A work in progress by artist
I have an intuitive joy for building.  I hope to work like the beavers I saw as a boy building fantastic dams — it’s a beautiful way to create.   What excites me is the flow of energy and getting aligned to go where the forces take me.  When I work time speeds up.  The right tempo is reached when it feels like time is going backwards and then evaporates.   I am humbled because I feel like I’m standing in the waters of differing realities at the same time.  Many of my projects take ten years or more to complete.
Arriving at this place has been the focus of my work since childhood.   I’ve gotten to it by looking at great works of art and listening to music.   Art seems to be a doorway and an invitation.   We have meaningful conversations; hearing and seeing things in contexts the original artists could never have imagined.   I’m grateful for the differing mystical languages we use to explain it all.    I’m also deeply interested in the scientific understanding we have of any location and its relationship to everything else.   Art creates; it builds up.   It is part of the yes that intends life.   Saying yes brings unexpected things.  
The Doll Cathedral first started in my mind in a thrift store in Oregon when I came upon a big pile of G.I Joe and Barbie dolls.   They reminded me of Karl Jung playing with dolls on top of a big rock and coming up with his theory of the collective unconscious.  As I got closer to the tangle of dolls, the majority without clothes on, I began to feel very strange.   I started to shake.   I got so upset I found I had to leave the store.    
The fall of the World Trade Towers had happened only a few days before and I realized I was seeing the dolls as stand-ins for those who died at Ground Zero.   I was in the midst of a crisis of faith.   I felt religion’s part in the terrorist attacks doomed everyone.   The world was still stuck in the dark ages.   Either by accident or design, we’d probably all eventually end up in a pile like the dolls.   I forced myself to return to them.  If humanity was dead already, what ought an artist to do?  
A phrase from my Catholic childhood popped into my brain, “The true church is made of flesh and blood, not stone.”   I interpreted this sentence to mean that a religion could be healthy or ill (maybe both at the same time) but I shouldn’t confuse the two.   And I shouldn’t worry about faith: there was such a thing as truth in a church . . . one that didn’t go flying airplanes into skyscrapers or something much worse.  
I then had a vision of the pile of dolls flying upwards in a flowing whirlwind into two square towers.   The dolls were leaping, being carried along with a rhythmic clarity in mathematical patterns, like notes of music.   I realized (with a shock) that the Trade Towers were literally, at that moment, “flesh and blood” – a true church.   When I thought the words, “true church”, the two towers of dolls transformed into the two spires of a Gothic cathedral.   Seeing this vision made me shake all over again.   I was afraid.   I didn’t run around saying, “Oh boy, I want to build this!”
That night on the waterfront in Portland, Oregon, I changed my mind.  People were sitting with candles in the grass talking about 9-11.   A homeless girl approached her street-kid friends and asked, “Does anyone know how to pray?”   The vision I had of the cathedral crystallized around us.   I felt, “This is no coincidence.”   We were the church of “flesh and blood.”  We were praying and meditating and crying, or doing nothing at all, with people all over the world.
Now, to my surprise, the girl’s friends did not answer, “Yes.”   They glumly said, “No.”  The girl openly wept and the kids slowly wandered off.   What had they understood prayer to be?   What was in their hearts to say?   Would it help if they could see the church I saw all around them?    It seemed wrong that they should grasp with their souls and feel like they were coming up empty.   I decided to build The Doll Cathedral as best as I could.
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Doll Cathedral
© Joseph Schneider