Pew by Pew: a lesson Christian identity suicide

How to commit identity suicide, pew by pew.

I saw in the Christian Post:

Removing Church Pews for Muslim Prayer Mats in the Name of Religious Tolerance

My alma mater, The University of Chicago, was recently in the news for an overtly politically correct act for replacing its historic Bond Chapel’s pews for Muslims to worship. This act is raising hackles reminiscent of the university’s other, recent, tone-deaf decision to demolish the childhood home of former President Ronald Reagan, on its campus, and replace it with a parking lot and a commemorative plaque.

The school, founded by the Rockefeller family in the late 19th century as a Baptist-affiliated institution of higher learning, with an English-style undergraduate college, and German-style graduate research school, today positions itself as completely non-denominational research university.

However, being a non-denominational organization means that the organization is Christian, in terms of values, but does not express its Christianity in a particular form, welcoming all baptized Christians, regardless of denomination.

There are a number of wonderful, non-denominational churches on campus, including the Rockefeller Cathedral, and the Bond Chapel, providing space for communal worship for Christians on Sundays, and holidays and as a beautiful setting for weddings.

Yet, it appears that the administration has developed a new understanding of exactly what non-denominational means. The university permanently removed pews from Bond Chapel in the name of religious tolerance, so that Muslims in the school community could conduct their prayer services. The pews from the Bond Chapel were shuttled across town to the Museum of Contemporary Art, where they are on exhibit as some sort of cultural relics from an ancient civilization.

[...]

I direct the readership to The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America by Andrew C. McCarthy.

 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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35 Responses to Pew by Pew: a lesson Christian identity suicide

  1. Kathleen10 says:

    It’s not just Christian identity suicide, it’s the suicide of our entire Western civilization. This is the takeover without a shot fired (unless you count massacres like Fort Hood). No need to shoot, the west will hand over their culture to you since the people have been primed to hate the culture from which they sprang. Having been taught in public school to mistrust and despise America and other European nations and what we represent, people don’t feel good about celebrating our own culture, and political correctness means we can’t or won’t defend it. PC also means that Islam gets equal footing if not superior. The media plays that drumbeat, we’ve got how many groups moaning about what awful thing was done to “them” at one time or another…what a stinking mess.
    To take pews out and put in mats for Muslims. Absolutely incredible, but the campus must have celebrated!
    The people in that area should be having cows! Alums, get going! Insist they put those pews back.

  2. Scherzophrenic says:

    May we weep now?

  3. jacobi says:

    @Kathleen10
    I started on my comment having read this piece but paused to look at other comments. Frankly, you have said it all!

    What in Heaven’s name is happening to us?

  4. Gaz says:

    We are in the middle of a church renovation and the question of pews vs chairs came up. To his great credit, the Parish Priest asked if we wanted to restore the pews which encouraged kneeling and were part of our tradition, or spend a lot more money on chairs that will look pretty shabby within a few short years. No vote was taken and many volunteer hours have gone into making the pews look 75 years younger.

  5. jfk03 says:

    Actually, Pews are a post-medieval innovation. Many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches do not have pews, but are vastly more traditional than modern Latin churches. Actually, the traditional muslim prayer posture (prostration with head touching the ground) was borrowed from the Orthodox. To this day, in many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, the faithful make a prostration at the epiclesis, and again, when the priests shows the chalice with the Holy Mysteries just before communion.

    Ancient and medieval churches did not have pews.

  6. jhayes says:

    Jfk03 wrote: Ancient and medieval churches did not have pews

    True. Chartres and many other gothic cathedrals still do not have pews. They have chairs that can be moved to clear the floor area for special occasions.

  7. cwillia1 says:

    How sad. I prayed in Bond Chapel as an undergraduate and attended Anglican services there. The picture by the way is Rockefeller Chapel which always seemed to me to be a sterile place. Kind of a Baptist medievalish cathedral. There is no iconography at all, just abstract patterns in the windows.

    I used to make donations to my Alma Mater. It is no longer the university I attended although it is not as bad as some.

