Friday, May 30, 2008

Duty in Worship

And, indeed, emphasis on worship as a duty to God ought to be the priority for all of us. It should supersede any specious notions of "attracting" men and women to a place of worship as though it were a place of entertainment.

Harry Blamires, The Post-Christian Mind (p. 15, 2003 ed.)


  1. Rev. Eric J Brown said...

    While there is a matter of duty in terms of worship - I don't know if that is the primary focus we should take. Which takes precedent in attending the service, fulfilling once's duty or receiving forgiveness?

    I think his point is quite accurate that we should not be dealing with worship in terms of "entertainment" - come to church because it is fun. That simply leads to a neverending attempt to make things more fun. But I think the contrast should be between Gospel vs. Entertainment.

    Now, one does keep in mind that there is Law as well, and the person blowing off church needs be reminded of their duty to attend - but this is not a capricious duty, but rather a desire for God to bless.

    As in this upcoming Sunday's Gospel - the invite is to a free feast, not a call to do a duty. While duty does come up, that's not the primary thrust of the service.

  2. Doorman-Priest said...

    Duty is a problem word. We should worship because we wish to and we should wish to because we are free to chose what God wants.

    Entertainment? Not if it takes the place of worship, but it surely has its place within worship or we have a very puritan view of God's nature.

  3. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Well of course notions of duty are Law. I thought this was a good quote, and especially good in the context of what Blamires was writing.

    He argues that duty is missing from the post-Christian world, and I agree. The only times I can remember the world being used regularly was by my German-speaking South Afrikan friend, and it always sounded so deutschlich and fremdlich, klar?

    And duty is more than "you ought to," but presumes a reason intrinsic to the identity of the person. I have a duty to not exasperate my children, since I am a father. I do not have a duty to eat my vegetables, though I should.

  4. Anastasia Theodoridis said...

    How about: we worship God because we love Him?

    Love doesn't worry about "duty." Love seeks to do much more than merely its duty.

    And love doesn't care whether it is entertained or not, this being entirely beside the point.

  5. Emily H. said...

    I have a duty to not exasperate my children, since I am a father.
    Fathers have duties to their families, but there are a lot of fathers that blow that duty off. The reason you do your duty (and beyond) is out of love for your family. But I think that's what you were getting at. (There's no love when it comes to the "duty" of eating vegetables ;p ).

  6. orrologion said... said 'doody'...

  7. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Christopher--when I received an email that you had left a comment here on this post, I thought, "Aha! Christopher will undoubtedly offer some cogent quotes from the Fathers on duty to God from love, bringing in the somewhat disparate threads here."

    I got a Beavis and Butthead remark.

    And I laughed.

  8. orrologion said...

    Glad you laughed. I have been married to a woman who regularly deflates any overinflated comment of mine by noting such things as, "you said dooty". That isn't to say that your post and the comments are overinlfated, it's just become a childish, knee jerk response - for better or worse.

    On the serious side, I think it is immensely important to maintain awe in front of the holy. At the same time, our awe can sometimes become an idolatry of our own ideas of and conversation about what is holy. Not God, but ideas and words about God. So, I have always found it important to through a little of the fool-for-christ (Beavis and Butthead are secular versions of the same: cultural commentary and critique of a certain kind) into religious conversations since, at the end of the day, "Good feelings are silent", per St. Theophan the Recluse.