Mass and Re-Enactment

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Mass and Re-Enactment

Postby Skevmeister » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:51 am

Following on from Lidi's, Marcus and Hinnie Annies commenst on another thread.

If somebody wants to perform Mass at show, do you think that if they perform with due sanctity and reverence that its wrong. And I mean with sanctity and reverence, even though I am a practicing Druid (and no I haven't got it right yet), I believe that if you wanted to do something like this that it is a sacred concept and that it is important not to cheapen the whole concept of faith by making mass into a comedy.

So What do others think?

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Postby Ellen Gethin » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:31 pm

I'm an occasionally practicing Anglican, and I would happily take part in a re-enactment of a medieval Mass. It was an integral part of medieval life, so I think it should be portrayed more often.
(I think it was at Huntingdon that I saw a lovely little chapel/shrine for the Archangel Gabriel's feather, which I thought was a great idea).


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Postby chrisanson » Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:13 pm

I am heathen/pagan whatever label you wana put on me. I would be happy enough to join in as long as it was don respectfully and not a P*SS take.



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Postby lidimy » Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:42 pm

Ok, here's why I wouldn't want to do it...

From a personal level, being Jewish I would have serious problems taking part in a Medieval Catholic service - that shouldn't need too much explaining considering the rampant anti-semitism of the time. I know that re-enacting is only 'pretend' but we aren't proffessional actors and it would just be too close.

Secondly, can one in truth re-enact a sevice? Considering that Catholic services are still performed today (whatever your opinions on the sincerity of the attendees).

Thirdly... after speaking to my dad about it, we came to the conclusion that 'behaving in a religious way' is different to attending a service. Why? Because the pure function of a Religious service is to be consecrated and set apart to God. Therefore, it's not a dead thing, lost in the past, but very much a living thing, even in a Medieval context. To behave in a religious way would give MoPs the understanding that religion at the time was not something to be ignored. I appreciate that there is a fine line, and that it also varies a lot from person to person!

But those are just my ideas at present. They aren't very clear but I hope they make some sense :?

Lidi :D

After more thought: A service isn't 3rd person either is it? If you are part of a presentation in 3rd person the it wouldn't really fit in... see I wouldn't have a problem with (to refer back to the order of service) having a few copies on a table or so for people to pick up and look through, and maybe offer a presentation on and answer questions on.


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Postby Hinny Annie » Sun Jul 15, 2007 4:22 pm

Religion is for many people a very emotive issue. The whole point of the mass is to come together, honour and give thanks to God, if the people taking part dont believe in him then the mass becomes a play with people playing parts. That is the point I am uncomfortable with, as for many people yes the mass is sacred.

However there are many religious plays that would enhance a living history event that lots of people would find interesting, if anyone would like one I have a book somewhere (might take me a while to dig it out).

Just my thoughts

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Postby chrisanson » Sun Jul 15, 2007 4:39 pm

Allo Lidi,
Its nice to see someone (especially someone your age) who thinks before speaking or in this case “typing” :wink: . I can see your point, but would ask you to think about me as a pagan attending the marriage of a close friend or being the godfather to me cousins children. Being not of that religion dos not stop me from respecting there beliefs and indeed holding to the commitments of that religious service (for example I still am and always will be godfather to those children and take that very seriously indeed. Hopefully one of the reasons I was chosen ?). In my opinion just because you are a follower of one religion dos not mean you can not hold a respect for other religions. :D

Chris



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Postby lidimy » Sun Jul 15, 2007 4:59 pm

Chris I'm not doubting that! I am glad that I can feel sure that no one on here at least would take the P during a Medieval mass or any other type of service - just as you wouldn't laugh at the vows made at the wedding of your friend. However, a wedding isn't really a mass is it? A wedding is certainly sincere but is the celebration of two people becoming one. It doesn't require the participation of the attendees in the religious bit in the same was as a Mass. A mass, as far as I know, is a corporate as well as individual celebration of our relationship with God. It's emphasis is far more spiritual, and without that, it's empty, just, as Annie said, a play with people playing parts. Think of the hypocrisy - pretending to take Mass seriously then walking out and continuing your life as normal. It seems just a tad disrespectful to me. It's meant to mean so much more than that.

