Have we not learned our lessons from the decaying, carpeted crashed flying saucer churches that litter our American suburbs?
Here is an article that gushes lovingly over the designs for a new church in New Jersey by New York architect Carlo Enzo.
Amenities include gallery and museum space to attract visitors to the building on days without religious services. The ground-level exterior incorporates a Zen-like reflecting pool, and a “sky chapel” perched at the building’s highest point accommodates up to 30 people.
“It is it is not simply a holy place,” Enzo said. “It is a place where one can begin to connect to their own ideas and their own sensations and feelings. To that extent rituals can be performed and at the same time one could just sit there and observe what is going on inside himself.”
Oh dear. Is it possible that the architect in charge of the job has so little understanding of what a church is for?
To be fair, we’re not told if this church is Catholic or not. It’s just called “The Church of the Holy Spirit” so it could be a Protestant chapel. Certainly the architect’s ideas of spirituality being a way to “explore what is going on inside of himself” would jive with current Episcopalian thought.
When you think further about it however, the statement “observe what is going on inside of himself” sounds rather medical, as if one is giving oneself an ultrasound scan or a colonoscopy. But I digress.
The old architectural saw is that “form follows function” and what the modern church architect doesn’t get is what the function of a church might be. It’s not really a place to connect with your inner Zen. Its not a place to study what is going on inside of yourself. If it is a Catholic Church, then it is a temple for God’s Son present in the sacrament of the altar and it is a place to offer the Sacred Sacrifice.
Geesh, if I wanted to connect with nature and explore my innards I’d either get a colonoscopy or go sit on a mountaintop.
What really gets my goat about this project is that the cost is $28 million bucks, but you can bet you’ll never hear any of the lefty hipsters say, “How can you spend so much money on a church when there are poor people who need housing?” Somehow or other that narrative will be forgotten.
But try to raise a measly $5m for this church which is traditional and you can bet all those moans and groans will be deafening.
On the other hand, as they haven’t raised the $28m bucks there’s a good chance they won’t be able to. Perhaps all ordinary people with good sense who don’t fancy worshipping in a cross between a seventies railroad station and an art gallery will sit on their wallets and demand a church that looks like a church.
One of the best comments I had when the drawings for our new church of Our Lady of the Rosary were presented was from one of the school kids who said in shocked and delighted wonder, “Wow Father! It looks like a Catholic church!”
Indeed. Another pleasing thing I am observing as our new church is being built (go here for a picture gallery of progress) is that folks say immediately and proudly, “It’s going to be beautiful Father!”. Just that little comment: “Its going to be beautiful” says it all.
Will anyone ever say about the proposed Church of the Holy Spirit–or any of the existing modernist buildings, “It’s beautiful!” I don’t think so.
But beauty is the language of worship, so how can one worship if the language of worship is absent or brutalized?
Rant over. ‘Nuff said.
We’re still raising the last bit of money to build our modestly priced $5m church.
We’re especially looking for someone to donate a salvaged pipe organ we’ve found and want to save and install.
If you want to help drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or go here to make an instant donation.