Monday, July 09, 2012
Art and Discovery
One turning point in Thomas Merton’s life came at age 18, when he visited Rome. In The Seven Storey Mountain, he tells how he began touring churches throughout the city. He was not attending services, but found himself attracted by the art in the churches. It began speaking to him and awakening an interest in Christ.In recent years as I have traveled Europe, I have had experiences similar to Merton's.
His words are eloquent testimony to the power of beauty to point people toward the sacred.
It is not shocking that the hyper-rationality of modern American faith is problematic. The problem is the alternative we offer - the hyper-emotionalism of a good it of Pentecostalism. It seems that only art can balance these two things properly.
That is something that the multi-purpose room/sanctuary of the modern church seems to have forgotten - but would be well served to remember. Across Europe many churches are now museums - but their beauty still speak to those that visit - I know it has to me.
Across America failed churches stand empty, or repurposed as warehouse or factory space. Who does that speak to?
Be sure and go read what Merton has to say.