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Author Topic: Mystery Worshippers: ship-of-fools.com
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 25 April 2005 09:51 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Did anyone else read (and chuckle over) John Allemagne's article about this site in Saturday's G&M?

Apparently, ship-of-fools has numbers of people who review churches, everywhere, anonymously -- as if they were doing restaurant reviews, eg. Yesterday they had a mass "Mystery Worshipper" Sunday in London -- a hundred mysterians went to churches all across the city, and their reviews are now being awaited.

Pierre Trudeau's funeral was mystery-worshipped. Bloor Street United has been mystery-worshipped. The reviews are very clever, actually, often witty, but acutely thoughtful as well.

I haven't investigated the site thoroughly, but I think that you have to work your way up to Mystery Worshipper status by participating on the site for a time, before you get an assignment. Anyone know this process better than I?

Anyway, it all looks like wise fun.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Américain Égalitaire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7911

posted 25 April 2005 10:03 AM      Profile for Américain Égalitaire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
Did anyone else read (and chuckle over) John Allemagne's article about this site in Saturday's G&M?

Apparently, ship-of-fools has numbers of people who review churches, everywhere, anonymously -- as if they were doing restaurant reviews, eg. Yesterday they had a mass "Mystery Worshipper" Sunday in London -- a hundred mysterians went to churches all across the city, and their reviews are now being awaited.

Pierre Trudeau's funeral was mystery-worshipped. Bloor Street United has been mystery-worshipped. The reviews are very clever, actually, often witty, but acutely thoughtful as well.

I haven't investigated the site thoroughly, but I think that you have to work your way up to Mystery Worshipper status by participating on the site for a time, before you get an assignment. Anyone know this process better than I?

Anyway, it all looks like wise fun.


I think that's a great idea - at the Cleveland Press, there was a religion writer, George Plagenz that pioneered the art of church reviewing. I've mentioned it here, but of course, it got shot down - that would "editorializing" and they're scared to death of opinions where I work. Shame really, I think it would be a great tool for education.


From: Chardon, Ohio USA | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Melsky
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4748

posted 25 April 2005 10:12 AM      Profile for Melsky   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That is really interesting. In the San Diego independent weekly paper they had a column called Sheep and Goats where they reviewed various houses of worship. I liked how they did all sorts of places from very fundamentalist to pagan.
From: Toronto | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
aRoused
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Babbler # 1962

posted 25 April 2005 10:51 AM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hilarious!

In a slightly similar vein:
The Brick Testament


From: The King's Royal Burgh of Eoforwich | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 25 April 2005 11:13 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

Lego?!?!

I wonder whether we could do mystery-reviewing on babble. Maybe we could work out a set of questions specific to each genre -- standards for reviewing churches, yes, as on ship-of-fools, but we could also have threads for restaurants, or movies, or whatever. I mean, in a way, we already do this, but it would be interesting to ask people to try to write to questions that break down one's reactions, acknowledge the shifting focuses, different levels of experience -- don't you think?


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
swallow
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Babbler # 2659

posted 25 April 2005 12:10 PM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sounds fun. I'd like to see demo-reviews as well. "The rally broke with tradition by having only three long-winded rants through a malfunctioning megaphone....)

By the way, ship of fools also has the second-best discussion forum i've ever seen. Nicely divided into heaven, hell and purgatory, with different standards enforced on each. And last time i was there, a lovely virtual church.


From: fast-tracked for excommunication | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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posted 25 April 2005 12:20 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I read the article, too, but haven't visited the site. I came away with a few questions, though. I wonder how difficult it is for the reviewers to be observer-participants and still maintain some kind of faith in the church and/or God. Call me limited, but I think it places them in a very strange context, spiritually speaking. It's kind of a 'higher criticism' that seems to me would be at odds with how I'd always experienced church life, in churches that would be of the Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren, Bible church, et al strain.
From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Américain Égalitaire
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posted 25 April 2005 12:31 PM      Profile for Américain Égalitaire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by brebis noire:
I read the article, too, but haven't visited the site. I came away with a few questions, though. I wonder how difficult it is for the reviewers to be observer-participants and still maintain some kind of faith in the church and/or God. Call me limited, but I think it places them in a very strange context, spiritually speaking. It's kind of a 'higher criticism' that seems to me would be at odds with how I'd always experienced church life, in churches that would be of the Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren, Bible church, et al strain.


That is the central dilemma - to do it right, one should be a religious generalist - it doesn't matter what you are or what you believe but that you know something about the faith systems of the churches you're going to be reviewing. I would say its probably not a good idea to review your own church - extremely difficult to be impartial.

The big thing is not to be dogmatically judgmental. When Plagenz did this, he focused on things like initial freindliness - how were newcomers greeted? That was covered by the people at ship of fools and its important. You shoudln't be too critical of the decor - that's not why people go. And reviewing a sermon is another tricky proposition. Its not so much oratory as substance.

I think it would be a great thing to do and very educational, but papers my size see it as a potential minefield.


From: Chardon, Ohio USA | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 25 April 2005 01:24 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I see the problem, although I come from a tradition that sort of encouraged dry irreverence, and sometimes fairly acid sarcasm (the Presbyterian thread of the United Church), so I can imagine compartmentalizing my reactions to different levels of the experience.

There was a funny para in Allemagne's article that summarized some of the standards that religious writers apparently use to measure the general cultural bent or tone of a service:

quote:
Will the church turn out to be smells-and-bells, rock-the-flock, happy-clappy, hymn-sandwich, stiff-upper-lip, or "like being in the other place?" -- Hell, that is, although a weekly churchgoer's hell which has more to do with stern looks, off-key violins and artificial plants than with fire and brimstone.

Now, that made me laugh, although I'm not sure I can pin down all those church-characters -- what is "hymn sandwich," for instance? And how is "rock-the-flock" different from "happy-clappy"?

Stiffness, fire, and brimstone -- I know all about those.

[ 25 April 2005: Message edited by: skdadl ]


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
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posted 25 April 2005 01:41 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Skdadl:

Speaking of hell in church, my dad now refuses to go because of a particular hearing problem that becomes very painful when he's subjected to church acoustics. I'm not sure what the exact phenomenon is, but when they bring out the brass section, it's pure torture....


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 25 April 2005 02:02 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Where is Alan Bennett when you need him? Talking about the Book of Common Prayer a few years back -- the Alternative Service having inspired a backlash, and nostalgia for the BCP -- he said something like "I imagine there are churches which try to attract worshippers by touting their preference for the BCP, along the lines of the Campaign for Real Ale."

quote:
Speaking of hell in church, my dad now refuses to go because of a particular hearing problem that becomes very painful when he's subjected to church acoustics. I'm not sure what the exact phenomenon is, but when they bring out the brass section, it's pure torture....

Could it be tinnitus? I imagine any bright and/or reverberating sound would aggravate that.

[ 25 April 2005: Message edited by: 'lance ]


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 25 April 2005 02:21 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You had a brass section?

Unfair, I say. We only ever had a droning organ.


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'lance
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Babbler # 1064

posted 25 April 2005 02:37 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So did we -- but what was worse, a droning choir, too.
From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
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posted 25 April 2005 02:42 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Our choir didn't drone; it was made up of teenage girls who were more likely to squeak. We did learn to enunciate clearly, in order to avoid singing: "Lead a snot into temptation."
From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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Babbler # 2116

posted 25 April 2005 02:46 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Damned Gregorians.
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brebis noire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7136

posted 25 April 2005 02:55 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Obviously you guys weren't surrounded by Mennonites.

Great singers, and once they realized that God didn't actually object to musical instruments, their talent simply had that much more room to bloom.


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
'lance
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1064

posted 25 April 2005 03:18 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Obviously you guys weren't surrounded by Mennonites.

Or by teenage grils. Had there been any in our choir, I might have joined when the choir director tried to recruit me, instead of weaselling out.

Then again, I couldn't have been older than 14, and so was probably still scared of grils.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
swallow
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2659

posted 25 April 2005 03:35 PM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Toronto's trio of Annex United Churches are the current featured review. Cool.

Found the Church of Fools, for anyone wanting to visit church without leaving the terminal.


From: fast-tracked for excommunication | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
maestro
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7842

posted 25 April 2005 05:39 PM      Profile for maestro     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Obviously you guys weren't surrounded by Mennonites.

Great singers, and once they realized that God didn't actually object to musical instruments, their talent simply had that much more room to bloom.

Being of half Mennonite heritage myself, I agree they are very musical.

However, one thing that characterizes their music is the total lack of rhythm.

An old joke goes like this:

Why don't Mennonites have sex standing up?

It looks too much like dancing.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged

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