I’ve written before about the tragedy of allowing screens into our sanctuaries, but a conversation with a liturgically-minded colleague brought up another problem with jesusy jumbotrons in worship.
It’s a rather glaring reason, actually, and it should have occurred to me years ago.
Think about what liturgy is, and what it is for. What are we actually engaging in as worshipers?
Historically, postures have been an important part of worship. I’m ashamed at how unaware of this I was before my budding interest in Anglican worship and my studies at a Catholic university. But even as a child in a Baptist church, I was taught a prayer posture. Head bowed. Always, head bowed in reverance before Almighty God, and eyes free from distraction.
Proponents of screens in church talk ad nauseum about how screens get worshipers heads out of their hymnals. This is patently silly, of course, from a vocal and physiological perspective. Craned necks, though a hallmark of many a church choir tenor, is not good singing posture. Hymnals held chest-high is much better for singing.
But these practical concerns aside, for churches that properly use scripted prayers to be prayed by all worshipers, what can you NOT do with your head if the only source for those words is up on the wall? That’s right. You can’t be bowed. You’re forced to pray with your head up.
For a people who are being formed by worship in the church, this is a huge problem. It separates the physical action from the liturgical one. Instead of being led into a natural posture of homage and submission during prayer, worshipers just stand there, wide-eyed, transfixed on some normally blank spot on the wall, where words appear one second and disappear the next.
Screens wreak havoc on liturgy in so many ways. They make worship more casual, mundane, and frenetic. They distract worshipers from the task of sacred liturgy. This is just one more good reason to ditch them.
Let’s get rid of off-the-wall worship, once and for all.
Further reading from Ponder Anew:
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