Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day.

I’m not a regular churchgoer so when I attended a funeral mass recently I was a bit surprised to see two large projector screens that gave lyrics and other guidance for the attendees.  The music style was mostly contemporary, including a Carrie Underwood song.

What have you seen that’s relatively new in houses of worship?  Do you like the changes or do you agree with this writer?

Why Churches Should Ditch The Projector Screens And Bring Back Hymnals
Christians need to understand that relying on screens and other technology is not leading to better worship, it’s ruining it.


80 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. We haven’t been in a while but when the kids were younger we always went to the neighborhood Episcopal church. That is definitely a hymnal church, not a projector church! About half the members were refugees from the Catholic church – my husband being one of them.

  2. MM — I wonder if churches like yours will go to projectors. I would not be surprised if that happens.

    I don’t care for the soft rock Christian music I heard at that service I went to. But it may be just what their typical parishioners like.

  3. That church is too small for projectors. And there is no place to project.

    I’ve been to some services in the on campus chapel, and I don’t see any signs of projectors there either.

  4. We endured projectors only once, when visiting a Catholic parish in Florida.

    But the biggest tech thing I’ve seen among Catholics is the missal — in any language — on your phone.

  5. I’m thinking projectors may be more of a southern thing. I could go for missals and similar content on my phone or Kindle.

  6. “Parishioners with weak eyes can often see words on a big screen better than words in a hymnal. ”

    According to my mom, this is the major benefit of it at her church. They still have hymnals as well. They still have traditional music and a pipe organ – no electric guitars. But it’s a Mainline Protestant church, and the congregation is aging. And of course, my brothers and I, who she raised in that church, are not religious as adults.

  7. I first encountered a big screen at DH’s family church almost 20 years ago. I was so taken aback by it. I’m not a fan, and I’m glad that my church doesn’t do that. In fact, using the hymnal, with my finger tracing the words is how I got my kids to sing along. If it was just up on a big screen they wouldn’t join in. My church is still fairly traditional in terms of music, but allows casual shorts and flip flops. No judging about attire. My church (Catholic as it is) knows that in order to grow and retain families they need to accept everyone willing to come, and some old “ways of doing things” have to change.

  8. Catholic and Episcopal churches, and I imagine Orthodox too, are very centered on the priest and the altar. How would a projector even work? It would be distracting. I could see it though in more evangelical churches, which (at least from the ones I have been at) are more focused on the preaching and are not as liturgical.

  9. My church projects on to a wall but there are also hymnals (2 kinds) in the pews and paper bulletins. I really didn’t care one way or another but some of the older folks were upset about the projector. I agree that if you’re not familiar with the hymn and you can read music, the hymnal is helpful. On the other hand, if you’re juggling a baby or you’re not that quick jumping from hymnal to Bible to bulletin, the projector is also helpful. And sometimes there are songs that are not in the hymnal. Many times there will be photos projected from a church event, and those are nice to look at it, especially if they involve kids. Most churches have much bigger problems these days and they should not waste too much time arguing about projectors.

  10. Screens? It’s bad enough they have services in English. They should be in Latin. Not that I’m into any of this but if I was – I’d want a good old fashion Latin mass.

  11. The church affiliated with the elementary through middle school my kids went to has screens. It started with words to “newer” songs that weren’t in the hymnal, but now they project almost the whole service. For those past about the 10th row, it makes it so you can see what is going on up front rather than just hear it. It also first projects the name/number/page number of a hymn or refrain you are to sing/repeat, but then puts the words up as well.

    Some newer churches I have been in, I notice as slight down ward slope from the rear to the front. Not as dramatic as a theater, but definitely improving your line of sight.

  12. My MIL attends an evangelical church (or, as close to such a thing as we have here in Massachusetts). Occasionally we have gone to church with her, and the first time I was SO surprised by the fact that the music was supplied by a band (electric guitar, electric bass, full drum kit, etc.) And by the screens. I had never encountered such things in any New England church of any denomination. Personally I love getting away from screens for an hour on Sundays. I would find them really distracting and intrusive during service.

  13. We have hymns projected on the screen. I found out I needed glasses because now I can’t read the words projected on the screen where previously I could. We have hymn books as well. I don’t care one way or another.

