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June 09, 2008

Comments

Lisa

Our parish looks like a gym from both the inside and the outside. It was built in the early 1970's when, I guess, art took a vacation. How I long for sacred art like stained glass windows and statues!

James Isabella

Wow, I've got to say that I really like the Guy Kemper piece...

...of course, it doesn't really belong in a Catholic anything. Seems more suited for a Japanese or garden tea room.

Hey, we should count our blessings, though! In the 70's they would have tried covering the windows with felt banners :) What's pictured is definitely a step up!

Scott W.

"I can’t help but think he could have approached his canvases in a more deft manner."

"If I may be so bold, this would in fact be a naive belief, and I don’t understand how anyone could presently think so highly of the Catholic Church in light of the recent scandals that — unfortunately — plagued this enduring institution."

Wow. Intellectual dishonesty AND embarrassing ignorance. What a combo.

marty

On the Guy Kemper, my immediate first impression was "Canadian flag".

Tim J.

Knowing TAE as I do, I don't think he has been intellectually dishonest. It could be that, being an artist and in trying to distance himself somewhat from the chorus of knee-jerk, mouth foaming social critics that make up so much of the public image of Christianity in America, he has just bent over too far in the opposite direction... seeking always to accommodate the point of view of the artist, to appease, to see things in the best light possible, even when they are (to me) manifest hate speech, publicity stunts or just plain nonsense.

In this last case, his muted critique seemed to me like saying that, on the whole, Stalin was a bit heavy handed and could have done more to promote human rights.

I know from experience that ignorance of Church teaching is both forgivable and curable. Go easy on those who have simply not had access to all the information, or seen it presented in an intelligible way.

Dean Steinlage

On one hand, the Catholic League's reaction draws attention to the works in question.

On the other hand, "all it takes for evil to flourish is for men of good conscience to do nothing".

Of course, it would help if I could get the quotation right.

Matheus
Of course, it would help if I could get the quotation right.

Dear Dean

Apparently, that quotation is right regardless of the way one writes it.

Martin

I thought it was a shopping mall.

The Aesthetic Elevator

Thanks for the defense Tim! You may be right about being too far in the other direction, but I do honestly try and avoid the equally ignorant and silly knee-jerk crowd.

I'll only add to these comments what I said in my original post, I didn't actually SEE the works in question, which is why it may have sounded like I himmed and hawwed my way around the offending pieces. I did make it clear, though, more than once in the OP, that I had no desire to see the posts. It's clear that I'm not Catholic (to everyone here), though I'm not ashamed of it either (is this surprising, disappointing to this crowd?) This also may cause me to look differently at such things than people tied to the church. For instance, rosary beads mean nothing to me (I assume they are just a type of phylactery?).

Being ignorant isn't something I'm exactly proud of, but we can't all have knowledge of everything. If anyone wants to send me an email about why I SHOULD be Catholic — instead of *merely* referring to myself as a "Christ-follower" and attending just any old Bible preaching church — I will give you a SINCERE listen. Email me at TheAestheticElevator(at)gmail(dot)com if there are any takers.

Lastly (and, yes, I know I said I was only going to say one thing), can I, dare I suggest in this forum that part of the reason for my own ignorance (and the ignorance of others like me) lies with the Catholic church itself?

Or will I lose my head for suggesting such a heretical thing . . .

SDG

AestheticElevator, I appreciate the tone of your post.

A couple of quick notes. You write:

It's clear that I'm not Catholic (to everyone here), though I'm not ashamed of it either (is this surprising, disappointing to this crowd?)

Many of us (including Tim J, I believe) have been non-ashamed non-Catholic Christians before becoming convinced Catholics… and even as a convinced Catholic, I couldn't say I'm ashamed of my non-Catholic past. As a non-Catholic Christian, I did my best by God's grace to follow Jesus as honestly and faithfully as I could. In the course of doing so, I found myself ultimately led to follow Him in the Catholic Church.

I could never be surprised or disappointed to meet people who follow Jesus, in or out of the Church, however acutely I feel the wound of the divisions between us, and believe it should not be so. Are you surprised or disappointed to learn that Tim J, I and many others do believe the Catholic Church to be divinely instituted and infallible in her solemn teaching, and that this belief is in no way imperiled by the tragic and scandalous recent events to which you allude?

For instance, rosary beads mean nothing to me (I assume they are just a type of phylactery?).

Phylacteries mean nothing to me; Jesus' passing reference aside, I know next to nothing of their larger significance in the Second Temple Judaism of Jesus' day, so I couldn't compare or contrast them in a very meaningful way.

What I can probably say is that Jesus' criticism of the ostentatious use of phylacteries to make an outward show of great piety seems on the whole inapplicable to the use of rosaries. Few Catholics proclaim their great faith publicly by flaunting large rosaries -- and, the culture currently being what it is, if they were to do so, it would hardly be likely to win general admiration and approval.

One might more plausibly connect phylactery-like public displays of piety to such tokens as Christian bumper stickers or T-shirts, such as are popular in many Evangelical circles; but, again, in the culture at large this is unlikely to win general admiration, so Jesus' criticism would not seem to directly apply (unless one happened to live in a particularly Christian area, such as a small-town Bible belt community).

Being ignorant isn't something I'm exactly proud of, but we can't all have knowledge of everything.

Very true! Which is why the wisdom of learning not to speak where one is ignorant is such a valuable lesson. (Alas, I have not learned that lesson as effectively as I might have, and have had to repeat it numerous times.)

If anyone wants to send me an email about why I SHOULD be Catholic — instead of *merely* referring to myself as a "Christ-follower" and attending just any old Bible preaching church — I will give you a SINCERE listen.

You may get some takers on that. For myself, I might invite you to begin with this post of mine (which begins with the subject of the ordination of women, but expands to consider larger issues).

Lastly (and, yes, I know I said I was only going to say one thing), can I, dare I suggest in this forum that part of the reason for my own ignorance (and the ignorance of others like me) lies with the Catholic church itself?
Or will I lose my head for suggesting such a heretical thing . . .

Indeed you may, and no you will not, in that order, if we can understand "lies with the Catholic Church itself" to mean "lies with actions or inaction on the part of many within the Catholic Church." Not the complete reason, but part of the reason, certainly.

Tim J.

SDG, am I glad to see you!

I'd like to - would ordinarily be eager to - hang around and do some constructive back-and-forth with TAE (a genuinely nice guy), but I'm going to be WAY out of pocket the next few days... going to the annual G.K. Chesterton Conference (Yessss!!!).

TAE has even made a rash and intemperate request (via e-mail) for the outlines of my own conversion story... I'm really afraid he may have just tossed out the idea in a distracted moment, without thinking, and may repent later, when he will be more or less honor-bound to read the thing (or at least skim it).

I've been asked by a few others how I came to be loitering about the hallways of the Catholic Church... have been asked to present my hall pass, as it were. I can't blame them for that... I have a somewhat checkered past. My religious pedigree is as hazy and mixed up as my family ancestry. I am a religious mutt who found my way home by blind luck.

Well, that's not true. I was led a good bit of the way, but that's for later.

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