Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Spirit


Today's picture is a small school choir that was serenading me during my lunch hour this afternoon. They were raising money for the Ronald McDonald House Yorkhill Glasgow. I feel bad, I didn't give any money. But I don't get my first paycheque until Dec 29th and cash is tight so I'm trying not to feel too guilty.

I'm still very impressed that these kids can freely sing about Jesus, son of God, Saviour of the world in a shopping mall. In North America too often the PC police are forcing Christmas to become Xmas and kids can only sing about Santa, snowmen and flying reindeer.

The office Christmas Party is this Friday at the Oran Mor. I walk past this place on a daily basis as it's just 2 blocks up the street from our current flat. It's a restaurant. bar, theatre and live music venue (Ron Sexsmith played there not too long ago) that is a converted church, formerly Kelvinside Parish Church.

You have no idea how common it is for churches, beautiful churches, to be converted into restaurants, theatres, lecture halls etc. It usually comes down to the parish not being able to afford the cost of running/repairing a very aging building. I can't decide what I think of that. Architecturally speaking it's great that they are being converted for other uses rather than being torn down. But I find it sad that congregations aren't able to financially support their parish. Yet, quite literally there is a cathedral every 2 blocks or so.

What do YOU think?

3 comments:

THE PERIODIC ENGLISHMAN said...

Oh dear. This will be my third comment here in a short space of time and I don't want you getting worried that I'm some strange kind of stalker. I'm not - rest easy. I'm just strange.

Apologies in advance for the length of what will follow.

Anyway. On the architectural front, I'm with you. It is always preferable that old buildings don't fall into disrepair and by so doing allow the council (or developers) the easy option of demolishing them. I love the fact that in Glasgow so many old churches, for example, are now being used as banks, restaurants, clubs, or even as housing.

This, to me, is a sensible use of (often) stunning buildings. Stunning, at least, when you compare the sheer craft of them to the shoddy and soulless and unimaginatively depressing constructions that so often blot the landscape these days.

These buildings are a link to our past, a concrete reminder of our shared heritage and, as such, should always be saved (if at all possible).

But I'm not sure if you mean that it is uniquely sad that buildings which once housed the faithful are no longer used for such a purpose? Are you lamenting the diminishing role of religion in our society (and by our society I mean Western Europe as opposed to North America) - or is it simply a general sadness that people are unable to use the buildings any longer for the purpose they were originally built? A kind of "oh that's a shame for them but at least the building is still standing"?

Not believing in God myself, I find it hard to muster sympathy for the encroachment of secular realities into the heart, the very bastions, of faith.

On a human level, however, I have every sympathy for those that may miss the commonality and tranquility so often found in the houses built specifically for God. I often seek it out myself - a kind of Time Out from the world - and welcome the cooling peace that these places offer. I just don't buy into the God thing.

Oh my life, I'm really going on and on here. It gets worse, unfortunately.

If a bunch of, say, canoe enthusiasts, were to be evicted from their dearly beloved clubhouse because their diminishing membership numbers meant they were no longer able to pay the rent - and their clubhouse was to be turned into housing - I should feel about the same amount of pity. Sad for their sadness, of course, and fully empathetic to their disappointments - but largely approving of the logical sequence of events.

In the unlikely event that I find faith, however - and my mind, although it may not seem that way to you, is forever open - I will be first in line to evict the bankers, the diners, the dancers and the rest, as I loudly proclaim my right to contemplate the higher elements in surroundings intended for Godliness.

One more thing (and I really am sorry, by the way). Those children singing about Jesus and God and stuff - those children should be allowed to do so without fear of causing offence. It staggers me (and I'm pretty much an atheist, remember) that anyone could ever find anything remotely offensive about a group of people celebrating their faith. Any faith.

Shame on the X-mas brigade, shame on the weak willed authorities who cave in to demented demands, shame on all of those who seem unable to live comfortably with people of different persuasions, shame on the retarded mind sets that actively look for ways to take offence.

And finally, shame on me for blethering on at such interminable length.

Never again.

Kind regards etc...

Chris said...

I asked for an opinion and I got it. No apologies necessary

Jimmy said...

I think a church building should be multi-functional and serve the community on a daily basis.
These architectural dinosaurs were mostly built in honour of the people who put up the money.
A building completely removed from ordinary day to day life is in my opinion of little use to God or man.
we need God in the High St not cloistered in the high steeple or socially detached in his own wee world in the high church.
Matthew 24:1-2