Creating Castles and Cathedrals

Sometimes when you popularize something, you cut out its heart. Anyone who has a beloved book, comic book, manga, movie, band, or something else created knows of what I speak. You love something because of what it is, and when strangers come to make a work based on it, they do not respect it. They fail to understand what makes it what it is. They make a work that takes the name of what you love, but it is something at best, weak and watered down; at worst, it is a defilement. You wonder anew, why the people that created what you loved allowed others to do so, and sometimes, why they themselves did such a thing.

I have learned from this that there are many, many people who will be entertained with low-quality offerings; the appetite for swill is never satisfied. Because of this, the pressure to create mass-market entertainment, especially from things with established audiences, is great, and the people who enjoy something are forever at risk at having something they love be trampled upon. To quote Ecclesiastes, “This too, is a great evil.”

It is a great evil that so many are satisfied with so little, and that they have neither the inclination nor desire to understand what has value and what has not.

It is a great evil that the blind and the ravenous have so much power over what gets created, and then they devour it like worms feed upon decayed matter. Sightless, uncaring of what they consume, they consume and never benefit from it. They only consume, not thinking, not analyzing, not feeling, just existing, to gobble up whatever is popular tomorrow.

Sometimes I wish I could introduce a sampling of great works periodically to children at certain ages, say at once in elementary school, twice in middle school, every year in high school, and then each year in college (or the corresponding physical ages), and then once a decade thereafter. Those who grasped the material on a deep level, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually, would be given a pass to visit my own private island for a weekend. Upon the island, we would busy ourselves in appreciating great works, and creating great works, studying and refining all of the arts granted to us by God, to the glory of God. If they enjoyed the weekend, they would be invited to stay. Parents and families of minors could also stay, and families of adults who joined then. Those accepted could leave at any time, but could never return, having left. The island would share its discoveries and its creations with the world, but it would not engage much in the world except to provide tours and licensing agreements. Its residents would be something like artists, and something like monks.

This is only a dream, but I long to live among those who are so heavenly-minded and enjoy and create the great things. I have searched all my life for a community of such, and I have never found it. That is one of the great enduring tragedies of modern life, I think; that there is no home for those who seek to make castles and cathedrals in an age of warehouses and strip joints.

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