  14. “They should be in Latin. Not that I’m into any of this but if I was – I’d want a good old fashion Latin mass.”
    That is what my college boyfriend, who was from Italy, used to always say.

  15. Those churches that do Latin mass also tend to be uber-conservative in terms of politics, and my college boyfriend was definitely not conservative!

  16. Re: Latin Mass – Of the 7 weekend services in that parish, 1 is in Latin and 1 is in Spanish. A neighbor goes to the Latin Mass, I would not put her in the conservative category. It was the service her family attended growing up, mainly because it was her grandmother’s preferred service (never understood why you’d change the language!) and she continues it with her family today.

  17. I would like to attend Latin Mass (with translation). The few verses of Latin, I hear at regular mass are very soothing and solemn.

  18. Boarding school angst has passed–kiddo didn’t get in. Good thing, because the academics didn’t warrant the tuition. I hope the shock will fuel increased effort on the academic turn-around the child’s been working on.

  19. Good luck, Anon — hope things take a turn for the better for your child. Re. tuition, the boarding schools around here with huge endowments are running about $55,000 per year, and the ones with smaller endowments are up over $60,000 per year. I’m wondering to myself if there is any level of academics that might get me to pay that kind of tuition. Maybe if I had a gifted kid, but I don’t…

  20. Actually, a quick check of some school websites indicates that boarding tuition is now running about $65,000 per year — not $60,000.

  21. Devotees of the Latin Mass tend to be much younger than the general Catholic congregation, and they are also very orthodox in their approach to the faith (i.e., they believe and try to practice what the Church teaches). Some people confuse liturgical orthodoxy with political conservatism, but it doesn’t necessarily coexist. I’m not wild about the Tridentine (Latin) Mass, but at least the music is solid (Gregorian chant, Palestrina, etc.) and the homilies aren’t political.

    It will be interesting to see whether churches will adopt hand-held screen devices rather than hymnals or paper-based worship aids going forward. Hardbound hymnals are very expensive and there are often not enough in the racks for everyone in the pews, and definitely not for the overflow crowd in the back. (We have that situation at most weekend Masses on campus.) And paper worship aids are not “green.” More people are using their phones for the readings and prayers, and they aren’t all youngsters. Older folks who are adept with tech prefer the control over font size and not having to hold a heavy book.

  22. Kids’ participation in chorus draws us into a complex network of mutual musical obligation with the result that I occasionally attend portions of various services even when it’s not a funeral / wedding. So I can report that Kawaiahao Church (Congregational service in historic church) does projectors, First Presbyterian Church does projectors (services in a golf clubhouse, and even though that one was a funeral worship dance was involved), but Honpa Hongwanji (Buddhist service in a historic temple) does not do projectors.

  23. Also, the Catholic church nearest to us does a Korean mass. I cannot say whether they use projectors.

  24. One of the author’s arguments is that someone cannot learn a new song from a screen. (1) the author is assuming people with hymnals in their hands know how to read music; (2) the author has never watched a sing-a-long video; and (3) the author has never learned a song by listening to someone else sing it.

    I feel like telling this person to find a new church.

    I’ve been to a church with a screen – my childhood friend’s Baptist Church. Huge place – twice the size of my Catholic Church. The screens worked out well for everyone. And I saw this in the 1990s. Our current church is too small for screens. But they do have a band now to accompany the choir.

  25. “And paper worship aids are not “green.”

    According to Adam Ruins Everything, there are some arguments that eReaders/screens are less green than old fashioned books.

  26. The Evangelical church I went to as an undergrad used a projector–the old-fashioned kind, with transparencies. My BiL used the kind with Power Point.
    I like Gregorian chants, but if I was going to church, I’d want to understand what was being said.

  27. I’m part of a team of 4 church members who run the PowerPoint for our contemporary service held in our fellowship hall, The music is modern and accompanied by a praise band, and there is a place in the back of the room where young children can play with toys or read. There is also a traditional service in the sanctuary that uses hymnals. Both services have paper bulletins.

    The laptop that we use is old and cranky. Once I didn’t delay a windows update long enough, and it started to shut down in the middle of the sermon. Luckily there is only a blank slide for the sermon, so I was able to unplug the laptop from the display so that it could do its update and reboot without distracting the service.

