The Marc of Stain Glass

Before last Monday, the question ‘Who is Marc Mulders?’ would have been perfect for ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire.’ Think about sitting there on that high chair, amidst soft bluish lights and one question away from the million. The question: ‘Who is Marc Mulders? A) Writer B) Artist C) Famous Viking Leader D) Politician’. Well, I am sure that you would have made the wise decision to go home with £500,000 instead of risking the cheque of £32,000. Goodbye million.

But now Mr Marc Mulders is famous and even our BBC tells us that the right answer is ‘B: he is an artist’, a Dutch artist. Mr Marc Mulders was mentioned in the BBC because he has included an image of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in his stained glass window commissioned for the Sint Jan Cathedral in Den Bosch. The short BBC article goes on to tell us how “Geert Jan van Rossem, pastor of the cathedral, said he expected the window would make people reflect. Innocent civilians were killed, that is shocking and makes people think.” The BBC concludes the article by reminding the reader who found other things more momentous on that infamous day that “Nearly 3,000 people died in the 11 September 2001 attacks”.

For this window celebrating the divine light a single act of terrorism becomes the icon of the lower Dutch Dantean ring of hell. Not a word about the ‘collateral’ deaths caused by the two divinely inspired leaders, yet still not canonised in glass. If houri-bound, hijacked airplanes are a quick ticket to eternal damnation, what about the politicians (Bush and Blair come to mind) who helped multiply the 3,000 victims of 9/11 into many more thousands? Certainly it is an eccentric ethnocentric decision to design 9/11 in a church’s window; I could understand the relevance for the corporate headquarters of the Bank of America. in order to represent ‘hell on earth’, as the artist has claimed, the horizon should be expanded to the coalition hell now stretching from Kabul to Basra. Perhaps the church named after the author of Revelation should commission another stain on its window, next to the 9/11 purgatory scene. It would be fitting if the Christian world that overlooks its own terror-prone past could praise God by looking through the filter of innocent Muslim souls burning in the hellfire of liberated Iraq.

Gabriele Marranci

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