Monthly Archives: May 2017

a mobius-like meditation on stories and life

Life is a story. Right?

2013-02-28-Heroesjourney

Perhaps, but a story is not life.

We love personal testimonies. We love when someone tells us the story of their life, all the twists and turns, ups and downs, and final “success” or happy ending. We love the “my life was terrible and then I found God and now I’m happy” stories.

Of course we know those stories are, at least in part, spurious. Never completely trust the autobiographer — even if the ending is not so happy. Not merely because life isn’t so neat, and not only because such stories often arise more from some need to believe in a kind of personal mythology, but also because every story is a reduction of reality to a few key, salient, narrative points. Even if true, those points create a false understanding by themselves.

Life is like a story, and stories can tell us a great deal about life, but life is also an infinitude — mysterious, connected to God, an extension of being itself.

All that I wrote above makes a lot of sense to me, but I have issues with it as well.

We rely on the personal testimonies of eye witnesses for much the the knowledge we get about the world — current and historical. Even our entire system of law requires it.

We trust in the Gospel stories of Christ because of eyewitnesses. They told stories and those stories have to be sufficiently accurate and reliable for us to believe with integrity.

But, then God is an infinitude, mysterious, and the source of being itself. Therefore, stories mediate the impossible to us so that we can believe. Stories, by their nature, hide us in the cleft of the rock as God passes by.

The Gospel is a story, but it is also a person: it is the information about Christ and it is Christ in us. Thus the gospel is simultaneously safe and unsafe.

Thus a story can be life itself.

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Filed under Christian Life, Gospel

Turning the Tide of the 20th Century: Restoring Beauty in Sacred Architecture

I believe there is a “movement” afoot within the Church (and perhaps beyond) to return in some way to earlier church building designs. In other words, to return to churches that look like churches and architecturally “speak” the language of the the sacred (and more specifically of Catholic theology).

This talk above speaks to that. Erik Bootsma essentially encapsulates the same message, with many of the same examples, found in Michael Rose’s book Ugly as Sin: Why They Changed our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces — and How We Can Change Them Back Again.

I have to say I am swayed by the arguments. I say this as someone who loves modern art and architecture. In fact, many of the modernist churches Bootsma shows in his presentation I love as architecture. Still, they are not appropriate as churches for the reasons he points out.

And yet, I don’t believe it’s appropriate for us to return to the past in some slavish way. The way forward is to understand what the purpose of Church architecture is all about and what it is (or should be) trying to accomplish. Then to use that knowledge to create appropriate works for our times. However, as Christians we are both of our time and of the age to come. In other words, there is a timeless aspect to Christian experience, and so it should be with its art. So looking to the past is critical in order to move forward.

Related link: Catholic Art Guild

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Beauty, Catholic Church, Church History, Evangelism, Gospel, Language, Liturgy, Sacraments, Theology, Tradition, Video

Fr. Calvin Goodwin, FSSP speaking on the Traditional Latin Mass

This was a few years ago, but it’s very good. He brings a lot of wisdom with his perspective.

I’m sure most Catholics would find such a talk boring and fussy. But I love this kind of thing. I’m a nerd, I know, but I also find history, especially in terms of culture and ways of thinking, fascinating.

Note: I heard Fr.Goodwin was recently seriously ill, perhaps had a stroke, but is recovering(?). May God bless him and keep him well.

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Filed under Catholic Church, Church History, Curious, Liturgy, Sacraments, The Early Church, Tradition