  8. cwillia1 says:

    This link will take you to a picture of the interior of Bond Chapel.

    https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5192/6947008072_74e5a9204f_z.jpg

  9. mark_olson says:

    Following the note above by jfko3, actually for the last few years on Sundays an Orthodox mission parish worships in Bond Chapel (St. Makarios) with Father Elijah Mueller as the priest. It may well be that getting rid of the pews is in part at their request, as it is noted Orthodox (normally) worship without pews with exceptions for seating for the elderly, very young, and infirm.

  10. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    My first thought was similar to that of jfk03, though I think ‘late(r) mediaeval’ might be more accurate than ‘post-mediaeval’. I do not know if Viola and Barna as quoted in the Wikipedia article are correct in writing, “The modern pew was introduced in the fourteenth century, though it was not commonly found in churches until the fifteenth century. At that time, wooden benches supplanted the stone seats.” But that would seem to coincide with the Perpendicular Style used/imitated for the Bond Chapel. So, the removal of pews might not be so likely there as an example of ‘archaeologism’ or whatever as it might in a Chapel in any earlier style. I have, in fact, seen a Perpendicular Style Episocopal Church which has become an Orthodox Church with addition of iconostasis, but retention of pews. My familiarity with the University of Chicago is far from up-to-date. Do they – or have they ever – accommodate(d) Orthodox or Eastern Catholic services anywhere? And if so, how?

  11. jfk03 says:

    Pews really didn’t become common until after the Protestant reformation, because the “reformed” service focused on the sermon, not the Eucharist. That said, many orthodox churches today (particularly Greek) do have pews. But the most traditional do not.

    Presence of pews more than subtly changes the dynamic of the liturgy, rendering the faithful passive spectators. That is not to say that the lay faithful should take on the role of ordained clergy, as some “progressive” Catholics would have it. …. I doubt there pews in the temple in Jerusalem.

  12. The Cobbler says:

    I’m less concerned with the removal of Protestant pews than with the addition, however, temporary, of non-Christian prayer mats.

    But then, I’m also surprised (if the claims are true) that they’re even allowed to touch the childhood home of a famous President — not because Reagan is, say, as sacrosanct to Americans as Lincoln or Washington or somebody like that, but simply because you’d think any President’s deliberately preserved childhood home would be a protected historical landmark or something that legally cannot be turned into a parking lot.

  13. Bea says:

    And, so, the heresy of Modernism continues in one of its’ forms: Ecumenism

  14. Norah says:

    All of the Greek Orthodox churches I have attended in Australia have pews and I have never seen anyone prostrate themselves.

  15. Lin says:

    Kathleen10 and Bea said it all. May GOD help us!

  16. jhayes says:

    The Cobbler wrote: I’m less concerned with the removal of Protestant pews than with the addition, however, temporary, of non-Christian prayer mats.

    There’s no mention of prayer mats in the Christian Post article. It is only in the headline, which is usually written by someone other than the author.

  17. jflare says:

    “pPews really didn’t become common until after the Protestant reformation, because the “reformed” service focused on the sermon, not the Eucharist.”

    I’m afraid you’ve lost me somewhat on that comment. For my understanding, the current Extraordinary Form of the Mass is mostly the same as the Mass required by the Council of Trent, but that rite was mostly formalized to ensure consistency amongst Mass offerings. In other words, the Mass as we have the EF today is mostly the same as what people would’ve attended throughout the Middle Ages. Given that the Eucharist comes closer to the end of the Mass, moving forward to receive Communion is the only time the congregants would’ve been moving very much.

    The time between the beginning of the Mass and the Eucharist strikes me as a pretty long time to be standing or kneeling on stone floors.

    ***How would standing or kneeling throughout the Mass emphasize the Eucharist more than would sitting?***

  18. MikeM says:

    I don’t really have any objection to the University of Chicago giving its Muslim students some space for prayer or whatever it is that the Muslim students are looking to do… But why is that in the Bond Chapel? I very much doubt that there was not another suitable place that they could have found for that.

    For whatever reason, people of a certain ideological stripe (who seem particularly drawn to jobs in administration in academia) see great symbolism in this kind of nonsense that makes it so that they just can’t pass up the opportunity to tinker with a great piece of architecture to make their statement.

  19. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    My thinking was the same as others that pews are a new thing.
    Are the mat permanent or only there when praying?
    Would this work with Orthodox service?
    What would a Latin Mass look like without pews?