  28. I’d never heard the term “praise band” until today. (And I attend worship services regularly.)

  29. But if the congregation is using their own devices (not newly purchased just for services, would it still be less green to use them?
    One of the nice features of the mass app I use is that you can touch one button to go back and forth from Latin to English.
    Now that the bulletins are online it’s hard to justify printing out the hard copy version. But most parishes still do.

  30. I’d never heard the term “praise band” until today.

    Consider yourself lucky.

  31. Scarlett – it had something to do with the cost of manufacturing the electronic devices, their ongoing need for a power source, and the inability to fully recycle them. That show is well named. The green episode really bummed me out.

  32. “Consider yourself lucky.”

    Very true.

    “But if the congregation is using their own devices (not newly purchased just for services, would it still be less green to use them?”

    Perhaps, but this is similar to the argument that says the USPS/UPS trucks are passing my house, anyway, so my deliveries have no impact.

  33. Scarlett – it had something to do with the cost of manufacturing the electronic devices, their ongoing need for a power source, and the inability to fully recycle them.

    Sounds like bullshit to me. The key point is the congregants already have a device so the only cost is the additional power consumed by the phone or tablet when viewing the mass related data. They would only have a point if they replaced all the hymnals with ipads that were only used a few times a week.

  34. Public Service Announcement for the Day – I received 2 calls from 2 different 1-800 numbers within 2 hours of each other. Both were recorded calls telling me my social security number had been suspended as had all my social benefits. To “fix” this problem, I should press a number to talk to someone. SCAM! I just hung up on them, but I did report it to the OIG online. Apparently this is one of the newer scams.

  35. Speaking of scammers, there’s a rapidly growing YouTube genre of videos by guys who are “good with computers” who pretend to be dumb for foreign scammers. Generally, they play so dumb that the scammer ends up giving the prankster access to his own (the scammer’s) computer just to get through the remote linking process. At that point, the prankster continues to act like he needs an extra slow tutorial while he’s quickly either removing all the scammer’s files or locking him out of his own computer by remotely installing a system key.

    There’s a devoted YouTube following:

    This one’s not it, but there’s one where the scammer’s boss calls back and offers him a couple hundred dollars in gift cards for the syskey password. Apparently, gift card codes are the currency through which the scammers in India will collect their ransom.

  36. A couple of weeks ago I half fell for a scam. I got a text alert and a call on my cell phone from a spoofed verizon wireless number that there had been fraud. They were very good at emulating the protocols exactly. At some point I confirmed something for them and THEN the actual fraud occurred. They kept me on the phone a bit longer, told me my online account would be deregistered for a week. Which is actually what verizon does after fraudulent access. But my antennae finally picked up the signal and I said, let me call you back. So i stopped it in its tracks, but verizon took several weeks to figure out which were the legit address and email. Seems that the best course of action is to drive to the brick and mortar store the next day and present physical ids.

  37. Austin – I get those all.the.time. And the Chinese ones about my (unspecified) bank accounts. And the ones about a problem with my (unspecified) computer.

  38. I’m comfortable with hymnals or with screens/band. I figure it is a matter of taste and there’s something out there for everyone who wants to attend a church. The reason our church added a contemporary screens plus band service was that people were asking for it – those who hadn’t been raised in the church found hymns to be archaic and unfamiliar/difficult to sing and wanted to sing music like they listened to in real life. At my mainline protestant church, about half attend contemporary and half attend traditional. I can go either way except during Advent and on Easter. Don’t mess with my Christmas and Easter hymns!

    When I was in high school in the 70’s, I liked to go to Saturday evening mass with a catholic friend because they played guitars and sang, and I thought that was cool. How could the presbyterians compete with that??

  39. the problem is cheap VOIPs

    Europe and the UK solved the problem years ago. The issue in the US is heavy lobbying by the debt collection industry and to a lesser extent the credit card industry.

  40. RMS,

    Thanks for sharing the article, even though those types of articles are incredibly frustrating. The article details and implies that several standard practices are both groundbreaking and controversial. Crop rotation is standard practice, caring for the soil is standard practice. If you don’t maintain or improve soil health eventually, the soil loses fertility and well, its really hard to make a living without fertile soil.

