Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Cornflakes, Taizé and 'Back To Church'

Not so many years ago, Kelloggs, the makers of the true proper Cornflakes, had the wisdom, humility and insight to build an advertising campaign around our behaviour as consumers. It is this behaviour that, for me, unites Cornflakes and all things Taizé

I know you are wondering, and wonder you may - but do not forget that I am the only cleric in the history of the world to bring the Blessed Virgin Mary and the iPad 2 together on a single blog post. 

Well, the thing is, that when I once heard that a service is of the Taizé variety, my innards slumped and part of my brain powered down. In other words, I went into liturgical hibernation. For years I have gently mocked Taizé stuff as being the sandwich filler if you want to neither offend Carflicks or Jellies - a service of the Middle-Ground. "If in doubt, get Taizé out"

And so it was with Cornflakes. No - don't be silly, not in a liturgical way. What I mean is, there were years when the look, smell, prospect or fact of a bowl of Cornflakes caused my synapses to calcify and eyes to cross in a rather comical "I'd sooner chew toenails that this stuff" kind of way. On no, missus, pass me the Shreddies and that bag of sugar over here; Cloakey has an appetite to satisfy! 

The Kelloggs campaign addressed that very behaviour - that is, that we had all convinced ourselves that Cornflakes were as much fun as un-anaesthetised  eyeball surgery and had moved to other brands of breakfast cereal. I was one such oik, and was guilty as a guilty person's guilty bits. So I bought me a box of Cornflakes and promptly enjoyed every single golden crunchy flake of sunshine. No, really, I have never looked back and regard the humble Cornflakes as the cereal of choice for the elitist of elite people like me. and it is the same with all things Taizé. When I actually sit down and actually engage with a Taizé act of worship, it is stunning. I love singing the repetitive meditative lines, and find the whole experience to be nothing short of heavenly. I had just got out of the habit, and had wrapped that in a bunch of undeserved prejudices that it didn't earn or warrant. 

There must be something of this in what stops people going to church. I know many people who would far sooner grate their own nose than enter a church - people who once were faithful and devoted practicing Christians. Perhaps it was a fall-out over the flower rota, a distaste for that hymn the organist always plays too fast, someone sat in their seat - or myriad other reasons, but those people drifted away and are now a little like ex-smokers on the subject of smoking. 'Back To Church' Sunday is a funny old thing. I am not sure how far this concept has gone beyond Britain or the Church of England even, but it is now an annual fixture. I rarely hear of it done well, if I am honest - but there has to be something to the idea that people just need to be encouraged to re-try an old habit. I am not sure that sending cards to people to invite them into the main Sunday service is the way, but a personal invite to someone for a coffee in the building is surely a good start. 

So, the message of this post, is this: if I can eat Cornflakes then the Church stands a chance. you heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen. 


  1. Interesting post David, though I find the connection somewhat tenuous.
    I too love taize, some of the music is truly beautifull, cornflakes don't float my boat, though enough of them couldperhaps sink it!
    Just try to remember not to sing while eating cornflakes.

  2. Let's try again - I'm having trouble commenting on your blog at the moment....

    Talk about making connections, David! I'm more of a porridge person nowadays, though still enjoy the occasional bowl of proper (not ersatz) cornflakes.

    However, I absolutely love Taize worshiip properly done. I went there twice in the early 1990s with groups from my then parish and it was revelatory for many of us. The repetitive chant, interspersed with long silences, is extraordinarily prayerful - quite wonderful.

  3. Not so sure about cornflakes but love Taize. I am having trouble finding the blog that we talked about on Sunday - was it father, son and spook - help - please.

  4. http://vernacularcurate.blogspot.com/2010/06/dad-junior-and-spook.html

    The link is here, and the link to the full version is at the foot of that post


  5. As an atheist, I don't go to church because it's boring, the people are boring, the songs are boring, you have to pay money for nothing and you wear stupid clothes.
    Plus I don't believe that god exists. And you're no more moral than the rest of us. So why bother to run twice as fast to stay in the same place?

  6. Some horrendous typos for which I apologise. Will correct shortly!

  7. Ahh, the Founder Member of the Militant Godless - thanks for dropping by!

    - Church is boring? Evidence, please
    - People are boring? I am a nutter, and far from boring, so no - you can't have that one
    - the songs are boring: you have a point in many cases, but not all
    - Pay money for nothing? Except the use of a medieval building, a place to sit your butt down for an hour a week (like a cinema which charges you more for the same courtesy, perhaps)
    - Wear stupid clothes? I might let you have that
    - You don't believe that God exists? God's existence doesn't depend on our belief, so please enjoy your informed perspective
    - "You're no more moral than the rest of us": me personally, or Christians in general? Is that a statistical view or one informed by news headlines? The former would confirm that you speak as a fool, and the latter would confirm that speak as a fool. Just my opinion!

    You may have a useful comment to make, and you are welcome to make it here, but pointless jibber-jabber like this is not constructive. Step up to the plate, brother - I am happy to engage with you! Are you related to Richard Dawkins?

  8. The Churchwarden1 June 2011 at 10:48

    He can't be, because Richard Dawkins' existence is merely a delusion (I do keep telling you this!) and on that basis it would be more fun to be related to Shaun the Sheep.

    However, dear Nixon is clearly seeking something if he is assiduously awaiting your next post (I don't read Richard Dawkins' posts - or at least I wouldn't even if he existed to post one....) Perhaps he would like an invitation to whatever is happening on BTCSunday?



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