The necessity of doubt: 7-2-14
But first, an amendment: 7-4-14

A waste or an inspiration? 7-3-14

WNC-1

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When we arrived at the Washington National Cathedral last Sunday afternoon, the choir lofts in the front of the sanctuary were roped off, but a 20-voice choir was practicing for the 4 p.m. evensong service.

WNC-2The choir was singing Psalm 145, which begins "I will exalt you, O God my King, and bless your Name for ever and ever."

The lovely voices rose to fill the incredible space that is the main part of the cathedral.

Just before 4, the ropes came down and we were invited to find a place in the choir lofts for evensong. This service is one of many opportunities for people all over the world to come and see the national treasure that is this cathedral.

I had been to the cathedral before. I'd even been to an evensong service years ago, when I also sat in the choir lofts.

WNC-4But on previous visits, I hadn't wandered about in the building from the observation deck to the lower levels. Oh, my. There are chapels everywhere and artistic treasures everywhere.

Yes, it's a house of worship but also an art gallery and museum, all in one.

The question a building like this raises is why spend so much money on a beautiful building (not only in its initial construction but in years and years of additions and restorations) when so many people are hungry and homeless and in all kinds of economic need.

WNC-5I used to think that such extravagant expenditures were wasteful. But I've pretty much changed my mind.

I think a building like the National Cathedral is a work of art. And art is its own excuse for being. Among other things, art inspires humanity to reach beyond itself. And is there a better definition of ministry than that?

So today have a look at some of the beautiful sites in the cathedral through the photos I took there Sunday. And make it a point to visit it next time you are in D.C.

(The sanctuary and exterior photos here need no explanation. But the small seats with animals on the cushions in the photo on the right are found in a children's chapel in the cathedral. The stained-glass window shown at the bottom is relatively new and contains a rock from the moon.)

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