Friday, May 29, 2009

R.I.P. The Church

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Toronto
(photo courtesy of Christina Crook)

We've all seen churches like these. Formerly grand places of worship, now 19th century architectural pieces of art. Their glory days long since gone and the culture that came with them, also vanished. But archaic churches don't get buried. They become museums, which is almost worse than dying I think...

Thousands of footsteps in and out, in and out, cameras clicking, lighting a candle because well--that's just what you do. Most of these churches have gift shops with a steady lineup. Whatever it takes to keep the lights on I guess, but it all seems a little irreverent and cheap to me.

I've "toured" St. Patrick's on Madison Ave in NYC a few times. The massive arches, stained glass, and iconic sculptures instill a sense of holy wonder in me. I think if I were to have grown up worshipping God under such historical beauty I would walk a little taller, be more pious, or something...

St. Patrick's Cathedral recently boasted of welcoming over 40,000 to receive their ashes on Ash Wednesday. Evidence, I think, of the economic toll on the emotional and spiritual system of most Americans today. I do wonder what the following Sunday's attendance looked like. I especially wonder what it will look like once the economy bounces back and people won't need God anymore.

Ultimately, I believe God isn't housed in pretty structures. I take solace in that when they crumble, or the Institution begins to fade, He doesn't. But I wouldn't lay out your mourning clothes for The Church just yet. Perhaps She's not really dying, just changing shape. Just because you can't recognize something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Rikki Ratliff is the Associate Producer & Reporter for Listen Up TV

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