  20. Gaz says:

    I accept the point about no pews in medieval times. In this country, however, kneeling during the Canon is a usual and accepted practice. I find that plastic chairs discourage people from kneeling, even the young, fit and healthy.

  21. Johnno says:

    All par for the course for something established and named after the Rockefellers. This multi-cultural-religious setting is a foundational block of Freemasonry.

  22. acardnal says:

    “To this day, in many Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, the faithful make a prostration at the epiclesis, and again, when the priests shows the chalice with the Holy Mysteries just before communion.”

    I have attended Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholic Masses and have never seen anyone prostrate themself.

  23. acardnal says:

    “Chartres and many other gothic cathedrals still do not have pews. They have chairs that can be moved to clear the floor area for special occasions.”

    Makes it easier for liturgical dance I suppose.

  24. Winfield says:

    This article is from June, 2013, but is still awful news, to be sure. It would be interesting to know if UC alums objected in any meaningful (meaning financial) way. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  25. jhayes says:

    acardnal wrote Makes it easier for liturgical dance I suppose

    For about 6 months of the year they are moved on Fridays to uncover the Labyrinth.

    See Picture

  26. jhayes says:

    Mightnotbeachristiantou wrote Are the mat permanent or only there when praying?

    A prayer mat, by definition, is for one person, who carries it with him and unrolls it when needed to provide a clean surface to pray on. Many mosques have carpets, and people do not need to bring a prayer mat there. They just stand and kneel on the carpets, which, in traditional mosques I have visited in the Middle East, have oriental designs of the same kind you might buy for your home and are overlapped so they cover the whole floor.

    It is true that some mosques now have carpets woven with a pattern of individual prayer mats arranged in columns and rows like a spreadsheet, but those aren’t required and I think it’s unlikely that anyone would install that kind of carpet in a space that isn’t a full-time mosque. Nothing like that is mentioned in the article.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    What some people do not understand is that it is the loss of Catholic identity in families and in parishes which leads to such nonsense. I have just left the Midwest where “interfaith” marriages and services are common. Few people, including clergy, do not understand the necessity for creating, or maintaining a Catholic culture, much less a Christian culture. In the horrible name of tolerance, the baby is thrown out with the bath water.

    Recently, I was in communication with a priest who saw nothing wrong with Catholics marrying outside the faith. He did not understand that this weakens the domestic church so that if there is prayer or worship, it happens at the lowest common denominator.

    May I also add, that Christians give in to bullies. Why? Fear? Lack of conviction? The bullies who clamor for equal space or non-specific religious faith win all the time. Look at the chapels at Gatwick and other airports in GB. Once places of quiet for prayer and reading Scripture, now all provide space for Muslims to pray, which is always done out loud. But, of course, if one objects, one is called a Crusader or a bigot.

  28. wmeyer says:

    Belloc showed very clearly that Islam is a Christian heresy. More radical than most, but still a heresy.

    As to the question of pews, they be a relatively recent addition, but being now 65, and with two prosthetic hips, I am happy for something which will let me arise after kneeling. I would be happier still, to see an altar rail in our parish–or even a prie dieu for those of us who would prefer to receive kneeling. (I did make a request during the recent renovation.)

  29. mcford1 says:

    Despite the caption, the photograph for this article is NOT of Bond Chapel on the University Chicago campus. It is of Rockefeller Chapel, a considerable distance away. Bond is probably 1/10 the size of the chapel in the photo, and indeed is quite a tiny space, not deserving of the uproar this article suggests. In fact, several of the major Christian denominations (Catholics and others), as well as Jews, have their own dedicated worship spaces on campus or nearby, so Bond is primarily used for special commemorations and irregular events, such as baccalaureates, the occasional wedding, etc. This author’s worries may be valid, but his example makes a mountain out of a molehill, and this, combined with his (purposefully?) incorrect photo, casts doubt on his entire premise. Exaggeration begins to look too much like hysteria rather than the righteous indignation that was intended, and does nothing to help the Christian cause.

