Mass and Re-Enactment

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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Post by gregory23b »

"Then a grooup of three fellow re-enactors walked by and promptly started calling me a f***ing god botherer and religious nut"

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Post by Skevmeister »

You see that's what offends me, why would people do that...... why would anybody do that...... Marcus I appluad your reserve.

I am with G23B here, they are what he said.

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Post by Maerwynn »

I agree, their behaviour was disgraceful.

Incidentally, what about the acceptability to the church of doing the monastic hours at a show, since they are still used?

On the plus side, as far as I know they don't require a priest though.

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Well in the group I belong to we use it to tell the time when MOPs are around (ie "what time is it?" Between Prime and nons, Sir John.") but we don't do anything else with it. I normally pray at about Prime and Compline but that's just because it's about the start and the end of the day, and I don't try to involve anyone. Maybe I should but I don't want to either upset or be upset by anyone so havn't gone down that route.
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Post by Most Holy »

I was going to say that the real issue with performing a medieval mass is that it is actually a long dull and tedious ceremony in high latin. Most of it is performed by the priest, with the help of a couple of Decons, and a lot of it is perforemed behind a screen.

This is dull, not only for the public, but for the none priestly participents (who will need to do a couple of bits in the ritual) they will be expected to form the congregration and may get nothing from it depending on thier status.

It will last for about an hour, maybe more dependent on the particular mass being performed (there are a few). :roll:


There is another big issue of course. To do it properly you would need to be in concercrated ground; in simple terms, you would need to be in a Church (or similarly auspicious place, a Catherdral will do at a pinch).

Mass is a word that in this thread has been banded around for any Christian religious ceremony, it is not, its relitivly spacific. The whole idea of a mass performed in front of an army before battle is a bit of a mixed understanding. An army would be blessed, but they would probably not get the whole shebang, or very rarely.


As for the idea of mass being offensive, its actually a tad more offensive to sugest that it would (sorry to be blunt). In simple terms, all sharks are fish, not all fish are sharks. There was some antisemitism amongst the Christians its true, the Jews were expelled from more than one country, but so were the English, the Welsh, the Scots the Irish. We all had our lands stolen, are women raped, our good taken, and then a few years later were invited back. It happens, to ignore that would be wrong. It would be denying it. But look at the roots of anti-semitism, and the reasons it kicked off under Edward (and others). It was not that the Jews killed Jesus, it as that the Jews were allowed to keep money, and make interest from doing so.

And the only real good thing that we can do as reneactors to the public at large is to show them what actually was, and to explain things to them. If we cut out religion it will be like cutting out politics, beer and football from twentyfirst century culture and then trying to explain why there are fights in pubs to our decendents in the twenty ninth centure.

But, and this is something I run up against in my own group all the time, the vast majority of people are not interested in religion (in the way most are not interested in politics today), but will vote as dictated. And that is the best anallogy I can think of for religion for the vast majority of people, voteing. We do it rarely, were not really sure what to do, we have small ritualised perscribed things to do which we cant get wrong (well), and its done for another year or so and our lives are saved.

Religion should be there, worn and used. You dont need a long dull mass, you need people bowing heads to priests, or women averting eyes from monks (although why monks would be in a military camp...another issue altogether).

And we need Jewish folk, and cunning folk to give us a better and more realistic setting. We need fish on fish days, monks on vegi diets. etc

Just some views :wink:
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Which is another reason that it might not be a good thing. I go to Mass pretty regular. To be honest if I was going along for "entertainment" I'd have stopped a long time ago. It can be pretty damn boring being a Tim. :D
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Post by Malvoisin »

More reenactment in religion :shock: :

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6585247.stm
and:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,,2121355,00.html

Looks like the pope wants try a bit of medieval reenactment himself. :lol:
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Deus veult! :wink:
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Post by Alicia »

Great Post most holy, I was waiting for someone to mention the latin and the hour long ceremony. You really wouldn't get a lot of mop interest. However a shortened (15 min), commented presentation on crucial differences and practices (as someone - marcus? suggested) would be really interesting to see.

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Post by Nigel »

Thats cos he my pet Bishop

He blesed the entire Norman centre at Hastings and everybody knelt and did what was required even th genuine pagans.

We agreed that the full mass may be a bit long but we do do religious orientated events now
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Post by the real lord duvet »

i think nigel touched on something above


there's so many pagans now that claim there were lots of pagans then.
i thought pagans then got burnt.


by pagans mean - not whatever the recognised main local religion was.

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Post by Tuppence »

well they weren't openly accepted.....

to clarify the post I made ages ago, I have no problem with people wanting to take part in any kind of religious thing.

and it's not offensive to me. go for it.

what would be really really really offensive to me would be to be told I 'have' to take part in it. and I mean any really religious ceremony, not just a mass. (not counting anything where I was passive and could simply get away without really saying or doing anything, as with a pre battle blessing.)

one of the things I'd have a problem with is it's simply not what I believe in, and I'd feel as though I was swearing falsely to God. which is simply wrong.

I'd find another group if that was the choice.

because to some people, religion is very, very personal, and very, very emotive.


and there comes a whole new wave of controversy. I've met people who might kneecap you if you tried to make them take part in a catholic (for want of better term) ceremony. or perhaps car bomb you.

not that I agree, but you get what I mean???
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Post by StaffordCleggy »

I can't actually imagine that there would exist a group whose leadership would demand that you take part in a 'religious ceremony' that was disturbing to you.
Or am i missing something?


As far as i am concerned, when i meet the idiots i'm Catholic when they are orange scum, & Protestant when they are the opposite!

Did wind up my mate's Scottish Orange Lodge cousin by saying that i liked it when they wore those orange sashes - it meant i could zero in the rifle that much easier...


....he went off the deep end, calling me a Fenian bar-steward & a traitor to the Crown.
Me, with a broad Lancashire accent n'all.
Hilarious he was, got laughed out of the pub!
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

you mean you're no a taig?!? Thats it boyo, you and me are through. (I thought my name was fenian barstard at one point so often was i called it.)
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Post by StaffordCleggy »

The first time i personally came across sectarianism was when we all went up to Windermere for a party one night. All set up 'camp' on the lakeside when one of our party who was from Lisburn picked up a stick & marked out a big circle around us.
When asked what he was doing (he was rather drunk) he replied...

"Ah'm markin' oot the territory afore the Fenians git here!"

We all stood around in silence before remembering he was Catholic & was taking the pee, but it did shock somewhat.
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Post by the real lord duvet »

not as bad as not going out with a girl because she supported arsenal.

nothing religious to that but football is the new secular state - oddly most of the 2 club cities have one of each religion. except london where the only club that gets religious connections are spurs due to the jewish owners.

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Post by Type16 »

On a slight twist........
a couple of years ago we were involved as extras in the wedding scene of Owain Glyndwr. I think the film eventually went out throughout the UK.

Anyway, very nice it was to. Lovely weather. Quality film crew etc. At the end, somebody piped up along the lines of "didn't you know the ceremony was conducted in Latin not in Welsh".

You could have heard the lead balloon pop :D
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

What i do is try to greet people in the way they seem to in the Paston letters, in a vaguely Christian manner ie God be with you this day. I am also able to tell peolple why i am wearing these funny badges on my doublet and hat, which are devotional and which are from pilgrimage ( and why i have so many). I hope I get across an impression of how important faith was in medieval life (though I wonder if it always was as strong as it appears) without being too in your face.
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Post by StaffordCleggy »

Marcus, i suspect that personal levels of Faith would vary as much as they do today - albeit with a higher level of 'background radiation' if you catch my drift.
By that i mean that whilst religion was a far more integral part of everyday life for the community in a way that it simply isn't today, the levels of commitment to that Faith would vary a lot between individuals.
People may greet you with "God be with you this day" or "God love you" etc. it is pretty much impossible for us to know whether each individual really meant it, or whether they were just like modern-day New Yorkers wishing you "Have a nice day" whilst privately wishing you would die of plague!
Your character may be quite unremarkable in his Faith, the bloke across the street may have been simply paying lip service & have been a completely impious barstard - we have no way of knowing!
The Histories were - on the whole - written by Churchmen who had a vested interest in a certain viewpoint.
That's not to say that hordes of country folk were all worshipping Herne of course, just that not everyone went completely in fear of the Church every minute of every day.
Undoubtedly there were Christians who were only observant on Sundays & Holy Days - just like today.
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

