Let me state the obvious. This is one of those stories that people would worry about if it ran at a satire-news website like The Onion or, especially, The Babylon Bee.
It would fit either place since it combines British humor, pop culture and a 12th century cathedral.
But, no, this report is from the venerable BBC. And what a wild story it is, combining outlandish visuals with a solid hard-news angle that is perfect for religion-beat coverage. The only problem is that BBC totally omitted the serious-news content in this strange story. The headline states, “Norwich Cathedral: Bishop delivers sermon from helter-skelter.”
Helter skelter? No, we’re not talking about The Beatles song and there’s no link here, obviously, to the Manson Family. No, this is a story about a painfully hip bishop (#IMHO) and an oldline Protestant institution that is really, really anxious to pull a few people through its doors. Here is (hang on tight) the overture:
God would be "revelling" in the joy a "glorious" helter-skelter has brought to Norwich Cathedral, its bishop has told his congregation from its slide.
The fairground ride had been in the nave of the cathedral for 11 days. It was intended to give people a different view of the building, although some accused the cathedral of "making a mistake".
The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Revd Jonathan Meyrick, delivered his sermon from halfway up the ride.
"God is a tourist attraction," he told his congregation during the cathedral's final service with the helter-skelter as a backdrop. "God wants to be attractive to us. ... for us to enjoy ourselves, each other and the world around us and this glorious helter-skelter is about just that."
The bishop had climbed to the top of the helter-skelter before edging halfway down the slide, where he stopped to deliver his sermon. He then received a loud cheer as he whooshed to the bottom.
On one level, this strategy worked, since cathedral officials noted that about 20,000 people paid a visit between August 7-18 and about 10,000 newcomers chose to slide down the helter-skelter.
The online version of this news story also did include a tiny note, and a quick hyperlink, to a traditional Anglican response to this rather unique approach to evangelism.