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May 20, 2005



"On May 22, Trinity Sunday, we will have a Clown Eucharist, 'doing church' as if we were a circus come to town."

"As if?" Was there any question?


How absurd. I've heard of church camp, but never camp church.

Oh, and thanks for the song--I don't need to say that it is one of my favorites.


You have camp church right there in Chicago. Check out Ascension on N. LaSalle. And while you're there, count the number of women in the congregation. It won't take long.

Martin Chorich

When I was a graduate student in London, one of my fellow students, who hailed from Nigeria, got married. The church turned out to be a CofE somewhere in the trackless wastes of Northeast London. This particular parish styled itself as the Clown's Church and evangelized among circus folk. Somewhat more surprising, the parish was very High Church--smells and bells in the vernacular. My point being that the Fool for Christ tendency enjoys some precedent. It would not be unreasonable to conjecture that it traces back to pre-reformation mystery plays and fair entertainments.

The wedding was great. Per tradition, the bride and groom cracked open a kola nut at the reception and distributed pieces to the guests. I found it rather bitter, but saturated with caffeine. To moderate its effects after the reception, we went to the apartment of a Danish fellow student. He proudly opened a cabinet in his living room that contained an incredible selection of sweet liqueurs. We imbibed deep and wide. From there, we somewhat queasily made it back to my future spouse's apartment to sleep it off.

Card's wife

Have you ever noticed how often small children are frightened by "clowns?"

Their innocence allows them to see straight through the greasepaint and into the face of John Wayne Gacy.


I hated clowns as a kid. Still do.

There's a long tradition of churches ministering in their communities in specific ways--St Bride's, Fleet Street, to journalists, for instance. That seems altogether different from church as "circus come to town". Although Wall Street does have a certain circus atmosphere, I don't think that's what they had in mind. The mystery plays were extra-liturgical, and while there could certainly be a kind of continuity with them, this sort of confusion of liturgy with camp, for want of a better term, is a serious problem. Just what the Episcopal Church needs more of: clowns at the altar.

Mrs. Peperium

Martin, Thanks. I now understand the 7up commericals with the "Uncola" man from when I was young. Last year Paul Harvey did a report about a C of E church in London having the priest give the service from a trapeze. Perhaps that was the one you went to?
The clown ministry has been around for a while (it's in the Catholic church too). We actually know people who are in it. From what we were told of the ministry it did not harken back to the days of old. It was a newer ministry for healing. The idea was, as we were told, is that clowns help people be who they really are. You can be who you really are when dressed as a clown. It was all touchy-feely stuff to break down the 'frozen chosen' barrier in the Episcopal church. I've just never seen it, pardon the pun, as dressed up so much before theologically. Trinity Wall Street is the wealthiest parish in the country. The endowment alone is in the 100's of million - our Grosse Pte. parish only had a mere 9 million. To see them do this and do it so large, so to speak, is surprising. But focusing on clowns might be easier these days than focusing on other issues in the Episcopal church. QQ, you nailed it with the clowns at the altar...

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