Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ the links

July 31, 2019 • 10:45 am

This week’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “golf”, came with an email note:

Based on this story from The Freethinker.

The story, in fact, relates how Rochester Cathedral is converting its medieval nave, at least for a time, into a miniature golf course, complete with bridges so that young folk can learn about bridges and their engineering. I thought at first this was a joke, but it doesn’t seem to be. Here’s a mockup of what’s envisioned:

The only reason for this, which isn’t stated, is the declining attendance of the Church of England, so that geegaws like this have to be built to entice the flock back into the fold. And of course some Church officials are peeved:

Dr Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen, above, who deserted the Church of England after the Koran was read in Glasgow Cathedral, told Church Militant:

The Church of England, suffering a reductio ad absurdum, has turned its Catholic cathedrals into entertainment centres. Having lost contact with transcendence, majesty and holiness, the C of E has become a branch of the leisure and entertainment industry. Since they no longer know what a cathedral is, or what it is for, it is indeed time for them to return them to the Church that conceived, built and knows how to honor and use them.

Ashenden, Bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Church, also expressed his fury to the BBC, saying:

I’m afraid I think it’s a really serious mistake, perhaps born of desperation. The idea that people are so trivial that they can be almost tricked into a search for God by entertaining them with a golf course is a serious-category error.

One honest Canon, however, admits that they’re doing this to put butts in the pews:

But Canon Matthew Rushton, from Rochester Cathedral, said:

Cathedrals are very confident at the moment to innovate and have events like this and to tell people about our faith in Jesus which is what we’re all about. The Archbishop of Canterbury said to us that if you don’t know how to have fun in cathedrals then you’re not doing your job properly.

At any rate, here’s Mo’s take on the tricking-out of the Cathedral:

47 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ the links

  1. A round of hole-in-ones could get you well on the way to a sainthood these days, but the Catholic Church may not want to support a miracle in a CoE establishment.

  2. I like it.

    The cathedral WEB SITE says this:

    The course – which is designed and paid for by Rochester Bridge Trust and constructed by HM Adventure Golf – is made up of nine holes, each accompanied by a model of a different type of bridge. It includes the original Roman bridge at Rochester, and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford, all of which is accompanied by information for further learning.

    Andrew Freeman, Operations Manager at the Rochester Bridge Trust, added: “We are always looking for new ways to engage with young people and inspire them to take an interest in bridges and civil engineering. Joining forces with the Cathedral to set up this educational activity within such a stunning setting is the ideal opportunity to reach out to the community and get families and young people thinking about bridges while they have fun.

    “Learning through play is at the heart of many of our educational initiatives, as we introduce new concepts and ideas to young people away from the classroom environment.”

    Adventure Golf runs from 1st August – 1st September. Previews will run from the 27th July – 31st July. Daytime sessions will be free of charge. More details will be released soon.


    P.S. Just strolling around their web site I noticed that Scott Farrell, 48, former director of music at Rochester Cathedral, was up in front of the Cambridge beak in May for various child sex offences against young boys at Rochester & his previous gig at Ely cathedral, over a twenty year period to today:

    3 counts of gross indecency
    2 counts of voyeurism
    1 count of indecent images

    He pleaded guilty & has been bailed awaiting sentence. Bailed…

    1. I was about to post the same sentiment. If people can go to church and learn about engineering instead of gods, that’s pretty great from my POV. Probably not from the Church’s.

    2. Hey, I promised not to ask about that thing I promised not to ask about again, so I’m not asking. Just, you know, if you want to give your thoughts…

      (I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts and not at all interested in arguing about them, and I will not post anything further if you didn’t like it. This I swear to you)

        1. I…feel…so…dumb.

          I had no idea the profile pics led to actual profiles. I thought only names that had hyperlinks embedded in them led to anything. Plus, I have Gravatar blocked through Scriptsafe since I don’t need it (until now!). This is why I was confused when Jerry said I should email you.

          I’m a fucking idiot sometimes, I tells ya.

  3. No windmill hole? What kinda cheapjack putt-putt course is this?

    When I was a caddie at the fancy country club up the hill as a teenager, I heard some words come out of the mouths of duffers after blown putts that would make melt the stained glass inside St. Rochester’s.

