Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fr. Dolling on Chicago

Anglicanism's a confusing beast, and it gets all the more confusing when you consider its claim to be catholic. This isn't taken very seriously these days, if it's considered at all, but it was in the 19th century, when the 1st and 2nd Oxford Movements worked to catholicise the Church. For the clergy and people of this movement, to be an Anglican was to be a catholic Christian. 

One of the more colorful figures of the 2nd Oxford Movement was a slum priest, Fr. Dolling, and I was reminded of him at a clergy conference (SSC) today, in Arlington.

Dolling visited America in the late 1890s and stayed for a year, before returning to work in England's slums. He was struck by the country, especially Chicago; here's his description of the city on a Sunday evening:

"Comparatively few of the churches are open on Sunday night. All the theatres, and music-halls, and saloons, and low resorts certainly are. To wander along State Street on a Sunday evening is to witness sights the equal of which is to be seen in no other city in the world, and as to what may be seen in other cities of the world I have not a small experience. There is no suggestion of Sunday evening. The shop-doors are closed, but all the windows are a blaze of light, and before them are crowds of women looking at the bonnets, on slowly revolving discs, or watching the electric appliances that dazzle the eye with sudden gleams of tinted globes. Crowds surge about the lower-class theatres. There is the beating of a drum and the shriek of a hurdy-gurdy to attract to a dime museum. At one street-corner is a man yelling anarchy. He has a big crowd. At another street-corner is a sallow, curly-haired individual demonstrating that the earth is flat. He has 200 listeners. At another corner is a semicircle of Salvationists, and a tall woman in a poke bonnet is nasally yelling in prayer that God would strike Chicago to Hell. There are not more than a dozen onlookers."

I love that.

God bless,



LL said...

It's comforting to know that somethings (namely, Chicago, home of Barack's Medicine show) never change.

LSP said...

I thought that might resonate.

Infidel de Manahatta said...

Chicago's not going to hell. Just the Cubs.

LL said...

Maybe if Chicago was more "righteous", the Cubs would win the Series?

LSP said...

Look here, Infidel and LL, you have to COEXIST.

In the name of the, er, Prophet.