A New Direction in Church Design – Crisis Magazine

One day fifteen years ago, I happened to be channel surfing past the Eternal Word Television Network when I was greeted by a momentary flash of heavenly beauty across the screen. Quickly flipping back, I realized that it was a Mass being celebrated in an unusually majestic church with an extensively gilded and marbled interior. …

Source: A New Direction in Church Design – Crisis Magazine

As I have noted elsewhere, we are seeing the beginnings of a quiet, subtle, but unmistakable shift back toward traditional, Classical architecture in new church construction and, as this article points out, in the renovations of churches originally built in the classical tradition, but “updated” (often with little concern for either tradition or aesthetics) in the craze for the “contemporary” and for supposed “relevance” which began in the 1960s and continues, in many circles, until this day.

The pendulum is only beginning to swing back: the article notes that, “Lest delusion set in, the ratio of new traditional churches to posh amphitheater spaces still being built is grossly disproportionate.” However the shift, while still small, is real, and appears to be growing:

Nevertheless, after the epic social and liturgical upheavals of the last century, it is a wonder that any sort of traditional resurgence is happening at all, and these projects seem to be only increasing in number and scale with each passing year. Just a decade ago, attempting to write this piece would have proven difficult; twenty years ago, impossible.

This should give cause for optimism to those faithful who yearn for the vitality that flows from firm Catholic identity [in the larger sense of “Mere Christianity” or the “Great Tradition,” not limited to Roman Catholicism] and its enduring visible expression. After all, as the saying attributed to Chesterton puts it, “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances we know to be desperate.” Such wisdom is surely not lost on the many pastors, parishes, religious communities, architects and others helping to cultivate this budding sacred renaissance in the midst of a disintegrating culture that is too often hostile to faith.

Follow the link for more details on this encouraging trend, and a number of inspiring examples of new churches that have been or are being built along traditional, Classical lines. And for any readers who wonder why this matters, I repeat my invitation to see my separate post on the relationship been architecture, theology, and liturgy.

Here I will only point out that orthodox Christianity is an incarnational, sacramental faith, and it holds an incarnational, sacramental view of the cosmos, and our place in it. It does not accept the popular but heretical gnostic devaluation of that created order which God, its Creator, called “good” and “very good,” to which our Lord Jesus Christ joined himself with indissoluble bonds in His Incarnation, and which He redeemed in His Crucifixion and Resurrection.

God expresses Himself in and through the tangible, material world, not alone in the spiritual and ethereal aspects, nor yet solely in the theoretical and intellectual realm. Therefore architecture, liturgy, and other tangible expressions of the Faith matter: they are among the ways God reveals a Himself to His people. We cannot devalue Creation without devaluing the Creator of Creation, and our human impulse to create things of beauty, majesty, dignity, and reverence in honour of our Creator is a reflection of the fact that we are made in His image.

Traditional, Classical church architecture is one important expression of this truth.

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, let all the Earth tremble before Him.” ~ Psalm 96:9

Return to Classicism in Church architecture

After too many years of utilitarian, banal, and (for many of us) off-putting modernistic trends in ecclesiastical architecture, we are seeing the beginning of a quiet, subtle, but significant shift back in the direction of traditional, Classical architecture when it comes to building churches, as exemplified in the above photo, of the interior of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, St. Thomas Aquinas College, in California (please see my separate post for more on this “new” direction in ecclesiastical architecture).

In the video below, Dennis R. McNamara explains why this is important, theologically and liturgically. It is far more than a taste, a fad, or (as he points out) a more architectural style!

“Classical architecture is fundamentally respectful of Tradition; it’s fundamentally respectful of the order of Nature as revealing the mind of God… Certain proportions are harmonic; certain ways of bringing things together are ordered and perfected and radiant, and they ring true to the eye [just as certain musical structures and harmonies ring true to the ear]. So Classicism is basically [a way of creating] architecture that is about the noblest and highest achievements humanity can [attain]. What is the most poetic, most harmonious, most ordered way to do architecture? How can it restore order to the world? So, Classicism is not a style – primarily, although there are stylistic components to it. It is a way of imitating the mind of God in architecture.” — Dennis R. McNamara, “Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy”

— Dennis R. McNamara, “Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy”

The Orthosphere – Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists – Joseph de Maistre

Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists – Joseph de Maistre

Source: The Orthosphere – Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists – Joseph de Maistre

Blog recommendation! From the About page:

A domain of Christian orthodoxy independent of conventional conservatism. We are Christians: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. We believe our religion is true, and we take the Bible and the Church Fathers as our guides to the faith. We do not innovate religiously, for that is folly. We affirm our respective traditions where they disagree with the other branches of Christianity, but we do so respectfully, for we have much in common (catholic or mere Christianity) and our enterprise has as much to do with society as with religion.

