Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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All joking aside, that’s a smashing piece of theorizing [in contrast to some of the stuff you’ve posted]

This is a particularly interesting passage:

”For a Balthasarian Church to witness both to the distance between God and man, and accommodate the personal devotions of the participants, its guiding principle must be the silence and rest that are the beginning of prayer. A double danger exists here: first the architect might create a space that is silent, not with a living silence, but with the silence of the tomb where there is nothing to inspire awe, longing, or the understanding that the repose should lead to prayer. Secondly, the architect might create a loud architecture that wars with contemplation. The architect might create the necessary “spacing” between God and man through a wholly unique and even strange church without accompanying this distance with the necessary repose. This “spacing” without repose might, for example, occur in a poorly executed baroque church, a non-tectonic church, an anti-symmetrical church, or any sacred architecture that disregards the principles that allow the architecture to rest”.

I wonder however whether this kind of hybrid artistic/religious philosophy isn’t just a case of attempting to intellectualize an already desired position, which is not as valid as expounding a position from first principles.

The great cathedrals for example were the product of many hands over, in most cases, many centuries, the writer advocates principles for successful ‘sacred architecture’ that seem largely based on reverse-engineering the churches’ legacy of great buildings in a way that pre-supposes that everyone involved in these undertakings was on the same hymn sheet in the first place, when in fact it’s more likely that later ideas overlapped, and competed with, earlier ones and that, in many cases, the end product probably bore little relation to the original intention.

In the case of the great cathedrals, how many of the brash decorative schemes, over-eloborate rood screens and other embellishments that the writer now sees as intrinsic to the success of the ‘sacred architecture’, were in fact ill-considered accretions that the iconoclasts and the reformers may have been right to vent their fury on?

He makes a surprisingly clear and compelling case, I’ll give him that, but I still think there are a lot of holes in the theory and I still wouldn’t be sold on the notion that what we’re dealing with is ‘sacred architecture’ as opposed to the architecture of sacred buildings.

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