Sunday, 9 December 2007

Church Architecture

http://kester.typepad.com/signs/2007/09/signs-of-life-i.html

Hi, I just got to you through vaux, through haunted geographies. I've spent a happy little while browsing your blog, some really brilliant thoughts. And Ruskin always gets me going, last year I wrote a piece on Ruskin, atheism and architecture.

http://phil-blogs.blogspot.com/2007/11/discuss-aims-of-john-ruskin-in-his.html

My next essays are on the role of design in effecting an 'essence' of sustainable housing and then a critical piece on something since 1985.. I hope a church building, I haven't really started. I want to write on new church architecture, even emergent/ing church architecture. I can't really find a lot written on it. Have you come across anything worthwhile on that?
"Have we lost something here? Are the warehouse churches that we throw up or rent just bland, interchangeable shells for an equally bland and interchangeable God?" I have thought this, currently at a warehouse church, and saddened by the missed opportunity that their new building project represents both environmentally and artistically. I'm torn also by their explicit arguments made for church as a shoe box as primary metaphor. Also on my blog are these questions, I've been going back and forth with some friends with:

Is the church building a shoe box, is it a sheepfold, is it only shelter, is there something gnostic at the end of this train of thought? Do we owe the rich architectural heritage of cathedrals from a former christendom to idolatry alone?

How deep rooted is our damaging abandonment of the arts and disregard of place, and how far reaching are the implications?

What is community? How much slower should we be moving geographically inorder to form better community, what is the role of craft in community, and what would its contemporary expression be?

If God is Green, is this a call to asceticism and does it have implications for christian expression in architecture?






http://emergentvoyageurs.blog.com//1336565/?page=last&msgsuccess=1#cmts

So this conversation finished about a year ago, I'm just browsing, and thought I'd post a few questions that have been on my mind regarding church architecture, I'm writing from the uk, I'm not sure how different the situation is over there, certainly the rich heritage of european ecclesiastic architecture, is on our doorstep and so even more immediately begs such questions regarding the role and nature of contemporary architecture in the framing and communicating of christianity in a post-modern secular etc culture.

Centrally I ache to know why church architecture today is so lacking in substance? I would argue that it is not for lack of means, nor lack of technology, we have never before had such available resource for building to the glory of God. I would currently argue that the source of this change has been theological and sociological. We have changed in our understanding of place, our understanding of congregation and community, in a change derived from our view of work and family, we have become estranged from the divine good in locality, in physical work and craft and we no longer live in any one place long enough to consider a project beyond a generation. Our assimilation to cultural values, the veneration of youth, mobility, speed etc has lead to a transient placeless church for whom primary metaphors chosen for church buildings are a shoe box, a sheepfold, a shelter.. is there something gnostic at the end of this train of thought? Do we owe the rich architectural heritage of cathedrals from a former christendom to idolatry alone? I would say know. How to we put in place an understanding of our incarnation that engages architecture pragmatically, narratively, communally, sacrificially evangelistically.. bleh. I'm at a Vineyard church, whose regard for musical worship lends itself to an, i think, fascinating comparison with the value it places its warehouse and the message the juxtaposition conveys, at least the the architecturally sensitive.

1 comment:

phil said...

5 typos, bleh..

I would say *no*. How *do* we put in place an understanding of our incarnation that engages architecture pragmatically, narratively, communally, sacrificially, evangelistically.. bleh. I'm at a Vineyard church, whose regard for musical worship lends itself to an, i think, fascinating comparison with the value it places *in* its warehouse and the message the juxtaposition conveys, at least *to* the architecturally sensitive.