...we should be willing to include “entertainment” as a purpose in the Sunday morning experience. Entertainment is not a religious function. Then again, while community building is a secular function, it is vitally important for a religious community...
The term “entertainment” is often viewed as cheap or superficial... However, if asked to name your favorite film or play, the answer, I suspect, will include a work of artistic merit, which produced insights into the human condition in a way, which was engaging, dramatic and memorable. “Entertainment” is not an antonym for “Authentic.”
...evangelical mega-churches are serious about entertainment. I hesitate to point this out, because I am certainly not suggesting that entertainment in a UU congregation look like the entertainment that happens in an evangelical mega-church. Nevertheless, I am claiming that the presentation of the Sunday morning experience in UU congregations should be entertaining.
Entertainment can be serious or lighthearted, tragic or comic, emotional or conceptual. Entertainment is a way of planning a presentation by focusing on the quality of recipient’s experience. Entertainment may not make a message more important, but it can make the recipient more engaged and the message more memorable. An entertaining message can inspire people to commit their time and energy into social justice, allow people to understand the inner reality of someone very different or lead a person into a moment of ecstatic presence...Mallory goes on to question the typical UU anti-entertainment rationale and dares to suggest that our reasons may be more like excuses for an unwillingness to tackle the hard work of creating worship entertaining enough to reach the modern, plugged-in, worshipper:
I believe there is a sentiment that religion in general and Unitarian Universalism in particular should rise above the profane of entertainment and that a UU minister who stands and delivers a sermon, plainly and unplugged, is a living testament to honesty, genuineness and authenticity. I believe this sentiment springs from a naïve mythology and conveniently excuses the hard work of reimagining the Sunday morning experience.I find myself persuaded by Mallory's argument. The form of our worship should be among the transient elements of our faith, but has tended to be treated more like the permanent! In fact, the deep, permanent, elements of our faith may be ineffective because we fail to embed them in a form that touches people as and where they are.
What arises for me is not at all a feeling of revulsion at the concept of "entertaining worship", but a deep discomfort about my own inadequacy for the task and the lack of resources at my disposal.
I would love to hear how others engage with these ideas...