Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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@pandaz7 wrote:

I enjoy following this thread and agree that much of the re-ordering of Irish churches has been inappropriate, unnecessary and has ripped the soul from many of these venerable buildings. However, much of the more recent material seems in my view to suggest that old = good and new = bad. What is the role of modern architecture and design in church building? Is tradition so fundamental that it must always be slavishly followed?

Pandaz7! Forgive the delay in relying to your question. Clearly, as posed, it represents an over simplification. Praxiteles is not saying that contemporary creative powers are incapable of achieveing contempory work on a par with the masterpieces of the past. Neither is Praxiteles saying that the past is to be followed slavishly. When it comes to Church architecture, the creative powers of the present require a certain discipline both in terms of objective (a church building must reflect a theology, unlike some modern architects it is not an opportunity for continuing the idea that the artist in self expression is the source of beauty -an idea coined by the romanticism of the 19th. century), and also of stimulation (this in practical terms means a thorough knowledge of the Christian tradition of architecture if he is to be able competently to percieve and extract extract the principles undelying that tradition and succeed in vesting them in a contemporary idiom).

The likes of the stuff produced by Hacker Hurley is a clear example of what happens when both of these conditions are simultaniously absent. Hurley’s acquaintance with the Christian tradition of architecture hardly extends beyond the house churches of the early Christian community. This is an important aspect of that tradition but it remains only a seminal element of the tradition. It is of course very handy to canonize this particular diachronic segment of a much wider continuum since practically nothing of it actually exists and written accounts of it are fairly scarce too – which leaves us in the happy position of being able to “invent” what the early house church looked like and how it functioned. That handy convenience leads us to the second problem with the Hurley school: the typical 19th view of romanticism that the artist is the source of beauty. Hurley’s productions are sufficient evidence to show just how wrong and derailed that notion is.

In this matter, Praxiteles would recommend a little book written in 1967 by the French theologian and liturgist Louis Bouyer which has just been republished by the Editions du Cerf in Paris: Architecture et Liturgie.

Attached are some pages which perhaps better phrase the problematic raised by Pandaz7.

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