Thursday, August 19, 2010

Anne Rice, and The Undead

Gosh, was it only two weeks ago that vampire novelist Anne Rice announced she was leaving Christianity? How time flies.

Today weighed in on the matter. And there's good news, people: "undead" has a whole new meaning.

Townhall Columnist Bob Burney writes, "I’m with you, Anne! I have through the years developed a deep distaste for “religion.”

What makes this statement a little odd is the fact that Mr. Burney is an evangelical pastor who broadcasts for Salem Communications.

So odd, in fact, that DIH put aside her morning Cheerios and read on.

Burney goes on to tell about his recent trip to a youth camp in Moldova, in Eastern Europe. It was fantastic! "Kids hooked on drugs and sex are wonderfully delivered. Young people lost in a poverty-stricken culture find meaning and hope. Over the course of 17 years, over 22,000 young people have come to Christ!"

I'll let Mr Burney tell the next part:

"On the return trip to America, I had an overnight layover in Vienna. Although I had seen it before, I had to make a visit to St. Stephens Cathedral in the heart of the city. Standing for over 800 years, its architecture is truly breathtaking. There are priceless works of art everywhere. You cannot help but stand in awe realizing that this structure was built without any modern technology or machinery. There are so many adjectives and superlatives that I could use to describe the visual spectacle that confronts you. It is beautiful, magnificent and opulent—but it is also dead. It is more museum than church—a relic of ritual and tradition, filled with tourists, empty of worshippers."

Now that's odd, I said to myself. Austrian Catholics are a pretty serious lot. Trust me, the pastor of my childhood parish was Austrian, and in addition to having an unpronounceable name- Pfundstein- he was one serious guy. (Naturally all the kids called him "Funsy" behind his back.)

So I decided to see just how "dead" St Stephen's in Vienna is. I started poking around the internet.

Well. All I can say is, for a "dead" church, St Stephen's is one happenin' place.

If "Messe" means what I think it means, St Stephen's has eight Masses every Sunday. Plus the Rosary and Vespers, and whatever "Hauptgottesdienst" mean.

As for weekdays, there are six Masses, and the Rosary, and "Andacht." Which, according to my internet translator, means "devotion." And given how many devotions Catholics are into that could mean a lot of different things. (Divine Mercy, anyone?)

Now, I don't have any attendance figures. But it strikes me as odd that any church would bother to hold half a dozen masses every weekday if no one was showing up. In fact, it strikes me as Almost Certainly Not The Case.

I guess I could ask what time of day Mr. Burney dropped by St Stephens. Maybe he hit a between-the-masses lull. But jeez, Bob. You couldn't have picked up a bulletin or something? You couldn't look up what was actually going on at St Stephens' when you weren't around? "Dead" seems a little extreme for a church that has "Haupgottesdienst."

I tell you what, Bob. You get around, right? Maybe you should check out a few other Catholic churches and we can straighten out this "dead" bit once and for all. I know some awesome ones.

But if you're not into that, here's the St Stephen's website:

Let me know if you find out what "hauptgottesdienst" means.


Mary Beth said...

Glad to have you back! And near as I can tell, Hauptgottesdienst means something like "High Mass."

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I think it may be a "child's mass" or "youth group" or something similar.

joke said...

Mary Beth is's German for High Mass (literally "Head Church Service").

Now you know.

DIH said...