I don't know much about Mass - not really my field lol! I think Marcus could add a lot here to add to the discussion as I'm being far more vague than I'd like to be.

Lidi :D


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Postby Tuppence » Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:56 pm

I agree with Lidi.

The issue of attending a friend's wedding or christening is slightly different. You're respecting their wishes by attnding, and they'd (presumably) pay the same compliment to you.


But all too often people forget that religion is very emotive, and very personal. And that it can cause more trouble than one person can deal with.

I have no real issue with the celebrating of any sort of service or mass at events.

My problem comes when they try to make it compulsory.

As Lidi says, we'd basically be talking catholic mass. Although strictly speaking, during earlier times it wasn't catholic, it was just mass, it was what became catholic after the splits of the church.

I have nothing against anybody who is catholic, or who subscribes to any other religion, or doctrine (as long as it's not one that preaches destruction of dissenters, etc).

But I will never take part in a catholic mass at events. I wouldn't want to take part in a muslim or jewish (for eg) service either, unless there was a specific reason.

Just as I refused when somebody tried to force me to wear a rosary.

It has a real meaning, and one that I don't believe in, so I won't do it.


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Postby lidimy » Sun Jul 15, 2007 6:19 pm

It has a real meaning, and one that I don't believe in, so I won't do it.


I think that's absolutely the essence of it.


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Postby chrisanson » Sun Jul 15, 2007 7:51 pm

good for both of ya!!!!!!!!

Standing up for what you believe in and respecting other folk is what its all about.
Maybe I read the first post wrongly or more likely I aint expressing myself very well.
But I haven’t got to join in, just sand respectfully at the side “as it were” if ya know what I mean, sort of thing……………………….



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Postby Hinny Annie » Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:13 pm

chrisanson wrote:But I haven’t got to join in, just sand respectfully at the side “as it were” if ya know what I mean, sort of thing……………………….


But then it really really becomes a play.


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Postby gregory23b » Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:46 pm

Lid

"It doesn't require the participation of the attendees in the religious bit in the same was as a Mass."

Not necessarily so, if you get married in church you are doing it sight of God and the people present are so doing in a Christian context and also witnessing before God (whether they actually believe or not). If I may offer myself as an example, I am an atheist but married my wife in her Catholic Church, that was the only precondition my wife made to be married in the church her mum was married, I said fine as long as I was not expected to convert or pretend to be a Catholic. My best man is a confirmed atheist and was happy to be part of what was a religious ceremony. I was not pretending in my vows, I did not have to fake it up. I even said the the priest that I was happy to marry in his church as long he did not expect me to convert, he was fine with that. I even chose a passage from the Bible to read after the rings were exchanged, because the text was about honouring the wife, which regardless of denomination, the sentiment, was appropriate regardless of belief system, or not.

I can't speak for people who have married in civil ceremonies or other 'religious' ones, but I can say the religious aspect of some weddings is very much a part of the wedding itself.

As for pretending to take mass, well I look at this way, the chances of the person officiating at such a mock ceremony (albeit done properly and respectfully) being actually ordained is so slim that it would not be a real one in any case. The real aspect of it would be any contemplation one might choose to have during the service. It is ok to pretend to do a service, whether you are 'professional' actors or not is IMHO beside the point, it is whether it is not a joke parody.

Of course he bottom line is whether you feel comfortable with it, there are some people who do not participate in mock battles for the same kind of reason, as it happens.

Besides, how often did the average medieval person take mass? twice a year perhaps? There are other religious aspects that do not involve mass, personal reflection - the church was not against the laity practicing in their own way.


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Postby chrisanson » Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:47 pm

Hinny Annie wrote:
chrisanson wrote:But I haven’t got to join in, just sand respectfully at the side “as it were” if ya know what I mean, sort of thing……………………….


But then it really really becomes a play.


yes but that is what we are talking about, a re enactment. or have got the wrong end of the stick again?



