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Churchly eternities



This is the Westerkirk on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, a few steps from Prinsengracht 263, Anna Frank's hiding place during the war. She loved to hear the bells chiming from the tower and she could see this spire --- from the other side of this angle --- clearly through her attic window. Cams are forbidden in the Anne Frank House and Museum. The kirk [church] dates from 1680 and has an active congregation today.




and this one is the New Church -- Nieuwe Kirk -- in Delft, which has been here since the 1300's and is right outside where Jan Vermeer's house once stood; he crossed the Kirk plaza every day to get to the Guild House for painters, to drink on somebody else's tab and to compare notes with other painters. That House self-destructed in the 19th Century and the Jan Vermeer Center was built on the same spot, updated with 21st-century technology, and is a great place to study Vermeer's lighting approaches to his subjects.




and this is the front door of Nieuwe Kirk. Behind the truck. Which is delivering a carnival ride to be assembled on the plaza. Jack is fixing to make a lot of money tonight with his Super Scooter. This is part of a kind of sideshow / fair celebration going on that evening, pointed at kids, which I didn't stay for. I recall it was a fundraiser for the church, too, since it's their plaza [the City Hall is on the other side of it.] Churches in NL have fallen on hard times, that's why part of the Westerkirk is given over to an art gallery featuring prostitutes and another part of it is a souvenir shop where I bought a small gift for Kala.

This all really harks back to a time and society very different from ours. These buildings are immense and many people and families are buried in their slate floors, going back all these centuries. There was really an ingrained sense of sin and guilt and tithing, and the necessity to worship all the time for redeeming your eternal soul from the fiery furnace. Of course all that did not stop a lot of debauchery from going on then, nor does it now, but the sense is that there was much more guilt about it during earlier centuries --- and much more sense of how what you did or did not do in this life was going to affect your quality of life in the next. Not to mention your body temperature. Or, more accurately, soul temperature.

So today's churches, at least these two, depend a lot on tourists rather than worshippers.

And they depend on carnivals and sideshows, too.

In another part of Amsterdam there is the Red Light District, with its unionized sex workers, common scale of prices for services, police patrols, and suchlike --- right in the yards of two other major churches. Maybe the Holy Fathers inside them get 10%? I dunno, that whole area kinda turned my stomach as being a matter of taste.

Or non-taste, as the case might be. Maybe yours would be different. To each his own.

Then again, Vermeer had his girls for inspiration, you can see that in his paintings. Mrs. Vermeer looked the other way. Mrs. Rembrandt did not.

Ah, the eternal values of Art History class, as a Lib Arts major.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
elvenforever
Nov. 10th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
You'll have to tell me sometime what is it about Vermeer's approach to lighting draws you. And more about Vermeer other than that he was a skirt-chaser. :)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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