Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lemming Tracks: Cathedral Repairs, Freedom, and a Ranting Lemming

"National Cathedral to reopen in November after fixes"
AP, via USA Today (October 4, 2011)

"The earthquake-damaged Washington National Cathedral announced Tuesday that it plans to reopen on Nov. 12 but said it must raise tens of millions of dollars to fully restore the building.

"Three of the four spires of the Gothic cathedral's central tower were damaged during the earthquake. Intricate stonework was shaken loose, and some fell onto the building's roof. Major cracks also formed in parts of the structure. Inside the cathedral, small pieces of mortar rained down from the 100-foot-high ceiling during the quake. Safety netting was stretched over the sanctuary as a precaution.

"The reopening will mark the first time the cathedral has resumed its services since the magnitude-5.8 earthquake on Aug. 23. It had hoped to reopen for 9/11 anniversary services, but the collapse of a massive crane being used for repairs complicated the work...."

First, the good news: as far as the Lemming knows, nobody got hurt or killed when that August 23 earthquake knocked pieces off the cathedral.

Actually, there isn't much bad news connected with this. Nobody hurt, and the building's pretty much okay.

Job one, the article says, was making sure that the Washington National Cathedral was structurally sound: and would stay that way. That, and a collapsing crane, is what's going to take until some time in November. Patching up all the essentially cosmetic damage will take years. And a lot of money.

Dollars and Sense

Despite the name, the Washington National Cathedral isn't part of America's federal government. The United States doesn't have a state church, and can't: unless Congress goes crazy and changes the Constitution.1

That, from the Lemming's point of view, is more good news: Repairs on the National Cathedral get paid for by folks who want to spend the money; not taxes confiscated by the feds.

Back to that AP article:

"...Cathedral officials said Tuesday that they need at least $15 million for initial repairs but that fully restoring the cathedral would likely cost tens of millions of dollars.

"The cathedral is also trying to raise another $10 million to fund operations through the end of 2012. The Episcopal cathedral saw severe losses during the nation's financial crisis as its endowment plunged in value and fundraising fell off. Its budget was slashed from $27 million to $13 million and its staff was cut by more than half from 170 full-time employees to 70 last year...."

Hold It: Episcopal?? CATHEDRAL?!!

The Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopal church. Aren't cathedrals Catholic churches? Nope. "Cathedral" is: a kind of building; some of what a bishop does; a music album; a band; and a game. Then there's "cathedra," that's a piece of furniture:
  • Cathedral (religious)
    • Noun
      • Any large and important church
      • The principal Christian church building of a bishop's diocese
    • Adjective
      • Relating to or containing or issuing from a bishop's office or throne
      (Princeton's WordNet)
  • Cathedral (music):
  • Cathedral (game):
  • Cathedra (furniture):
    • Literally a chair and the source of word 'cathedral'
      • This chair is located in the sanctuary and is used exclusively by the Archbishop
      (Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Missouri)
The Lemming is a "recovering English teacher:" as the man behind the Lemming puts it on Twitter. (On Twitter, the Lemming's Aluwir, and we're all Brian Gill, some guy in central Minnesota) That's part of why the Lemming puts so many definitions in these posts. The Lemming was fascinated with language long before doing time in academia, and that's another topic.

Just to make things more confusing, the Washington National Cathedral isn't the big Catholic church in Washington. That one isn't called a "cathedral," because it isn't. A cathedral, that is. Never mind, here are links to their websites:The Lemming will, mercifully, refrain from explaining what "basilica" means, where the word comes from, and why it's not the same as a basilisk: and those are yet more topics.

Where's the Rant?

About the post title, "...and a Ranting Lemming" - The Lemming's 'rant' is mostly in footnote 1. And in another blog's posts: Quakes, kooks, and getting a grip, under Vaguely-related posts)

Basically, the Lemming isn't on the same page as folks:
  • Who want freedom from religion
  • Whose religious beliefs make faith look like a psychiatric condition
Not even close.

Vaguely-related posts:

1 The 'Bill of Rights,' as first ratified in 1791, starts this way:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances...."
(Bill of Rights Transcript Text,"
America's self-described 'better sort' have decided that this means nobody's supposed to talk about religion: unless they say the 'right' things. There's another way of looking at the First Amendment, but it's what the establishment sometimes calls "simplistic:"
"...Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the "separation of church and state." Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of "blue laws" is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person's practice of their religion...."
("First Amendment," LII / Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School)
The Lemming's opined about freedom of speech, ideological prudery, and getting a grip, in another blog:


Brigid said...

This is an oddly constructed sentence... or is it a list? ""Cathedral" a kind of building, some of what a bishop does, a music album, a band, and a game."

Also, you might want to look at the two bullet point items after "because it isn't:"

It is one of those things.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Right. I've clarified that stuff. Changed it, anyway. Thanks!

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