Church sign ecumenical dialogue for Ash Wednesday

Every once in a while I find a very creative posting in the blogosphere which uses outdoor church signs of different denominations to explain Catholic positions.  Very clever, I must say. 

I have ported this entry over here from Kansas City Catholic, but you all must be sure to go and look at that site.  It must take a lot of work to put these together.

Catholics across the world attend Mass and begin the penitential season of Lent. And while Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation and the reception of the ashes is not a sacrament, the day and the act are important ones in the liturgical year.

To begin the season of Lent, Catholics fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday (and abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays) and often commit to a sacrifice or act that serves as a way of deepening their faith during Lent’s 40 days. The Catholic observance of Ash Wednesday is confusing to some of our Christian brothers and sisters. The church signs below explain the day–and the season of Lent–in their own way.

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This is the sort of creative post that makes the Catholic blogosphere so very interesting and useful.  I tip my biretta  o{]:¬)

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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24 Responses to Church sign ecumenical dialogue for Ash Wednesday

  1. Paul says:

    Brilliant!

  2. LOL! This is just fabulous, Father Z!

    I went to http://www.churchsigngenerator.com and created my own sign and added it to my website homepage:

    http://www.catholicchurchgeek.com

    You could very easily see a whole apologetic series developed with Church Signs!

    Gordo

    PS: A blessed fast to all!

    Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian for the Great Fast (Lent)

    “O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement, lust of power and idle chatter. (prostration – metania)

    Instead grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience and love. (prostration – metania)

    O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother; for You are blessed now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. (prostration – metania)”

  3. wolftracker says:

    Thanks for the link and the compliment, Father. We met when you were in KC recently. I was the one that you said summed up your master’s thesis in two sentences (although I can remember what I said).

    Again, thanks.

    P.S. I notice your blogroll has no blogs beginning in K. : )

  4. I got this from reader EC:

     

  5. Fr. N says:

    With our separated brethren it always seems to be “either/or” rather than “both/and”. They seem to say “You really shouldn’t have ashes on your foreheads on Ash Wednesday because water baptism is far more important” Well, yes, of course. But we can walk and breathe at the same time, and we can make the sign of repentence with ashes without our being thought of as substituting dust for baptismal water.

  6. Josiah says:

    Hilarious!and I was drinking tea when I read that,now there’s tea everywhere!

  7. Derik Castillo says:

    Thanks for the cathequesis!

  8. Derik Castillo says:

    I don’t know how to include pictures in the comment box
    so I ask you to imagine a Catholic Church sign reading

    EXTRAORDINARY
    FORM OF MASS
    EVERY SUNDAY
    STARTING TODAY

  9. Joe Duchene says:

    Father Z,

    I tip my hat in honor of this classy piece, too!

    A Blessed Lent to you!

    Joe

  10. Braadwijk says:

    LOL! I love it!

  11. janet says:

    Couldn’t resist… posted the link on my blog, too. Thanks!

  12. David says:

    I am less edified than dismayed at the condescension and lack of understanding this “dialogue” depicts. It abuses gross stereotypes of non-RC faith systems to promulgate the false notions that only Roman Catholics are immersed in Biblical scripture (“Is that in the Good Book?”), that Protestants are ignorant of Catholic tradition, and that Protestant theology is one dimensional. The first is laughable (denominations which exhort their adherents to develop a “personal faith” encourage each member to use her Bible as the foundation for it, resulting in congregations with encyclopedic knowledge of its contents); the second is hypocritical (as this “dialogue” itself demonstrates); and the third is itself wilfully ignorant and based on the same sort of cartoon Protestantism whose Catholic counterpart brings us Mary worship.

    I am further disheartened to find, as I review the post, that a negative (but constructive) comment that was there before has since been expunged. So much for dialogue.