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Postby lidimy » Sun Jul 15, 2007 8:59 pm

As for pretending to take mass, well I look at this way, the chances of the person officiating at such a mock ceremony (albeit done properly and respectfully) being actually ordained is so slim that it would not be a real one in any case. The real aspect of it would be any contemplation one might choose to have during the service. It is ok to pretend to do a service, whether you are 'professional' actors or not is IMHO beside the point, it is whether it is not a joke parody.


Yes, but what do we understand by the term 'real one'? What makes a Mass 'real'? An ordained priest? Would an ordained priest be happy to conduct a mock ceremony? If we strive to be authentic as possible, then we are trying to make the Mass as real as possible. What does that mean for re-enactors?

Urgh this is so head achy! :)


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Postby gregory23b » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:17 pm

Lid, what makes the battle real? not killing people, that is for sure.

The only reaosn this is an sticky subject is because it is religion, not pretending to kill each other, life is sacred is it not? so why do we pretend to kill each other with impunity and without a second thought to what it represents? That is not an argument for doing a bad representation of a ervice, but more about what is pretend and what is not.

As for 'authentic' you can either take it as a literal meaning - real or in its, I imagine generally accepted sense, atmospherically 'real', because we cannot in its strictest sent be real medieval or tudor people, we can only pretend to be. Because if we did it 'real' then your personal roles would be restricted to portraying a Jewish girl in whatever period you chose, but that is not required in our reality, ie the restrictions for portrayal are not actually present and it allows us to live in other people's shoes for a while, not become them, but maybe imagine what it might have felt like, which, to me is not changing or compromising my own beliefs, I do see that for some it would and I have no issue with that and it is down to us all.

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Postby Hinny Annie » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:24 pm

For me I re-enact stuff that happend long ago and therefore I am detached from it. Mass is not long ago stuff, it still happens everyday, that is what I am uncomfortable with, just as I am uncomfortable with people who re-enact german SS units although that is another totally different subject.


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Postby chrisanson » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:33 pm

Hinny Annie wrote:For me I re-enact stuff that happend long ago and therefore I am detached from it. Mass is not long ago stuff, it still happens everyday, that is what I am uncomfortable with, just as I am uncomfortable with people who re-enact german SS units although that is another totally different subject.


it might be a different subject, but i see the conection.



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Postby lidimy » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:33 pm

I don't know, I think it's bit a shakey to use making re-enactment atmospherically real (the definition I meant) as an excuse to hold a service. It will never be atmospherically real because the re-enactors, or most of them, will never be sincere. It means nothing to them. Therefore, it remains something of an insult for those to whom it means a good deal. The fact that Mass is a servie dedicated to God remains; to take it out of that context and use it willy nilly to actually entertain people is pushing it a bit!




Also, as you say, if Medieval people went to Mass once or twice a year is it really something we need to include in re-enacting?


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Re: Mass and Re-Enactment

Postby Malvoisin » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:44 pm

Skevmeister wrote:If somebody wants to perform Mass at show,


Before a reenactment battle I presume? Then surely the mass it's self would be purely reenactment would it not?

I can sympathise with some folks superstions that the gods may strike them down if they partake in a fake religious act in the middle of an event arena. Each to their own they can sit it out, thats cool.

Personnaly I think that there ain't enough god bothering in re-enactment, considering how important it was to the people we are portraying.
For instance, I'd very much like to confess my sins to a (reenactor) priest before battle.... if he's got all day. :lol:


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Postby gregory23b » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:47 pm

"I don't know, I think it's bit a shakey to use making re-enactment atmospherically real (the definition I meant) as an excuse to hold a service. It will never be atmospherically real because the re-enactors, or most of them, will never be sincere. It means nothing to them. Therefore, it remains something of an insult for those to whom it means a good deal. The fact that Mass is a servie dedicated to God remains; to take it out of that context and use it willy nilly to actually entertain people is pushing it a bit!"

Sorry, you can only posit that as a subjective view. I go to a lot of churches and I feel all sort of emotions, none of them are insincere or pretend, regardless of my atheism, I can appreciate the atmosphere and physical resonance an old religious building has (I don't get it from new ones I may add). I appreciate the solemnity and seriosuness that that these places and their services represent. Above all I appreciate the work that was put into them by people who had their faith, whcih presumably made it a better job.