Socio-politically, we can be called “traditionalist conservatives” or “Christian reactionaries.”  Since we agree that Modernity—the fundamental principle of contemporary Western Civilization—is radically defective, we are branded “far-right.” In truth, we affirm what was regarded as self-evident by the vast majority of mankind until well into the Twentieth Century: Religion is true, authority is valid and good, man and woman differ in essential ways, and so on. If affirming reality puts us at the rightmost end of the political spectrum, as the world construes politics, then so be it.

We recognize that the societies of the West are radically disordered, and it is our desire that they move toward a more proper order, one which acknowledges Christianity. Although we are Christians, our primary concern here is not with how individual souls are to be saved from the wrath of God, but rather with how society ought to be ordered.

Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!

New Era Resolutions – The Southern Agrarian

America continues down the path to a new era – not because of who does or does not occupy the White House, but because about half of American voters now follow the cult of collectivism and egalitarianism while the other half bitterly opposes it. There is no room for compromise, no chance for reasoned debate. […]

Source: New Era Resolutions – The Southern Agrarian

Some typically excellent reflections, in the form of suggested resolutions, by Stephen Clay McGeehee, author of the blog “The Southern Agrarian” (which I have recommended before, and do so whole-heartedly here). He notes that “We must stake out the cultural high ground… To that end, this is a list of tangible things we can do, presented in no particular order.” I agree with nearly all of these, and on the few with which I might have a quibble or two, I suspect that those are mere differences in emphasis, not of fundamental content or intention.

See also this list, “A Plan for Traditionalists,” at The Thinking Housewife blog, on which Mr. McGeehee based is own.

Met. Seraphim of Piraeus calls upon Erdoğan to give up false religion, turn to Christ / OrthoChristian.Com

The staunchly traditional and outspoken Greek hierarch Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus has written an open letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which, among other things, he calls upon him to turn from the false religion of Islam and accept “Christ the Savior and Redeemer of the world”…

Source: Met. Seraphim of Piraeus calls upon Erdoğan to give up false religion, turn to Christ / OrthoChristian.Com

Sadly, I will not be holding my breath for this to occur, but it would be quite awesome! Still, “with God all things are possible,” so one cannot rule out the possibility entirely…

Words have power: PC is Jizya – The Orthosphere

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In the comments of Dr. Bertonneau’s most recent portion of his valuable series on TS Eliot, I wondered idly why the Powers decided that we ought to use “Muslim” in place of the traditional “Moslem”.…

Source: PC is Jizya – The Orthosphere

Words matter. Language has power. Courtesy and politeness is one thing; deference and – dare I say it? – submission is something else, as this essay explains. Why is it perceived as being so essential that we use “Muslim” instead of “Moslem”?

It is to “Otherize” our own historical culture and language — it is to co-opt you into “Otherizing” your own historical culture and language, by making it appear more “educated” to say “moos’-leem” rather than “moz-lem”.

It’s for the same reason that we are now enjoined to say “bay-zhing”, rather than “pee-king” — neither pronunciation of which begins to capture how the Chinese say the name of that city.

It’s for the same reason that we constantly witness talking heads dramatically pronouncing Spanish-derived names with a not-quite-Spanish pronunciation — just so long as they make it emphatically clear that they are not using an American pronunciation.

Similarly, many people know that Moslems object to the term “Mohammedan,” claiming that it implies that they worship Mohammed. But as this essay points out, while Christians worship Christ – because we believe He is the Incarnate Word of God – that is a somewhat unique situation. To use examples of my own, Wesleyans don’t worship John Wesley, Lutherans don’t worship Martin Luther, Calvinists (e.g., Presbyterians) don’t worship John Calvin, etc.: those groups are named as such because they follow the doctrines, ideas, and ideals promulgated by their founders. Continue reading “Words have power: PC is Jizya – The Orthosphere”