Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Two sentences

Both of these are from articles in the latest issue of Crosstalk, the official newspaper of the local Anglican diocese.
  1. "Perhaps no other house of worship is as representative of church architecture in the 1960s as this, with its daring lines, sleek mass, contrasting surfaces of brick walls, metal uprights, shingle roof, glass window walls, and a laminated support beams inside."
  2. "Although Anglican marchers dressed more modestly than many of the participants, many seemed in touch with the theme of this year's Capital Pride Festival—'Be Loud, Be Proud'."
Both are, by any measure, bad writing. What I think makes them interesting is that the bad writing is most likely the result of the writer's discomfort with the subject they are writing about. There are things that both writers are conscious of but are at pains not to admit.

Glenn Lockwood, the writer of the first sentence, is uncomfortable because the church he is writing about is completely without architectural distinction or aesthetic value. In simpler language, his point is that this church looks like just about every other church built in the 1960s. He also knows it's ugly and that everyone else knows it too. As a church archivist, however, his job is to write cheery, encouraging little pieces about various churches in the diocese.

The sentence on the Pride parade is a little more, shall we say, complex. I'll take it as given that any readers here are familiar enough with Pride parades to know that "dressing more modestly than many participants" is not a challenge. If you dress at all, you'll probably make that grade. The problem that Art Babych is trying to squirm away from is that Anglicans fit in as well at a Pride parade as pickles in vanilla icing. The obvious question is, "What exactly are you doing here?" and there is no obvious answer.

On the same lines, I love this quote from a church official that is used in the article: "We have found this a wonderful opportunity to make clear that there are parishes in our diocese who are intentional in their welcome to the GLBT [sic] community." To find anything to match that bureaucratese you'd have to go back to the the great press releases cranked out by Communist regimes back in the mid 20th century.

More difficult is the issue of whether Anglicans really do welcome the LGBT community. There is a photo spread to accompany the article and the shots have all been carefully framed so as to exclude all other participants in the parade. Whatever the "intentional" message is, the unintentional one is that Anglicans support LGBT people in the abstract but feel kind of uncomfortable being associated with them in the flesh.

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