  13. Joseph says:

    David,

    Thanks for the comments. As the author of said “booted” commentary, I appreciated the fact that someone indeeds “gets it,” the idea that though not necessarily intentional, there is on the part of many Christians, usually zealots of whatever stripe, a lack of real empathy for the “other side” because some have simply not ventured there, or if they did, did so with prejudice, or are just too tunneled in their vision. Having lived and worked in ethnic communities, I see the disconnect. I am for Catholic triumphalism, make no mistake, but we haven’t seem a church militant for some years now, and I would really hate to see what would be the state of the US today without a Dr. Dobson, or Dr. Kennedy or various non Catholic standard bearers fighting the good fight when Catholic Universtities, or so called, for example, are celebrating, politicians especially, whose views and policies are anti-Catholic to the bone. And all the other ills well documented on these tyupe of sites, and I applaud that and am with that, overall.

    I think it was Jesus who said, forbid them not, for who is not against me is for me. (Not exxact quote but close.

    Yeah, this site is a little anal at times, though there is probably some good reason.

  14. David says:

    Actually, I’m an atheist. It’s just that I detest dishonest discourse, of whatever stripe.

  15. Joseph says:

    David,

    I will take an honest atheist over a dishonest Christian every time!! You are very right.

    I happen to like a robust defense of a robust theology, and I think this is a common thread here. That is why the aversion to modern church-isms vis-a-vis the Novus Ordo faced, new fangled Catholicism, which is quite mamby-pamby and many times “cafeteria style” to use a well worn but fitting current metaphor – as in “take what YOU like, leave whatever YOU don’t like — double emphasis on “you” of course, as opposed to “what doth sayeth the Lord.” On the other hand, the sort of giddy cheerleader mentality which I detect here (as on this thread) from time to time, is counter also to what I am hoping for in a renewed (and that means sometimes reverting to “Old School Catholicism”) church. I don’t want to overstate my take (now deleted – pertaining to a pointing out a not too subtle “racial humor” subtext, probably with no animus intended) The sign dialog is a cute idea, and I can see why people would like the approach, and it is clever and can lead to some expositions of really old ideas using a novel approach. So I would say I could easily get behind the main ideas here, with out the “Fred Sanford-isms,” which are gratuitous and not funny, and just kinda hackneyed and cheesy, even leaving aside the the perceived racial slights, for some yeah for other’s “I don’t see the problem here.” I was just pointing our a blind spot that is so very common and many church folk just don’t even see it. Then comes a thinking discerning atheist (and I like the fact that you know who you are and what you profess/ don’t and are really seeking clarity above all else, me too)and can easily see it.

    Just an aside, it would be nice to have an “edit” feature for mistakes discovered after hitting the “submit comment” button.

  16. Jordan Potter says:

    David, Joseph, you guy do realise, I hope, that church signs aren’t actually capable to talking to each other? You seem to be over-analysing things and missing the fun and the humor. Try and relax those sphincters a bit, eh? And I don’t know where David got that thing about promulgating the false notion that “only Roman Catholics are immersed in Biblical scripture.” The stereotype, sadly founded in truth, is actually the opposite — that it is Roman Catholics who are NOT immersed in scripture, especially compared to Protestants. However, it’s not a false notion that Protestants are ignorant of Catholic tradition. Probably most Catholics are ignorant of Catholic tradition, so how could Protestants know and understand Catholic tradition better than Catholics do?

  17. Jordan Potter says:

    P.S. And what’s with this assumption that the Zion Pentecostal Tabernacle Church sign is black? Most Pentecostals in this country are white, not black, and in all of the previous internet “church sign dialogues” that have been done, I haven’t detected any reason to assume the Pentecostal church sign is black. Not that there’s anything wrong with church signs being black. Our diversity is our strength.

  18. Joseph says:

    Jordon,

    Of couse I realize, and I am sure David does as well, that this is a “virtual” execise, with the signs, that is, — c’mon man, I don’t think anyone on this site is that stupid.

    There IS the assumption, or why are you pointing out the “Zion” Sign and not the other. I never mentioned the Zion sign by name, or pentacostals regarding which sign I was referring.

    Ever heard of “ebonics,” or “black English,” or similar? This is clearly the implication here. It is not KJV Old English. I mean, do you live in a cave in Nova Scotia? (Not really trying to be funny, nor condescending here — might be an age thing or location thing).

