Actually, I like stained-glass windows; just not stained-glass Christianity.
The Passion is a time when the Mrs Alexanders of this world conspire to annoy me. "There is a green hill far away without a city wall". I ask you - green? Jerusalem? Not the Jerusalem that I visited that was parched and arid. Green Hill? Hardly, love.
If this were Room 101, I would surely consign Stained-Glass Christianity to that deep pit. Why? Because all glass should be clear or frosted? No. Because it depicts a story in a manifestly sanitized way.
Windows depicting the events on the Golgotha are a pertinent case in point. You have your cross, all neat and clean. you have your Jesus, all fair and wind-swept - almost dashing. His face is clean, his natty little head-piece set to a jaunty angle. He is often depicted in neat baggy Speedos, wrapped around a muscular, six-pack enhanced physique. It must be that between Gethsemane and Gabbatha, Jesus popped over for an hour at the weights at Gold's Gym.
The Christmas images are the same. Mary is often a pretty woman in her late twenties, in robes more expensive than Bill Gates could afford. Jesus is always a plumpling, clean and as Caucasian a child as ever there was. The manger is a twee little magazine rack full of my guinea-pig's straw bedding, the donkeys have floppy eyelashes and the moo-cows seem to smile.
I know that argument for this is artistry, or that the alternative would have wounded sensibilities. Sensibilities Schmensibilities. Artistry Schmartistry. Stained-Glass Shamed Glass.
Now, as a thing to have in ones church I like these windows a great deal, just not the way that they clean up the act, purify the filth, sooth away the agonies, wash the linen, beautify the traumatized. Little wonder people don't 'get' Good Friday let alone a snotty dribble-covered manger stone. If people could be allowed to learn of the horrors implicit in our Gospel stories, they might just start to get the extent and depth of the whole thing.
"There is a green hill far away ..."
No there bloody well isn't.