"Also, as you say, if Medieval people went to Mass once or twice a year is it really something we need to include in re-enacting?"

How often did they (most people) go to war, less than zero times a year, how often did lots of craftspeople turn up to set up camp in a manor> zero times ever

When you do your reenactment will you only be portraying a Jewish girl and all that it might historically entail or will you be on the outside portraying a defacto 'Christian'? Because even though you might choose to not take part in a pretend mass, you would still be pretending to be someone who actually would have, you would only omit the actual pretence of the mass.

Not going to mass does not take away the xtianity, people didn't always, they were still xtians, as you or anyone else be that dresses up in late medieval or Tudor would be, unless specifically playing another religion.

It depends on what compromises you are happy to make, there is room for all thoughts, as long as we are truthful with what we omit as much as we are with that which we actually portray.


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Postby lidimy » Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:05 pm

But go back to my original post (or so) that behaving in a religious manner is slightly different from holding a complete service dedicated to God. I appreciate that you feel certain emotions when you choose to attend a service; but wouldn't you feel emotions at any type of service whatever the religion?! Thus, you will never feel the same way as (in our example) a Catholic believer. Faith stays, whatever we feel and whatever our emotions. And again, we are talking about re-enacting as entertainment and I think that to hold Mass as a form of entertainment is wrong.


'How often did they (most people) go to war, less than zero times a year, how often did lots of craftspeople turn up to set up camp in a manor> zero times ever'
Sorry, that was my badly thought out point!



Going on..


wait a sec, I need to think....


:shock:


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Postby Karen Larsdatter » Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:56 pm

lidimy wrote:how often did lots of craftspeople turn up to set up camp in a manor> zero times ever'

On the other hand, craftspeople might set up camp at a market or a fair in order to sell their wares and/or demonstrate their work for customers, right? Are the events set up as these sorts of fairs?

(Though to get back to the original point -- I'm also Jewish, and quietly remove myself from the vicinity if there is a religious ceremony that I don't feel comfortable with. This happens only rarely in the SCA -- there's a rule in the organization's governing documents that says:
    Having no wish to recreate the religious conflicts of the period under study, the Society shall neither establish nor prohibit any system of belief among its members. No one shall perform any religious or magical ceremony at a Society event (or in association with the name of the Society) in such a way as to imply that the ceremony is authorized, sponsored, or promulgated by the Society or to force anyone at a Society event, by direct or indirect pressure, to observe or join the ceremony. However, this provision is in no way intended to discourage the study of historical belief systems and their effects on the development of Western culture.

    Except as provided herein, neither the Society nor any member acting in its name or that of any of its parts shall interfere with any person's lawful ceremonies, nor shall any member discriminate against another upon grounds related to either's system of belief.
I've seen medieval Catholic Mass, weddings, and other ceremonies at SCA events -- but they're typically held in such a way as to not be the sole & exclusive focus of the event activities (often just held in a private encampment, that sort of thing). Sometimes what bothers me more is the religious "schtick" -- where people don't realize that what they see as meaningless fun is actually a painful part of my people's history. Fortunately, people here tend to be pretty considerate about it, so as long as others don't make a big deal out of my quiet lack of participation, I don't accuse them of being horrifically insensitive.)



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Postby Bodkin » Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:59 pm

Well, I am a certified atheist since childhood, and I hold no religious beliefs whatsoever. Saying that, I do feel very emotional about places of worship - whether it is a church, Stonehenge, or the Roman temple of Mithras on Hadrian's Wall close to where we live. To me these places are sacred and have a certain 'resonance' - lacking for a better word to describe it.
As far as religion and reenactment is concerned: Personally I feel a mass will be inappropriate in most (nb: there might be exceptions) circumstances. I feel mass is a CELEBRATION of religion which should be done with all respect and sincerity. However, medieval life was, as far as I understand it, interwoven with religious aspects, and I agree it is rather poorly represented in reenactment. There is a distinction between the celebration and 'everyday', and it would go a long way if the majority of reenactors would include a few bits in their 'everyday' play: How long does it take to boil an egg? - three Hail Marys and a paternoster. Or: to churn butter would take two decades on a rosary.
The other important thing is not to force people into any religious aspect they are not comfortable with. It is such an emotional issue, and everybody feels differently. Nobody should forget that reenactment is a hobby and people do it because they are enjoying it! why so many do 10-5 in kit and then change defies me, but that is a different issue entirely!



