Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stephen Foster and the timelessness of pastoral complaints:

In the 1580s Nicholas Brownd criticized his congregation in Bury, England, not only for bringing their hunting hawks into church during the service, but also for the casual way members of a household would straggle into the service: "First comes the man, then a quarter of an houre after his wife, and after her, I cannot tell how long, especially the maidservants, who must needes bee as long after her, as the menservants are after him."  In Dedham, just to the south, the church elders found it necessary to call "all governors of household to come to worship in a body with their servants before the service began, as well as to sit through the entire proceeding"

 -- from Stephen Foster, The Long Argument: English Puritanism 
and the Shaping of New England Culture, 1570-1700, 34.

I came across this several months ago and it struck a chord as many friends who are elders and pastors complain about how late people come into church services. Often this gets tied to contemporary culture--but it's been a problem for a long time apparently...
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