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The Church Sculpture Conspiracy

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posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 10:42 PM
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It’s hard to get my head around how all this all began…so here’s a little comic parody, to help emphasize this peculiar anomaly.



2 Medieval monks talking outside their church one day…

Scene 1

(Monk Simon) “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
(Monk Paul) “It is Simon, but we need some art work on the outside of the Church”
(Monk Simon) Well Paul, I’ve been working on a new sculpture, would you like to take a look?”
(Monk Paul) Yes, I would love to Simon
(Monk Simon) Here it is…What do ya think?




(Monk Paul) Well…err...What is it!!! ?
(Monk Simon) It’s a gargoyle!!!
(Monk Paul) But Simon, shouldn’t we be using sculptures of Jesus, Angels, or perhaps even some the Apostles and the Saints?
(Monk Simon) no no no…we have enough of those sculptures inside the church already. What we need is something with a bit more ummph!,… to scare off those evil spirits and demons. I think this will really catch on like wild fire…soon the whole world will be doing it…you’ll see….

(Monk Paul) If you say so Simon, but to be honest…I really can’t imagine it becoming popular.

Many years later…


Notre dame gargoyle



Another Notre dame gargoyle



Gargoyle at St Petrus en Pauluskerk, Ostend, Belgiun



Gargoyle at Trinity Episcopal Church--Detroit, MI



Gargoyle at Bern Cathedral - Switzerland



Gargoyle at the Unitarian Memorial Church



Now in all seriousness, I have looked into the many reasons given, as to why they used these types sculptures, on Churches, back in medieval times, but none of the explanations make any sense. The most cited reason given is that they were used to ward of evil spirits, but this just doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean why ward of evil with evil? Surely that would only attract more evil, than it would repel.

The other often-cited reasons and explanations, are that it is unknown because it is difficult for historians to get into the mindset of that time period and culture. There is also a theory that those types of sculptures and other similar versions of them, would attract Pagan worshipers to become members of the Church. This seems absurd because surely once inside the Church, a Pagan would realize that this was a different kind of worship gathering, all together.


Conspiracy…?


What are your thoughts ATS?


- JC




posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 10:50 PM
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Most of the people attending church in the Middle Ages were illiterate and accustomed to the use of visual symbols in their worship, especially if they were newly converted pagans. Because of this, some feel that gargoyles were used as visual reminders of the dangers of evil and warnings that parishioners needed to mend their ways.



posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 11:14 PM
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reply to post by sugarcookie1
 






Originally posted by sugarcookie1
Most of the people attending church in the Middle Ages were illiterate and accustomed to the use of visual symbols in their worship, especially if they were newly converted pagans. Because of this, some feel that gargoyles were used as visual reminders of the dangers of evil and warnings that parishioners needed to mend their ways.


Interesting point…
But why the gargoyles? Why not use some other biblical monsters instead or even the devil?

I’m not expecting you to have the answers, I’m just throwing it out there…

Also, if I was illiterate, you would have to drag me kicking and screaming into those medieval churches, based on the outward appearances.


- JC



posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 11:20 PM
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Obviously the true intention was that the church could see in the far far future and see that disney would be able to create a mediocre movie and make a million or two on selling children merchandise. Genius



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 12:17 AM
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reply to post by Joecroft
 


Im thinking becuse the late 20th century there interest was in all things Gothic ..its a strange art form from the age of Gothic architecture..Im just guessing is all ..or maybe to ward off evil spirits and protect the valuables within the church?



