Thursday, September 29, 2011



It might be interesting to reflect in these days of economic disaster how the great European Cathedrals were built in the Medieval Era – that Era which finds no shortage of detractors today and which we are frequently assured was littered with poor serfs struggling to stay alive in dirty hovels. It is amusing to this writer to read from our intellectual giants of today how ignorant our medieval ancestors were, or from our vaunted economic experts of today (of whatever stripe) how wretched were the lives of medieval serfs. A case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Yes, actually.

I will always be indebted to the late, great Scottish writer Hamish Fraser who reprinted an article from the Anglican journal The Rock in an issue of his excellent publication Approaches,
which tells the brief but amazing story of how the great European Cathedrals were built. It is a fascinating glimpse into a time when men lived full and comfortable lives, a world which the wage slaves of today can hardly even conceive of. Like the best of thrillers, this is an article you won’t be able to put down.

I must further express my indebtedness to the son of Hamish Fraser, Anthony, who is keeping his father’s brilliant journalism alive with his own publication which he calls Apropos. There is nothing to compare with sitting in a favorite chair and actually reading a fine book, journal or newspaper, quietly reflecting upon the printed word. Strange talk, yes, from one who writes this on a computer; but it is by way of a “plug” for his superb (but very periodic!) journal which is well worth a subscription.

And now, for the brief but fascinating story of how it was economically feasible to create those great gothic cathedrals, and for a peek into the actual living conditions in the Ages of Faith, give this a look:

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