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Author Topic: Elvis Priestly 'rocks the house?'  (Read 2523 times) Average Rating: 0
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jude
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« on: January 12, 2003, 07:47:23 PM »

[OpenCath] INDEPENDENT ANGLICAN Replyáto: opencatholic@yahoogroups.com

'Elvis Priestley' rocks the house.....Lord have mercy???

Impersonator/preacher presides over first service at Christ the King Graceland church

Tom Cohen

The Associated Press
Monday, January 06, 2003

NEWMARKET, Ont. -- In the Christ the King Graceland Independent Anglican Church of Canada, "Rockin' Reverend" Dorian Baxter presides with the sideburns and singing of Elvis Presley to attract the wayward to Jesus Christ.

Equal parts entertainer, activist and preacher, the 52- year-old Rev. Baxter -- who also goes by Elvis Priestley -- does it his way, singing Elvis favourites with a Christian twist.
"Well it's one for the Father, two for the Son, three for the Holy Spirit and your life has just begun," he starts to the tune of Blue Suede Shoes, wrapping up the chorus with: "You can do anything but don't turn Jesus away."

His church is labelled independent because Anglican church elders frown on the Elvis-themed antics, and Rev. Baxter held yesterday's inaugural service with 200 supporters in a Newmarket, Ont., veterans' hall. While not defrocked, Rev. Baxter was forced out of one Toronto-area church and denied a licence to perform Anglican weddings, with Bishop Ronald Ferris of the Algoma diocese calling the mix of Elvis and church functions in poor taste.

Rev. Baxter sports a thick, curly mane of combed-over black hair with muttonchop sideburns, and while he conducts services in the robes and collar of a minister, he changes into a jumpsuit afterward to perform as a well-known Elvis impersonator.

In a broad British accent from his childhood in Kenya, Rev. Baxter explained how he combined his Elvis shtick with his Anglican faith at his first ministry in Thunder Bay in
1984.

The music attracts people to the church and Christ, Rev. Baxter said, noting that Elvis himself traced the roots of rock music to gospel hymns.

"My message to the bishops is they should buy a couple of Elvis' gospel CDs and let's talk about this," he said. "They might as well get used to it. I'm not leaving."

Yesterday's 80-minute service included Anglican standards such as the Lord's Prayer and Onward Christian Soldiers, along with a sermon based on themes from the letters in Elvis' name and the classic Elvis expression of gratitude -
- "Thank you, thank you very much" -- spoken five times, especially after taking the collection.

"We cannot guarantee we can give you a tax-deductible receipt at this time," he told the crowd reaching into pockets and purses, saying the church needed nine members to apply for official status and hoped to have that many after the service.
The most overt Elvis reference came when Rev. Baxter sang Where Could We Go But To The Lord, a gospel number covered by Presley in 1968, with the preacher dropping Elvis-like to one knee, pointing upward, for the chorus.

Clapping and singing when prompted, the congregation loved it. "He's an absolute blessing," said Nancy Lacasse after driving the 60 kilometres from Mississauga to see Rev. Baxter, who has performed at a wedding and parties in her home.

Regarding his Elvis-inspired ministry, Rev. Baxter offered a personal commandment to the Anglican bishops and others who condemn him: "Don't be cruel to a heart's that true."

¬ Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen
« Last Edit: January 12, 2003, 07:53:05 PM by jude the obscure » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2003, 02:00:57 AM »

Hey Western Christians owe a lot to Elvis because of his invaluable influence in the liturgical reform.

Take a look at this great article, it's written by a Latin priest.

THE "ELVIS" RITE

By Father Jerry Pokorsky

Several weeks ago, I had an Elvis Presley sighting in my home parish. Perhaps I should clarify: There was an Elvis movie on the American Movie Classics TV network. I happened to catch the very end of the movie. I don’t know the name of the movie. I don’t think it was comedy. [The movie to which Father Pokorsky refers is apparently Change of Habit (1969) - Ed.] All I know is that Mary Tyler Moore was very young, and Elvis Presley had not yet gained his Las Vegas weight. In any case, the movie helps illustrate how far we have come in liturgical reform and where we, please God, must go.

Here is what I saw: Mary Tyler Moore appears in the pews of a church as a nun in full habit. The church has many statues and a beautiful crucifix. A Mass is being celebrated. The priest is wearing traditional Roman vestments. The sanctuary has a spectacular Gothic design. There are no “altar servers,” there are only “altar boys” in cassock and surplice. The Mass is being celebrated ad orientem—that is, facing east—and the tabernacle is on the altar in the middle.

And Elvis Presley is banging on his guitar just outside of the sanctuary, singing, “Let us sing together to the Lord.”

You either had to laugh or cry. Elvis and his hootenanny combo are not facing the sanctuary in worship; they are facing the people, with their backs to the altar and tabernacle. The people are being entertained, while the Mass takes place in the distant sanctuary. The priest and his altar boys seem oblivious to the vulgar behavior taking place just outside the sanctuary.

