Saturday, March 19, 2011

York, Day Two: York Minster

Our first stop on day two was the York Minster. How to describe it? Large, grand, and old.

One can't help but apreciate the amazing workmanship and detail, but to my Presbyterian mind it seems that as a place of worship the setting is vastly overdone and destracting.

Underneath the Minster one can view origional foundations dating back to the Norman and Roman eras. It's hard for me to grasp the age when I look at something 2000 years old.

Looking up.

The brother of the Black Prince.
And this memorial is supposed to what, endear us to decadent clergy past?
We had a good look around and then left as a German choir was organising around a grand piano.

 York Minster.


Stephen Camp said...

" seems that as a place of worship the setting is vastly overdone and destracting [sic]."
I agree with your sentiment to some degree, and with the presuppositions from which I am pretty sure it comes in greater degree. But I would argue that, in addition to the corruptions of the original intent of such architecture that it has suffered, one can see something positive in the original intent.
First - where better to go to the limits of one's skill and resources than a house of God on earth? I agree that in some sense it might be distracting for the worshiper, but to the men who wrought it the building itself is an act of worship: a devotion of the arts of men to the glory of God, by making His place as glorious as possible. It is not necessary and not always helpful to understand a church building in such a way, but is it not at the very worst a noble error?
Second - the church is a symbol. It is a heap of stones, surely, and will perish. The denomination to which it is peculiar will in its time probably perish as well. But the Church of which it is a symbol - Christendom is immortal! To quote from G.K. Chesterton, "... the cathedrals bear witness not to ambitions but to ideals; and to ideals that are still alive. They are more than alive, indeed they are immortal because they are ideals that no man has ever been able to frustrate or to fulfill." Even that heap of stones has been for twenty centuries - it has seen the rise and fall of many nations and empires of men, and it has outlasted them all. The Church for which it stands has outlasted all before and will outlast all to come. When ours has perished as Rome has perished, that stone church may very well still stand, and even if it does not the Church of which it is a symbol will still stand.
Third - though I agree that Catholicism's traditions of worship have probably made it easier for some of them to slip away from Truth while retaining outward forms of their religion, there has to have been a nobility in the original intent with which they established majestic traditions and places of worship. They have to have been seeking to remind the worshiper Whom he worshiped - to remind him of the majesty and sovereignty of God. There is danger there, to be sure, and there is more about God to celebrate than merely His majesty, but I would argue again that at the worst it was a noble error when it first began.
All that having been said - an author you might like (or might hate) is G.K Chesterton, a British Catholic journalist and novelist, to which I would add poet and philosopher. He is excellent and turning the world sideways and revealing the glory and the cause for joy hiding in the commonplace. He is a Catholic, and so you would disagree with his theology and philosophy on some points, but for the most part his thoughts seem sound. I would recommend especially for this discussion, two short essays: Castle and Cathedral (quoted above) and The Battle-Beauty of the Gothic.

Nathania said...

Wow! It looks so beautiful!!

The Marchioness said...

What an amazingly long comment.

I can appreciate origional intent and the form of worship through workmanship, but again I don't think I would choose to worship in such a grand building.

I'm sure my perspective has been influenced by the fact that the churches I've attended never owned their own building, so we don't have that aspect of history and significance as part of our lives like other congregations do.

Nathania, I'm sorry I haven't been answering your comments! You've been so good to comment so much.

Nathania said...

Oh, it's quite alright. I know you are staying plenty busy. :-) I appreciate you keeping your blog up to date so I can read it! =)

Will Goodwin said...

Marchioness, once again, these photos are superb!