William Rector Erwin Jr.: Inspiring symbols

January 7, 2013 

Inspiring symbols

I, a Protestant, welcome the proposed new Catholic Cathedral in Raleigh (“Cathedral secures its windows,” Jan. 2) for both its architecture and rescued window art.

People in the Middle Ages understood the inspirational nature of the fine cathedrals and artistic small churches then built. Many still point upward.

I recognize other ecclesiastical duties, including helping the poor, but they should not preclude the spiritual guidance of fine architecture, art and music.

At least one such sanctuary should always be open, at least in daytime. That requires these days a guard because of the many criminals allowed upon our streets. In 1992, after my mother received a terminal diagnosis, I sought a church in Birmingham, especially for candles to light. There was none, not even St. Paul’s Catholic Cathedral.

I wanted the grand Catholic Church in San Francisco on the square below Coit Tower. It was open, in use, looked, smelled, inspired like a real church. We lit candles for our recently deceased relations. Symbols matter. They always have.

William Rector Erwin Jr.

Durham

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