Thursday, 12 January 2012

Chavagnes College Refectory and the Evils of Modern Theology

The Chavagnes Refectory
I know this is not the most exciting title for a post, but what I want to do is to give an example of where I think modern theology/Church practice/everything I don't approve of... has gone wrong. And I want to do it through comparing and contrasting two places.

This all comes about because of the background to the picture about the choir which I posted the other day.

I want to look at our refectory (dining hall, salle polyvalante). You can see that it is ordered. There is a high table where the masters eat breakfast and the evening meal (we all eat together at lunch). This shows order and difference.

Christmas Tree (bush?) in the Refectory. The picture on the wall is Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.
The room itself is well appointed and interesting, with things to see and engage the mind. Also there is clutter, and things that need to be tidied away. Just in case you thought it was all order and discipline, then have no fear.

Two House Tables. Far left Rochejaquelein, and closer Charette.
The portraits of the people the Houses are named after are on the walls behind the houses.
The House Portraits give a sense of identity and distinction. This house is Cathelineau because it not Suzannet and we have a better picture than you... etc. This gives the boys a sense of pride and communal expression. And it is something that they can see. They are spatially away of it (it is on this table and not that one) and it is iconographic (it is this picture and not that one).

And speaking of iconography, these two photographs are of the most important objects in the room, The crucifix and the Blessed Virgin. We have crucifixes and statues everywhere, so they are not something new or different for the boys. But they are proper depictions. This is a man on a cross and he is being crucified. Then we can take the boys to an appreciation that this is THE God/man on the Cross and He is being crucified for us. The images are immediately accessible to the boys from the age of 10 to 18. He looks like a man on a cross and she looks like a woman with a crown of stars.

What I want to say is that this is an incarnational room. It depicts the faith in accessible terms for everyone. Not for the initiated or clever or those looking or hunting for it, but in easy images. It is ordered, hierarchical, giving identity and purpose.

It is a Catholic room.

I'll get on to the rest later!
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