Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This Is Not A Door

by Drew Martin

Doors have a lot of meaning in our culture. They may represent acceptance or rejection. To have your foot in the door promises opportunity and to have an open door policy means there is fairness and open mindedness. Nothing is more deflating than to have someone close a door in your face, while behind door #... on Let's Make a Deal became synonymous with surprise and gambled choices.

In The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe turned a door into an instrument of suspense, which has been the portal of murderers and monsters in books and especially movies ever since:

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

In Paint in Black, by The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger belts "I see a red door and I want it painted black." It is a song about death, loss and depression. Red doors symbolized prostitution. In My Room by the Beach Boys references the door in quite a different tone: In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears...

Sometimes the enthusiasm of certain holidays, like this recent cheerful blast of Easter, can make you want to retreat to your room, pull down the blinds and shut the door: blocking out all the commercial and religious bombardment that might catch one off guard coming out of the introverted comfort of a winter hibernation.

That very door, which represents safety and privacy, may also be one of the most loaded Christian objects in your house. The door to note is the Cross & Bible door. This door dominates my own home but not because of devotion: it was simply the default door purchased by workers from Home Depot. The Cross & Bible door was first created in America in the early 1700's when the frame and panel door became popular. There is a good reason for the construction; the floating panels inside the vertical stiles and the horizontal rails minimize the swelling and shrinking of the total door. The design of the cross and bible, however, is entirely symbolic.

The upper portion of the door bears the cross, while the lower portion represents an open bible, with each panel symbolizing the sides of the open book. The door is sometimes called the Christian door and its creation is a now part of folklore. The version that is the most poetic is that the Freemasons constructed and used them to mark 'safe' houses for the immigrating and persecuted Christians.