Wednesday, May 13, 2009

liturgy and fiction

It seems to me that authors are skimping on their research these days. I remember when I worked at the State Library in Florida an author called to check train schedules from the early 20th century. I was impressed she was going to that much "trouble" since I was pretty sure most of the people who might remember when trains arrived and departed stations in Florida at that time would likely be dead. Still, she was doing her research.
In recent years, glaring errors in liturgy and clerical dress in fiction seem to jump out at me. Are there more of them or am I just more sensitive now that I am a priest? Rita Mae Brown had her Lutheran priest wearing a green surplice once. Green! And Laura Childs' most recent book has a funeral set at Grace in Charleston that would likely never happen in an Episcopal Church. The funeral director preceded the casket down the aisle, it was set crosswise at the steps to the chancel and the "minister" was wearing a black suit with a white notched collar!
So why can't authors research liturgy before writing about it? In traditions with a book of worship, it's easy to find out what the prayers would be and how the service would be conducted. As far as dress goes, most clergy would probably be happy to have someone ask them what they wear to do a funeral or a wedding or even Sunday services.
Okay, I'm climbing down from my soapbox now. Sometimes you just have to vent. :-)

1 comment:

Ray Flanary said...

A green surplice...yikes. Well, you know, I think this is true of many aspects of our lives today. People do not take the time to perfect their work. Whatever happened to quality and artisan craftsmanship? Whether we are writing a great work of fiction or crafting a piece of furniture, the work we create is a reflection of us. I don't know about you, but I want my work to stand for quality. It seems that we live in a fast-food, Wal-Mart, throw-away generation that wants everything quick, easy, and cheap. Oh well, I'll get off my soap box now too. I could go on for hours.