Architect Duncan Stroik speaking on the St Benedict Forum. On October 15, 2015, Duncan Stroik gave a fascinating lecture, entitled, “Architecture for the Poor.” He asked: What sort of architecture is appropriate for the poor? Should the buildings we construct for the disenfranchised express their poverty through economical materials, humble proportions, and functionalist interiors? Do beautiful, ornate churches disregard those who struggle for basic comforts? A rousing, thirty-minute Q & A session followed his talk.
I would be willing to bet that most architects that deal with our Catholic churches today - certainly in the UK - do not have much of an understanding of church architecture, never mind being practising Catholics. So it is that "re-orderings" are carried out by architects more used to designing dentist's waiting rooms and sports arena, with the obvious result that the church then looks like a dentist's waiting room or a sports arena. Duncan is a practising Catholic and has a great depth of understanding about the history, function and meaning of buildings meant for worship. Such are the people we should look to for building and "re-ordering" our churches.
Is the seeming terror of making our churches look like churches - part of the hermeneutic of rupture - a comment on our fear of proclaiming the Faith as different from the world around us? Part of a lack of confidence in the Faith, in fact, a lack of faith altogether. The alleged "modern" church building reflects back the comfortable backdrop of the secular world around us. No challenge, no proclamation, no beauty, no faith.
How's that working for you?