Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Holy Smoke

Went to the ordination of deacons on Sunday at Blackburn cathedral. Being of a high disposition in this Diocese, the service included the use of incense (first time I have known this at an ordination). It's not my thing, but I have no theological objections. The snag on Sunday was that whatever mix they were using was especially pungent and got to the back of lots of people's throats, including mine, so a steady stream of coughs ensued.

What made matters worse for those around me was that the alcove where the thurifer and boat girl (see I do know this stuff really) were sitting was near our seats. There was no escape. As it was July 1st, the irony was not lost on me that the air in the neighbouring pub would be cleaner than that in Church.

Anyway, it was great to be there to see a former chaplaincy assistant, Ness Starkey, ordained.


Tom Allen said...

There is one significant difference from cigarette smoke - years of high church experience indicate that people do get used to incense and cough less with repeated exposure.

Matthew McMurray said...

I will spare you my comments about this fascist government that we live under.

To my mind now, a bit of smoke (incense) is not half as annoying as counting down from five and watching all the hands go up in 'spontaneous' worship. Spontaneous my arse!

Mike Peatman said...

Not quite sure how you got from a particularly acrid blend of incense to hands in the air. Hope it was cathartic for you! Wonder if anyone's done any work on carcinogens in thuribles?

Matthew McMurray said...

Don't bloody start on that! I can imagine this government banning incense next: a step too far!

The link was that I would rather put up with the incense!

Mike Peatman said...

Ah. Well, of course we had hands in the air (Bp John) and incense all at the same time.

The only bit of a service that inspires me to raise my hands is, of course, the sursum corda.

imagine a new world said...

Yes Matt that's right, we do live under a fascist governmment rather than one who simply believes in protecting people from idiotic, selfish smokers, and lowering the long term burden on the health service.

Mike I think you have an interesting point about the possible health dangers of incense - something that possibly needs investigating so people can be educated.

Emma said...

Emma rolls her eyes in a rolly eye kind of way.

Smoking kills people - ban smoking - fewer people die. And us non-smokers don't have to breathe it in. Sounds like a good plan all round to me.

Hooray for Ness, yey! Says I.

Mike Peatman said...

Like you, Emma, I'm looking forward to having a drink in a pub without my clothes having to stink from other people's smoke (even if you sit in a non-smoking area).

Anyway, this post obviously generated interest, whereas I think Alan Johnston's release was probably more important...

Matthew McMurray said...

I wonder if there have been any statistics on thurifers' health after long-term exposure to the smoke that comes from the thurible. Being a person who sometimes has the privilege of being the thurifer, I can testify that the smoke can be quite plentiful when you are the one holding the thurible but it doesn't make me cough.

Do you not think that things have gone a little too far? I can completely understand that it is only respectful not to smoke in a restaurant when people are eating but there seems to me a big difference between that and a pub. Wouldn't legislation to have non-smoking areas in all pubs have sufficed? In the market, it is not apparently illegal to smoke on the loading bay which is outside. How utterly bizarre!

Mike Peatman said...

Hang on, are we talking about incense or you being incensed about the smoking ban?

Smoking: I think it would have been quite reasonable to have had two categories of pub: completely non-smoking and smoking. Licenses would be granted in a locality, based on a balance between the two. Then if people prefer drinking beer in a toxic smog, they are free to do so.

Thuribles: it would be difficult to do a controlled experiment - lfestyle and other factors might affect results from low to middle church congregations. There's also all the X-ray radiation hazard from TV screens in high-tec churches, and naturally occurring radon gas in Cornish churches made out of granite.

Health and safety - it's a nightmare.

Matthew McMurray said...

Excellent play on words Father!

I was talking about the smoking ban.

I think the main problem that I have is not so much whether I smoke in certain places with certain people but rather the fact that it seems to have gone too far and have taken away choices.

Ok, smoking may not be the most sensible passtime but it certainly is not a crime.

Steve McMahon said...

Actually Matthew, it IS a crime now. If you are indoors anyway.