Saturday, July 26, 2014

The National Cathedral

It is America's imitation of Westminster Abbey, though not a replica. Since we are, after all, a branch of the same people. It's meant to have the same place in the life of the nation: civic religion. Been to both. It's bigger. Much better than the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - tacky monument to American immigration as Thomas Day says, made worse of course by the Novus Ordo, but worth seeing to get a handle on American Catholicism, warts and all. (Its lower church would be perfect for high church.) The National Cathedral left me cold though - lots of Catholic potential, but its tradition is brass-and-class high-church, Protestant, not Catholic. Fits the "civic religion" intended use - more like military drill, like Arlington Cemetery, than Catholic ceremonial. I've never been to a service at St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue (but have been in the building) but I think it is close to this churchmanship if you have something approaching the right religion too, or at least it was until recently. Sort of no-frills Anglo-Catholicism fitting into the culture of old-school Episcopalianism. Like the ethos of the Continuum: Fr. Bob Hart and his friends.


  1. Anonymous2:40 am

    The architect of the WNC was Catholic. From a design perspective, the WNC is superior to the shrine in most every respect.

    It carries with it the classic Anglican conceit: that it is in some way the "national" religion of the English-speaking peoples. Complete balderdash, of course, but then again, it is fakedey-fake, so balderdash comes standard.

    1. It was clearly meant to be that; arguably it really hasn't been since the "Enlightenment." The extreme Protestants, the Puritans, now the liberal Congregationalists, broke away before that, and the Methodists were pushed out. The "Enlightenment" did a number on many/most English people's faith, certainly the upper classes, who remained nominally Anglican. So now only 1.5% of English people go to Anglican services weekly.


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