Friday, February 8, 2013

Many chairs and the seat of God

I can't resist assembled chairs and they do make good photographs. I really can't remember which church in Rome this was, but the light was good enough for the depth of field that a wide-angle lens offers. The symbolism of chairs is clear. A chair is a sign of authority and if you offer someone a chair, you recognise the status of the visitor or guest. If you remain seated while others stand, this is a sign of your authority. The Holy See originates from sedes, Latin for chair. And the chair of the meeting is in charge and has a casting vote. But the seats in this church reminded me of an old occasion where I had to organise a conference. The venue was a London ecumenical centre, where Roman Catholic and Church of England congregations were allocated separate worship areas. However, one section had soft seats and the caretaker refused permission for the chairs to be moved to make conference guests comfortable. Looking back, it was all most amusing. Yet at the time, it was stressful. So I'm pleased to say that after much theological debate, reason prevailed and the soft chairs were duly allowed! The chairs in the photograph don't look comfortable at all, do they? In Rome, most older churches would be dedicated to kneeling or standing. Pews and sitting came about in the Middle Ages. You didn't get to sit because God has the authority. It's God that sits. But a throne is a subject for another blog!