Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Faith on the High Wire review

Faith on the High Wire
May 9, 2011

Framing Faith - Book Review for Tribute Books
by Kathy Vastermark

Catholic Church architecture, stain glass windows and statuary have always inspired me, even before my reversion to Catholicism. When we take family vacations and visit new areas of the country, it is exciting to make a pilgrimage to a Catholic Church on our route. A few years ago we visited Jim Thorpe, PA and saw the most exquisite Church built with the blood, sweat, tears and hard earned funds of the German immigrants. It was among the highlights of our visit to the Poconos.

When the opportunity to review Framing Faith, written by Sarah Piccini, with photography by Ivanka Pavelka and Arts!Engage, landed in my email, I eagerly accepted. The history of these immigrant Catholic Churches of Lackawanna County, PA is awe inspiring. But, with the history comes a sad reality, the Churches featured in this book are being closed and merged with other parishes. The immigrant culture that they were founded to serve have long since died, and their families have become part of the American migratory culture that primarily no longer stays in the town of their birth.

The photography in the book is also stunning. The Churches, their body and soul, come to life in the images captured. To think that many of these pictures were taken by students is even more impressive. They have highlighted the beauty of these structures that were meant to facilitate and inspire prayer and worship.

While I loved the book and visiting the Churches vicariously through images, I do have to point out one prominent error in the introduction. The author quotest author, Richard Taylor, as an authority on Catholic images depicted in stained glass. He writes:
These patron saints, Mary or popular Bible stories were writ large in stained glass inside churches. Because of the Second Commandment, “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image,” the three-person God is not depicted directly but rather as established symbols: a triangle for the Trinity, the Hand of God or All-Seeing Eye for God the Father, the fish or lamb for God the Son, and a dove or flame for the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, his information in the above passage is not correct. The Second Commandment according to the Canon of Scripture is: Thou Shall Not Take the Lord's Name In Vain. This differs from the Protestant enumeration of the Commandments which lists "no graven image" as the Second Commandment and combines the Ninth and Tenth Commandments, "shall not covet neighbor's goods & wife", into one single Commandment. This should have been noted. Thus, this would not and never could have been the reason that the Trinity is not depicted but is shown in symbols. That may have been the rationale, of that I am not certain, but not based on the Second Commandment. As a book about Catholic Churches, that error should have been noted by the author.

Aside from that one piece of misinformation, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its images.

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