Of course the producers of the movie probably didn’t have any kind of agenda. They were only representing what was taking place in many Catholic churches at the time. I’m personally grateful to Elvis for the contribution he has made in preserving our liturgical heritage.

If the contrast of the ancient Mass of the Catholic Church juxtaposed against the swiveling hips of Elvis Presley is either humorous or horrifying, that contrast is also instructive. Why did it happen in the first place? What has changed over the thirty years since this movie was released? Let me address those questions.

Why did it happen in the first place? I don’t blame the Second Vatican Council. There is nothing in the conciliar documents that promote hootenanny Masses (although I once read that the first “Hootenanny Mass” took place, under the guidance of a certain Father Rivers, during the time of Council, in late 1964). I am persuaded that liturgical reform was hijacked by a Catholic culture that had an inferiority complex.

American Catholics couldn’t break into national politics in any big way until John Kennedy denied that his Catholicism would have any effect on the way he governed. With many noble exceptions such as The Song of Bernadette and the Alfred Hitchthingy film, I Confess, popular Catholic movies had very little to do with religion. Think of the Bing Crosby movies, such as The Bells of St. Mary’s. Aside from the setting, there was nothing particularly religious about many of these movies. Catholics, like everyone else, delighted in Bing Crosby’s personality, not in the fact that he was representing a distinctly Catholic point of view. Catholics were proud that Hollywood would use the trappings of Catholicism—but only the trappings, in most cases—to entertain. How else would an Elvis movie in which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was used as a backdrop have been permitted without a loud and boisterous Catholic outcry? American Catholic culture had an inferiority complex, and it was starving for affection. In my view, the Second Vatican Council simply lanced a festering boil.

What has changed over the thirty years since that Elvis movie was released? In most of our parishes, Mass is now being celebrated facing the people. The high altar, if there ever was one, certainly is no longer being used. The tabernacle is no longer in the center of the church. Statues have been removed. Crucifixes have been replaced with quilts —of dubious quality, carrying dubious symbolism. The choir has pride of place near the sanctuary, usually in full view of the congregation—roughly where Elvis was performing in that film. The piano and guitar have become the instruments of choice. But today, the priest and his ministers no longer are oblivious to Elvis. They want a cut of the action. So the priest now competes with the musicians for as much attention and affection as he can muster. In short, after thirty years of liturgical reform, it is clear that Elvis has won. In many of our churches, the name of the game is entertainment and ego, not worship.

For the sake of convenience, let’s call the cumulative effect of these innovative practices since the Council, the “Elvis Rite.” The key component to the Elvis Rite is self-absorption. How can the externals of the liturgy become self-absorbed—or as Cardinal Ratzinger writes, “a community closed in on itself?” Let me count the ways:

GÇó the priest who behaves like a toastmaster rather than a mediator in Christ who offers the Holy Sacrifice;
GÇó a priest who cannot resist the impulse to begin or conclude Mass with his own friendly words of welcome;
GÇó the displacement of the tabernacle and altar as the center of attention at Mass, replaced by a “presider’s chair”;
GÇó the cantors who flamboyantly lead the assembly with song from the lectern (a practice which, by the way, will be prohibited by the new liturgical legislation);
GÇó the musicians who grow impatient with the hymns that are accessible to ordinary Catholics and agitate to sing hymns throughout the Mass, choosing music that can be performed only by trained voices.

There are no glass ceilings in the Elvis Rite. “Ministry” is no longer a solemn privilege; it now seems to be considered an inalienable human right. Liturgical dance has become the self-absorbed behavior of choice in many churches. Now, everyone—priest, ministers, musicians —stumble over each other competing for the affection of the people. Masses with “themes” are also in vogue. We no longer simply celebrate a low Mass or a Solemn High Mass. We celebrate folk Masses and polka Masses and clown Masses and children’s Masses with puppets. (I am not making this up.)

the whole artcile can be found here:

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Igpress/2002-01/essay.html

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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2003, 12:11:38 PM »

Yuck, yuck, and YUCK!
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2003, 12:55:25 PM »

Warning/disclaimer: this posting dwells a lot on the Catholic Church, so if you don’t like that sort of thing you can skip over it now. But I do tie it in to Eastern Orthodoxy at the end.

I already was familiar with the story of the Elvis-impersonator Anglican minister in Canada. It’s actually a tough call — what he’s doing isn’t liturgical (and Fr Pokorsky’s article shows why it isn’t) but I don’t disagree with his basic message: ‘Well it’s one for the Father, two for the Son, three for the Holy Spirit and your life has just begun... You can do anything but don’t turn Jesus away’. Can’t disagree with that. But such evangelism belongs in a skit in the church hall, not in the sanctuary. (And yes, I’m glad that such intrusions are virtually unthinkable in an Orthodox church.)

Quote
American Catholics couldn’t break into national politics in any big way until John Kennedy denied that his Catholicism would have any effect on the way he governed.

He was a sellout. Cardinal Spellman saw him for the big nothing he was (Camelot and America’s royalty, my ***) and supported Nixon instead — a relatively better choice. (And regarding Watergate 12 years later, Kennedy was as big if not a bigger crook, using his father’s influence and Mafia connections to get elected.)

