Ely Cathedral

Although the original foundation of Ely Cathedral dates back to the initial Anglo-Saxon conversion in the 600s (and you can see a stone cross inside that dates from that period), the current building was begun in 1083 and completed in 1340.

At 537 feet long, it is the third longest cathedral in England (behind Winchester and St. Alban’s), and boasts a stunning 250-ft. nave with painted ceiling (thanks to those fine restorationists, the Victorians, who never get enough credit).


Its finest feature, however, is the unique octagonal lantern tower, built to replace the original tower, which collapsed in 1322.

The lantern tower and the nave make it perhaps the most beautiful (though not necessarily the most impressive) British cathedral interior I have ever seen, and I’ve seen about a dozen.  Indeed, right after I saw it, I was inclined to rate it at the top of my list, but a return visit to Salisbury a few days later reminded me who the true queen of English cathedrals is. 


One of the features I appreciated most about Ely, however, was its attempt to use the building evangelically.  The little guide that they hand out to visitors sought to relate the different portions of the building to different theological themes and parts of the narrative of Christ’s life and death, and invited visitors to pause and pray on related themes at each point.  Finally, at the end, it invited any visitors who wanted to learn more about the Christian faith to come and speak to the clergy.  Perhaps this sort of thing oughtn’t to be surprising–of course cathedrals should present the Gospel, rather than merely their historical and architectural significance–but many are decidedly vague on the subject.  So, three cheers for Ely!

Done Cathedraling

Dear readers,

I have now at last returned from the longest sabbatical I’ve taken from this blog, having witnessed some of the most incredible architectural tributes to the glory of God ever created, and enjoyed some wonderful time with my family.  In a departure from my usual topics, over the next couple weeks I will be posting some photos of the cathedrals and other religious sites we visited, compliments of my wife’s fine new camera.  (I had hoped to post some of these while I was traveling, but unfortunately, I didn’t have high enough bandwidth to upload the pictures.)

You can also hope to soon see those promised posts on creation/evolution by my friend Brad Belschner (although they proved not to be ready in time for the recent sabbatical), as well as the usual suspects that pop up around here with regularity–Richard Hooker, David VanDrunen, economics, etc.

Gone Cathedraling

Dear readers,

It has been a wonderful summer of writing, engaging, arguing, linking, and of course, occasionally venting here at the Sword and the Ploughshare, but at last I am off for a much-needed retreat (yes, I know, normally people return from vacations at the end of the summer, rather than embarking on them–guess I’m just eccentric).  Although there are many fascinating things I’ve been hoping to share here, such as finishing my review of Schneider’s Good of Affluence, interacting further with VanDrunen’s Living in God’s Two Kingdoms and Hart’s A Secular Faith, and sharing some of the nuggets from the phenomenal set of papers just delivered at the Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference, most of these will likely have to wait.  I will be busy cathedraling, you see–returning to pay homage to the glories of Salisbury and Winchester, and discovering for the first time the wonders of Ely, Exeter, Wells, and Gloucester, not to mention the phenomenal fan-vaulting of King’s College Chapel and Bath Abbey.  


In the meantime, I hope that this blog might not be entirely transformed into a ghost town.  Feel free to continue to argue with each other (or me) in the comments section, but I may not be able to moderate much.  And, more significantly, keep an eye out for a series of guest posts by my friend Bradley Belschner, who has been preparing a series of essays on the theological and scientific arguments for young-earth creation.  He would dearly love to make a debate of it, so if he’s able to put these posts up, and you think he’s full of hot air, then have at him.