Tuesday, August 14, 2018


I have never liked pews and I have made no secret of my dislike. There have always seemed to me to be out of place in an Orthodox church. Originally, the main reason was the tendency to use the pews to relax, watch a show with the priest as the main character and the altar servers and chanters/choir as a supporting cast.

Then, there is the issue of prostrations. There is something unwieldy about having to slide out of the pews in order to make a prostration. If the church is small and the service fairly well attended, the available space around the pews becomes an issue and a prostration, an exercise in body control not to bump the person next to you. At times, people get discouraged and not even try.

 I still consider those valid reason - perhaps primarily so, but recently another reason has been coming up in my mind: rigidity.

Pews impose a rigidity on the congregation that seems artificial. People go to a place and remain there for the whole service. By virtue of being human and simply needing to move your feet even a little bit, a lack of pews will will create some random movement. You don't finish the service in quite the same place you began.

This hits home for me as a parent of small children. In the context of normal human motion, the motion of children within the service is not an anomaly. Yes, it may happen on a different scale than the motion of adults, but it is part of a continuum. However, if the standard is the artificially imposed rigidity of pews, then any motion begins to seem out of place and children can begin to seem out of place - perhaps not even consciously. To me, that stinks. Pee-ew.


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