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?