Church of England

Elevation of the Blessed Asparagus: a Church of England pantomime

Did the Dean of Worcester Cathedral not pause to think for just one second how utterly, utterly absurd this would look? Really, words fail (though some must necessarily follow). A sacred procession down the Cathedral nave becomes an infantile pantomime as a block of asparagus is elevated and adored like the Blessed Host, and two men dressed up like Monty Python pay some sort of vacuous obsequious homage. What exactly do we have there? Crusader? St George? And what in the name of all that’s holy is a grown man doing dressed up like a jolly green prick? This is church, for God’s sake. Really, for His sake, can the Church of England not offer something clean and undefiled in the worship of God?

England might be a major producer of asparagus, and the Vale of Evesham might be hosting the world famous Asparagus Festival, but where exactly does this stop? Would the Church of England permit a man dressed up as a baked bean to process behind a Heinz tin of the things, and sanctify the mummery with a facade of thanksgiving? And why only adoration of asparagus? Where’s the sprout liturgy, or equality for mushrooms? Would the Dean really permit a walking fungus to participate in an act of divine worship?

And no, before you leap to defend this farce, it is not akin to the Harvest Festival: ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ is about rejoicing in industry and the serious stuff of life: it is never, ever turned into a Telletubby-fest with a guest appearance by Worzel Gummidge prancing behind the vicar. Surely Worcester Cathedral could have found a way of thanking God for asparagus without bringing the Church of England into disrepute. If this doesn’t make ‘Have I Got News For You’, they’ll have missed the religious frolic of the week.

Gus the Asparagusman (for it is he) has no place at all in a worshipful act of reverence: he doesn’t direct our minds to heaven or toward God, but points us to Dipsy and Tinky Winky somewhere in La La Land. Sanctity should be free from all uncleanness, and that includes buffoonery, mumbo jumbo and capers (both sorts).

Honestly, if the Church of England can bless increasingly bent sticks of asparagus, it can surely offer a ceremonial rite for anything – literally, anything. And that, of course, is exactly where we’re heading.