Norwich cathedral

Norwich Cathedral is filled with Dippy the diPLODocus, and ropes, barriers and closed doors to distance it from the rest, which still has church-like aspects. My train was delayed, so I went to see the cathedral. Everywhere there are signs saying “No entry to Dippy here”. Gawpers are directed to a specific entrance at the south west corner of the cloisters, then through a guide with pictures of dinosaurs and parallels with the climate catastrophe, and finally into the nave. I associate the DIploDOcus (?) with Roman arches, because of the Natural History Museum.

I wanted my picture with it, and the man left out the head.

Initially I had no idea of the illustrious guest, and found a way in through the South door. Why can’t I get into the nave? I want to see the cathedral, not some dinosaur. A volunteer on guard at a closed door into the nave reluctantly let me through, telling me he should not really. The effect is to divide a museum, the nave, from the holy bit, transept and choir, which is normally big enough for any Sunday services. Yes the nave should be a public space for the city and landward areas, but why close off the worship bits? The restrictions inhibited my relaxation into timelessness. I went out into the cloisters, and there was another barrier, aimed at shooing the pilgrims to Dippy’s relics out. Again, the man there allowed me to step over the rope.

This is what a cathedral is for: commemorating important people.

This is a very important person indeed. His crest has a helm, meaning that he went out slaughtering peasants, and a coronet, meaning he told mere barons what to do. I have no idea who he was. I prefer the roof bosses:



The cloisters could be timeless, a place for aware contemplation. See, there is a labyrinth. There are also Dippy-seers, and photographers. I did not quite get in the mood. I feel a bit resentful.

Here are some dark works about refugees:


This one is trans- breasts, but no hips. Jesus was crucified at “the place of the Skull”.

I like this art work, an engraved door with lines from Eliot. It is hard to see the whole thing, but I take it by the handle, and move it back and forth to examine it. In the chapel I find some contemplation.

7 thoughts on “Norwich cathedral

  1. T. S. Eliot in his masterpiece “Four Quartets” sounded like a Universalist when he quoted the mystic Julian of Norwich, who saw the universe held like a hazelnut in the hand of God and hear him say, “All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” If I remember correctly, Julian was the first Englishwoman to have a book published. I have always found it odd that so many people can find comfort in the “mercy” of a God they believe will send billions of souls to an “eternal hell” for guessing wrong about which earthly religion to believe. That was not the message of Julian, nor of Ezekiel in his famous Valley of the Dry Bones vision, nor of Saint Peter in the first recorded sermon in the New Testament, when he said the resurrection of Jesus confirmed the “restitution of ALL things to God, spoken of by ALL the Holy Prophets since the world began.” Apparently the message of the prophets and the profits of organized religion are not compatible! I wrote the following poem about the dichotomy I saw in the cathedrals I visited:

    What Immense Silence
    by Michael R. Burch

    What immense silence
    comforts those who kneel here
    beneath these vaulted ceilings
    cavernous and vast?

    What luminescence stained
    by patchwork panels of bright glass
    illuminates drained faces
    as the crouching gargoyles leer?

    What brings them here—
    pale, tearful congregations,
    knowing all Hope is past,
    faithfully, year after year?

    Or could they be right? Perhaps
    Love is, implausibly, near
    and I alone have not seen it . . .
    But if so, still I must ask:

    why is it God that they fear?

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    • I believe love is near us all, but an internal not external God. Clear away the barriers.

      Revelations of divine love is the oldest surviving book in English known to be written by a woman, though some anonymous texts may be by women.

      I don’t think “Could they be right?” is the right question- more, Could they be onto something? The words we use get in the way. Eliot might have seen those worshippers in the chorus from Murder in the Cathedral, “living and partly living”.

      In England, perhaps fewer Christians actively believe in Hell than in the US. There are a range of Christian views, from enthusiasm for the idea of Hell to my Church of England vicar who said he had to believe God would create a place we could be away from Him, but could not believe he would put anyone there. I call Christians who overemphasise the idea of Hell, “Hell people”.

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          • Eliot sounds like a Universalist to me. If one is a Universalist, belief in Jesus is optional. And to my knowledge, none of the so-called “great Christian” poets said anything about the atonement. Dante appointed his own personal saviors, amusingly his lover and a pagan poet. Milton gave the atonement one enjambed line in his massive epic. Hopkins confessed that he was the twin of the heretical Walt Whitman. Like Whitman, William Blake considered himself to be his own Christ. They all sound like heretics to me!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading about your interesting visits to Ely and Norwich, neither of which I’ve seen myself.
    Why there is a dinosaur in a cathedral I’ll never know! Mind you, if they’d known about dinosaurs in the Middle Ages I’m sure they’d have carved some fabulous dino bosses and gargoyles!
    Sue x

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