Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Modern religion

Through a slightly odd bit of circumstances, I found two separate things in the media today about religion and modernity.

The first was a Slate photo essay on modern church architecture. I am not a huge fan of mega-churches. I find them too watered-down in their spirituality. Too consciously created to appeal to the masses and to avoid challenging their lifestyle or challenging their ability to grapple with the real matters of faith and life (just give me a simple message and lots of songs, thanks). But, I do admire their grandiose, modern architecture--even if it feels more like you should be watching "The Producers" instead of hearing a sermon.

The other thing that I found when I came home from work today was a Newsweek cover story on Mormons. I found the article to be very careful in its treatment of a religion that has a very controversial past. I certainly am no expert on the belief system of the LDS, though I know Mormons and have talked to and been in discussions about their beliefs. I don't think the article went very far into explaining exactly what that faith entails, which I found disappointing.

For more on modern architecture, look no further than this other Newsweek story on San Francisco's de Young Museum. The magazine's website provides a photo gallery of the building design, but you can't get a direct URL to the pop-up window. So, use this link and then go the the section halfway don't the page entitled "Resources for our Print Users." You will see the link under the name "Take a Virtual Tour of San Francisco's de Young Museum." (It's right below the nice article on the band Franz Ferdinand.)

It really burns me that Tegan and I were walking through that park two months ago and I had no clue this brand new modernist building was there. (I don't think it was yet open to the public, but I could have at least gotten a good view of it.) Just disappointing to have missed out like that.

You might not know this about me, but I dig modernist architecture. I would really love trying to live in a really modernist kind of house--you know the kind that is all weird angles, lots of glass walls, very spare furnishings. Tegan cordially allows me these fantasies, but I don't think I could ever convince her to live in such a place.

Oh well, maybe I can build my own. It might even look this cool.

3 comments:

Jack Thunder said...

most of the megachurches i've seen are not quite so fancy. i suppose there are a few that are so wealthy and established that they can spend some $ on a grand, spacious (if characterless) building. but it seems to me that most of these megachurches just want to expand quickly and build a lot of seats. so their buildings are often corrugated-metal hangars. they are huge eyesores for God.
i share some of your feelings about these non-denom. or anti-doctrinal churches. i like my religion well-thought-out, thankyou. it doesn't need a lot of rules or bells and whistles, but i'd like my relig. and church experience to be something other than watching "Highway to Heaven" or a potluck supper.
although i think there is something to be said for the humble, democratic qualities of an unadorned church. i don't think religion needs iconography. so why would i talk badly of these metal megachurch hangars? i just like good architecture, that's all.

by the way, many Christian Science churches have some of the coolest modern architecture around. for example, this church (http://3rdchristiansciencedc.com/images/photos/church-view.jpg ) is in DC, about 3 blocks north of the White House.

i, too, would like to live in something modern, for a change. i like the windows.

Sven Golly said...

Love your blog. I'm telling all my friends about it. You might be interested in my insurgent fundamentalist architectural cabal, Eyesores for God.

lulu said...

It IS surprising that you like that modern architecture. I can take it in public buildings, but it just doesn't say "Home" to me.

There are a lot of homes like that out West. People excuse them by saying things like "we built it to celebrate the fabulous mountain vista--to bring the outdoors in." I don't buy it. If you really want to celebrate the outdoors, build something that uses a minimum of natural resources (especially the overwhelmingly popular redwood)and cowers to the mountains--not something that, in itself, attempts to mimic the grandeur and HEIGHT of a mountain in order to celebrate it.

Or am I just too cranky today? ; )