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Unrelenting ‘Creativity’

different size windows

In New Zealand there are not standard-size windows. When someone here breaks a window, a glazier comes, measures the window, cuts a larger piece of glass down to fit, and then installs this cut-down pane, throwing away the pieces cut off.

There are not standard kitchens. When someone wants to update their kitchen, the new kitchen is designed de novo, ex nihilo. Often an expert is employed to design a kitchen specifically for your unique requirements using custom-made cabinetry designed to fit your space. The same is true for bathrooms and toilets. And bedrooms. And other rooms. And houses. And offices.

I saw a new, fixed desk in an office space – the distance from the desk to the wall behind it was too small to relaxedly include a chair. At a motel I stayed in recently the toilet seat would not stay up, the individually-designed toilet in this case would not work appropriately.

Prices in New Zealand reflect the need to have experts at every turn, from getting your kitchen or toilet to fit, to getting a broken window replaced. And these things take longer.

There are exceptions, and an increasing trend away from the above. Kitset kitchens, taken for granted overseas, are becoming known here. Houses built to a company’s set of plans are increasingly seen.

But the culture of creativity-is-best, creating-everything-de-novo, creating-everything-ex-nihilo is still very prevalent. Including in liturgy.

A culture that eschews one house looking like its neighbour’s (or any other house for that matter), a culture that abhors the idea of standards, that shies away from neighbouring buildings even sharing a particular style, of course such a culture will abhor one service being akin to another within the same community, naturally in such a culture one parish would abhor having a service that is anything like what is offered in the neighbouring parish.

“We used ashes for Ash Wednesday last year, what can we do differently this year?”

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13 Responses to Unrelenting ‘Creativity’

  1. LOL no IKEA then NZ is not the place for me 😀
    actually I hope that people would use ash for ash Wednesday.

    Happy American Thanksgiving even if you don’t celebrate!

  2. I suppose the interesting question here might be: “Has God stopped creating?”. The other question might be: “If God is still creating, do we who are created in the divine Image need to continue creating?

    Regarding the Sacred Liturgy, though; can we ever replicate the ‘Presence of Christ’ in a different way from that given to us by the provenance of the Incarnate Word in Scripture?

  3. Ouch. I have no small amount of sympathy with your views on liturgy, well most of them; but I think that to infer anything about DIY liturgy from ill fitting toilet seats and made to measure windows is a loooooooooong stretch too far.

    • If the analogy doesn’t work for you, Richard, find another analogy.

      I can see the parallels between having accepted practices standardised in our shared experience in house plans (eg. there’s light switches close to a door when you come into a room, or a door-handle is best positioned here on a door) and similar benefits with having accepted practices standardised in our shared experience in worship services.

      I guess others may enjoy stumbling about a room in the dark trying to find the light switch, or cutting their hand on the doorway because this door handle is unusually located … And so it is with worship… Or so it seems to me…

      Blessings.

  4. Hi Bosco
    I see what you are getting at in your response to Richard Lacey and yet I wonder if a point is being missed!

    (I am not here trying to advocate for anything in particular but to listen to voices in our church … which leads me to say)

    I think the sense of constraint which some feel about liturgical creativity is not that they would like to put (analogically) door handles or light switches in new different (but it turns our awkward) places.

    It is more that authorised liturgy feels like we all have to build a state house. State houses might be made of wood or rough cast, one or two story, painted in different colours but, in the end, despite some flexibility all state houses are instantly recognisable.

    My sense is that some of the liturgically creative among us are asking whether we can go for a completely different building style. There will still be light switches and door handles (and in the right places) but the building will look quite different to a state house.

    Obviously some different building styles would raise the question whether the Anglican creative liturgist really wants to be a Presbyterian (or Buddhist!), but the question remains, what creativity is possible among us Anglicans?

    • Certainly, Peter, I am strongly against the type of cloning that you, in this comment, are also (rightly IMO) decrying. What I in fact see is a regular emPHAsis on the wrong syLLABle. People put the instantly-recognisable-state-housing look into their supposedly completely different building style, not having thought through what is wood and what is trees (just to keep mixing the metaphors). The burse and veil are sacrosanct, and the pews, and don’t you dare question the altar rails! But bread and wine and eucharistic prayer (or not!) – they are all open for regular, creative flexibility! It is as if the building still has state-house look, but the roof keeping out the rain – well that’s optional! [Those from overseas might like to look up how in NZ our obsession with standardless creativity ended up with tens of thousands of leaky homes!] Blessings.

      • It is extraordinary – as I witnessed just last Sunday – that the burse and veil remain as a kind of nod to Anglican heritage while other liberties are taken. (Though at the particular church I was at it was liberties re order of a couple of things rather than with the eucharistic words themselves.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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