Liturgy and Architecture

Liturgy and Architecture

Liturgy and Architecture

Liturgy and Architecture

Excerpt

There has recently been something of a spate of books and articles about modern churches. The bibliography at the end of the present book is not intended to be exhaustive. A complete survey of literature published within the last five years would include references not only to every architectural review published in western Europe and America, and to a considerable number of lavishly produced picture-books, but also to periodicals as diverse as Gemini and L'Automobilisme Ardennais. While comparatively little has been written in English, and still less of any value, the appearance of another book on the subject may seem to demand a word of explanation.

The unsatisfactory character of so much recent writing on church architecture, particularly in this country, is due to the authors' reluctance to face fundamental issues. The really basic problems are rarely so much as hinted at. I have tried to write a book which, whatever its shortcomings, does at least recognise the seriousness and the complexity of these problems--even though it offers no easy solutions. I hope that it may go some way towards meeting the needs of the many thoughtful people who share my concern at the present state of church architecture on this side of the Channel, and who can find no satisfaction in the modish and gimmick-ridden pavilions of religious art which are constantly being held up to us as the precursors of a genuine renewal of sacred building: a church architecture for our time. I believe that they are nothing of the kind: that it is worse than useless to worry about introducing still more modern art into churches so long as we continue to ignore the fundamental, if unfashionable, questions of theology, liturgy and sociology which are raised by the very act of setting apart a special building for the service of God; and that it is supremely irrational to labour ad nauseam the point that architects must make full use of modern building materials and techniques while refusing to face the fact that the one thing that gives a certain coherence to all the serious architecture of the last ten years is its emphasis on the programme. Architecture is primarily a matter of the significant definition of space: not of artistic symbols, however contemporary, or the decorative . . .

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