Saturday, December 11, 2010

Surprisingly, I Didn't Burst into Flames

"I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Yes, that's me on the pulpit, preaching about that time Jesus lost his temper at a fig tree. No, seriously. It's in Matthew 21:18-19 and it's hilarious.

And this is the Long-Suffering Girlfriend™ halfway up the belfry,

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I suppose some backstory is necessary here: these were photographs taken two years ago when Phoebs and I were gallivanting across the highlands of Tamil Nadu in my last weeks in India - and we sightsaw the 180-year-old gothic St. Stephen's during our week in Ooty because I have a thing for old places of worship, ironically enough. Phoebs (worst Presbyterian in the world) practically made it her life's mission to wriggle out of going to church whenever she can. I believe it's years since she set foot in one.

This was probably the only instance in recorded history that an atheist had to drag a Christian into a house of God.

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Most churches, temples and mosques are designed to evoke an atmosphere of magnificence and immensity which reduces their visitors to insignificance; to force the presence of a nebulous something far greater than the mortal mind can contain. It's testified by the superhuman passion in the craft and built into the solemn high-flying ceilings. I am not immune. My sense of the numinous is very much alive and beating.

However, no matter how swept away I am by the sheer experience of being immured in the trappings of religious grandeur, I recognise that it's the architecture - not the purported in-house holy spooks - which moved me. That sensation is not specific to any one faith. In fact, it's not even an exclusive commodity of worship houses. Consider Dubai's Burj Al Arab, the Guggenheim in Bilbao Spain and pretty much anything designed by Rem Koolhaas. They are modern, secular monuments, but no less transcendental.

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In between services, antique, ornate churches are also excellent places to read or think. Each is an era lost, frozen within its cloisters. They are sort of like little train-stops in time which makes you feel it's okay step off and allow the rest of the world to whoosh by while you watch.

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By the way, here's some stained glass windows. Everybody loves stained glass windows, right? Enjoy.

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P.S. Remember, the pictures' captions are in the hovertext.



A churchgoer of sorts,
k0k s3n w4i

6 comments:

Phoebs said...

this trip was fun T_T i can't seem to find my yak bone bracelet

Dr.Vishaal Bhat said...

Ha ha... I enjoyed your post after a long time... How's studies ?

Dr.Vishaal Bhat said...

and not because of the stained windows...

Inn Shan said...

i still prefer the proper caption at the bottom of the pictures. hovertext is just...=.=

février said...

i agree with inn shan. captions at the bottom are short for a reason. hovertext is just long - i mean how many more words would you want to say with each picture, especially if your post is already mostly flowery words? captions at the bottom are more to the point.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Phoebs: i still have my Effijesus™. best thing i've ever bought :D

Dr.Vishaal Bhat: i'm facing the big finals starting from february, so i'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment. i'm restarting my travel photoblogging from where i left off two years ago - you might enjoy that :)

Inn Shan: noted. i'll revert back to the old format.

beve: the reason i switched to hovertext is so i can write longer asides which i can't fit thematically into the main body of the post. anyway, scrapping that. i'll just caption them normally from now onwards :(