It's also nice to consider how people react when I say things to them like, "Saladin was an excellent general, be he cursed as a heathen." Or when I explain how I can cheerful kill someone because my Leige is the one he chose to go war and if his cause is wrong God will judge him in battle and he will pay the price for it. (But just in case I die I have all these badges to prove to St Peter what a good boy I am). Basically I don't think that anyone needs to re-enact an actual service to get that kind of point across. I also have said to people what does the Pope say about your killing people to which I've relied as long as I've killed the people he paid me to well done before explaing that the Pope had one of the larger armies within the Italian states for much of the 15th century.
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Post by X »

I'm definitely in the camp of there needing to be more religion in re-enactment - and I'm an atheist. Religion was such a big part of life in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries (the two periods I re-enact) that without it you are only telling half the story. And when you think of how much religion and politics were bound together, without religion there is a big part of people's motivations for acting as they did missing - especially after the Reformation, when religious differences were much closer to home.

In fact, for one of the events I do, the organiser is seriously thinking of running 'religion classes' in the evening, to help the non-religious or other-religion re-enactors get up to speed on Christianity. Apart from anything else, religion was a big part of social life - a meeting place, and the origin of all the best stories (Samson and Delilah, how about it? The Flood? David and Goliath? Dead exciting). Even 'secular' entertainment and social life was often religious-flavoured (the mystery plays, the Guilds etc).

As for the nasty bits of history, where various flavours of people were persecuted just for being who they were - personally, I think they are some of the most important bits of history to leave in. The old saw "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it" might be a bit of a cliche but it is also true.

If we don't show the Waffen SS, and why they were bad, how are people going to find out about the real evil of Hitler's regime? You can't blame Hitler for all of it - ordinary people followed him and put him in power, and ordinary people's part in the atrocities must be remembered. That way, maybe we as re-enactors can play a part in preventing it from happening again. When we say "Oh, well, Hitler's dead, it can never happen again" we open the door to Episode 2.

By portraying, for instance, how the Jews were treated throughout history - within the context of the event we are doing - we can expose exactly what happened, who were the prime movers, why they did it, and why it was wrong. Re-enactment brings history to life for a lot of people, and they remember what they see. Isn't it better for people to have a clear understanding of the nasty bits of history, rather than a vague impression that maybe Hollywood has cleaned things up a bit?

In fact, this summer I will be doing just that. The character I will be playing at an event is Jewish, and we also have a black girl coming - so we will be able to challenge preconceptions and prejudices on the grounds of race and religion in one event.

Ignorance is one of the foundations of prejudice and discrimination. Lazy thinking is another. By including the nasty bits, we challenge both.

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

good luck.
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Post by ViscontesseD'Asbeau »

X, those stereotypes were challenged over 20 years ago when we had black re-enactors certainly in the ECWS.

If the 15thC re-enactors haven't been able to attract a more diverse membership, the failing is something they should have addressed long since. But there's nothing new about black re-enactors, or religion in re-enactment (also had plenty of that over 20 years ago on the parliamentarian side, anyways). Only in those days it wasn't thought of as challenging any stereotypes, just people having fun and re-enacting - we were probably less racist then than the people who've come since if it has to be a big point of pride.

I think there are so many aspects of daily life that if portraying religion is going to be boring/offensive/both - then leave it and portray something else. As a pagan there's no way I'd ever even 'act' an xian anything as I do find it offensive, personally, and having sat through plenty of catholic masses as well as other church ceremonies, I wouldn't want to pay my ticket price if I was a member of the public, to then be subjected to it, when it's a limited amount of time you have to see into the 15thC (or whatever period is being portrayed) and there are many other things you could get more out of. I think there's a certain earnestness about some re-enactors that makes them lose sight of the entertainment side of things. If it can be made entertaining (and some of the ranting style 17thC sermons I've seen have been hilarious and actually entertaining), fair dos - go for it. But if it's an hour of droning on in Latin, it seems inconsistent as well as tedious - if you're going to spout Latin at me, then why aren't you speaking Middle English fluently the rest of the afternoon? It wouldn't be consistent. In the limited time we have, in other words, there are other things to portray. It's a given that the church had more of a stranglehold over people, and also fairly obvious that people were the same as now - ranging from ultra pious to couldn't give a monkeys. The only place for religion is a bit like sex scenes in films - if it's part of the plot, not gratuitous - and not boring. Very worthy to acknowledge - but who's going to want to watch that? Not me.

I was at an event which I won't name that a catholic priest did his droning on and I felt no inclination to bend my knee and 'pray' at the appropriate times, even though in full costume. So I don't buy the argument people can be swayed by the moment, either. It is too personal a thing to impose on people, so why waste time on it when there are a milion other things to be doing?

