March 24, 2010

The Future of the Church

Across from my stepdaughter’s apartment there is an old brick and stained glass church that has been converted into an indoor rock-climbing wall. I’m certainly no defender of religion, but this still strikes me as more than a little crass. Apparently the proprietors did have some slight sense of decorum though. There used to be a larger-than-life statue of Christ two thirds of the way up their new rock wall. They took him down. I suppose if they had been crass without limit, they would have just worked him into the pattern of other obstacles and handholds.


  1. One of the coolest clubs I visited in New York City was built from half of a huge old church. The vaulted, open room made a great dance floor.

    I don't think it's crass: I think it's great that those buildings can be re-used for something actually useful. For once they will contribute to human happiness and the greater good.

    Consider this: you've always been free to decry the crassness of a rock-climbing wall in a church; but how long have we been free to decry the crassness of a church in a rock-climbing wall?

    Religion has not earned, and does not deserve, the automatic, reflexive respect it is given. If you were talking about a graveyard, or a museum, or some other building of historic, tragic, or noble event, I would agree: but all you're actually talking about is a place where a man pretended to speak to imaginary beings, and influenced, judged, and controlled other people's lives based on his imaginary conversations.

  2. I would agree that religion has been given more respect than it deserves. On that account, you are preaching to the choir -- if you will forgive the metaphor. My reflection here is personal and admittedly hard to justify. I would also find it crass to build a rock-climbing wall in Auschwitz. This does not make me either a Nazi or a Zionist -- it just means I a certain feeling about the history of certain places.

    I also note that in your zeal for anti-theism, you apparently missed what I though was a pretty good joke. So it goes...

  3. We do actually agree on the value of historical places. It's just that churches automatically gain historicity by their purported connection to God/Jesus. Even while you agree that religion gets more respect than it deserves, you reflexively grant it that respect - because it's been hammered into our aesthetic choices since day one.

    The reason they took down the Jesus statue, by the way, is because a shape like that would be too easy to climb. :D

    Jesus walks into a inn, throws down three nails, and says, "Can you put me up for the night?"

  4. I suppose I will let you have the last word for once...

  5. Brilliant irony!

    Oh darn... now I've ruined it.