  30. StWinefride says:

    Chartres Cathedral doesn’t have pews partly because of the 13th century Labyrinth:

    http://www.labyrinthos.net/photo_library14.html

  31. jhayes says:

    mcford1 wrote: Despite the caption, the photograph for this article is NOT of Bond Chapel on the University Chicago campus. It is of Rockefeller Chapel, a considerable distance away. Bond is probably 1/10 the size of the chapel in the photo, and indeed is quite a tiny space

    Here’s a photo after the renovation. Not a prayer mat in sight.

    HERE

  32. acardnal says:

    jhayes, do you have a sense of humor? [I think he has nominated himself as everyone's blue-penciler. o{]:¬) ]

    Nonetheless, the “labyrinth” reminds me of the the Sinsinawa prayer maze which Fr. Z wrote about earlier.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/01/the-a-maze-ing-sinsinawa-dominicans/

    It appears the “a-maze-ing” Sinsinawa sisters have taken their photos of their labyrinth down. Too much publicity perhaps. Unfortunate.

  33. acardnal says:

    Oh, good news. I found it on their site: http://www.sinsinawa.org/MoundCenter/labyrinths.html

    Fr. Z’s blog post about the Sinsinawa Sisters’ prayer labyrinth even became a news item on Gloria TV! And they quote a very poignant remark he made about labyrinths.
    It starts at the 2:38 mark: http://gloria.tv/?media=389187

  34. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    mark-olson’s comment was not yet up when I wrote, “My familiarity with the University of Chicago is far from up-to-date. Do they – or have they ever – accommodate(d) Orthodox or Eastern Catholic services anywhere? And if so, how?” But following the link he provides leaves me a bit confused, as the St. Makarios site does not mention the Bond Chapel, as far as I can see. It does have a nice explanatory note about prostrations, however!

    Fr. Koprowski ends his article by addressing “the wisdom of co-locating the prayer facilities”, starting with a Moslem student organization website reference to Friday congregational prayer – “Jumuah prayer” – in term time, but directing attention to discussing “the idea of whether Christian and Muslim prayer are compatible” in the broadest sense.

    Supertradmum observes “if one objects [to English airport chapels providing space for Muslims to pray], one is called a Crusader or a bigot.”

    I know of one curious reference to the actual Crusaders doing something very like this! In his autobiography (in E.J. Costello’s translation of F. Gabrieli’s Arab Historians of the Crusades), the amir Usama ibn Munqidh, who lived from 1095 to 1188, charmingly introduces “an example of Frankish barbarism, G*d d*mn them!” When he was in Jerusalem, he writes, “Templars who were friends of mine” would put a little oratory “made into a church” in their charge on the Temple Mount “at my disposal so I could say my prayers there.” One day, as he began his sequence of prayers, “a Frank” grabbed him from behind and insistently pointed him ad orientem. “Some Templars at once intervened, seized the man and took him out of my way”. But he did it again. “Again the Templars intervened and took him away. They apologized to me and said: ‘He is a foreigner who has just arrived today from his homeland in the north, and he has never seen anyone pray facing any other direction than east.’ ” Curiously, the newcomer does not seem to object to the fact of the Muslim praying in the church any more than the Templars, merely to his orientation!

  35. jhayes says:

    acardnal, sorry, I didn’t mean that you were wrong about dance being one of the reasons for moving the chairs.

    Here’s a photo of the liturgical dance around the Easter candle in 2013

    Here’s a video of the 15 minute ceremony

    The blurb on that page says that it was “freely inspired” by the Easter Vigil Rite as it was celebrated on the labyrinths of medieval cathedrals.

    Cathédrale de Chartres – Dimanche de Pâques 31 mars 2013

    Office liturgique proposé par le rectorat de la cathédrale de Chartres.
    Orchestré et chorégraphié par la Communauté du Chemin Neuf.

    Présidé par Mgr Michel Pansard, évêque de Chartres
    et Mgr Philippe Barbarin, cardinal-archevêque de Lyon

    L’office de la lumière est librement inspiré du rituel des vêpres
    de Pâques, tel qu’il existait sur les labyrinthes des cathédrales
    au Moyen Âge.

    [Ordinatio de Pila Facienda - Auxerre 1396].
    Le rituel, connu à Chartres avant le XIIIème siècle,
    y a été suspendu en 1452.