Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Church Architecture and Our Lady Of Malibu

I read this post, Our Lady of Malibu and Our Lady of the Angels, over at Mirrors of Justice which is Catholic Legal site. The posts reads:

This morning I read Rick's review of Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architecture, Urbaniam, and the Sacred, which appears in the March issue of First Things. (I look forward to reading the book). As I read, my memory brought me back to a recent trip to Pepperdine where I participated in two thought provoking conferences organized by MOJ friend, Bob Cochran. This was only my second time in Malibu. I tend to like traditional (and grand) church buildings and on my first trip to Malibu, I remember thinking that the Catholic Church, Our Lady of Malibu, was an unimpressive structure that really didn't signify the sacred. This was especially surprising given the wealth in Malibu.

Sometimes it takes a while for my eyes to adjust; I saw Our Lady of Malibu in a totally different light this time. When one is surrounded by palaces, maybe the best way to see the grandeur of God and the scandal of the Incarnation is in simplicity, after all Jesus entered the world in a stable in Betheleham. On this recent trip, I also went to the cathedral, Our Lady of the Angels, which I was prepared to dislike because of its distinctly modern features. Instead, I found the starkness of this structure, which lifted my gaze heavenward, to be be witness to LA's culture of glitz and glamour. My sense, after this recent trip, is that how we construct our sacred may very well depend upon the time, place, and circumstances

A few thoughts. First this is no slam on the good people of Our Lady of Malibu. I tried to do a google image search for the interior and was unsuccessful. Their Church could be very Beautiful and yet simple

However I do take issue with his statement somewhat. I very much more of the theory that Catholic architecture went as a whole to the very bad. The Churches I have attended are generally not surrounded by mansions. Yet some were and are so simplistic (Barren and sterile) they could have been(and in fact on one occasion was) mistaken for a funeral home.

Simplistic is fine but I do think we went far beyond that. Also where is the flip side of this. I can't help but note that the older Churches have much more of the poor there. I often find they have a closer Church they could attend. So perhaps they are going there to see the Glory and Magnificence of God as to the architecture itself. . However, I don't note the flip side of the above in building Churches for them as to this concept. Why is that? One other note. The Cathedral of LA is the Cathedral for all LA. Most Catholics in LA I suspect don't live in that culture that the blogger notes. What about them?

I guess my viewpoint is that many modern Catholic Churches appear very much uniformly the same regardless of "place" and "circumstances" at least here in the USA . Especially as to having a barrenss and a sterile feel at times. I do think there is much more at play dealing with theology too that is perhaps being "pushed" that goes beyond simplicity.

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