    I do see the humor, Jordon, and as I have said, the overall concept is clever, very much so.. and it would have been funnier still without the take on how this person thinks black church folk express themselves. Ever hear someone do a BAD English accent? Same effect, really cornballish, I mean, why go into an area that might easily be construed as racial humor, which is sometimes OK, depending on who’s meting it out and how the person on the butt end of the joke is set to receive such, but here it strikes me as corny and condescending, and I went into a much more nuanced explanation as to why I think that, and that posting was pulled, along with another person’s response to it, along the same line of thinking as yours, (i.e., I don’t see the problem with this) and well, I just have to say you don’t get it, and I can’t go down this road any further. Of the several responses now, you are the only one that thinks the implication is not ebonics, leaving aside whether or not that is OK.

    Hope that adds some clarity to this soon to be exhausted discussion.

  19. Jordan Potter says:

    Joseph, you must be a cradle Catholic, and one who hasn’t had much if any exposure to how white Pentecostals talk. Trust this adult convert: the Pentecostal sign is not speaking in “ebonics,” he’s speaking a sterotyped Pentecostalese.

    Of the several responses now, you are the only one who has opined that you think the Pentecostal sign is supposed to be a black guy. The other comment you refer to I didn’t see, so I don’t know if that commenter agreed with your belief that the Pentecostal sign is black.

  20. Jordan Potter says:

    Sorry, one more observation:

    There IS the assumption, or why are you pointing out the “Zion” Sign and not the other. I never mentioned the Zion sign by name, or pentacostals regarding which sign I was referring.

    You referred to “racial humor” and Fred Sanford-isms, and of the three signs, only the Pentecostal sign could be construed as possibly a black guy. But for all we know, all three church signs are black guys. Really, bringing up race in this context is completely missing the point of the church sign dialogues and diverts the discussion away from anything that could be relevant. That’s probably why Father Z. deleted your first comment.

  21. Joseph says:

    Jordon, YOU assume a lot, amigo.

    YOU say that only the one sign could be construed as being obviously, or distinctly black, well, why is that? (Maybe cause that is exactly what it T-I-Z ’tis.

    I’ve been around plenty pentacostals,and for years attended Pentacostal churches, and more years black Churches than I can shake a stick at.. So I do know — more than you can get your head around, obviously, what I am talking about.

    I am going to assume you are quite young, this has got to be the explanation for you arguing against the rather obvious. People don’t need to agree with my basic point, i.e., that racism is at play, overtly, covertly, accidentally or bad stab at humor, but nobody is saying that “We Be” – anything – is white Pentacaostalese. Like who, Jack Hayford? Paul Crouch? This is not black pentacostal-ese either, this is someones attempt at black English.

    More to the point, churches named “Zion” are most often black churches, just check the yellow pages, cause it is pretty obvious you ain’t spent much time in the hood.

    Three people have commented on the observation I made, one with the point that it is not ebonics, and that is you. So I and 2 commentators say or imply it is , and one, no. The whole point of my argument is that whites don’t know much about black folks, and what they do know is many times stereotyped second hand ideas. You fit this to a “T” AFAIKT.

    I appologize to all the readers for the low road, I would have thought that some of this was just beyond obvious, but such is life in the Catholic ghetto sometimes, or it would seem.

  22. Jordan Potter says:

    Joseph said: YOU say that only the one sign could be construed as being obviously, or distinctly black,

    Read more carefully. I said that only one sign could be construed as possibly using black speech patterns.

    (Maybe cause that is exactly what it T-I-Z ‘tis.

    The key word there is “maybe.” But you’re pretty sure it has to be.

    I’ve been around plenty pentacostals,and for years attended Pentacostal churches, and more years black Churches than I can shake a stick at.

    Then you have no excuse for claiming white Pentecostals can’t talk like that. You might perhaps be an adult convert like I am, or an adult revert.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with a Pentecostal church sign who happens to be black joining in an entertaining and instructive dialogue . . .

    I am going to assume you are quite young, this has got to be the explanation for you arguing against the rather obvious.

    I turned 40 last week. Some people like to think that is “quite young,” but my body tells me otherwise. But age has got nothing to do with my arguing that what you think is rather obvious isn’t necessarily obvious at all.

