Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Church - enemy of artists?

I took time recently to the pope's talk given to artists in the Sistine Chapel. It was very good, and a good effort by the pope to build bridges with artists. He said that beauty is "capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, and can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon (God), and to dream of a life worthy of its vocation." That is some nice stuff! I really like Pope Benedict XVI's commitment to beauty and dignity in worship. It is evident not only in his writings, such as "The Spirit of the Liturgy", but also in how he vests, how he conducts the liturgy, and the recent changes he made with things like the "Motu Proprio" and his overtures to Anglicans.

Unfortunately the church is very often the enemy of beauty, and therefore the enemy of artists. This antagonism is manifest in the little thought or care clergy and people give to beauty in worship or in their churches. For example, when a parish plans activities such as missions trips, or a food drive, there is often lots of fanfare accompanying it, and everyone congratulates you on doing this "wonderful" thing. Or if a new copier needs to be purchased a massive fundraiser is set up to buy one. But if you say that you want to buy a set of solemn high mass vestments, or a new chalice or ciborium to make worship more beautiful and dignified the attitude is often, "Why do we need that? Don't we already have one? Who cares? It's only worship we're talking about."

Sadly this is often the case with "continuing" Anglican parishes, where corners are cut and things are done "on the cheap". My heart has sunk when I have seen ugly, run-down buildings and tattered rags serving as vestments in some of these places, and then see that the parishioners homes look like palaces! What a bad attitude - the complete opposite of King David's attitude when he wanted to build the Temple. And I think that is why man of our Anglican parishes are moribund - we do not care about worship, and so long as we don't care about that, we will neither thrive nor prosper spiritually or otherwise.


Anonymous said...

So very true so very often. It is difficult because so many people think these concerns are superficial and of little account... or even that they demonstrate a shallow sort of spirituality. Nothing could be further from the truth! Your observation regarding the 'run-down house of God' vs. the 'parishioner's palace' is a good one that I hadn't considered. Isn't that the truth — I've dined with better plates and silverware at a parishioner's house than we have to serve the Holy Communion. What a sham and disgrace. Pax. Br. Shane

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