Paris is a city of magnificent buildings: mansions and palaces, museums and government
buildings, churches, mosques, synagogues and, of course, cathedrals. Inside these
buildings is some of the most magnificent art in the world, as well as the
people: cooks and waiters, government workers and computer programmers, and ...
the throngs of tourists. There are also those who enter any one of several hundred
different houses of prayer in Paris simply to worship God.
I stood on the floor of that wonderful sanctuary, Sainte-Chapelle,
gazing upwards at all that phenomenal stained glass, I was moved by the wonder
not only of the art, but also the technology that could make such a building possible.
I also had a sense that even the most beautiful sanctuary has a tendency to coup
God up. It implies that somehow God can be contained within it. How dare
we human beings even think that we can construct a "house of God."
Does God need our architects, artists, and construction engineers to provide shelter
for the Most High here on earth? Can the Holy Spirit ever be contained within
the walls of any church? Moreover, think how large an effort, and how much
time, money, and other material resources are devoted to the construction and
maintenance of religious buildings. Imagine what a great difference it would make,
if all of those resources were invested instead in addressing the problems of
the poor? Did any of the founders of our great world religions even imagine that
such a tremendous effort would have been made in their names to construct buildings?
Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus? Jesus did not even own a home, and he never
instructed any of his followers to build a synagogue, or a sanctuary. In fact,
he often spoke of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. And his emphasis
was upon relating to God "in spirit and in truth."
we have diminished the Creator if we think of God as residing only in churches,
mosques, or synagogues, and forget that the Divine One is present everywhere,
at all times, unto all people, even right here in cyberspace. That is perhaps
the deeper lesson that we celebrate at Easter. Christ rose from the dead,
not to take a place on some throne within a palace in heaven, but rather
to dwell within the hearts and minds of each and every one of us and to infuse
this whole creation with the Spirit Divine.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.