Quote
I’m personally grateful to Elvis for the contribution he has made in preserving our liturgical heritage.

Of course. Secular Hollywood appreciates good production values, which is why it often uses the better trappings from yesteryear to depict the Catholic Church, not the junk one sees today. Ironic but true: things like this silly Elvis movie kept the memory of such practices alive when the actual Catholic Church was hellbent on throwing them down the memory hole (and perhaps still is).

Quote
I am persuaded that liturgical reform was hijacked by a Catholic culture that had an inferiority complex.

Thomas Day explained it in his book Why Catholics Can’t Sing (click title).

Quote
... popular Catholic movies had very little to do with religion. Think of the Bing Crosby movies, such as The Bells of St. Mary’s. Aside from the setting, there was nothing particularly religious about many of these movies. Catholics, like everyone else, delighted in Bing Crosby’s personality, not in the fact that he was representing a distinctly Catholic point of view. Catholics were proud that Hollywood would use the trappings of Catholicism—but only the trappings, in most cases—to entertain.

I’ve noticed the same thing — those Bing Crosby movies say practically nothing about the Catholic Church as such or Christianity for that matter! But in a way it was understandable — preaching that faith on screen was still out of the question in a country that was still very Protestant and anti-Catholic. But Catholics still were understandably proud. That mainstream America accepted a movie with a priest as the hero was a milestone in a country that only 100 years earlier was burning down churches and convents, hysterical over the alleged evils of popery.

(For much cleverer nostalgic entertainment that actually tells something about what Catholics believe, check out the old British TV comedy Bless Me, Father.)

The change probably had to do with demographics: despite the anti-immigrant terrorism described above, the immigrants kept on coming until WWI, and they had children and grandchildren... by WWII, Catholics were a hefty chunk of the American population, and Hollywood acknowledged that (after all, working- and middle-class Americans, which most Catholics were, were their number-one customers).

Fr Pokorsky also made a good point about the rot that set in among Catholics even back in the alleged good old days. Lefebvrist Bishop Richard Williamson has made a similar point, as I think Seraphim Reeves already has pointed out, that one shouldn’t glorify ‘Fiftiesism’ because a lot of the time it was nothing but mainstream American values with a veneer of Catholic religion slapped on them. Just like an old Barry Fitzgerald movie.

Eastern Orthodoxy hasn’t reached that ‘critical mass’ in the US population and consciousness, and perhaps never will. (My guess is it will become more Anglo-American and less ‘ethnic’ owing to the concurrent phenomena of conversions and ethnic attrition, but will remain a minority.) It’s a prop for ethnic jokes — recently saw a 25-year-old rerun of Taxi with the Andy Kaufman character’s ‘Orthodox’ wedding and wanted to do to Kaufman (and the writers) what the crowd did to Josaphat Kuncevich. Worse than Seinfeld. (When you’re only 1% of the country’s population, you don’t get no respect. Which is worse, being the occasional butt of dumb-foreigner jokes or being nonexistent in the media like the Eastern Catholics?) But at least anonymity may be more conducive to doing God’s work than people burning your churches down. Orthodoxy — the stealth Church.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2003, 05:02:12 PM by Serge » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2003, 02:45:48 PM »

Barry Fitzgerald?

No Irish Protestant (C of I?)--or even Irish Catholic-- ever played the part of an Irish Catholic priest with such finesse.

God bless him.

Jude
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2003, 03:11:43 PM »

Barry Fitzgerald was a lifelong Presbyterian, a member of Ireland’s second largest church. (The misnamed Church of Ireland, really the Anglican church, is microscopic.)
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2003, 08:35:11 PM »

(For much cleverer nostalgic entertainment that actually tells something about what Catholics believe, check out the old British TV comedy Bless Me, Father.)

British comedy and humour.  I can always make use of a new recommendation.  Noted!  

During what years did this series run?

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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2003, 08:51:15 PM »

You can usually still catch it on re-runs on PBS, Samer, if you get that in Canada.  I watch it almost weekly--I never tire of it!  Boy, that Mother Stephen--the real "head honcho" to keep the pastor in line!   Grin

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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2003, 10:29:47 PM »

I don’t know exactly in which years it was made, Samer, but if you click the title in my posting I think it says it was made in the 1970s. (Just looked it up on Google: its dates were 1978-1981.) I’m afraid Arthur Lowe, the English actor who played the older, cranky, very Irish Fr Duddleswell, is no longer with us (died in 1982).

Of course I remember Mother Stephen: ‘Our rrrrrrrule, Father!’

Here is an episode guide.
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2003, 11:38:31 PM »

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"The Tennis Match"
gs:
rc: Mr. Pinkerton

Father Duddleswell enters a tennis match against the Anglican clergy.


That sounds like an interesting show there  Cheesy
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2003, 11:50:43 PM »

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That [‘The Tennis Match’] sounds like an interesting show there

The only thing I remember about it was the tennis official who kept calling Fr D ‘Mr Duddleswell’.
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