Cue the “Fairway to Heaven” jokes.
Rochester Cathedral — England’s second oldest cathedral — is trying to get more young people to enter their building by replacing the pews with a nine-hole miniature golf course. At least for a few weeks.
The golf course will be there until September 1.
Each hole includes a small bridge as part of the ball’s pathway. That’s because the course was paid for by the Rochester Bridge Trust, though church officials say it’s a metaphor for how people need to form “emotional and physical bridges.”
But there are plenty of critics who see this as blasphemy.
Rev Rachel Phillips, Canon for mission and growth at Rochester Cathedral, said: “We hope that, while playing adventure golf, visitors will reflect on the bridges that need to be built in their own lives and in our world today.”
A visitor to the cathedral said: “It’s really nice for children to come here, be able to see the history of the cathedral and have fun.”
The Right Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, Bishop of the Anglican Episcopal Church, said: “I’m afraid I think it’s a really serious mistake, perhaps born of desperation.
“The idea that people are so trivial that they can be almost tricked into a search for God by entertaining them with a golf course is a serious-category error.”
Of course (ha) it’s a trick. But considering the other ways religions try to get you in the door — through fake friendships, through elaborate stagecraft, through popular music, through whatever the hell Kanye West is doing — an innocent golf course is hardly a bad trick. It’s not like the last hole goes through the hand of Jesus on the cross.
What’s weird is how they think people will come in to play the holes… and then stick around for the damnation.
Is it an “act of desecration,” as one critic argued? No. Of course not. No golf course can damage a church more than churches have damaged themselves.
At least people can enjoy the golf course. It’s wholesome fun for everyone. You can’t say that about religion.
So enjoy this transformation for now, but even if you miss it, don’t worry. A lot of churches will be converting to more entertaining places in the near future anyway.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)