Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Taking the rough with the smooth

Life here in rural NE Suffolk is usually quiet and peaceful, but over the last couple of days there's been a strange person doing the rounds of our churches who clearly has a problem. On Monday he (she?) went into Flixton and turned both banners by the altar to face the wall, moved the crosses, and smashed the small plaster statue of Mother and child that had only been put there three days before. They placed two large volumes of "The Life of Christ" (not ours, so must have been brought with them) on the altar and left their distinctive mark in the Visitor's Book.

On Tuesday they went to St. Cross South Elmham, opened the lectern Bible to the end of the Book of Revelation and pulled the cross above the pulpit off the wall. The small weekday wooden cross on the altar was dismantled, and the icon of St. George in the porch was taken down and left lying face down on the ground.

Today it was the turn of St. Margaret South Elmham. The church banner was turned to the wall.

A wheatstraw cross taken off the wall and placed upside down in the pulpit. The small plaster statue of Mother and child suffered the same fate as Flixton's.

More significantly, a wooden cross from the windowsill was laid sideways on the altar on top of a paperback copy of a book by the satanist Aleister Crowley.

They left the same signature in the Visitor's Book.

We know when we leave our churches open they are subject to abuse, but this person needs to keep taking their medication.

It was quite a pretty statue as well. I'm going to have a go at restoring it.


  1. SR, I'm sorry. Weird and ugly - a violation, and very hurtful to you and your parishioners, I'm sure.

  2. Annoying rather than hurtful, Grandmere. I don't lose any sleep over it. I wonder where the person might strike tonight, but I'll discover that tomorrow. If we're open 24/7 this is bound to happen sooner or later. But all the positive feedback we get from being open all hours far outweighs rare incidents such as these.

  3. Perhaps "strange" and "problem" are not the most helpful way to describe the person who is acting in this way? Seeing ourselves as the victims doesn't help either. Is there a more positive way in which you can seek to be alongside this person who is acting out with some passion and energy?

  4. I could stand alongside with a large stick .....

    Seriously - if the person is ill, then I hope they find the help they need. That's not something I am qualified to give. If they are purely occult and attacking the Christian church, then I doubt if pastoral care would have any effect.

    As to "seeing ouselves as the victims", er... what else are we? We provide these small country churches as open places for prayer and encounters with the holy. When something unholy is enacted within, then we are victimised. Sorry if you don't like the terminology.

  5. Mark, hang on. I'm talking about the actions, not the person. I'd say that the person needs help, and, yes indeed, I'd do what I could for them.

  6. The added difficulty is that we have no idea who they are ...

  7. "purely occult" - I think you've said it all. As a psychotherapist, I meet people who act out in this way nearly every week. I'm fascinated by what you describe as "unholy". They've rearranged your furniture and broken something. You take a calculated risk by leaving the church open which I applaud. Now be adult about it, be sad and move on. Understand the roots of your anger and turn the other cheek.

  8. So sorry to hear this, but glad you're taking the view that staying open is more important.

  9. Mark - I'm not angry at all. Whoever is doing this believes they are acting out a Satanic rite of some sort. That is clear from the reversed crosses, the breaking of the images, the opening of the Bible to the end of Revelation, the Crowley book, and the signature "The Bride of Christ". That is a violation of a Christian place of worship. To call it "unholy" seems to me to be entirely appropriate. I am not "wet behind the ears" where occultism is concerned, and have had dealings with it before.

    Theis person is also clearly disturbed in some fashion, and therefore in a normal social context, "strange". Their action are also a "problem" for these churches in that some parishioners have already said that they are now worried about going into their building.

    I am not going to apologise for my terminology nor my assessment of the effect of this person's actions. I have no animosity towards him (her?) and I hope that their identity is soon discovered so that they may receive whatever help is deemed appropriate.

    End of story.

  10. I could stand alongside with a large stick .....