Cathedrals, built high over the centuries to dominate the minds and natural landscape of the surrounding area, are often extraordinarily beautiful buildings. Regardless of one’s personal faith, they, like so many religious monuments, feature stunning architecture, sculpture, and paintings. The only problem, apparently, is that some of the best of that stuff is all the way up on the ceiling and hard to see well from the ground.
With the same sort of logic that accompanies detonating a tactical nuke to get rid of an ant hill, Norwich Cathedral has solved this long-standing issue with an exciting new attraction: An amusement park ride that’s not only tall enough to provide a closer view of the cathedral’s roof, but also features a twisting slide that church-goers can ride down while screaming “wheee!”
As The Guardian reports, Norwich Cathedral has “installed a 55-ft tall helter skelter in its nave” as the only possible solution to the issue of not being able to adequately check out the roof’s details. The concept—which he describes as part of a “slightly risky thought”—came to Reverend Canon Andy Bryant “when he was visiting the Sistine Chapel in Rome” and wanted to find a good way to show off Norwich Cathedral’s own ceiling.
“We have one of the greatest collections of medieval roof bosses anywhere in northern Europe,” he says. “The trouble is they are so high up that most people never get a chance to really appreciate them.”
Rev. Bryant, a true maverick, decided that the best way to allow visitors to “appreciate...the [cathedral’s] exquisite art” was to put in a helter skelter with “a viewing platform at 40 ft” that gets closer to “the cathedral’s 69 ft-high roof.”
A time-lapse video of the ride’s installation, which is framed so that the cathedral’s intricate vaults are nicely juxtaposed with a big old clown slide, shows the helter skelter taking pride of place in the cathedral.
Rev. Bryant further explains that the ride will ideally “broaden the appeal of our cathedrals.” Considering that each trip up and down the helter skelter costs £2, and because press photos show members of the clergy having a grand old time sliding around on it, there’s a slight suspicion that maybe there are other motives to the installation than furthering art appreciation—like the Reverend finally achieving a childhood dream of having a slide he can use for free whenever he want.
Hopefully, other churches across the world take note before the helter skelter is removed on August 18th. After all, flashy clothes and stadium-sized buildings aren’t going to entertain American megachurch-goers forever. Those visitors need a rollercoaster to ride every Sunday if leadership wants to make sure they stick around and stay spiritually-devoted for the long haul.
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