DR Gavin Ashenden, former Chaplain to the Queen, blew a gasket last month after Rochester Cathedral gave its medieval nave over to a nine-hole golf course.
The C of E has become a branch of the leisure and entertainment industry. Since they no longer know what a cathedral is, or what it is for, it is indeed time for them to return them to the [Catholic] Church that conceived, built and knows how to honour and use them.
His fury was compounded when Norwich Cathedral this week unveiled a 55ft fairground ride.
Ashenden, Missionary Bishop for the Christian Episcopal Church, said the clergy at Norwich Cathedral had been “unprofessional” and were :
Making a mistake about what a cathedral is good for.
He said there was no evidence that tourists become Christians and:
Just to put in entertainment is naff. For such a place, steeped in mystery and marvel to buy in to sensory pleasure and distraction, is to poison the very medicine it offers the human soul.
In this report, he was quoted as saying:
There’s a sliding scale between mockery and blasphemy. It’s a mockery because it’s treating God like a tourist attraction, instead of as the creator of the universe who is going to hold us accountable for our ethical failures. It becomes blasphemy at the point where the cathedrals represent a long line of belief – much of which is martyred belief. People have paid with their lives to believe in Christ and a cathedral is the corporeal embodiment of Christ.
Over the centuries they (cathedrals) have always rebuilt and adapted and use different means to reach out to new audiences so that they remain relevant to the life of the world around them.
We’re not doing it just as a gimmick to get people into the cathedral. We want to use it to give people an opportunity to engage with this wonderful building they have and the story that it has to tell which is the story of salvation.
And in the case of our Cathedral, our most notable place where the story is told is in the roof bosses of the nave, which are gloriously painted 15th century carvings that tell the whole story of salvation from Creation to the Last Judgment in wonderfully lively details.
Unfortunately, they’re very high and hard for people to get access to so we want to use a helter skelter to get them close to some of the bosses but to use other means – an app that we have, which has the bosses on them – to help them to learn about the story that the bosses have to tell.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn