A Holy-In-One

SipechSipech Shipmate
Is it appropriate for the nave of a cathedral to be turned into a mini golf course?

That is the question doing the rounds in Kent, as Rochester Cathedral has done exactly that. It's teed off a number of dissenters who are not happy about the use of an august church building for such frivolous means.

Is it a novel way to open the church to visitors, or it a sacrilege to a holy building? If Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers, would he now be bending putters over his knee or would he be lining up a shot to get over the model of the Dartford crossing?
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Comments

  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    I'll be on shore (actually in the air) most of the day, but I'll be waiting to hear what a Shipmate who lives in that vicinity has to say.
  • Personally I don't like the idea at all; it jars with my idea of sacred space,which should be quiet and reflective. On the other hand, I know that that's a modern, rather romantic, view of churches. In the middle ages all sorts of things happened in them, including markets (which would have meant animals) as they were the only large covered space available.
  • kingsfoldkingsfold Shipmate
    Pigwidgeon wrote: »
    ..... I'll be waiting to hear what a Shipmate who lives in that vicinity has to say.

    Paging @Bishops Finger , paging @Bishops Finger
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited July 29
    Personally I don't like the idea at all; it jars with my idea of sacred space,which should be quiet and reflective. On the other hand, I know that that's a modern, rather romantic, view of churches. In the middle ages all sorts of things happened in them, including markets (which would have meant animals) as they were the only large covered space available.

    Thanks, Robert. It's - shall we say? - an interesting idea. I don't think it's one that would fundamentally bother too many Nonconformists as we primarily think of the building as "the place where Christians can meet" and are often (but not always, especially when it comes to older Victorian chapels!) very pragmatic about what can go on in them. I was intrigued by the comment, "The trust hopes this will encourage young people to learn more about the engineering behind bridges and boost church congregation numbers" as the first and second halves don't seem to relate to each other. Also I can't see the playing of golf "boosting congregation numbers" except in the sense that it may remove peoples' mental barriers to coming into the Cathedral.

    I read too that Norwich Cathedral is going to have a 40-foot helter-skelter too ... Some people will see these as dumbing-down measures born of sheer desperation, while others will applaud them as creative attempts to be culturally relevant.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    To me it jars, but I can't think of a principled reason why it's worse than a Church Fayre with tombola and bottle stall ...
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Mini golf is culturally relevant? Well, I guess. In the US there is a new game show called "Holy Moly" which is game show mini golf. I wonder if that is the inspiration? Or vice versa?
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Being an active congregant of an old and dying cathedral, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, cathedrals can be awfully terrifying to people who just want a worship community. They have funny traditions and the people who do go there have been attending since Jesus was taken down from the cross. So doing anything to make a cathedral less imposing is a plus. It’s common knowledge that half the problem with getting worshippers is getting them in the door, a problem that’s exacerbated for cathedrals. So at my cathedral we put on a lot of events, festivals, concerts, and the like.

    That being said, a cathedral’s primary purpose is for the worshipping of God. As much as I see the utility of these kinds of things, and even think they’re important, the primary mission is always drawing people closer to God. I’m not sure that having golf in the cathedral actually does that. Also, I’m slightly distressed by the hours they posted. The hours the golf is available makes it seem like the worship part is secondary to the golf part.
  • Two points.

    1. This is part of an ongoing "bridges" theme that has been running for a couple of years now - for instance there was a historical exhibition (also in partnership with the Bridges Trust) in 2017.

    2. They say it will not interfere with the services, especially as it appears that - during the summer - they are held in the Quire anyway.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Certainly unlikely to happen in an Orthodox Church, in some of which even the children's Christmas pageant isn't allowed in the nave.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Perhaps the real target audience is all those parishioners who skip church to go golfing on Sundays...
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Perhaps the real target audience is all those parishioners who skip church to go golfing on Sundays...

    Would people who golf on real courses be tempted to play miniature golf when the links await?
  • tclune wrote: »
    Perhaps the real target audience is all those parishioners who skip church to go golfing on Sundays...

    Of course we are in Ordinary Time and the liturgical colour is Green.
  • edited July 29
    I might take a taxi to see it, if it was big and they changed the liturgical colour to yellow to match the golf balls. It's a only building.
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    I think the link is tenuous in the extreme. I can't see any young person automatically seeing this and thinking Ah, yes, church is for me. I can see plenty of young (and not so young) people thinking God, these people are desperate/sad and others deciding that it just confirms their already formed view that the CofE has lost its way.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    Lyda wrote: »
    Mini golf is culturally relevant?

    There was a sudden mushrooming of indoor mini-golf courses, mostly with bars and names like 'Ghetto Golf', a few years ago. At least one of the places that I know has now closed, so I suspect this particular craze has already peaked. Still, two years behind the curve shows lightning reactions by the standards of the Church of England ...
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I think the link is tenuous in the extreme.

    Link! Haha! I see what you did there!
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    Well, we're told it's all about fresh perspectives, and I kind of see that, since climbing the helter skelter and riding it to the ground will give views of the space, and allow people to inhabit the space in ways, unavailable by any other means.

    Dippy though? That's really going to piss me off.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I might take a taxi to see it, if it was big and they changed the liturgical colour to yellow to match the golf balls. It's a only building.

    Your golf balls are yellow? Ours tend to be white.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    I might take a taxi to see it, if it was big and they changed the liturgical colour to yellow to match the golf balls. It's a only building.

    Your golf balls are yellow? Ours tend to be white.
    Except for mini-golf, where each player usually gets a different color ball.

  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Okay I've seen that here also.
  • It's a bit odd. I'm intrigued as to how minigolf encourages people to learn about bridge engineering - there are any number of suitable bridge-building challenges that might be a tad more relevant. I'm even more confused about how this will encourage church attendance.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Two points.

    1. This is part of an ongoing "bridges" theme that has been running for a couple of years now - for instance there was a historical exhibition (also in partnership with the Bridges Trust) in 2017.
    As a former professional minigolf player, I find myself more irritated that they are trying to pass off what is basically a display of bridge models as a minigolf course. The layout pictured in the article is uninspired, theologically and aesthetically.

    These pop-up courses have appeared in other contexts, of course. I've seen them put up in art museums, train stations, and the lobbies of business buildings. In almost every case, the point is to draw attention to the sponsor rather than to try to provide a proper competitive course. In the present case, that would be the Bridges Trust who desperately want people to pay attention to them.

    So, IMHO, it is not a proper use of a church, and not a proper use of a minigolf course.
    Ricardus wrote: »
    To me it jars, but I can't think of a principled reason why it's worse than a Church Fayre with tombola and bottle stall ...
    Well, I guess there is that...

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    I might take a taxi to see it, if it was big and they changed the liturgical colour to yellow to match the golf balls. It's a only building.

    Your golf balls are yellow? Ours tend to be white.
    Except for mini-golf, where each player usually gets a different color ball.
    They come white, orange and yellow mainly. Pink and purple too. It sure helps in some conditions: our courses are usually thrashed out of the forest or prairie, such that leaves and other things look like balls. Non-white easier to find. We buy mixed boxes of 100 at low cost, used ones, retrieved, usually with some company logo on it. We've gone through 60 already this summer. If I was to hazard a guess, I'd say the 50% of balls are white here.
  • Yes, it's my local cathedral, though I haven't attended/visited for quite some time, being rather engaged on other matters (including being on the ministry team of a parish elsewhere in the town).

    The services are mostly held in the Quire and Quire Transepts during the summer, so services shouldn't be interfered with at all. They usually take the chairs out during August anyway, for cleaning/repair.

    I, personally, don't see any objection to the nave being used as a golf course, though I doubt if congregations will be increased thereby! Still, some peeps might come in, who otherwise might not, so who knows?

    The Cathedral is (as are many Cathedrals) used for all sorts of events - sacred and secular - though this seems a bit more off-beat than most. I'll wait and see how it's reported at the end of the season...