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 01:30 AM
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reply to post by Joecroft
 


Here is a source that somehow explains the use of those Statues on Cathedrals: Source


According to the Encyclopedia Americana a gargoyle is "a waterspout, projecting from a roof gutter or upper part of a building to throw water clear of walls or foundations." (307) So they protect the mortar and the stones of the building from erosion. Gargoyles are widespread on medieval buildings. That is because dividing the flow of water minimalized the potential damage coming from each gargoyle's mouth, and because of the great number of gutters carried on the top of flying buttresses and walls. (Benton 14) In the Gothic era, especially in the Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic styles of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, gargoyles were the preferred method of drainage, but, especially in areas of the building which were not exposed to view, waterspouts were not necessarily carved as gargoyles. (Benton 12) Their architectural function may have been served originally by wooden or ceramic waterspouts. The introduction of stone for this purpose made the possibility of carving them into ornamental forms more inviting. (Benton 10)



Another function of the gargoyles could have been to ward off evil spirits and protect the valuables within the church, continuing the Greek tradition. The idea was that demons were either frightened away or assumed that other evil creatures were already there and would avoid attacking the building. That could explain why gargoyles are rarely pretty, but horrible, grotesque in their appearance. They would have been a "sort of sacred scarecrow to frighten the devil away" (Benton 24). In connection with their function as an educational device they could have been symbols of the evil forces (such as temptations and sins) "lurking outside the sanctuary of the church; upon passing the gargoyles, the visitor's safety was assured within the church". (Benton 24) Grotesque creatures appearing in the church would then be evil monstrosities having redeemed themselves by labouring in the service of the church as waterspouts, who were rewarded by being permitted entry to the church. Francis Bligh Bond, an English architectural historian, supposed the meaning of the gargoyles as being the symbolic overcome and conversion to good even of the most monstrous forms of evil by the Church. In any case, gargoyles were used as symbols, and could be interpreted in many ways. They could have represented the souls condemned for their sins, whom was therefore the entrance to church forbidden. The price for sinning, although they were spared from eternal damnation, would be to be turned to stone. That would also correspond with the theory of gargoyles being for education, as they then would have been reminders of what could happen to sinners. (Benton 25) Another theory, whose specific origin can no longer be identified, has it that gargoyles are fashioned after local demons and guardian spirits, continuing pagan themes. (Online Source 1) They are also said to be an expression of man's subconscious fears. (Online 8) The explanation for the meaning of gargoyles can perhaps only be a combination of many of those theories.



Hope that helps.

Peace



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 02:25 AM
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A very commonly told story about the origin of gargoyles, the one I heard years ago, comes from the legend of the dragon or water serpent called Gargouille, that supposedly lived in the Seine River in France
edit on 2/14/2011 by LifeInDeath because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 12:01 PM
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Joe, you seem to make the assumption that the convention is peculiar to Christian sacred spaces. Check out temple guardians and a somewhat related notion, threshold guardians, searchable.

Here's one to get you started:

first example

And my absolute all-time favorite:

second example


Q. Besides defining the space, what does the exterior of a sacred space do?

A. Prepare you psychologically to enter the space. If necessary, detain you until you are psychologically prepared.

You should be able to work it out from there.

No conspiracy. Nothing peculiar to religion, even. Just psychology of art.

-

edit on 14-2-2011 by eight bits because: unhappy urls



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 09:55 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 




Originally posted by eight bits
Joe, you seem to make the assumption that the convention is peculiar to Christian sacred spaces. Check out temple guardians and a somewhat related notion, threshold guardians, searchable.


Not the convention of using temple guardians but using ones, which are not synonymous to the Christian religion. All the other types of temple guardians in other faiths are reflective of that particular faith and culture. The Chinese lion picture you posted, is indicative to ancient Chinese culture.

It would make more sense to me, to use temple guardians that depict Angels, perhaps that of Gabriel or Raphael. They could even be given extra large wings to make them look more menacing and at least they’re biblical.

Instead we have these Gargoyles creatures, all due to some flimsy legend of Romanus of Rouen who apparently slew a dragon or gargoyle creature. There were many legends like this of other types of creatures, so why choose the gargoyles for churches, and why should it become so popular, based on a Legend that has little evidence to support it? (Rhetorical question)

Many elements just don’t make sense but I don’t believe the gargoyles were used as guardians to ward of evil spirits. I think there has to be another explanation, and I’m more inclined to go with sugarcookies suggestion, that they are a reminder of evil and perhaps help to keep believers on the path to Godliness.