    People don’t need to agree with my basic point, i.e., that racism is at play, overtly, covertly, accidentally or bad stab at humor

    No, people shouldn’t agree with your basic point, because you are wrong. Even if the Pentecostal sign is a black guy rather than a church sign, there’s nothing racist about including black Pentecostals in a dialogue of this nature. Racism need not be at play whenever some guy at a computer imaginatively portrays a black Pentecostal church sign.

    but nobody is saying that “We Be” – anything – is white Pentacostalese. Like who, Jack Hayford? Paul Crouch? This is not black pentacostal-ese either, this is someones attempt at black English.

    You might have a point there, although I’ve heard plenty of white people say “we be.” But perhaps they were all attempting to imitate black English. Or perhaps the church sign was a pirate before converting to Pentecostalism.

    More to the point, churches named “Zion” are most often black churches, just check the yellow pages, cause it is pretty obvious you ain’t spent much time in the hood.

    In that case, I’d say it’s pretty obvious you ain’t spent much time in the Midwest or the South, where “Zion” could be either a white or a black church — in the Midwest it’s usually a white church. In my town, there are at least three churches named Zion, not a one of them a black church, and one of them is as lily white a Lutheran church as you can imagine.

    Three people have commented on the observation I made, one with the point that it is not ebonics, and that is you. So I and 2 commentators say or imply it is, and one, no.

    I didn’t say it can’t be ebonics, I said it’s not, that there’s no evidence that it is, and that it’s irrelevant even if it is. As I said, for all we know, all three church signs are black guys.

    The whole point of my argument is that whites don’t know much about black folks, and what they do know is many times stereotyped second hand ideas. You fit this to a “T” AFAIKT.

    You don’t seem to be able to tell very far, then. You think I’m ignorant of “black folks” and have stereotyped second hand ideas of them, when it is you who has objected to the possibility that a black Pentecostal church sign might be talking to some non-black church signs. If you wish to find some possibly objectionable stereotyping, I’d invite you to check your mirror. Church signs don’t have any race, and even if they did, it wouldn’t matter.

    Anyway, for your information, before my adult conversion to Catholicism, I belonged to a church whose members were racially diverse — we whites and blacks and Asians and Hispanics worshipped together, sang together, socialised together at church and out in public, played on church sports teams together, and believe it or not, I even went on road trips with black guys and shared motel rooms with them. So I’m not entirely ignorant of the ways blacks live and play and work and talk and sing.

  23. Jordan Potter says:

    P.S. Here’s another possible explanation of “we be” — there is not enough room on the line for “WE NOW ARE,” but “WE NOW BE” does fit on the line.

  24. Joseph says:

    Ok, Jordon,

    > “…but nobody is saying that “We Be” – anything – is white Pentacostalese. Like who, Jack Hayford? Paul Crouch? This is not black pentacostal-ese either, this is someones attempt at black English.”

    >>”"You might have a point there, although I’ve heard plenty of white people say “we be.” But perhaps they were all attempting to imitate black English.”"

    So we agree that “We Be” is somebody’s idea of some sort of “black English” -

    We don’t agree whether that is necessarily a bad thing. I said it was probably not a good idea, given US Catholicism’s very mixed record in the black community (in my more fleshed out take since pulled) — and sorry about all the “you don’t know’s..,” “you sure ain’t been’s.” — ’cause the truth is, I don’t know about you, and assumptions get us in trouble, and this is, in a real sense, the central point of my whole take. So, I need to take my own medicine here. I am aware there is a stream of white pentacostalism not to distant in style from black. But again, regarding clarity, I would suggest this sort of just adds an diffusing layer to the discussion.

    The idea that a white church could be “Zion” — well of course — I did say “most often,” and the main thing is that a “Zion” label here just helps reinforces the stereotyping — it does not, by itself, say “black church,” but “We be Zion,” is too much to say, ‘well, it could be or it might not be.’ Credulity can stretch just so far.

    Even if this HAD had nothing to do with a black church, one would still be left with stereotyping of pentacostals, (David’s main concern) by depicting non-standard English, and in the whole context, is there to reinforce the idea, consciously or not, with animus or not, that we are dealing with a less educated group here, and in so doing we color whatever conclusions might be drawn that way in so dealing with the claims or tenents of “those churches.” A sort of subrosa ad hominem.