Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hot Rod Monstrance

Since becoming (relatively) Anglo-Catholic, I've always wanted a monstrance.  Once, I posted a question in an online religious forum asking whether it would be appropriate to personally own a monstrance and to display it in my home.  Reactions were mixed, but most of the people I respected seemed nervous about it, feeling at the very least that it would have to be deconsecrated first.  Some went so far as to say that I would bring myself under the condemnation of Exodus 30, where there is a prohibition against emplying the holy incense for personal use:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the ark of the covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you.  Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord.  Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.”

So, I decided not to go shopping on ebay for monstrances.  I don't want to be cut off from God's people.  That was 5 or 6 years ago.  Lately, however, I have been re-thinking this.  Yesterday, I started working on this "hot rod monstrance" ... a monstrance built entirely out of spare car parts from my garage.  I used a fan clutch, a distributor, a headlight bucket, a sprag clutch outer race, and an instrument panel bezel.

My daughter thought it was an evil thing to do.  Her objection was one I had not heard before:  that it was simply too dirty.  But is any monstrance, crafted as it is by the hands of sinful men, "clean" enough to house the body and blood of our Lord?  I think not.

My defense of this monstrance it two-fold.  The first argument involves what this is not:  it is not consecrated for use in a Benediction (or Adoration) service.  In that sense, it is not an actual monstrance, but the image of one.  

The second argument is more positive and, to me, more forceful:

My view of the world is that we should seek clues to the invisible, to the holy, to the sacred, and to the eternal.  In part, at least, we seek these clues in the worldly, the profane, the dirty, the fallen, and the temporal.  We seek signs and glimpses of the next, perfect world in exactly this present, imperfect one.

Even if this were to be actually used as a monstrance, does any of you truly believe that something sinful, common, or unclean cannot house the perfect body and blood of Christ.  If so, I advise you not to receive the elements of the Eucharist, either by hand or on the tongue.  Because your hands and your tongue (and mine!) are at least as unclean in God's sight as the car parts used to create this Hot Rod Monstrance.


Free Range Anglican said...

Hey, that's actually kind of cool! Of course it wouldn't fit in most of the churches that would otherwise employ a monstrance, and so no it would not be useful in a church because the vessel should not distract.

But as ART!!! Oh my gosh! Its like a metaphor for man (bearing the image of God and yet still tied as we are to the things of this world) especially since, in its intended form, it aspires to contain the divine, to be greater than itself.

And it looks cool! Really, not my usual style but I'm really loving it!

I don't think it would be wrong to own a monstrance, although to put the Sacraments on home display seems an abuse. But a typical monstrance is not a cheap thing. And for devotional art, what you've made is much better. Thanks for posting it!!!

Anglican Beach Party said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anglican Beach Party said...

THANKS, Free Range Anglican!

I like your thoughts here very much.

It might fit in at this church (Hot Rod Church for Sinners in Mission Viejo, California):

(Adjust your volume down a bit before clicking, and check the Photos section of their website.)