This place matters

This place matters

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Soli deo gloria

One of the things I love about my church (which I would be at right now except it turns out my jammies are really comfy and it's cold outside) is that it isn't a church. It's a storefront, an unremarkable flat-roofed building that used to be a used car dealership. It is a no-frills space with just enough space to enable us to meet and do the work our faith calls us to. 
Ruins of a 13th century
cathedral - Chester
I've always been bothered by big fancy churches with marble and gold, stained glass and statuary. Doesn't the Bible say to sell everything you have and give it to the poor? Isn't Christianity based on the concepts of faith, hope, and charity? I'd think Jesus would prefer that His followers spend their money on the least of his brothers before they spent it on a big fancy palace.
Westminster Abby
That always seemed like a no-brainer to me, but lately, maybe since I got interested in photography, I've wondered. And visiting the million-year-old churches in England, standing on the graves of England's luminaries at Westminster Abby, well, I knew I was standing in the presence of some of the greatest works of art on the planet. 
The late Christ the King
Church - my home parish

Doesn't art justify its own existence? The poor were dying because of work in dangerous and filthy conditions when Rodin created The Thinker. Should the Directorate of Fine Arts have been using their funds to save lives rather than buy bronze
So... I don't actually know
which Canton church this came from
for the 180 figures in The Gates of Hell, the sculptural group of which The Thinker was a part? I don't know the answer to that question, honestly... everything we spend money on is money that could theoretically be used to save a life. How many human lives could have been saved for the money spent on The Gates of Hell. One? Ten? None? How many human lives is The Thinker worth, and is it fair to think that way?

St. Mary's
San Francisco
When a religious person helps the poor because of their faith, they are serving the glory of God. But if a religious person paints a picture because of their faith? Or makes a sculpture? Or builds a church? I feel like if a religious artist makes art, that gives glory to their God too, doesn't it? 

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