    1. If people are belting golf balls around inside a building with valuable stained glass windows then melting might be a secondary problem to straight out holes

      1. It’s a putting course. I’m not a golfer but I think you’d need a wedge to put any windows at risk.


  4. Well, I’m as atheist as they come, but I have to say I agree with Gavin Ashenden. I find this idea utterly grotesque. If this is what the C of E is reduced to, they might as well give up and hand it all back to the Catholics. I can share some sense of the “cultural Christianity” that Richard Dawkins has spoken of. These ancient cathedrals are wonderful historic buildings that should be treasured. I can respect the piety and dedication that went into building them, and also respect the piety and dedication of those who still wish to worship in them, even though I don’t share their beliefs. The idea that this travesty will somehow bring some lost souls back to Christ is so idiotic that it sounds like something from a Monty Python script. Yet again, an idea that would once have been thought a ludicrous satire falls short of today’s reality.

    1. It’s interesting that Monty Python is often a metaphor for the absurdity of the modern scene. Reality seems to be merging with Dada TV. That’s both delightful and tragic.

    2. I couldn’t agree more. Rochester Cathedral is an ancient and dignified building, which manages to convey to the visitor a sense of its history, no matter what her faith (if any) might be. That sense will be wrecked by this gimmick, whose sole aim is to get people inside who would not otherwise visit, and try to preach at them.

      It won’t work. We Brits are turning against religion in droves. According to the latest social attitudes survey, the churches are among the least trusted institutions in society (scientists are the most). It can only be a matter of time before one of our political parties realises that there might be some votes in starting to get rid of religious privilege in this country

  5. Golf in church? What I disliked about going to church has now been replaced with something else I dislike.

  6. The desperation is born of attrition.

    Religion just can’t compete anymore. People on this planet only have so much disposable time and money and young people know, they just know, there are other attractions in life that offer far more than religion ever will.

    The alternatives in life are crowding religion out and there is nothing religion can do about that except scream, “Fore!” when fewer and fewer people are listening or even care.

    By the way, Mo’s comments are sublime.

  7. Churches in my neck of the woods have been doing this kind of thing for years. I even stumbled upon a postcard being passed around my kids’ elementary school advertising a night of VR and video games and outdoor games complete with laser shows and DJs. The sneaky bit was that nowhere on the postcard was it mentioned that this was being hosted by a church, the website URL was obscure and it took some diving to figure out that this was just good ‘ol fashioned proselytizing trying to fly under the radar of church-state separation. I promptly reported this to the principal who was more than happy to squash the shady distribution of proselytizing materials if only because it was from a competing denomination.

    1. This tactic is common now where I live.

      My son and his friends (all atheists) often capitalize on free pizza given out by local churches at their high school. At some point, they’ve got to realize their efforts are not the attraction they were thinking it would be.

    2. My son was invited to something similar in the USA. It was some sort of Harry Potter-themed “fun night” and they ended up being preached to. The friend that invited him apparently knew the inside trick; but was likely pressured by his parents.

      Many churches in the USA (as I’m sure everyone knows) are very pushily evangelical. Abhorrent behavior in my opinion.

  8. Perhaps a roller-coaster or log-sluice type ride around the perimeter with a few exterior building extensions will help. The gentle up and down undulations of the tracks could help illustrate the demand curves of sanctuary space.

  9. A decade or so ago, I went to the ‘Great Church’, in the Dutch town of Hoorn.
    The outside was unchanged, but the inside was a convenience store with half open floors built. Nothing of the inner architecture I recall as magnificent remained. I must admit that -although I already was an inveterate atheist at the time- I was somewhat taken aback. Have these vandals no respect for beautiful architecture? Or something in that vein.

    1. Some churches have been converted into secular pools (google “Repton Park pool”, for an ex.). It is a great idea, imo. It’s pretty relaxing to swim in a quiet but large space, with dimmed light, and great architecture.