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Postby Salvianus » Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:47 pm

My first post: avete!

A very interesting question :-)

As a Christian Late Roman re-enactor I have found myself on the boundary: we have just filmed a C5th prayer scene - I learned and recited prayers from the contemporary Vulgate of Jerome in my best impersonation of late Latin, with my comrades in attitudes of prayer, despite some being atheists or pagans.

As long as they were comfortable with me saying the Lord's prayer, I was entirely comfortable with some of them 'acting' compliance - surely authentic for the time. Some of us went on to film an equally authentic 'illicit' Mithraic sacrifice scene, in which I couldn't participate.

So long as we have willing participants who are able to apply our usual standards of authenticity in order to educate ourselves, each other & the public, I see nothing wrong.

I have recited prayers of my own devising in English and Latin, meaning every word, whilst turning a blind eye to one of my pagan friends making libations when I wasn't looking ;-)

In this, we respect each others' right to practice our faiths, as any moral human being should. Our friends of no religion, fortunately, usually tolerate our desire to express ourselves in a religious way. Respect makes all possible :D


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Postby gregory23b » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:26 am

Lid

"we are talking about re-enacting as entertainment"

Are we? you might be I am not, at least not all the time, not all reenacmtent is 'entertainment' by any means. Portrayal and pretence does not always make it a joke for jokey reasons. I can think of a number of entirely not funny and quite serious subjects handled in a reenactment context that are not entertainment. There would be notign wrong in actig out the mass, that itself would be educational, ie seeing it.

Karen

"On the other hand, craftspeople might set up camp at a market or a fair in order to sell their wares and/or demonstrate their work for customers, right? Are the events set up as these sorts of fairs? "

Not usually, more like a craft fair mixed with 'military camp', a UK reenacmtent compromise, not that doing it better is out of the question, just that a lot of that has become habit and 'accepted' practice.


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Postby Adam the Archer » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:08 am

I have a friend who is a practising catholic and acts as a priest / bishop and 'says' Mass during re-enactments. He has no problem with it as he says it portrays an important part of medieval life.

As a Christian myself, my faith often comes into conflict with my hobby. It is not always possible to get to a church on a Sunday if I am at an event. I sometimes think it would be nice to get a real priest (no particluar denomination) who would be able to conduct a service in a 'period' fashion, for those who would like to attend and nothing compulsary. The problem with the original forms of service is that they are no longer fully authorised by either the Roman or Anglican church.

The other issue with re-enacting a medieval mass is that the ceremonial was complicated, and I think would be difficult to recreate.



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Postby gregory23b » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:42 am

AtA

"The problem with the original forms of service is that they are no longer fully authorised by either the Roman or Anglican church. "

Indeed, which would mean that it has no real meaning in today's church as it is not sanctioned, ergo there would be no spiritual penalty in reenacting them and that is liteally what it would be a reenactment of something not done any more and would provide an interesting juxtaposition.

Also people might be interested in some of the behaviours exhibited in medieval religous ceremonies that might not pass muster today, church attendance was not always solemn and people often 'misbehaved' in church.

The differences in what we perceive to be medieval religous practice and what they were, needs, I feel more exploration in an objective manner, it was after all one of the most important foundation stones of medieval life (read xtian or other in reality).

Lidy, out of interest have any Jewish ceremonial practices changed over time, say between the middle ages and anow, has Judaism gone through similar changes?


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Postby PaulMurphy » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:42 am

gregory23b wrote:Besides, how often did the average medieval person take mass? twice a year perhaps?


