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187 ChaptER 21 MacLeod’s Dedication of the Lipchitz Gate On my arrival at the Stanhope in New York to visit Janie in ­mid-­1958, Lipchitz telephoned with exciting news; he had completed the model for the gate.1 “When will you and Philip come to my studio?” “Immediately, that is, when Philip is available and can drive me over.” By the late 1950s, Philip Johnson’s architectural reputation had grown considerably, and his new offices on top of the Seagram Building teemed with activity. Philip rescheduled appointments, so he and I ­ were soon en route to Hastings-­on-Hudson like unleashed hounds on the scent of fresh game. Art lovers are an insatiable breed. Lipchitz opened the door of his ­ light-­ filled, ­ high-­ ceilinged new studio, smiling more broadly than I had ever seen him do, grateful for the realization of his costly dream. Placing the small sculpture in our hands, he broke into French as a more immediate outlet for his enthusiasm: “Voilà votre porte de cérémonie. Ça va?” (“Here is your ceremonial gate. It’s okay?”) 188 New Harmony, indiana The concept amazed Philip and me. Although roughly cast, the model was charged with genius. When closed, the vertical support of the gates’ two leaves intersected with a horizontal beam to form a Latin cross. A pair of large circles occupied the lower arms; two taller ones rested on the upper arms. Above the gate, a larger circle framed the boldly sketched lamb. I was deeply stirred by the strong beauty of Lipchitz’s concept and the biblical insights they brought forth. The sacrificial lamb figures prominently in both the Old and New Testaments, but their individual purposes differ. In early Jewish rituals, a lamb is taken, bound and bleating, to be sacrificed, an unwilling offering to appease Yahweh. For Christians, Christ is the Lamb of God who goes knowingly, uncoerced, to his death. In my view, the Lipchitz lamb strides forward, head high, more like the lamb of the New Testament than that of the Old, which is a curious paradox coming from the hand of a devout Jewish sculptor. At the time, I had no fixed notions about the two angels upholding the wreath for the Lamb of God, but later I wondered if they had flown in from Mecca. The Koran speaks of our need for angels. Ron Miller, in The Gospel of Thomas: A Guidebook for Spiritual Practice, tells a story attributed to Muhammad that could apply to these angels: “Every morning when people wake up, two angels descend from the heavens. One of them will say, ‘Lord! Replace the wealth of a charitable spender.’ And the other will say, ‘Lord! Diminish the wealth of a stingy person who withholds his wealth from the needy.’”2 While Philip reacted with enthusiasm, he did not forget his obligation to right proportion. He explained that a forecourt would be required to sustain the impact of the monumental gate. Once again we three ­ were of one mind. Philip indicated that architectural renderings with the added forecourt would soon be ready for contractual bids. After my return to Houston, I found welcome news from both architect and sculptor. Philip wrote that the forecourt foundation would be laid and could receive the gates by early spring 1962. Lipchitz had begun a ­full-­scale version of the model for the gate and assured me that it would be ready for casting in the bronze foundry before my ­hoped-­for dedication date. I began planning for weeklong May Day observances in 1962, which would culminate in a celebration for the Lipchitz gate. I asked George MacLeod’s Dedication of the Lipchitz Gate 189 MacLeod if he could leave his fabled island and his ministries throughout Scotland long enough to consecrate the golden gate on May 1. His positive response overwhelmed and humbled me, for his time was a precious and priceless gift. I was confident that a minister who could write about God, “He is Life: not religious life, nor church life, but the ­ whole life that we now live in the flesh. ​ . ​ . ​ . He is Reality: Love: Life ​ . ​ . ​ . ​ And God is the Life of life,” would feel at home in a quadrangle open to sky, birds, flowering trees, and all human beings regardless of their race, color, religion, or lack of religion.3 I also believe that Robert Owen would have felt more comfortable in a roofless, classless church than in a strictly Anglican church of the early...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253016638
Related ISBN
9780253016249
MARC Record
OCLC
903357020
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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