The decision to deconstruct Christchurch cathedral, announced yesterday, is predictably generating amazing, if not weird, talk. Including our mayor offering informally to take the cathedral off the diocese's hands, letters to the editor of the Press expressing belief that the cathedral can be saved (and look some engineering firm on the other side of the world says they can do the job for peanuts), and a city councillor saying he will chain himself in protest to the cathedral (we would probably allow him but theologically the church has never been keen on supporting suicide). For contrasting sane and sensible talk, read Bosco Peters.
I am really disappointed in our mayor, Bob Parker. That is no way to do business of such a serious nature. I am disappointed in CERA: why aren't they stepping up to the mark and saying that basically this is their call as much as the diocese's? I am disappointed in our paper the Press which is making mischief about this. It is simply irresponsible journalism not to investigate things better: to put a claim in the paper from an engineering firm from far away which says for $20 million dollars it can fix the cathedral is just reprehensible. How about one phone call to a university prof of civil engineering to check whether that is a joke or not?
We lost over 180 people in the earthquake. 180 dead people and many dead buildings. Our cathedral is dead. It is amazing that it took so long to die (we should give thanks for its sturdy fight). But it has no special anti-death strength in the face of the battering it has received. It has no special reason to stay alive when so many other fine buildings have died already. It is dead. We need to start grieving. Not wishing there was a different reality for it. The earthquake is a tragedy. Many people and many buildings are victims of it. Our cathedral, the Roman cathedral and many other churches are sharing in the tragedy. Let's face the tragedy for what it is: a tragedy. It is painful, gut-wrenching, tear-inducing. We have lost an icon, a spiritual home, a place of memories for many people, and a symbol of our founding Anglican past and our present faith and hope. We need to engage with the loss and experience it as loss.
Coming up with strange, weird thinking about how this tragedy could not be what it is, a tragedy, is no way to face the loss of the cathedral.
Let's start grieving. It is the only sensible thing to do.