Chapter four of Alan Jacobs’ book Original Sin wandered for me, and it didn’t wander in the directions I wanted it to so I found myself saying, “Why go there?” The images of the chapter, however, are captivating. It’s a chp that gets its bearings, if it has any, from the Feast of All Souls.
Not one familiar to many of us, I suppose. The Feast of All Saints is a day of radical democracy. That Feast, celebrated on Nov 1, found a saint for all and got everyone thanking God for the saints. Odilo of Cluny, then, after a tough experience of hearing the pains of souls in purgatory and hell established the Feast of All Souls — again thoroughly democratic: everyone gets to pray for everyone.
Jacobs uses these images — of Saints and Souls — to remind his readers of the big engine driving it all: that engine was one of final judgment and of the guilt of all humans because of original sin. Furthermore, an emphasis he gives here is that all really means all and far too often some have thought ordinary humans are more sinful than they.
The question I have for today is this: What do the architecture, symbols, calendrical days, and rites in the Church say about original sin, or if one would like to generalize even more, the sinfulness of all humans? Take an image, take a piece of art, take a symbol, take a day in the calendary, take a rite, take some aspect of church architecture and see if and how it assumes (or does not assume) the message of human sinfulness.
[And if you watch the Cubs-Cardinal game today, look for Kris and me — we’ll be in a skybox with my parents.]