Sunday, January 6, 2008


After having being chided for being an ignorant fool in the newspaper I decided to have a second go at the new Akron Art Museum. The article made no real defense of the architecture but rather made fun of anybody who didn’t fall all over themselves praising it. Anyone who likes it is enlightened and modern while anybody who does not is a silly, worm-eating idiot deserving of death. So the “art and architect expert” for the Beacon Journal really made it a game of, “Are you my friend or their friend.” It did occur to me that it may have been a case of civic pride in overdrive, but no, upon re-inspection it was just petty and snotty.

There are a lot of things that I really like about the building and there are some things that I decidedly do not and if it were a church or if this were a blog on architecture (and today I really wish it were) I’d give you the details (though I can’t imagine there being a lot of interest in my two cents on the matter). But stacking up the reviewers, critics, and professionals does little to tell us the truth of evaluations. It may tell us what is popular, accepted, and loved today, but the real test will come in future decades. That’s the way it is with prophets and the designer of this building is a prophet of sorts, giving a voice to humanity in the design of this building. And if it is one thing Christians know, it is that we do not know if a prophet is a prophet until long after the prophecy is uttered and that the critics do not always get it right.

How many things have been heralded as the “it” thing, the wave of the future, the glory of humanity only to be discarded months later? And how many things have been panned by critics only to be embraced by future generations? When the “Sound of Music” first came out it was universally trashed as a bunch of sentimental, operatic claptrap yet it has become one of the most beloved musical in the American songbook.

So what is the prophet’s mission? To be true to the message. That was the glory of the prophets in Scripture: not so much the message they gave but that they stuck by it and God despite what others said and did. Their sticking to the message WAS the prophetic message.

Prophets tend not to be popular and if you wish to be a prophet, you must accept a prophet’s reward. Fr. Cozzen’s, my former rector wrote the book, “The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” which was controversial to say the least. He found himself hated in some circles and beloved in others. But that is the fate of the prophet. If everyone believed as you do you wouldn’t be much of a prophet would you?

At your baptisms you were anointed priest, king, and prophet. Your office of prophet calls you to announce Christ to the world. We don’t stand by our God unless a critic, or a brother-in-law, or a self proclaimed “enlightened individual” stands against us. We stand by our message because it is of God. Sticking to that message is our prophetic message in and of itself. If we do not find ourselves in occasional conflict with others might be a sign that we are not fulfilling much of a prophetic role.

Is the architect of the Akron Art Museum a prophet or bust? Who knows? But I admire the attempt. It was a bold and strong statement in either case. We should be so strong with our prophetic faith witness.


Anonymous said...

I'm a bump on a log, and a stick in the mud, so it won't come as any shock when I say that this art center, like all modern art, looks like the aftermath of a tragedy.

It IS.

Seriously, that "look" makes a thing look unfinished -- maybe that's intentional, for maybe "we complete the thing." :-p Fine, but I always think some of the outdoor "pieces" are scaffolding.

Adoro te Devote said... did you get "chided" in the newspaper? From what venue? Did you write a critique and have some columnist or preppy faux-art critic bash you?


Ok, seriously, did that happen?

And I agree with JustMe. They recently redid the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis. While I haven't been inside, the exterior looks like a Transformer about to eat a Methodist Cathedral. Or maybe a hippo-tron getting prepared to ingest the appetizers it calls "hu-mahnz"

Or maybe a serpent with a very large tron-head that swallowed an led flashlight...

Anonymous said...

Conflict is one thing. Abuse or derision or persecution is another. But we weighed the price back when we decided to fiat the Beatitudes that told us everything that could and likely would happen to us, too, if we dared uphold the commandment to love one another as He has loved us. Disagreement that strays into personal hatred (whatever it is otherwise called), is terribly upsetting, but not only do we have our rock-solid defense, but the Lord Himself -- ever our champion -- is watching at that moment to see what we'll do with it.