Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Architectural Relativism

That particular form shows up in churches.

Ordinary Catholics must already be aware of the changes that have taken place in church architecture over recent decades. The architecture of Relativist space, like the universal model it embodies, is homogenous, directionless and value-free. A Relativist church building downplays or even denies the concept of sacred space, rejects linear forms, and is designed so that every part of it appears to be of equal importance. Outside it will resemble the local library or sports stadium, thereby proclaiming 'nothing special here'. Inside the people 'gather round' the plain and unadorned altar, having hardly noticed as they passed the Tabernacle, and the message is the same.

Once gathered, there is apparently nowhere 'beyond' to aim for because the circular or semi-circular liturgical space cannot suggest this possibility. The subjectivism of the Modern Age favours circular forms because in a Relativist universe there is no truth 'out there'. The denial of the transcendent vision is inherent in the form of the contemporary church building and the space it creates. This same blocking of the route to the transcendent is also the result of sanctuary re-orderings in traditional churches.

Can't quite envision that? Then visit Good Shepherd parish in Menomonee Falls, WI.

You don't even have to worry about seeing a tabernacle, or passing one!

HT: Rich Leonardi


Anonymous said...

Another example is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in New Berlin. The first time I set foot in I thought that in 15 min the space could easily be converted to a city hall.

When I'm in a Church, I want it to look like a Church. Why hide the fact that it is a Catholic church? Resale value?

GOR said...

...or St. Joseph's in Big Bend with no Tabernacle in the 'worship space'. You have to search to find it - in a closet-like space off the vestibule.

And now St. Peter's in East Troy - an old-style rectangular church - wants to angle the seats towards the center aisle so that you "...can see more faces..."

Er, Whose house is it anyway? And why are we here...?