12 August 2019
I see the staff at Norwich Cathedral have been criticised for constructing a full sized Helter Skelter in the cathedral. It belongs to Henry Chipperfield and it took four people two days to construct it.
It was made in 1946 and looks beautiful as it stretches fifty-five feet up into the medieval roof space where participants can view the celebrated roof bosses and catch a breath-taking glimpse of the grandeur of the building from a normally inaccessible location.
One of the critics quoted in the press complained that the Dean and Chapter were ‘poisoning the medicine a church offers by installing a fairground ride’. Clearly, he hadn’t read his Bible recently.
For it was King Solomon who declared in his book of Proverbs that ‘a merry heart doth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones’. From the YouTube video which I saw, it was obvious that the experience was making a lot of merry hearts!
Three things should be remembered. It is a temporary installation. It challenges the stereotype of Christians being killjoys. And it provides an opportunity to open up the cathedral to people who would normally be inhibited by the cultural barriers which our churches seem to create.
Even if I disagreed with the above, I would still support the Dean in undertaking such an imaginative initiative because adults can be unkind in their criticism of children and create barriers towards greater participation.
With 20% of our churches reporting that they have no children in their congregations, this is a serious matter. Not only does it expose our failure to keep baptismal promises but also to follow the example of Jesus who says, ‘Let the little children come to me. Do not hinder them!’