Thursday, June 06, 2013

Italian Reflections (Cont.): The Platypus Travels Part II

The eye is the lamp of the body ... but if the light within you is darkness, how great is the darkness?

Re-purposing.  It's not as common in the 'States, but in Italy it's unavoidable.  The Pantheon began as a pagan temple, became a Christian Church, then a tourist attraction, then the tomb of the Italian kings.  Some of my students were unnerved by this.  Was it fair to the pagans to turn their temple into a church?  Even if nobody was using it, shouldn't it be preserved out of respect?  I know that I found it sad to see a church in Venice converted into a museum with all its lamps out and its altars stripped.

What does it mean to re-purpose?  Do buildings have fixed meanings?  Is their any such thing as respecting architect's intent?  The Christians who took over the Pantheon understood architect's intent -they simply disagreed with the intent of this particular architect for this particular building and retro-fitted it to suit their own convictions.  Do moderns, who either deny that there is such a thing as architect's intent or deny that it matters, do the same thing when they turn a church into a museum?  Are bricks just bricks?  Do we have a right to them because we're living and their makers are dead?

If anyone asks you what you are doing, tell them that the Lord has need of it.

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