    “On an average day on the Burroughs farm outside of Denair, about an hour’s drive southeast of Modesto, you might witness the surprising sight of cows wandering amidst the almond trees.” The farmer profiled had livestock in his orchard!!!! Can you say e. coli? Best management practices include keeping animals out of orchards, including pets.

    There is some research going on about cover crops in almonds orchards. As is happened, climate change is one thing that might make covering cropping in almond orchards a viable strategy. In the northern half of the central valley, there is an not insignificant risk of frost shortly after bloom (late February/early March). One of the ways to protect against frost is to maintain a dark, bare orchard floor that will absorb heat during the daytime and slowly release during the night. This is not possible with a cover crop. If global warming increases night time temperature by a degree or two in the night in late winter/early spring (which is one the scenarios) then less effort might need to be spent on frost protection and cover cropping could be a feasible strategy, but it is highly risky now. The night temps are warmer in the area described in the article.

    The thing about chill hours at night is hard to understand. The southern San Joaquin valley has significantly fewer chill hours than the Sac Valley, yet their yields are often 25-30 % greater than the Sac Valley.

    Don’t even get me started on SGMA

  41. “I liked to go to Saturday evening mass with a catholic friend because they played guitars and sang, and I thought that was cool.”

    I know a few Catholics who have started going to the local Greek Orthodox church because they thought their local Catholic parish was getting too informal. If you want a huge dose of tradition in your religion, Greek Orthodox is definitely one way to go. I’m pretty sure you will never see a praise band in an Orthodox service.

  42. RMS…sorry to be so snappy. A Bay Area NPR journalist isn’t going to have the knowledge base or the awareness of his own prejudices to pass up a guy who fits his version of what a farmer should be and present a factual story. That’s the short version of my reaction to stories like that. It is incredibly frustrating to spend the day as I have dealing with useless paperwork and regulations and know that there is a huge audience for the misinformation that comes through articles like that.

  43. I have to give this one to Cass. This jumped out at me:

    His yields don’t usually match those of his conventional counterparts, he concedes, but his net revenues are roughly the same because he doesn’t have to buy expensive chemicals or the machines that apply them.

    First organic prices being 50% higher is doing a lot of the work here. Second, lower expenses don’t impact revenue they impact profit. Jesus…

  44. “I’m pretty sure you will never see a praise band in an Orthodox service.”

    However, it’s a compelling image for sure.

  45. NoB,
    The resemblance is striking.
    He just needs to borrow some vestments and he’s all set.

  46. London update – we liked the British Museum. Finest collection of Egyptian antiquities, I have seen. The more popular galleries were packed with tourists. The museum didn’t seem to have air conditioning so the popular galleries were hot. Big groups of Chinese tourists and lots of French kids on school tours. British kids are still in school, we see them in the morning and afternoon. My kids thought some of the uniforms were a hoot, especially one which consisted of shorts, blazer and a hat.
    No school buses here, so kids take public transport or need to be dropped off/picked up.

  47. Louise, the Australian uniforms are the same. The NZ ones we’ve seen are more causual – sweatpant-type shorts and collared shirts.

    We went out for dinner tonight and the kids’ meat came raw on heated stones and they had to cook it themselves. I’ve never seen that before.

  48. Rhett will appreciate this. I got an email from Virgin that we can bid for business class upgrades for our flight back to Sydney. So what the heck, I put in a bid, albeit a pretty low one. Maybe we’ll get lucky.

  49. The Totebag will love this – we have been eating meals at restaurants with niece and nephew. The kids are younger than mine and still getting a hang of how much they should order and can finish. Many times they want an adult portion and they don’t want to share or say they will finish it but can’t. Brother and SIL insist they finish. Traditionally it used to be “Finish what’s on your plate, the starving children in (fill in the country) don’t have enough to eat”. Now, SIL says “You must think of your carbon footprint”. Carbon footprint or not the kids many times order way too much.

  50. Whatever the reason, forcing kids to eat more than they want is extremely unhealthy, to state the obvious.

  51. How about the parents just don’t let them order something they know will be too much? That would be much better for their carbon footprint.

