Pimp My Liturgy - 04 (Special Incense Edition - 1)
The 'Botafumeiro Incense Swing' for Evangelicals
While holy incense is not big in the Evangelical movement, my hope is that this post, and the next, will recover something of this wonderful high church tradition for my fellow evangelical brethren. I was inspired watching the following video of the famous 'Botafumeiro Incense Swing' in Spain:One of the commentators on this video on Youtube, a DavidGPardue, says:
'The Botafumeiro knocked the priest who caught it on his rear end in 2004 ... I saw it happen. That censer is dangerous, hot and heavy — it is made from solid sterling silver. He did not seem hurt when he got up'.
Right. Nothing like risking life and limb for a bit of jolly good Botafumeiro swinging. It is, after all, in the service of the Lord.
Wikipedia reveals that there is quite a history of Botafumeiro accidents:
'There have been a number of accidents that occurred during the swinging of the Botafumeiro over the years. Apparently at one time, the Botafumeiro was attached to the rope with a hook which sometimes became disconnected. One of the most renowned accidents took place during a visit of Princess Catherine of Aragon. She was on a journey to marry the heir to the English throne in 1499 and stopped by the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. While it was being swung, the Botafumeiro flew out of the cathedral through the Platerias high window. No one was reported to have been injured on this occasion. The ropes and other devices securing the Botafumeiro have also failed on May 23rd, 1622, and more recently in 1925 and July of 1937 ... [when] hot coals were spilled on the ground'.
Now, time to get the calculator out for some maths. A bit of internet research informs me that the Botafumeiro reaches speeds of an astonishing 105 mph (or 47 m/s). Remembering Newton's laws, at an astonishing weight of 160 kilograms this means that a Botafumeiro in the face might lose you your ... face. And head, along with everything attached to it. Still, it would at least decorate the church walls in an interesting hint of brain. But we can be much more precise:
Let's ask some sensible questions. How far would an unlucky worshiper be propelled were the Botafumeiro to connect with his centre of gravity? The momentum (mass x velocity) of the Botafumeiro comes to roughly 7520Ns at maximum speed. As force x time = momentum, a half second contact with the thurible would exert 3760 Newtons of force on the churchgoer. Remembering that v = u + at and F = ma, we can work a few more matters out. If this hapless worshipper was a rather sturdy adult male, weighing approximately 90 kg (or 200 pounds), then he would be accelerated, by the Botafumeiro, at 41.7 meters per second per second.
Let's assume this man was stationary, kneeling during prayer, when it hit. This would mean a contact of half a second would set the man flying at a velocity of 20.88 m/s (that is almost 50 mph. 0-50 mph in half a second!). Which further means that our praying saint would travel a clean 100 meters in just 4.8 seconds! ("Dear God, draw me closer to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu")
It would probably be worth keeping your eyes open during prayer times in this church.
I wonder how many 200 lbs choir singers it would take to stop our smoking Botafumeiro, in 2 seconds? I leave that for our resident scientists to work out, but I'm guessing that it would need to plough through a row of quite a few 200 pound men in order to reach a state of rest. That would probably wipe out an entire choir.
Hang on, on second thoughts it is quite simple, isn’t it? Think of Newton’s Pendulum. In order to bring the thurible to a stop, you would need 160 kg of men (or two 176.4 lbs men). They would of course themeselves fly off at 41.7 meters per second per second, and traverse (in a vacuum) the length of two football pitches (about 230 meters) in about 4 seconds.
Wiki continues: 'It costs about 250€ for each thurible "performance" at the cathedral ... The Botafumeiro produces large volumes of smoke. This is in accord with the well-known saying in religious circles, "More incense, less nonsense."'
Indeed, it is all about the smoke, as we shall see in Pimp My Liturgy - 05 (Special Incense Edition - 2).
To learn how to swing the Botafumeiro, do check out this great interactive flash animation.
So, Evangelical community, why not consider introducing the Botafumeiro Swing into your churches. Think what fun it would be to have a speeding 160kg mass of potentially murderous and heavy, scorching hot metal fly around your Sunday services, dispensing enough incense to get all the smoke detectors within a 1 mile radius beeping. Surely revival would quickly follow.
Labels: Pimp My Liturgy