April 4th, 2018

Gargoyles Speak

by Anne Brierley • in Art | Beauty | Gargoyles

I applaud gargoyles, those laughable, loveable goolish faces that glare back at you from churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom. They are a contradiction in terms and let us know that we are not alone in our moments of weakness and self-doubt.

The raison d’tre of these granite gawkers is supposedly to protect the structure on which they sit (and any dwellers therein) from the heretical spiritual meanies that lurk just outside god’s gates, wanting so eagerly, apparently, to break into the protected place and get on with some serious sinning.

God, the all-powerful and official b.m.o.c. for devout Christians around the world and throughout the ages (ok, so you’ve heard of him), apparently needed some help protecting his own, and gave medieval townsfolk the notion that little 3D dragons and trolls would successfully ward off the distinctly non-Christian evil spirits that were out n’ about. So, people spent centuries erecting towering spirals to their one holy spirit, and decorated them with gargoyles for protection from the non-Christian baddies.

What’s wrong with this picture? The belief in the presence of the baddies, as visually represented by gargoyles, is in itself a denial of the one-god, one-stop shop idea that is the basis of Christian thought. One god is one god, and it does not include the multitude of forest meanies.

So what have you got? A contradiction. Interesting architecture. Something to photograph while touring Europe. But I like the idea of a testament: one of humankind’s biggest and most powerful institutions lacked the balls to bare its walls unhindered, and truly practice what it preached.

There is but one God, but just in case…

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