New Wine, New Wineskin pt.II (Beauty beyond functionality)
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Over Easter I have been revisiting a thought of old. It has surprised me how deeply moved I've been by the fact, that for the most part, our modern churches are architecturally a far cry from the beautiful and intricate landmarks of the past. The likes of the well known Sistine Chapel, Notre-Dame de Paris, even New Zealand's own Church of the Good Shepherd in Tekapo has simple yet profound beauty. It is not to say that our modern churches are not extremely well designed and executed, but for the most part they are designed with a functional directive, and geared towards the elements that work with stage performance. There is nothing wrong with that, that is not my point. What saddens me about it is that in decades and centuries to come, people aren't likely to travel the world to behold their worship through feats of art and architecture in the same way we do of other chapels holding centuries worth of history. There isn't a great difference in our current designs that distinguish them from other functional industrial establishments, other than the people, purpose and presence of God. Priorities of course! But what happened to the value of beautification of old that we felt was an over indulgence? We also seem to focus more on what is affordable and quick, rather than multi-generational longevity. Many Cathedrals of old took over a hundred years to build, often spanning generations just be established. Certainly we have modern technology that accelerates our process today, however the amount of intricate detail which give their exteriors and interiors beauty is what people will travel the world to behold.
I have been thinking about how my friend I have known since early school days walked her road towards Jesus. Part of that journey included a defining moment while touring Europe. She went into an old church, and it was there as an unbeliever that she had a tangible encounter with the Spirit of God as He revealed Himself personally to her. Could He have done that anywhere? Of course. However I believe that building provided an invitation to encounter Him. Maybe one we often don't give our friends in the same kind of way? Selah.
"Some modernists considered the second Vatican Council to be a kind of revolution in the church and that everything old had to go and everything new was necessarily a good thing. Therefore, for the last forty years there has been a stripping of the altars. Beautiful old churches were renovated. All the beautiful old stuff was pulled out and modern furniture and fittings were installed. New churches were built in a style that was consciously modern in an attempt to “connect” with modern people, but also to convey a “new” understanding of the Mass as the “family meal" excerpt from Patheos.com