- JC



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 10:53 PM
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The evilness associated with the roman catholic church disgusts me, it is antichrist in every sense. The pope blasphemes daily and is as close to christ as satan himself. Im not saying all roman catholics are evil, not at all, but they cirtainly are being decieved. Ever wonder why in order to become a satanic priest you first have to be a catholic priest?



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 10:59 PM
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reply to post by Joecroft
 


Just let me say THANK YOU!!! I knew I couldn't be the only one that wondered why in the world churches chose such things! I don't have a problem with gargoyles. I love art. But, dude, it's a church! Always confused me! I look forward to seeing people's ideas here.



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 11:02 PM
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nope, i see them as dark ideas from the white catholic devils



posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 06:59 AM
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It would make more sense to me, to use temple guardians that depict Angels, perhaps that of Gabriel or Raphael.

They're there, too. It's not instead, but in addition.

Gabe and Rafe are positive figures. Bigger wings for them is like having a pet dog with bigger teeth. The meaning of the pet, or "good angel," is unaffected... and maybe the stronger, the better.

For full religious effect, you need a balanced composition that reflects the whole psyche. You need shadow figures, as well as anima figures. And it is no coincidence that the visitor is led to walk past both, and arrive in the inner sanctum, literally beyond pairs of opposites.

Of course, the details of the depcition will reflect conventions in the time and place where the depcition is made. Chinese dragons are different from European dragons, just as European wolves are different from Native American - First Nations wolves.

The universal part is the core symbol. The interpretation of the symbol and how it is decorated are local.

Oh, BTW, it's not designed to make sense to your waking consciousness. No surprise, then, that it doesn't. For the psychological, and ultimately religious or spiritual, impact of not making sense to waking consciousness, look at simple things like Zen koans.

What needs to be avoided is somebody visiting the cathedral with their conscious interior monolog uninterrupted. "Wow, nice window." A gargoyle in your face just might shut up the voice in your head for a moment. With luck, "Wow," pipes up another voice finally able to speak, "I am about to enter the sanctuary of the living God."

The better prepared you are for that experience, the better, period.

Other views are possible, of course.



posted on Feb, 15 2011 @ 04:51 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 






Originally posted by eight bits
What needs to be avoided is somebody visiting the cathedral with their conscious interior monolog uninterrupted. "Wow, nice window." A gargoyle in your face just might shut up the voice in your head for a moment. With luck, "Wow," pipes up another voice finally able to speak, "I am about to enter the sanctuary of the living God."

The better prepared you are for that experience, the better, period.


Yes I can fully understand the notion to have evil represented as a reminder to the subconscious mind or the spirit, of the dangers, but there are so many other biblical monsters available for decorated purposes, if that was indeed the intent of those medieval traditions.
For example…

Behemoths

Unicorns

Satan or snake

Dragon

Leviathan

Satyr (Which incidently looks similar to the gargoyle at (Bern Cathedral – Switzerland) in my OP, but nothing like the gargoyles with wings.

So while using evil in sculptures can have its uses, depending on how they maybe interpreted, the use of gargoyles, especially the winged variety, seems to be a complete mystery.

If it was only a rural tradition, based on the apparent legend of Romanus of Rouen, then I could understand it. But the fact that it has become prominent throughout the world (and I’m thinking mainly about the winged gargoyles here), and bearing in mind that it has no biblcal basis and in all logicality shouldn’t be taking center stage, over other biblcal monsters mentioned above, leaves me with a big dilema.


- JC



posted on Nov, 18 2011 @ 08:34 PM
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reply to post by Joecroft
 

Well...knights always have to try to slay the dragons...but usually it is an 'anything-might-happen' kind of event...but let's just say that St. Michael is able to morph/shape-shift and his true form, on the outside is that of a HUGE DRAGON...imagine DRACO in the night sky...and that his true heart is true to his name..WHO IS LIKE GOD...so we have this HUGE dragon with a heart so soft it melts even when it's snowing....

Do you think that St. Michael the Dragon Slaying Dragon could kick that crooked lying devil-dragon's butt?

OH YEAH you can bet he did...with one hand, even...maybe just two fingers and the thumb available for backup.