  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    edited July 30
    I thought you may be tempted to get out the plus fours and give it a go. :smile:

    As others have said, not sure about the connection, but nice to try and make a cathedral a centre of the community. I hope it goes well for them.
  • Climacus wrote: »
    I thought you may be tempted to get out the plus fours and give it a go. :smile:
    This is only a little course. Plus twos will do fine.

  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    edited July 30
    Climacus wrote: »
    I thought you may be tempted to get out the plus fours and give it a go. :smile:

    As others have said, not sure about the connection, but nice to try and make a cathedral a centre of the community. I hope it goes well for them.

    There are more people than tend to be taken into account who value spaces like cathedrals as centres of silence. This kind of initiative makes silence impossible, so I oppose them, much as I understand them. Ancilliary goods cannot make up for the cathedral shooting itself in both feet.
  • I absolutely see your point, and places of silence are especially valuable in today's frenetic world. However, as has been pointed out above, in times past cathedrals were in fact often busy, noisy places - I seem to remember reading somewhere that "crowd control" had to be instigated at Canterbury because of the bad behaviour of pilgrims visiting Thomas a Becket's shrine.
  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    I absolutely see your point, and places of silence are especially valuable in today's frenetic world. However, as has been pointed out above, in times past cathedrals were in fact often busy, noisy places - I seem to remember reading somewhere that "crowd control" had to be instigated at Canterbury because of the bad behaviour of pilgrims visiting Thomas a Becket's shrine.

    That is as may be. Now, their principle value is as a place of silence. If you look at the number of gathering places vs. the number of silent spaces, there are far more of the former than the latter.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    edited July 30
    A cathedral's "principle value" is as a place of silence? Perhaps one of its values, but I'd hesitate to say principle.

    I too value silence. When in Sydney city I sought out places of silence, usually a RC church as the cathedral had people milling about during the day to look at its magnificence and it was hardly quiet. But I'd be happy to see what this brings in this instance. Understand entirely if this is a step too far for some...and if those who used the cathedral for quiet in the day are a bit concerned.
  • The geography of Rochester Cathedral is such that the nave and Quire are two distinct spaces, separated by a solid stone screen with only a small door (steps from the aisles on either side lead into the Quire).

    This means that the 'sharp end' - Quire, transepts, High Altar - can still be available for worship, prayer etc. even though the nave is occupied.

    Granted, there may well be people walking around, and perhaps not much scope for really private prayer, IYSWIM, but there is a quiet, and intimate, chapel in the refurbished crypt (fully accessible to those with impaired mobility).

    FWIW, I have no axe to grind, and no personal involvement in the Cathedral, but something which they don't seem to have tackled so far is how to make use of the building at night . The adjacent High Street is full of pubs, clubs, and restaurants, and, at weekends, can become as noisy, and threatening, with groups of 'revellers', as most UK town centres.

    There are 'street pastors', organised mostly AFAIK by other local churches, but the point has been made that, as the pubs, clubs etc. open, so the Cathedral closes, and locks, its doors. Weekday Evensong is at 530pm, and on Saturdays, and Sundays, at 315pm (with door closing at 6pm, I think).
  • The RogueThe Rogue Shipmate
    Our church has a beach in it this week. I'm not aware of any complaints.
  • TubbsTubbs Admin
    The Tubbs family loves mini-golf so we'd definitely be up for this if it was closer and the hours / booking policy more long-distance visitor friendly.

    Judging from @Bishops Finger description, it sounds like both sections of the cathedral are separate so the golfers shouldn't disrupt the visitors wanting to somewhere quiet to worship and pray.

    We complain the church never does anything different but when it does, we complain that it has ... They can't win!
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    The Rogue wrote: »
    Our church has a beach in it this week.
    Okay, I may need a little more explanation on this one... :confused:

  • SipechSipech Shipmate
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    The Rogue wrote: »
    Our church has a beach in it this week.
    Okay, I may need a little more explanation on this one... :confused:

    The man who built his house upon the sand springs to mind, yet it doesn't quite seem to fit.

    I must confess, I find the idea of quiet cathedral to be one beyond my experience. All cathedrals I've been to have either been full of thunderous organ or choral music during services or else the walls have echoed with the reverberating murmurs of many tourists at other times.

  • TubbsTubbs Admin
    Sipech wrote: »
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    The Rogue wrote: »
    Our church has a beach in it this week.
    Okay, I may need a little more explanation on this one... :confused:

    The man who built his house upon the sand springs to mind, yet it doesn't quite seem to fit.

    I must confess, I find the idea of quiet cathedral to be one beyond my experience. All cathedrals I've been to have either been full of thunderous organ or choral music during services or else the walls have echoed with the reverberating murmurs of many tourists at other times.

    We met the vicar that Rev T would be reporting to during his training in our local Cathedral. The Tubblet was about 4 and this was her first ever visit ... He'd just started pondering about the influence of holy spaces on small children when she decided that this
    was a great time to run down one of the side passages pretending to be a very loud bird ...
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I don’t have any views either way.

    One thing ‘tho, they’ve certainly got people talking about it!
  • AFAIK, even the busiest Cathedrals try to ensure a quiet, safe, secure space for private prayer, perhaps in a chapel which can be closed off (with glazed doors/screens) from the noisier/busier bits.

    My Pilates instructor happened to mention today that she'd taken her 2 children (5 and 7) to the Cathedral yesterday. The kids like the place anyway, she says, and always want to go inside when they're visiting Rochester. They were thrilled by the mini-golf, and thoroughly enjoyed their round. Whether it will bring them eventually to faith is, of course, known only to God...

    @Tubbs - yes, the Cathedral lends itself to multi-purpose usage! It's not evident from press photographs, but in views of the golf course, the screen between Nave and Quire can be seen in the far distance. It's actually not quite as far away as it looks, and IIRC the area of the Nave is roughly the same as that of the Quire etc. (what I call the 'sharp end'). As I said, they usually take out the chairs in August, so they're making use of an otherwise empty space. The Nave and Nave Altar are used mainly for the Sung Eucharist on Sundays, that service migrating to the Quire in August (when many of the regulars are at that popular holiday resort, Away).

    The critics and naysayers conveniently forget to mention the well-ordered liturgy, excellent music, and good preaching, for which the majority of the Cathedrals of this country, including Rochester are noted. I wonder how many of them actually attend the services?
  • I went to Rochester for Sunday evensong in August many years ago and was indeed struck by the emptiness of the nave. I had to do some delving to find out where the service was actually taking place - I wasn't impressed by the lack of sidespeople directing folk!
  • I think things have changed since then - the Great West Door has been much improved as the principal means of access - level access (with no steps) is available via the door in the north Nave aisle transept, and it is clearly marked.

    There are usually a fair few volunteer 'Stewards' (as they call them) about, at both doors, at service times.

    If the Nave is empty (or taken up with golf-courses, or whatever), it is indeed not at all obvious where services might be held!
  • I would hardly describe choral music as thunderous, although organ practice can be ...

    Some of the larger and most famous cathedrals certainly have plenty of tourists around and that can be disconcerting if you attend a service as you end up being gawked at.

    Most do have quiet corners but some times you have to seek these out.

    On occasion, I've found even the most touristy cathedrals to be quite quiet and less busy. I've also been into a number of RC cathedrals here in the UK and been the only person wandering around - no sign of any other living soul.

    Of course, in many cathedrals they are either setting things up for services or concerts, carrying out restoration work or setting up art installations or whatever else. They are working spaces.

    Attendance at cathedral services has increased markedly in recent years - largely, I suspect, from refugees from parish churches or those who want to dip in and out without being rugby tackled and coerced to join the Sunday school or flower rota ...

    If I lived in a cathedral city I'd probably attend services quite regularly. I'd be assured of some high standard - perhaps even sublime - music, a generally thoughtful sermon that doesn't insult my intelligence and no prospect of being forced to sing 'action songs' or the latest soppy worship choruses nor be told to turn to the person next to me and ask them stupid questions.

