Celtic Tiger Relic

Vernacular

On a quiet lane in Rural Tipperary stands a tiny two story cottage of a vernacular very common in the Golden Vale.  It harks back to an older age when people lived simple lives, subsisting envionmentally on the land.  It was a live devoid of any excess in materialism.  Consumer culture was a distant dream, something you might hear hints of from distant American relatives in the Christmas letter they sent home with cast off clothes that became brand new again for poor Irish kids.

In these days of McMansions it is hard to believe that a tiny cottage like this might be home to a Catholic family in an era before family planning.  Granny slept in a settle near the range for the warmth.  A half dozen boys and girls topped and tailed in an old double bed in what should be the parlour.  Mother and Father slept in the attic with the babies nearby.  As children became teenagers they were farmed out, the boys to labour on farms, the girls to service in big houses.

The cottage is a lovely design, proportiate, sitting gracefully in its environment, built well, built to last.  No longer fit for the lives we lead.

The original single glaze wooden sash windows were torn out and replaced with double glaze uPVC.  Less environmentally friendly, less pretty,  less drafty, more energy efficient, a balancing act of confusing priorities.

And so, in the era of the Celtic Tiger when property madness struck the nation, the owner attempted to extend the old girl.  He slapped on a blockhouse to the back.  The first floor sills speak of an ambition to go up to the level of that elegant apex roof.

Extension

The floorplan will be doubled at the expense of any attempt to preserve the original design.  But the work stopped a long time ago.  I would love to know why.  Was it the market crash and the 2008 recession?  Did the funds dry up?  Did confidence in the ability to secure a sale wane?  Did the bank choke it off stillborn?  Or did some diligent planner leap in just in time to preserve the existing building?

Back at the front the door is secured by a pink girls bicycle lock, a head nod to the most crass aspects of the consumer madness that struck this country.  The pink aisle at Smyths Toy Superstore in the run up to Christmas.  A temple to cheap Chinese manufacturing and dodgy work practices.

This building should be preserved, in its current state, to serve as a symbol of that madness, and a warning to future generations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter & Verse

Catholics don’t quote scripture.

I was watching Designated Survivor Series 2 Episode 10, Line of Fire.  Emily Rhodes (Italia Ricci) is in hospital with the mother of a baby who is undergoing an operation but her church does not permit blood transfusions.  The mother spits out the beginning of a bible quote and Rhodes completes it.  She then goes on to tell the mother that she went to Catholic school.

Carrie: Are you devout?
Emily: No. Nine years of Catholic School and I never saw God there.
Carrie: I’m sorry.
Emily: Don’t be. I see it other places, like in a Mother’s love.

Immediately all my alarm bells went off.  The writer got this scene so wrong.  Catholics don’t quote scripture.  Chapter and Verse is a mark of the protestant religion.  It is just not a Catholic thing.

The foundation stone of the Protestant religions is the vernacular bible.  When Martin Luther published his 95 theses in 1517 he was challenging the elements of church dogma that departed from the teachings of the bible.  The Catholic church was perfectly happy to continue with Latin mass and have the faithful rattle out their pater nosters and ave marias in ignorance of the meaning of their words.

It was not until the 1960’s following Vatican II that the Catholic church moved to mass in vernacular languages.  Even today Catholic children do not read the bible in lessons.  They learn prayers and catechism. Many Catholic families do not even own a bible.

At the core of the Protestant religions is the need for the faithful to read the word of God directly, without the clouding effect of interpretation through filters imposed by men such as the Pope, Bishops and Priests.

It is no accident that the timing of the Protestant reformation followed the invention of the moveable type printing press.  In order to become a Protestant you had to have access to a bible, and you had to be able to read it.  The vernacular bible was born.

It then became the mark of a good Protestant to reference the Bible on any point of faith.  If you could back up an action with a quote directly from the Bible that supported the validity of the action.  If you could place your quote precisely in the Bible, by quoting the relevant Chapter & Verse that made the point even more forcefully.

This focus on the word of God bleeds into all aspects of church design.  Catholic churches are gloriously decorated architectural wonders filled with images of saints, Holy Mary, angels, martyrs, votive candles, icons, side chapels, expensive ornamentation.  They are designed to be palaces fit to house the Lord.  You don’t speak directly to God though, you work through intermediaries.  You pray to saints to intercede on your behalf.  You then pay a priest to put in a good word for you too.  The economy of the Catholic church is founded upon the concept that you buy influence.

The most fundamental protestant churches are the plainest.  The focus is on the word.  The only object you need to commune with God is the Word of God and that is in the Bible.

In this regard the most fundamentalist Protestant religions share a great deal of common ground with the most fundamentalist Islamic sects.  Islam also focuses on the word, albeit in the Koran.  Islamic art avoids images of people in case they be interpreted as the image of God, a graven image and an object of idolatrous worship.

Below is the Sancaklar Mosque outside Istanbul.  It is a modernist Islamic space.  The design emulates the cave in which the Prophet Mohammed received the Koran from God.  The only decoration in this Mosque is a piece of calligraphy, the Word of God.  This is a space that would work well for any hard line Presbyterian.  It is a long distance away from the splendorous excess of the Vatican.

Sancaklar.jpg