How has your church architecture shaped you?

"The problem with new-style churches isn't just that they're ugly -- they actually distort the Faith and lead Catholics away from Catholicism."
Okay...many of you have experienced the type of churches in America, and elsewhere that are......"different?" Maybe some of you dont know what I'm talking about because you think..."a church is a church". Well, as a designer this sort of stuff infuriates me believe it or not. This "new age" mentality of practice. It bugs me to see how churches in America have gone from beautiful cathedrals to random shaped boxes/structures that "try" to translate an 'abstract design?'...all for the purpose to create a 'lax,' 'community,' 'hall' setting inside. From cushioned seats and kneelers, to abstract altars or 'no' altars, to the absence of crucifixes, to silly pictures in place of the stations of the cross...or sometimes i find myself challenged to discover where stations are hidden...The music arrangement is similar to that of a band..(does this sound like a "Simpsons cartoon?")...finally the most important part, the 'Tabernacle', usually hidden in some accessible closet or hidden area. Why? Why all this confusion and reconfiguration from good old tradition? Was their design intention to help us all 'forget' we are Catholic? These new Catholic churches mostly built after the 60's and 70's have been 'sapped' of their spiritual vitality. It should bring us all to question and wonder where the minds of these architects, and those Catholics who hired these architects were thinking. It seems the execution of their designs was everything 'but' Christian. I think you'd all be interested to know how drastic church architecture has changed in America and other places since after Vatican II. Perhaps the complete misinterpretation and then rejection of Vatican II in America awakened all this...and what has it done to our brothers and sisters but only detach them from 'Tradition'. hmmmmmmm...something to think about. An interesting book on this: "Ugly as Sin" by Michael S. Rose
here's a brief summary:
So argues Michael S. Rose in these eye-opening pages, which banish forever the notion that lovers of traditional-style churches are motivated simply by taste or nostolgia. In terms that non-architects can understand (and modern architects can't dismiss!), Rose shows that far more is at stake: modern churches actually violate the three natural laws of church architecture and lead Catholics to worship, quite simply, a false god.
Not content to limit himself to theory, Rose in Ugly As Sin takes you on a revealing tour through a traditional church and a modern church. He shows conclusively how the traditional church communicates the Faith, while the modern one simply doesn't. In the process, he'll give you a renewed understanding, love, and gratitude for the gift of faith that is your traditional church -- plus a keener sense of just what's wrong with modern churches that look like anything but churches. Rose provides you with solid arguments (as easy to explain as they are hard to refute!) and practical tools that you can use to reverse the dangerous trend toward desacralized churches -- and to make our churches once again into magnificent Houses of God!

Praise for Ugly As Sin

Michael Morris, O.P., Crisis Magazine
Not since 1836, when Augustus Welby Pugin wrote Contrasts, a book that compared the bankruptcy of contemporary English architecture to the idealized gothicism of the Catholic past, has such a forceful argument been made for a return to architectural tradition. Like Contrasts, Rose's book is dynamite, and there will no doubt be critical attempts to defuse it. Nonetheless, Ugly As Sin may well lead to a complete reassessment of Catholic liturgy, art, and architecture, just as Pugin's work ended up reforming style and ritual in the Church of England.

Catesby Leigh, Touchstone
Clear, jargon-free, extremely informative, and generously illustrated with photographs. [Rose] throws in just the right amount of historical detail…without getting mired in art-historical minutiae.

Duncan Stroik, National Catholic Register
Not since J.B. O'Connell's Church Building and Furnishing of 1955 has there been such a complete work on the history, theology and practical aspects of designing the house of God. Ugly As Sin is rich in theological allusion, biblical meaning and Church teaching as they affect the architecture of the church. Accompanying a plethora of images of beautiful and ugly churches is Rose's enjoyable, witty and readable text.

Emily Oren, Los Angeles Times
…a useful index of architectural elements and their spiritual significance… it has a pleasingly accessible narrative shape and a logical design, making for easy reference.

About the Author
Michael S. Rose is the New York Times best-selling author of Goodbye, Good Men, and four other books: In Tiers of Glory, The Renovation Manipulation, Benedict XVI: The Man Who Was Ratzinger and Priest. Among other controversial issues, he writes frequently and compellingly on sacred architecture. Rose holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s degree in Fine Arts (M.F.A.) from Brown University. He has worked in the offices of prominent architects in London, New York, San Francisco and Boston. His architectural criticism has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Catholic World Report, New Oxford Review, Adoremus Bulletin, Latin Mass, Sacred Architecture, and elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Micaela. You identified a big problem in modern Catholic church architecture and some of the problems it contributes to. Good job.