  52. Louise, I was one of those kids on the French school trip to London, years ago. We were proof that French kids on a big school trip can be just as loud and obnoxious as American kids.

  53. My oldest kid will pretty much finish anything he orders in a restaurant. He is always really hungry, and likes pretty much everything. My middle kid thinks he has to keep up so he often orders more food than he can eat, or he orders something “challenging” and then picks at it. I don’t want to daunt his enthusiasm, so we just take the leftovers home – oldest will likely eat them for breakfast!

  54. Louise, do your nieces and nephews have British accents? Last time we were in London with our kids we would joke that because of their accent English kids sound so much smarter than American kids. One time we overhead an English kid at the next table opening a book and pointing out “Mum, this dolphin is swimming in the ocean” in a refined British accent and he just sounded so impressive. We started using that phrase as our joke whenever we wanted to sound intelligent and educated. Using an English accent, of course!

  55. Finn gross revenue before returns and allowances is “top line”. That is what is usually meant by saying company ABC is an x billion dollar company. Net income is “bottom line”. Can still be a loss

  56. My eldest ordered a soft shell crab sushi roll the other night. I didn’t discourage it, but privately assumed that she and I would end up trading a few pieces, and I was correct.

    Soft shell crab is not a mild flavor. For the unfamiliar, a soft shell crab was harvested between its molting and regrowth of a larger shell. Instead of steaming the whole thing and breaking it apart to pick out only the mild, white meat, they deep fry the crab and you eat the entire thing.

  57. London update – we liked the British Museum.

    Are you going to the V&A? It was my favorite museum in London.

  58. @DD – One of my friends told me about this cook-your-steak-on-rocks thing from her relative’s BD party in Toledo of all places. https://www.blackrockrestaurants.com/

    @Louise – Carbon footprint! Haha! Count me in on not commenting on how much kid eats or doesn’t eat. Also – on vacation, I let DS order whatever the hell he wants even if I know he won’t finish it. I don’t always finish mine either. Actually, that’s pretty much true whenever we go out to eat, which is around once a week.

    @July – Ha!

    @Cass – Really interesting response, thank you! You know, I grew up around farms, and I still didn’t think about the fact that a cow wandering in an orchard would be bad.

  59. On the choral music, I grew up going to traditional mass and having to attend chapel services weekly at my private school (non-denominational officially, but we used episcopal chapel facilities). I love choral music & hymns. My NPR station used to have a church music show every Sunday morning around 7-8, which I would hear if I forgot to unset the alarm. It was a nice way to wake up. I considered it my religion for the day.

  60. Ivy – I did the ‘cook my (steak/fish/chicken)’ thing at a restaurant in the Azores a few years ago. Fine/fun, but IMO in the category of everything has to have a draw and almost quite literally sell the sizzle not the steak.

  61. DW and I were doing the cook-your-own-food-on-rocks at a place in Mystic, CT

    I was just at a place like that in Dublin. We joked that they did it to accommodate the Irish culinary tradition of cooking everything well done. When you cook it on the stone everyone can cook it to their desired level of doneness.

  62. Rhett and Scarlett, we are going to Dublin this summer. Two nights. Any favorite restaurants?

  63. “Finn gross revenue before returns and allowances is “top line”. That is what is usually meant by saying company ABC is an x billion dollar company. Net income is “bottom line”. Can still be a loss”

    Yeah, I understand top line and bottom line. But what is “net revenue?” That was an honest question because I’m not clear what that is.

    I can see that gross revenue is not directly affected by expenses, but “net” suggests to me there are some subtractions.

  64. But what is “net revenue?”

    To quote the link I mentioned above:

    Your net revenue is the total amount of income you earn from business operations minus any adjustments, such as accounting for returns, refunds, and discounts.

    For example Amazon’s gross revenue for the quarter ending 12/31 might be $50 billion. If they know $5 billion of that is Christmas gifts that are going to be returned in January, their net revenue would be $45 billion.

  65. Lauren, this is a recommendation from years ago when I lived there for a year, but Gallagher’s Boxty House is a good place for traditional food — looks like it’s still there and if the reviews are to be trusted, still good.

  66. HM, thanks. I will put it on my short list. I am just starting to research now since we just booked this trip.

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