In the Austin, Texas home of Vince Hannemann one can pay a visit to the “Cathedral of Junk.” It’s a structure made entirely of discarded items and it’s been the subject of numerous articles. Visits to the junk castle are by appointment only – and a fee will be charged.
A Unique Reality
Now, at first glance, this “cathedral” looks like nothing more than a big pile of junk. It consists exclusively of junkyard items (many functional) wired to a skeletal framework of rebar. Beyond its very crude framework, which allows the junk pile to be hollow, there’s no real orderliness to this mess. Toilet seats, hubcaps, road signs, kitchen appliances, TVs, bicycles, etc. are all thrown together without any consideration to their original design, shape, or purpose. They’re all forced to serve the same purpose – to be a brick or a building block to Vince’s personal clubhouse.
In all honesty, Vince Hannemann’s work displays no artistic talent whatever. His junk pile is just that. Assorted objects; each designed for another purpose. Thus, they are randomly attached to this structure without any regard to their type, shape, or function. Because of this, the cathedral of junk is an eyesore. It’s painful to look at.
When I saw the photos of Vince Hannemann’s cathedral of junk it reminded me of something. Vince Hannemann treated the specialized components of his junk pile as the despots of the 20th Century treated human beings. They forced individuals, regardless of their specific gifts, aptitudes, and training into the same standardized roles.
A Tragic Reality
Think of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Pol Pot uprooted the entire populations of cities and forced them into the countryside. Among them were doctors, nurses, attorneys, architects, businessmen, planners, academicians, and scientists. But their individual abilities didn’t matter to Pol Pot. They were all forced to perform one function – to grow rice. Resulting in upwards of two million people who died due to this policy.
Think of Mao Zedong whose Great Leap Forward forced tens of millions of people out of their specific professions (both agrarian and urban) into one common task, that of forging steel. Resulting in the starvation of between eighteen and forty-five million people.
Think of Hitler who herded millions of Jews into concentration camps. Among them were the most educated and skilled members of society. Yet their skills and education meant nothing to Hitler. They were used for the most basic manual labor. As a result, six million died of over-work and starvation, along with those who went directly to the gas chambers.
The individual worth, talents, abilities, and training of these people meant nothing to Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and Hitler. They were all thrown together. There was no consideration of individual’s talents and abilities. As a result, each person faced the dreadful assignment to do the same menial tasks.
No nation, organization, or church should ever treat its people in this manner. Yet, our love for standardizing things is often applied to human beings. That’s true in a society. It’s also true in the church. We create for ourselves the picture of the ideal Christian. Then we apply that standard to all Christian believers. Therefore, that’s where the trouble begins. For God made us all with distinctive gifts, talents, and abilities.
Paul explains in Romans 12:4-8 and in 1 Corinthians 12:4-31, that the members of Christ’s body all perform different functions; according to the way God designed them. But when God’s people are all forced into the same standardized role, the church will more resemble a cathedral of junk – a group of individually gifted people all forced to perform a function for which God did not equip or design them.
Dear Lord Jesus, grant that I will seek unity and harmony within Your church, rather than standardization and regimentation. We are all different in our personalities and abilities and do not have the same God-given function. Help me to understand this and to create an environment in which people discover their divine gifts and are allowed to use them for the work of Christ. Amen.
-Below (Information from)
(Information from: https://www.ripleys.com/weird-news/the-cathedral-of-junk/; https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/7816)