Friday, August 11, 2006

Elvis Has Entered the Cathedral

For those of you out of the loop on pop culture, greetings from smack in the middle of Elvis Week.

No, I'm not in Memphis -- but, from across the universe, tens of thousands of the faithful are, having gathered there to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the King's death next Wednesday. The city's already-rockin' Elvis industry hits its peak this week, and everything from charity benefit races to "Elvis Insider" conferences are held, all culminating with the annual candlelight vigil at Graceland on the night before the anniversary.

If my father didn't hate crowds, I'd take him. I'd have to -- it'd be like his hajj.

You see, such is my Dad's devotion that I was raised with a "Velvet Elvis" in the basement, a phone with a gyrating Presley who sings "Hound Dog" when it rings and, as I write this, there's a poster of a young Elvis with the lyrics to "Heartbreak Hotel" within eyesight (gift of guess who). My favorite Elvis story is how he routinely shot the television he was watching whenever Robert Goulet happened to appear on it, and when you throw in my uncle and godfather, each of whom think they are Elvis, you can see the King's had a bit of an impact on my life.

Across the Pond, however, one Anglican cathedral has given new meaning to the term "Elvis worship":
Truro Cathedral, which moved its traditional evensong to 4.30pm last Sunday to make way for worship led by the [Elvis] impersonator, says it now wants to become even more adventurous because ordinary services "do not connect with people".

Colin Reid, a spokesman for the cathedral, said: "The Elvis evening was a rip-roaring success. "Elvis" sang a series of gospel songs and in between the head of worship, Canon Perran Gay, reflected on the significance of the lyrics.

"Everyone loved it. There were many people there who never normally darken the doors of a church or a cathedral. That was the point."
Don't forget, after all, who made "How Great Thou Art" so popular -- such that, for years, it was the only Gospel hymn permitted to be sung in the archdiocese of Philadelphia... for the sole reason that John Krol liked it.

And in case Elvis isn't to your liking, "the Cornish cathedral is holding 'alternative' services involving line-dancing, jazz sessions and cowboys singing country and western."

Note to Truro: if you're ever doing an evensong to celebrate God's gift of Soul Train, please let me know.