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  • Writer's pictureKitty

Doomed either way?

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

The Wenhaston Doom c. 1520

A visiting friend wanted to see the famous local doom today, a piece I find intriguing but unsettling. I don't like to think of past congregations taking it to heart. Uplifting, it is not. Modern spiritual sentiments of love, forgiveness and wellbeing are nowhere to be seen; here is only doom. And gloom. It seems a bit unfair, given that, for its intended audience, nonattendance wasn't advised, much less nonbelief or any expression thereof.

The Doom tells us what to expect on the Day of Judgement. So here's the order of events:

Rise from your grave. If you're lucky you'll still have your shroud, but probably not.

Proceed to Judgement. Get weighed. It's Archangel Michael if you deserve the Kingdom of Heaven, the devil if you are headed to Hell.

If you fail the test, expect to be corralled by red-hot chains into the (literal) jaws of hell. Devils with cattle prods will push you back in if you attempt, as these fools are, to run away.

The righteous - bishops, kings, queens - proceed to St Peter. No clothes are allowed, but headgear is necessary for identification purposes.

And here's the reward for a life well lived. It seems a bit of a let-down. Is that prison-like building really Heaven?

One wonders what the original viewers made of all this as they stared up at the chancel arch where the doom used to hang. Horror? Awe? Yet the expressions on the faces of a few of the hellbound belie somewhat the overall message. Some wave almost cheerfully. One seems to be winking. Badly drawn? Maybe, but a chink allowing in a little humour is what I would prefer to believe.

Photos © Kitty Bocking

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