The laity and the Church

2 11 2009


Once upon a time, there was a Church that didn’t need the laity. Well, it knew that it was there, but it wasn’t like it mattered or anything. The only non-clergy who actually mattered were the ones who had the swords and the guns; as long as they were on the clergy’s side, the Church could basically do whatever it wanted. Thus, the liturgy remained in the same language for sixteen hundred years, even if the people had long stopped speaking that language. Ceremonies were basically performed in a whisper, or in a rushing series of clerical incantations to which most of the people in the church were completely oblivious. Meanwhile, the laity had to “fend for themselves”, taking what the clergy told them and trying to fit it into how they perceived and lived their daily lives. Sometimes, the clergy themselves assumed many of the popular beliefs of the people (after all, clergymen in that Church didn’t just bud out of other clergymen like hydras), and sometimes they had to go to scold the people for their “superstition” when they found certain practices objectionable. But the point was that the clergy had a captive audience, and the laity had to accept whatever it said, like it or not.
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