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Steeples

As I continue my daily photowalks, subject themes emerge. This meditation takes note of several Christian churches with prominent steeples visible from many locations in Beacon, as churches with steeples are intended to be.With my background in architecture, they present themselves as landmarks that visibly organize the cityscape. I am reminded of Christopher Wren churches in England, built after the Great Fire of London destroyed large parts of the city, which I studied in architecture school.

I am also attracted to them because of my religious upbringing, which is Episcopalian, handed down to me from my grandfather, a minister, through my mother. Growing up, my family attended church regularly until my sister and I were confirmed, and then began to fall off to holiday attendance. I have spiritual leanings, but am not religious in any organized religion sense.

As I move about, I am attracted to, but keep my distance from the churches. They are familiar objects in the landscape that speak to childhood and cultural memories with their connection-to-god-above symbolism. Still, I have never been comfortable with anything more than brief visits with the communities that gather inside them, so it is a wary kind of distance I keep from them.

The arms length distance I have kept, in these pictures and throughout my life, has transformed them into a presence that both reassures and threatens as I remember childhood and confront the consequential and, to me, problematic role Christianity plays in American politics and culture.

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