wonder what the shades of the holy Benedictines who built these places think.’

‘Rochester cathedral’s idea of mission. So devoid of theology they have forgotten ‘This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven’. Shame on you.’

Is there any merit in these criticisms, or are they just the usual moaners and nay-sayers? (In our new political climate, we cannot tolerate negative attitudes…!)

Read here

Read also: A holy-in-one? Rochester Cathedral opens its own crazy golf course — and Norwich has a helter-skelter on the way by Rachel Turner, Country Life

Double bogey or par? The gentlemen from Anglican Unscripted discuss.

Catholic Fury Over Sacrilege at St. John Fisher’s Cathedralby Jules Gomes, Church Militant

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