Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ageing liberal religion hits hard times
Sorry for the schadenfreude tone but I didn’t want to let this one get by

Abbeys are largely independent of each other: once somebody at this one told me California’s St Michael’s Abbey in this order is ‘conservative’. This one has those 1960s so-ultramodern-they’re-dated buildings. The two generations before the boomers thought this approach to theology, liturgy and architecture was the way of the future: it’s Hans Küng and Annibale Bugnini in poured-concrete form. Religion in the Space Age. (Like Harold Wilson’s white-hot technological something or other.) The cloister looks like something at a World’s Fair or ORU; the church like something Communist from the same period (actually ORU’s praying-hands sculpture wouldn’t look out of place in front of it), and who else thinks the Russian cross is out of place? (As if second-hand liberal Protestantism and eclecticism impress the Orthodox. An icon-less traditional basilica and liturgy might.) I like the bell tower.

The coldness, the sterility of the early-’60s élite: things the hippies had a point rebelling against only a couple of years after this went up.

(Don’t get me wrong: you can have perfectly good religion with modern architecture, including things I don’t like, as other self-consciously modern buildings from this period show... as does an unpretentious 1950s-built Episcopal or Lutheran parish church.)

Twenty years ago an RC priest in another order and of that generation boasted to me that ‘in 20 years the church will be completely different’.

It’s getting there. :)

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment