Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Powerpoint and clapping at church? You in?

Picture this scene in a movie:
A congregation of parishioners all dressed up in their Sunday best (lacy hats included); they enter church and in time start swaying, sometimes even in unison to catchy beats. So catchy are the beats, so strong is the energy, so fantastic are the melodies and the voices that it is hard to sit still. Music does that to me. So I get it. Sway people sway if you can welcome The Lord much better that way.

Still, we have never done too much swaying at mass in reality at a Catholic church.

Two days ago, I attended mass at Our Lady of Victories, quite close to where I live. It is a nice church with a grotto on the outside. It reminds me of a chapel/room back home where you could spend some time when the world is seemingly rushed or noisy.

Mass at OL of V, was good. I knew many of the songs (some were Christmas carols), which is not often the case since songs vary by country and region too.

Three things that caught my eye:

Am I in class?

The church used a projector to include the lyrics of the songs on one part of the wall. Innovative no? I sneaked in a picture on my phone see if you can see the words.

It does away with the need to print song books. Great. But, it also takes away the pleasure that we as kids felt when we entered church and scrambled to find a song book of our own, with no need to 'share' with sis. Ah well! We grow up, and we become all dogmatic.

It is true, a projector with words up is great, and even though my kids may never fight for a hymn book coz sadly there may not be one, I still think it's not a terrible idea because when I entered this church, I didn't have no hymn book near me, and yet I immediately got right into the singing, though not as loud as Mr. Grandpa right behind me.

Sermon with powerpoint?

The priest also used powerpoint to discuss his sermon! Yes, visuals help, but in church? Am still dealing with this. It does make it easier to understand for us easily distracted people who can't possibly focus our hearing on every word coming out of the priest's mouth. But now with visuals, I am,

- Trying to listen to the priest talking
- Trying to enjoy the visuals on the wall
- Trying to read the bullet points
- Wondering why the woman eight rows ahead is wearing a sequined purple dress from neck up flowing to her pretty toes, and topped off with a gold sequined hat
- Thinking about adding yogurt to my grocery list sitting in my pocket

Talk about multi-tasking.

And now we're very happy

After dealing with the powerpoint change, and new way of doing things, I am calm, and then verse 3 of a song comes along. There, suddenly, the choir who all this while was 'into the music' and swaying quite happily and whom I thought just enjoyed the music starts clapping! Clapping to the beat alongside each word of verse 3.

Now, Im not completely at ease. See its ironic, and a bit hypocritical too. I see it in movies and think its cool, fun even, and yet because of my memory of what mass should be like, all of a sudden I'm feeling like we are not conforming.

Mass used to be a holy celebration, even the singing of happy songs was at most accompanied by unintentional movements, reflex movements, but not intentional clapping.

I'm not denouncing it, I'm just not used to it.

I think it through coz changes do happen. We are evolving far too quickly, and how you did something a year ago is just redundant today.

Traditionally, mass for me has been a somber and holy event, whatever that means to a little girl. Being in the choir or even singing as a member of the church in my seat is celebratory enough, thus far. I don't see the need for clapping, but I can understand that music when accompanied by a guitar, drums and the piano is engaging, and most often makes me move without me even knowing it.

So perhaps, for others the movement is displayed through clapping in church? I can only guess.

Many restrictions/traditions are man-made - which ones we want to carry on and which we don't are sometimes a mass decision made mandatory by religious top management, and sometimes you have a choice to do it differently.

In this case, I can choose to go to another church if I don't like the clapping. But no, I'll go back. You'll see me again, soon Mr. priest and purple sequined-dressed lady. I'll sing. I'll read the bullet points on your presentation. But I won't clap.

Today I'm humming Laughing with by Regina Spekor


  1. Thats so innovative. Powerpoint and projector!
    God also finds use in technology :)

  2. Ha! That is indeed interesting. Powerpoint slides eh? I'd be mesmerised as well if the imam in the friendly neighbourhood mosque switches on the laptop, connects it to a projector and flashed the main points of his sermon for all the world to see. Complete with sound effects.

    "If you don't pray five times a day you will burn in hell, my child."

    Use appropriate fonts with a generous sprinkling of gruesome pics.

    But I guess if I'd be too busy surfing the net using my mobile phone to actually listen to the sermon in the first place.

  3. Aizan, you are too funny!