The Power Of Churches

Much as I deplore religion and all who sail in her creaking ghostship of war, I venerate churches themselves. There is a wonderful passage in Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety about their architectural importance in the English countryside. For a country farmer centuries ago, they could be a beacon of democracy and humanism - the spire rising improbable, extravagant, literally lifting gazes and horizons from the hard clay of work, food and death. Mirroring and mocking Gormenghastly monarchical piles, a parish church was the palace of the common man; no wonder so many rulers tried to rape them. In practice of course, politics, poverty and the bindweed embrace of dogma made the palaces into prisons, but small country churches still hold for me something rebellious, ambitious and heart-breakingly fragile. They are dying around us, crumbling quietly to their knees like so many stoic stony giants, scattering Oasis foam, wax polish and custard creams as they go.

Hence this poetic short by Tomek Baginski, based on the novel by Jacek Dukaj's novel. It was nominated for the Short Animated category Oscar in 2003 and won at the SIGGRAPH festival in 2002, but let's pretend its a undiscovered gem.

The smell of damp stone on a Sunday is the smell of guilt and fear, but walk into a small church alone, take a breath, and it does the job still, after all.