As if tapping into a rival spiritual tradition, Pope Benedict XVI will soon become “the first pontiff to harness solar power to provide energy for the Vatican,” according to the BBC. “The deteriorating cement roof tiles of the Paul VI auditorium will be replaced next year with photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity.”
The BBC’s all too short news item goes on to report that the Vatican “is considering placing solar panels on other buildings although St Peter’s Basilica and other historical landmarks will not be touched.”
But why not touch them?
Solar-powered cathedrals lining the bombed-out fields of Europe! How much more spiritually energizing can you get than plugging directly into that ongoing hydro-helium reaction in space? Teaching theology by the contained light of solar flares – astral disasters captured flashing, as power surges down consecrated halls of painted saints. Frescoes gleam.
Christianity meets Mithraism in architectural form.
John 8:12 – I am the Light of the World – taken literally. In fact, the whole book of John is arguably about the solar power industry.
In any case, are solar panels the new stained glass windows?
And might Christianity be subtly transformed by this encounter with the celestial realm? Apollonian light burning where there once were candles?
After all, Christianity has been turning its doctrinal face away from the stars for far too long.
Imagine this heaving, propulsive thing lighting up cathedrals and prayer books! Shining in libraries and guiding pilgrims through churches, casting shadows in the courtyards of monks. Christendom should have been solar-powered all along – installing astronomical monstrosity at the very heart of the Catechism.
Seriously, though, do the metaphoric implications of the Vatican going solar outweigh any sort of practical message we might otherwise gain from this bit of news?
Isn’t solar power a major doctrinal shift for contemporary Christianity?
Can everyday technology truly embody religious ideals?
(Earlier on BLDGBLOG: In space, no one can hear you pray and The Heliocentric Pantheon: An Interview with Walter Murch).