There are things that typically go together, like, say, peanut butter and jelly. But if I were to concoct a new combo such as meatballs and jelly, you’d likely cringe.

That’s my reaction to the new stained-glass windows unveiled at the National Cathedral in DC last Saturday. Such artwork in this Gothic-style church has a history that dates back to the 10th century.

At that time, Gothic architecture was an attempt to create a pretty picture in a brutal time. Stained-glass windows that told Bible stories had a lot to do with uplifting the spirit of people in Medieval times.

Cringe-worthy stained-glass windows

Our times are not happy, either. But the stories narrated in the new stained-glass windows, designed by Kerry James Marshall, are about protest and picketing, not piety.

What you see are people marching around bearing signs that say, “Fairness” and “No Foul Play.” Seeing political activism in stained-glass in a Gothic-style house of worship is like hearing a brass march into a concert hall playing Bach’s sacred cantatas.

Religious music doesn’t go with blaring horns and bass drums any more than meatballs go with jelly. Not that a church is the wrong place to talk about racism. But sermons serve that purpose, not pretty colored glass.

Wait, there’s even more advocacy talk that comes with these windows - a poem called “American Song” by Elizabeth Alexander, hand-engrave in limestone and installed beneath the windows.

Alexander’s poem makes clear what you see in Marshall’s windows. An excerpt of the poem reads: “A single voice raised, then another. We must tell the truth about our history. How did we get here and where did we go? Walk toward freedom. Work toward freedom. Believe in beloved community.”

The National Cathedral has a bad habit

Apparently, the National Cathedral has a habit of putting politics in their stained-glass windows.

NPR reported that the new windows replaced those installed in 1953 hat paid homage to the Confederacy.

It’s not clear why this cathedral chose to install windows commemorating the Confederacy. But the reasons for getting rid of them is plain enough.

In 2015 when nine black congregants at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina were gunned down by a white supremacist.

And the cathedral dean at the time, Gary Hall, opted to remove the tribune to the Confederacy.

In 2017, the old windows were taken down, effectively taking down the likes of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Stonewall Jackson.

“Through this new addition to the Cathedral,” the church website said, “we hope to tell a broader, more inclusive story of American history. In this House of Prayer for All People, we want to tell the stories of all people.”

Well, when you put it that way, I almost want to take back my objection to the imagery in the new windows. Almost. Stained-glass windows in a church usually glorify God, not picketing.