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Though as a reasonably devout Christian i have had no problem acting as a pagan in frount of the public. It was part of what the group did as entertainment/education. It was also the only time i really fell out with any re-enactors as the group I was with seemed to gradually become more and more "evangilical" about their neo-pagan things. I could make out i was a Bel worshiper drinking the blood of my enemies when there were paying guests but I had absolutley no desire to celebrate Beltane/Solstices and so on. There seemed to be a feeling amongst the more "dedicated" of that group that unless you really were a druid or wiccan or whatever you had no right to be one of them...so i walked. Cuts both ways milady, it ain't just us Tims and Prods who can be religious nutters you know. For the same reason when i was in front of a crowd as part of Dev's regt of Foote i was a bad ass papist hating burn 'em in Hell Ranter (and as you have done ECW stuff you'll know exactlly what a Ranter was). Just part of the make believe. In fact all i did was dredge up all the insults that the neighbours one street along used to scream at us on Orange Day. :D
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Post by StaffordCleggy »

"Thrice damned Papists! Spawn of the Anti-Christ! Just a pack of ring-leaders, every one of 'em!" :wink:

Must admit, portraying a C17th Puritan preacher does have it's attractions...
Hmmmm.


"Devil-take-the-children-of-the-sinners Clegg" Has a certain ring to it... :lol:
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Post by X »

ViscontesseD'Asbeau wrote:X, those stereotypes were challenged over 20 years ago when we had black re-enactors certainly in the ECWS.

If the 15thC re-enactors haven't been able to attract a more diverse membership, the failing is something they should have addressed long since. But there's nothing new about black re-enactors, or religion in re-enactment (also had plenty of that over 20 years ago on the parliamentarian side, anyways). Only in those days it wasn't thought of as challenging any stereotypes, just people having fun and re-enacting - we were probably less racist then than the people who've come since if it has to be a big point of pride.
Countess D'Asbeau, I feel I ought to point out the several ways in which you appear to have misread my post. Since I am choosing to believe that you simply did not bother to read my post properly, or were not able to understand it, rather than that you were being deliberately offensive, I shall clarify for you as follows:

1) You appear to believe that it will be the misconceptions of re-enactors that we will be challenging; not so. It is those of the public to whom we will be making our presentation. And since racism and prejudice of various kinds is still a problem today, they still need to be challenged.
2) You assume that the event will be 15th century; I did not say that. In fact, the event will be 17th century.
3) You have implied that 15th century re-enactors are unwelcoming to anyone non-Caucasian. I don't appreciate that, and I shouldn't think any of the 15th century re-enactors I know would either.
4) You have implied that I, personally, am racist due to the fact that I have mentioned that my colleagues and I will be using attitudes to race and religion as part of our presentation, during a discussion of the place of religion in re-enactment. I find your logic odd, to say the least.

I hope this makes my previous post clearer for you.

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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Don't worry mate she does that a lot. she ahs a real thing about Christianity being the root of all evil and how boring medieval re-enactment is. Just let it flow over the top of you.
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Post by X »

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Don't worry mate she does that a lot. she ahs a real thing about Christianity being the root of all evil and how boring medieval re-enactment is. Just let it flow over the top of you.
:D

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Post by Kyrie Eleison »

Well I must say that I am really very impressed with this thread. Not specifically over some of the points people raised or even over some of the (in my opinion) in-correct or in-accurate facts that people have put forward to justify their arguments.

No I must confess to being bowled over at the level of maturity shown by all who have contributed and the genuine desire to put forward proper arguments without the entire thread ending in a wild slanging match so often seen on this forum.

I would like at this point to leave a few (joke) comments to many this threads posters who have contributed but I fear they may get taken out of context...which is a b**ger. I had a great whitty one-liner all lined up for the elusive CountessD'Asbeau. G23B and Marcus you sound like all round jolly good eggs and if it where not for the fact that I am an anonymous coward, I would love meet you some time around the campfire and continue this conversation.
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Post by gregory23b »

KE we were obviously not trying hard enough.

Damn, busted.

hey marcus, will you be bringing your self yo TORM later this year, I wont be doing any other events 'til then.

KE, likewise, come and say hello, red floppy hat, religious woodcuts, written stuff etc etc.
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