    'Swap clothes with the person next to you,' as Adrian Plass put it.

    Cathedrals aren't perfect. Sometimes the exhibitions and installations they put on are distracting, embarrassing or inappropriate. They cost an arm and a leg to maintain. They can get too touristy.

    But at their best they can act as an oasis for those seekers and pilgrims who have been driven from parish churches or Nonconformist conventicles (;) by drum'n'bass, Power Point, action songs and soppy, wet, repetitive chorus singing.
  • But at their best they can act as an oasis for those seekers and pilgrims who have been driven from parish churches or Nonconformist conventicles (;) by drum'n'bass, Power Point, action songs and soppy, wet, repetitive chorus singing.
    It's interesting to reflect on how many we welcome into our non conformist conventicles who are keen to leave behind the dry, impersonal, strive-for-musical-perfection that is dry Anglicanism at its worst.

    Each to his own I suppose.

  • ThunderBunkThunderBunk Shipmate
    For me it's about intentionality. I didn't mean to imply that cathedrals are usually halls of echoing silence; that'ss clearly ridiculous, or at least trivially easily falsifiable. What I'm talking about really is their being spaces that are focussed beyond themselves and beyond those in them. Filling those spaces with crazy golf, helter skelters or models of dinosaur skeletons creates too much of a focus on the finite within and does little, IMHO, to invite focus on the infinite.

    YMDV, clearly, but I don't think my point is as easily dismissed as seems to be assumed.
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    I wonder if the money they raise will make the project a benefit to them financially.
  • The RogueThe Rogue Shipmate
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    The Rogue wrote: »
    Our church has a beach in it this week.
    Okay, I may need a little more explanation on this one... :confused:

    We have a holiday club and the seaside is the theme for the week. I'm not involved myself and I don't know exactly what they are doing although the Facebook pictures seem to focus on one of the leaders getting extremely wet.
  • I have certainly heard of similar things being done elsewhere.

    Are we sometimes in danger of being too "precious" about our "sacred spaces"? - after all, we say that God doesn't dwell in our church buildings but in our hearts.
  • I absolutely see your point, and places of silence are especially valuable in today's frenetic world. However, as has been pointed out above, in times past cathedrals were in fact often busy, noisy places - I seem to remember reading somewhere that "crowd control" had to be instigated at Canterbury because of the bad behaviour of pilgrims visiting Thomas a Becket's shrine.

    Those who have attended services at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela will have likely noticed a number of dashing young men and women wearing Vigilancia de Catedral uniforms. They are much occupied with keeping people in their pews rather than wandering around the aisles or up into the sanctuary and taking videos during services, as well as blocking tour groups with their guides (loudspeakers slung over the shoulders) during services.
  • SusanDoris wrote: »
    I wonder if the money they raise will make the project a benefit to them financially.

    What money? The golf-course at Rochester is admission-free (as is the Cathedral, unlike some).

  • I absolutely see your point, and places of silence are especially valuable in today's frenetic world. However, as has been pointed out above, in times past cathedrals were in fact often busy, noisy places - I seem to remember reading somewhere that "crowd control" had to be instigated at Canterbury because of the bad behaviour of pilgrims visiting Thomas a Becket's shrine.

    Those who have attended services at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela will have likely noticed a number of dashing young men and women wearing Vigilancia de Catedral uniforms. They are much occupied with keeping people in their pews rather than wandering around the aisles or up into the sanctuary and taking videos during services, as well as blocking tour groups with their guides (loudspeakers slung over the shoulders) during services.

    I rather like the idea of dashing young 'Cathedral Vigilantes', especially at service times!
    :warning:
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    SusanDoris wrote: »
    I wonder if the money they raise will make the project a benefit to them financially.

    What money? The golf-course at Rochester is admission-free (as is the Cathedral, unlike some).
    ah right, thank you, , I didn't know - I suppose I should have clickd on a link.

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