Thursday, May 23, 2013


Truth?  What is truth?


Real?  What is real?


Last night we were sitting out on the loggia watching the storm come in and discussing matters of faith.  We have candles out on the loggia that are spring loaded; that is, the candle is inside a tube and a spring at the bottom pushes the candle up so that can burn all the way down to the nub while all the time always “looking like” a new candle recently lit.


We do a lot of things that look or sound like we are doing the “real” thing.  Depending on the parish at which you worship you may have fake bells in the tower, an electronic organ made to sound like a pipe organ, fake pillars made out of plaster, art printed by machine and made to look like a painting, faux marble, silk flowers, electronic candles, acetate vestments, and occasionally canned homilies.  Does it matter?  What is the value of “real?”


I once had a book (that has since been lost) talking about such things.  It even railed against followers on candles because it obstructed the view of the glow of the candle in the wax at the top of stick and prevented the natural dripping of bee’s wax.  I don’t know if I would go quite that far but I like the direction in which the author was looking.


Having only fake experience of things is every bit as barbaric as having only seen artificial night.  Most people have never seen a true night sky undimmed by light pollution.  Few moderns have an idea of the beauty and majesty of the Milky Way or the fascination of seeing a satellite pass quickly by with the naked eye.  The total experience of a true night sky absolutely jammed packed with starts only comes from pictures, planetariums, and Star Trek movies.  These take the place of real and “real” becomes the interesting second of our primary experience.  “You know, you can really see it much better at the planetarium.” 


There are four paths to God; the One, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.  “Real” art is true, is good, and is beautiful particularly when it is connected to the Eucharist and when it is touched by the genius of the human hand or the action of the elements.  Therefore is it not good to come as closely as we can to that which is most elemental such as air actually passing through a pipe to create a pipe organ sound, fire that produces the light of what we want to label a candle, a bell that rings out what we call “the bells,” flowers that don’t grow dusty and faded before they grow unusable, a painting that is unique to an artist who produced it and can’t be found in every parish church that you might stop into, to have a place that is not “virtual” out of convenience or cost as much as possible as clever as the virtual might be, so as to be in closer proximity to that which is real, True, Good, and Beautiful? 

There is something here difficult to articulate and one either gets it or they don’t.  And obtaining it is sometimes easier to achieve than others.  And it can go too far.  But the less we live with artificial as real, the closer we live in truth.


COMPLETELY UNRELATED TOPIC:  Which is why I hate aluminum siding.  There is always an attempt to make it look like wood.  It is not wood.  It doesn’t look like wood.  So why not make aluminum siding look like aluminum siding.  What great and interesting thing can it do that perhaps we can’t do with wood?  Could we come up with new designs and applications so instead of looking like an artificial wooden house, it could look like a beautiful aluminum house?




Does anybody out there feel this way?


Matt W said...

I knew you were true Blue. OSU doesn't have a real carillon. GO BLUE!

That being said, sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. Our neighborhood would be lessened, I think, without the Angelus ringing at noon and six from St. Sebastian's bell tower, even if it is just a recording.

Unknown said...

The daily bell concerts were one of many wonderful experiences of Michigan. I was there when another guy from Barberton named Bo was enjoying the great life in A squared.

MaryofSharon said...

I had the good fortune of visiting a bona fide monastery in the middle of nowhere out in farm country in Illinois this week. There were real monks who wear gray robes all the time and chant all the hours and who don't talk at meals and do dishes (with their guests) in silence.

When it was time for the sext prayers at 11 am, I happened to be standing right where the monk pulls the cord to ring the real bell calling the monks to prayer. I couldn't help but think of Adam's Ale and your posts about real things. It was the first time I'd ever seen a bell cord being pulled! The monk was rather amused at how excited I got about it. (I was probably supposed to be silent at the time, but no one had explained that to me yet.)

MaraJoy said...

I heard Steven Ball (the speaker in the video) give a fascinating talk once on why church's should have real bells. The reasons ranged from the extremely practical, like explaining exactly how the rocking of the bells produces literally moving sound waves that are impossible to replicate with a recording, giving us the very distinctive "bell" sound, and how bells can last hundreds and hundreds of years (how many electronic creations can last anywhere as near long?); to the more "spiritual" aspects of them - how there is a special blessing for them, and even how bells are considered to have "souls" of a sort.

Terry T said...

Perhaps I am naive, but I was shocked to find out that the church bells were merely a recording. Apparently, I never looked up to notice the lack of a bell in the belfry. In any case, I love to hear them. They help me keep track of time when I am working in the yard and remind me to pray as you noted in one of your bulletin notes. Yes, some of us read them.

As for aluminum (or vinyl) siding, I don't get it either. I also have a problem with garage doors that have a wood grain embossed on them--painted wood does not show the grain! I have noticed that most "fake" things in home improvement come down to removing the need for maintenance. It seems that real things require time and energy. Almost always worth it, in my opinion.