GOD created 'evil' in order to eliminate the wickedness of the ego...the selfish intentions and fear driven acts of self-preservation which comprise all that is called 'man's humanity to man' are the evil that the gargoyles keep at bay...

GOD sends *The Sifter* to all crops when their harvest comes...it is a friendly visit...the pitchfork (or mace?) only come out for the especially STUBBORN ones...the scary ones who need a good bully beat-down for a change...you know what I mean...and Gargoyles are gatekeepers....thugs hired to keep the other thugs at bay...


I think the ones who first desired these gargoyles...also were the ones who set them in place...and they placed them up so high on the turrets and such ON PURPOSE....if they gargoyles had been sitting any closer down to the doors of the church, there might have been a little disruption....at first.


It doesn't look like they are giving up any time soon, either...they've been keeping watch for the last 500 years at the same post!



posted on Nov, 19 2011 @ 12:31 AM
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reply to post by queenannie38
 



Hey queenannie ltnc,


Thanks for resurrecting my old thread…




Originally posted by queenannie38
Well...knights always have to try to slay the dragons...but usually it is an 'anything-might-happen' kind of event...but let's just say that St. Michael is able to morph/shape-shift and his true form, on the outside is that of a HUGE DRAGON...imagine DRACO in the night sky...and that his true heart is true to his name..WHO IS LIKE GOD...so we have this HUGE dragon with a heart so soft it melts even when it's snowing....



You know, if you’d mentioned shape shifting way back when I first set up this thread…I would have told you were crazy lol

But now that I’m open to the universe being a holographic one; such ideas as, Star gates, entities walking through walls, UFO’s breaking the laws of physics etc and last but by no means least, shape shifters, shape shifting (what else are they gonna do lol)…it’s all good… and perfectly natural lol I now try to think of at least six impossible things before breakfast…


Yeah, I guess if St. Michael and other noteworthy figures in history were able to morph/shape-shift, they might start honoring their deceased ancestors, by putting up statues of them.
We would look up and see only nasty hideous creatures warding off evil, but they would look up and see their great St Andrew, or their aunty Elizabeth etc lol




Originally posted by queenannie38
Do you think that St. Michael the Dragon Slaying Dragon could kick that crooked lying devil-dragon's butt?



I’m gona try to address this question, the way I would address every other normal day type questions…lol

I think it could be done, although if I was St. Michael, I would stay away from any Brazilian jujitsu ground fighting lol, because the Devil has way too much experience in that department, after being made to crawl on his belly since Eden.

With the wind at his back and the sun in his opponents eyes, and maybe I hot Vindaloo curry the night before lol I reckon he could toast that Devils but…




Originally posted by queenannie38
OH YEAH you can bet he did...with one hand, even...maybe just two fingers and the thumb available for backup.



A black belt in origami, has advantages, I guess lol




Originally posted by queenannie38
GOD created 'evil' in order to eliminate the wickedness of the ego...the selfish intentions and fear driven acts of self-preservation which comprise all that is called 'man's humanity to man' are the evil that the gargoyles keep at bay...

GOD sends *The Sifter* to all crops when their harvest comes...it is a friendly visit...the pitchfork (or mace?) only come out for the especially STUBBORN ones...the scary ones who need a good bully beat-down for a change...you know what I mean...and Gargoyles are gatekeepers....thugs hired to keep the other thugs at bay...




I see. The enemy, of my enemy, is my friend…




Originally posted by queenannie38
I think the ones who first desired these gargoyles...also were the ones who set them in place...and they placed them up so high on the turrets and such ON PURPOSE....if they gargoyles had been sitting any closer down to the doors of the church, there might have been a little disruption....at first.




This is kind of what I think is happening. There is a church nearby where I live…and the gargoyles look really spooky at nighttime. So I got to thinking that maybe that’s the idea…to scare you half too death, just to get you into the Church building. Although why those particular creatures were chosen, over other biblical monsters, is a mystery too me.




Originally posted by queenannie38
It doesn't look like they are giving up any time soon, either...they've been keeping watch for the last 500 years at the same post!



You do realize that they come alive at night, right???

Nah just kidding lol


- JC



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