Thinking About Church in Castles

Two weeks of vacation in France is awesome. But even on vacation I’m thinking about church stuff, like I know you do too. Even strolling through castles, I’m wondering, “What does this historical artifact suggest for my vocation?” I’m sure you can relate.

Check this out. Most of the castles on the Loire Valley are immersive experiences of a history long since passed. Amboise, Chenonceau, Chambord–these are massive stone monuments to the people who built them and reigned in them, and visitors get an up close look at life in another time. It’s easy for your imagination to wander as you climb a spiral tower staircase: what part of this castle might I have roamed? Would I have run up these steps? I bet it was cold.

Then you realize that you never would have set foot in that castle. You would have gazed at it from the stables in a nearby village.

Still, they’re impressive, and the curators who have preserved them through the years have done impressive work indeed.

But then there other castles, like this one, that are smaller and lack the grandeur of the heavy hitters that draw the big crowds. The stewards of these sites have opted less for preservation and have instead chosen to make something new in their castles. The rooms and adjoining gardens don’t just boast old paintings and tapestries. They also have quirky little artifacts like geese in glasses. The curators have opted for partnership with local artists to create something that speaks to today as much as yesterday. These were my favorite sites.

Church leaders are stewards of a tradition. Are we preserving it so that people can come in and see it as it has always been? Or are we sharing it with our neighbors so that something new might be made from it?

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