I'd take issue with this for almost the whole of the medieval period - the Catholic church has always been keen on religious observance, as have the land owners and nobility who were able to use it as a tool to bind and control their charges. After all, all those churches across England which are now listed buildings were put there for a reason, and the number which date from the late Saxon or early Norman period is still considerable. If you wanted to have your children baptised, your dead buried, your marriage conducted, or your place in a better afterlife assured, you had to invest the time to make it happen.

For more detailed discussion on this, try the paper from the Journal of Medieval History Volume 32, Issue 4, December 2006, Pages 395-423

From the abstract (subscription is required to read the full contents):

Least of the laity: the minimum requirements for a medieval Christian

Norman Tannera and Sethina Watson,
Gregorian University, Rome/Balliol College, Oxford, OX1 3BJ, UK

This article investigates the minimum level of religious observance expected of lay Christians by church authorities, and the degree to which legislation and procedures attempted to enforce these standards. Once baptized, a person entered the community of the faithful; and the medieval church was as much accountable for the health and salvation of the ignorant, the ambivalent, the disobedient or distracted as they were of the devout. From the twelfth century, theologians, clerical authorities and the laity turned with concerted enthusiasm to the question of lay observance, advancing high ideals for lay commitment and expanding opportunities for lay participation. Yet while acting to elucidate and advance these qualities, the church was nevertheless mindful of the number of Christians who might fail to reach even basic standards. The resulting balance of the ideal and the possible, and the degree to which it reached and was enforced upon the less-enthusiastic laity is explored here through expectations for knowledge, observance of sacraments, and participation in regular duties such as church attendance, tithe-paying and fasting. The result was a complex ideal of lay observance that was balanced by a tolerance of laxity and even failure, and a system which increasingly exhorted specific expectations but was hesitant to define contumacy or disobedience in many but the most obdurate or scandalous cases.


The idea that the average peasant only attended church twice per year doesn't sit well in this sort of framework, as both the peer expectation and the ruling classes (the church counting as such alongside the more obvious landholder/county/regional/national government) was that you would attend regularly.

Paul.


Paul Murphy
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DeviantShrub
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Postby DeviantShrub » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:44 am

gregory23b wrote:Besides, how often did the average medieval person take mass? twice a year perhaps?


How close would said average medieval person have actually got to the sacrament? To the best of my knowledge, for most, there would be something mystical going on behind screens, from which they might hear familar latin words and smell the incense.

Nonetheless, I do find it a bit odd that the majority of medieval re-enactment and re-enactors seem so far removed from something as fundamental to medieval life as religion was. The again, in a 3rd person environment I think it's a very difficult aspect to try and convey effectively to a modern audience.

Back to the original question though. I consider myself to be Christian (though woefully lax at attending church) and consequently would have no trouble attending a medieval mass should the opportunity arise and were it performed sensitively. Busy learning my Latin prayers as I type. ;)



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Postby lidimy » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:50 am

Are we? you might be I am not, at least not all the time, not all reenacmtent is 'entertainment' by any means. Portrayal and pretence does not always make it a joke for jokey reasons. I can think of a number of entirely not funny and quite serious subjects handled in a reenactment context that are not entertainment. There would be notign wrong in actig out the mass, that itself would be educational, ie seeing it.


No, I don't mean entertainment as in make it amusing, I mean entertainment in as much as re-enactment events are put on for members of the public, educational entertainment or not. That being the sole reason for holding a mass I don't think is right. If MoPs want to see a Mass, they can go to their nearest Catholic Church.

I think what Karen posted also brings us back to a v. important point. If we want to start portraying religion as standard, we'll still end up picking and choosing what bits we want wont we? IE, "aw, this looks 'nice'. Holding a Mass makes me feel good, but can we leave the bit out where we say how much we hate the Jews and how we want to burn heretics? I don't like that bit of history much." Offending people just to be authentic is wrong, however long ago it was.

I still don't see how this fits into 3rd person re-enacting either. I would have no problem with saying 'my character would have said this, done this, and gone to Mass.' Assuming that this is what is meant by 3rd person (sorry, haven't actually been to an event before so I don't know really what it means! :oops: )

Lidi (:


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