Rochester, MN: Midwest Sacred Glass and Art, Inc. has a splashy new campaign for selling stained glass in these trying economic times: "Stained Glass Artists Against The New Illiteracy."
Company owner and head artisan, William Nuttle, said that the advertising slogan was a natural. "We're in an era where people are waking up to a cold bucket of reality. While the economy has led the way in this regard, part of the chilling effect is the cold reality that Catholics no longer know their faith."
Another artisan and employee, Clarice Henderson, said "In the middle ages, illiteracy was rampant. It wasn't the only reason for stained glass windows, but those windows did highlight the basic themes of salvation and creation; they told the story through pictures. Now, people can read, but they won't pick up a book and learn about their faith. Then they may go to church on Christmas and the only color in the Church is in the poinsettias and the parking lot. We think stained glass windows are the 21st century evangelists."
In a focus group of 20 practicing Catholics, the company said that 10 people were given a stained glass print of the Pentecost and the other 10 the scripture of the Pentecost from the book of Acts. More people understood the the picture, although when both media were shared, people questioned why the apostles in the stained glass depiction did not look drunk. "Look, there are limits to every medium," Nuttle said. "But the thing was--they remembered the story. Isn't that what we want?"
When asked about Catholic backlash to being called "illiterate," Nuttle said, "Actually, we've gotten some positive feedback from pastors and church workers. More than most people, they know the disease. But the cure has been illusive, and we think we've got it. Besides, I defy you to show me a person who doesn't love stained glass. Ok, except some lingering Zwinglian reformers."
A church official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, remarked "It's worth a try. It sure would be easier to set up than 'Generations of Faith'."