    2. Akin to keeping the facade intact but destroying the building behind. But finding a use for an old church in a secular age is not easy, & they cost a lot to keep going…

      1. But finding a use for an old church in a secular age is not easy, & they cost a lot to keep going

        More than a few end up as meat racks – a.k.a. discoteques – which might upset the more religious of the dead objectors. At least two such go by the name of “the Ministry of Sin”, and that’s just ones I’ve seen. (From the outside – hellishly noisy, even if I turn the hearing aids off and leave them plugged in.)
        I haven’t yet seen one that has been transformed into an out-and-out brothel. Yet. When it happens, that is going to be hilarious to watch.

  10. I would really appreciate if there were also some mosques transformed into mini-golf courses. But somehow we don’t see that happening, which is frightening.

    1. Mosque attendance is generally growing. And the Xtian Brotherhoods will do almost anything to contest that – except, of course, actually attending a church of their own nominal alignment. (Yes, my hypocrisy detector is going off continuously when that happens.)

    1. I suspect I spend more time looking at church floors than you do. The grave slabs are a fascinating sample of (generally) local geology, and hundred-million year od fossils are common.
      Show me a church with a three century old floor, and I’ll show you a floor level enough to play “crazy bowls” on.
      Do American churches bury people in the floors of their churches? The rotting of the bodies down in the ground creates moving voids which mean re-laying the floor is a several-times-a-century problem.

  11. They could increased attendance by offering free beer and wine plus a fully stocked bar and installing a bowling alley in the side chamber.

  12. Make churches useful – covert (no pun intended) all church buildings into for-profit businesses and collect taxes!

  13. I’d play a round just for the Sacramental wine at the 19th hole. And some of those cracker things.

  14. If you really want to have fun in a Cathedral, you could just re-institute good old fashioned Greco-Roman temple prostitution. I’m sure it would generate a bigger draw than Qu’ran readings.

    1. Didn’t some of the early Jewish sects do some of that too? A habit they’d picked up from their Babylonian and Assyrian lords and masters.

  15. Mini golf! it should be art, music, theater, foods and produce… mind you religion is infant like, so mini golf as a kids social pastime sort of fits. The bulding itself makes for a grand occasion.

  16. I got married at a place called the Old Church Inn, which was a former stone church (looked like a cathedral but much smaller) converted into a restaurant. It had a beautiful courtyard where we held the service, and then dinner was served in the private dining room which was formerly the church balcony. It was very nice and made for some splendid pictures. It’s now an Italian restaurant.

    I don’t think this is blasphemous and I think an educational experience is pretty clever marketing. I’d probably visit if it was in my area.

  17. Speaking as an engineer, I like the idea of illustrating various bridge types. Anything that decreases the level of public ignorance has got to be good.

    As for Gavin Ashenden, memo: they haven’t been Catholic cathedrals since Henry VIII told the Poop to keep his nose out of English politics.


    1. Atheist engineers unite! Do you find the appallingly high percentage of (strong) believers amongst your colleagues like I do?

      Good grief, I have to remind my self that people are quite good at holding contradictory ideas in mind at the same time. (Though I always wish I could ask, “Do you apply the same standards and techniques on Sunday that you do Monday through Friday at work?”)

      1. (Though I always wish I could ask, “Do you apply the same standards and techniques on Sunday that you do Monday through Friday at work?”)

        That’s what terrified me about working under Goddish well engineers too.
        I had a bad run-in with one who ordered me to stop reporting dangerously high gas readings because he’d been told from on high (his Boss) that there was no problem with the well ; so if the well blew out, “Insh’ Allah!”.
        We got thrown off the job (because we had an early satellite phone and continued to fax the undoctored reports to the Big Boss we’d been ordered to send them to, so the doctored and undoctored reports appeared on the his desk next to each other) and escorted back into town by the security staff. 5 weeks later the well blew out, as predicted. The well was brought back under control and completed a mile shallow to the planned depth and announced as a complete success. Laugh? I nearly pissed myself.
        (The well was in the desert, so when it took fire everyone could run away to a safe distance and uphill from the plume of H2S. Cuts and bruises only – I checked.)

      2. “Do you find the appallingly high percentage of (strong) believers amongst your colleagues like I do?”

        No. In fact I was quite disconcerted to find (in my 20’s) *one* colleague who openly admitted to being Christian.

        Mind you, this was in New Zealand, and the same could be said of most of my acquaintances – religion was seen as being deeply uncool.


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