Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oh, For the 'Good Old Days?'

Back in my 'good old days,' the late 1950s and the 1960s, cantankerous old coots who were around the age I am now sometimes bewailed the state of the world. Back in their day, apparently, all was right with the world. Children were all well-mannered, youth diligent in preparing for a hard-working adulthood, and - well, you get the picture.

Some of my 'good old days' were the sixties - and I am not going to get off-topic.

The point is, I think there's a tendency to think that there was a sort of 'golden age,' when folks were more sensible, and didn't question whatever a cantankerous old coot - like me? - doesn't want questioned.

I'd say that Eden was like that - but I've read about what went down there. (Genesis 3:24)

Like it says, a little over 20 books later:
"2But man himself begets mischief, as sparks fly upward."
(Job 5:7)

Cromwell: A Johnny-Come-Lately

The notion that a place of worship should have all the visual appeal of a packing crate's interior isn't anything new. The idea was around long before Oliver Cromwell smashed his way into English history. I've discussed the Lord Protector before. (November 19, 2010)

Where was I? Images. Places of Worship. Sensory deprivation as an aesthetic ideal. Right.

Dealing With Iconoclasts: Been There, Done That

St. John of Damascus' feast day is coming up December 4, I read in a CNA article. He's not one of the well-known Saints in this part of the world: Like St. Francis of Assisi, or Father Damien - now Saint Damien of Molokai. (May 11, 2010)

St. John of Damascus lived over a dozen centuries ago. An excerpt from today's CNA article:
"Arab Christian theologian to be celebrated Dec. 4"
CNA/Catholic News Agency (November 28, 2010)

"Catholics will remember and celebrate the life of the great Arab Church Father St. John of Damascus on Dec. 4.

"Eastern Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics, whose tradition has been particularly shaped by his insights, will celebrate the saint's feast on the same day as the Roman Catholic Church.

"Among Eastern Christians, St. John (676-749) is best known for his defense of Christian sacred art, particularly in the form of icons. While the churches of Rome and Constantinople were still united during St. John's life, the Byzantine Emperor Leo III broke radically from the ancient tradition of the church, charging that the veneration of Christian icons was a form of idolatry.

"John had grown up under Muslim rule in Damascus, as the child of strongly Christian parents. His excellent education - particularly in theology - prepared him well to defend the tradition of sacred iconography, against the heresy of the 'iconoclasts,' so-called because they would enter churches and destroy the images therein...."
It's possible that whoever smashed statues at the Mother Cabrini shrine (November 25, 2010) that he (or maybe she) was being the hammer of God, smashing heathen idols.

Come to think of it, Colorado was in the news last month, with religiously-inspired vandalism. ("Crowbar for Christ in Colorado?" (October 7, 2010)) And that's another topic. Almost.

Art and the Catholic Church: Statues, Yes; Idolatry, No

The Catholic Church has a word to say about practicing idolatry: Don't. (April 10, 2010)

We do not worship statues.

Another point: Just as all statues are not idols, not all idols are statues. (February 22, 2010)

The Catechism has a good definition of what idolatry is:
"...Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc...."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2113)
The 'don't do idolatry' rule is important. So is art. The Catechism has a bit to say about what art is - and why we create it. (2501-2503, for starters)

Smashing Statues, Talking Sense

About 13 centuries ago, St. John of Damascus pointed out that sacred art is okay.

In a way, not all that much has changed. About four centuries back, Oliver Cromwell made a name for himself destroying statues - and people. Earlier this month, someone smashed statues in a Colorado shrine.

And, more to the point, the Catholic Church is still here, carrying out the orders we were given on that mountain in Galilee. (Matthew 28:16-20)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.