All things bright and beautiful

I just got back from an amazing week in England. We saw a lot of the typical tourist things, the Tower of London, Stratford, Bath, and it was fantastic. So many beautiful buildings, so much history.

Bath Abbey is beautiful, and it actually made me cry. Between all the memorials for the deceased, and the diptychs, particularly the one for the crucifixion, I had tears running down my face.

I wanted to actually attend Sunday services in one of the beautiful churches, which I thought would’ve been really nice, but I didn’t end up doing that.

I remember thinking that I would probably be more motivated to go to church if I had a beautiful place to worship. There’s something inspiring about vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows that’s missing when your church holds services in a high school auditorium.

I’m sort of of two minds about that feeling. Part of me thinks, “Wow, how superficial of me, that’s not the sort of thing that should be important at all.” And yet, I believe that making beautiful things for religious purposes is an act of worship. Cathedrals, hymns, the Book of Kells. The work and skill put into those, to create something beautiful to honor God.

I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with that feeling. I wouldn’t join a denomination because their churches are pretty, but maybe I’ll spend some time listening to religious music and looking at pictures of cathedrals and illuminated gospels. And maybe go read the KJV version of some of the Psalms. (I’m a fan of later modern translations for actual study, but poetry is in part about the beauty of the language.)

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5 thoughts on “All things bright and beautiful

  1. Zillah says:

    If you’re looking for another poetic translation of the Psalms, try the one done by Miles Coverdale. His use of the language is a little strange at times, but they’re lovely nonetheless.

  2. Lori says:

    I would love to go to services and come out feeling out uplifted, our local chapel is beautiful but the sermons are always fire and brimstone and delivered by a man who is full of self import and I have yet to see any christian charity from. Now like you feeling shallow I feel weird because I would like to go to one of those gospel services that you see on American TV (I am in Scotland) all the time where people clap and sing and actually seem thankful and happy to be alive but I am not even sure what religion holds those kind of services or if there is any nearby. I feel guilty for wanting to enjoy myself in mass, I was raised RC where you are made to feel guilty about most things. I cant help but wonder if services were more uplifting if perhaps the numbers would improve you know bums on seats and all that.

    • KellyK says:

      Wow…I’m really sorry to hear that. That sounds very hard to keep making yourself go every week. As far as services that are happier, I know the Pentecostal denomination is big on praise. Interdenominational churches also tend to be very positive. Baptists and Methodists can be cheery or can be fire and brimstone, it seems to depend on the preacher. Granted, this is all American experience, and it might vary a lot in Scotland.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to enjoy a religious service. I don’t think that’s the only reason you should go, but the knowledge that God loves us, that Christ died for our sins, and that all our screw-ups can be forgiven–that should be joyful.

      Also, I found this about the Scottish Episcopal church: http://www.scotland.anglican.org/index.php/news/entry/local_readings_from_bible_and_koran_give_global_message_of_solidarity_and_/ I have no idea what their services are like, but that sounds like a pretty good example of love and Christian goodwill to me.

      • Lori says:

        Thanks a million for your help and that article was wonderful and a great idea we could do with more unity unfortunately I am no where near Aberdeen but I applaud their efforts, it seems a fitting remembrance.

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