Every now and then my worlds collide, producing some really interesting mashups. I love cathedral and church architecture, especially the Gothic and neo-Gothic. I love typography and I'm a big fan of poster art of all kinds, but especially letterpress. So I was in a little ecstasy of delight when I ran across this amazing, amazing piece of typographical design by Cameron Moll, via Veer's website (click the "Ideas" tab for more coolness from Veer). You can see other pictures of it at Veer's website or order one for yourself. Half of them are gone already, at $50 a pop + postage and I just ordered one for myself, so if you love this kind of stuff, get on it now. I'll let you know how glorious it is and gloat a little when it arrives. Just the pictures have really knocked my socks off.
This is only a detail of the whole 16"x24" print which is a rendering of the main Latter Day Saints Temple in Salt Lake City [click for full size pics]. Though it was designed to advertise a design review independent of the church itself, there was a time when I would have hesitated to buy this because of what it depicted. I'm not a Mormon and never was, but you have to admit that their Salt Lake City Temple is a gorgeous building, just like Notre Dame or Westminster Abbey, Wells Cathedral, or my personal favorite, St. John the Divine. The church I used to be part of spent a lot of energy separating itself from what it called "Christendom," or the general community of Christian beliefs in all their various sects and schisms. No grand buildings for them, just plain meeting halls (that were somehow still too sacred to play a little jazz in for my mother's funeral; guess God doesn't like jazz). So I often felt a bit guilty for my love of soaring Gothic arches and stained glass, for the grandeur of these enormous churches built to the glory of God. There were people of my faith who wouldn't even go to a relative's wedding if it was held in a church, as though entering that building would somehow contaminate them. That always struck me as overly superstitious anyway, especially since we were taught that a building was just a building. (I'm not sure when that changed, or if that was a personal quirk I encountered at Mom's memorial service.)
Part of me understood that impulse to build these grandiose buildings that reach to heaven, to build a place not for God to dwell in, because that obviously wasn't necessary, but a place to reflect the grandeur of creation and to have a little part in it too. But I understand too the flip side that sees it as a waste of money that could have been used to feed the poor. I've always thought Christ's response to the the woman who washed his feet with expensive oil was a little enigmatic and harsh. Yes, it was an act of worship, but I empathized with the disciples who thought it was a waste of money too. They're competing sensibilities that don't co-exist very easily, similar to the impulse that wants to make art that reflect's God's glory warring with the concept of idolatry. No easy answers to that one either, like most such questions.
Since starting this blog, which seems to have been a watershed moment, a turning point, I've encountered more and more little things that used to a source of conflict and guilt for me that no longer have to be. It's liberating and scary at the same time, like all changes. But it also allows me to find beauty everywhere and surely beauty is a part of whatever the term god should mean to us.
[Cross posted in much shorter form at Spawn of Blogorrhea]