Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

The church(speaking about the building now) has been an outgrowth in design of both the Jewish temple & early Christian house churches. Adding on to that is the architectural design of the then crumbling Roman empire ( – basilican design after the roman courts showing us moving from Pax Romana to Pax Christi ) then the growing Byzantine empire. Then the Romanesque style, followed by the Gothic ( theme is Augustine ideal of Heavenly Jerusalem), then
Baroque (the counter reformation) now modern day.

We have lost the concept of designing churches with the idea of imparting theology. It’s simply a gathering place. This started in earnest in the 19th century and continues today in theaters in the round with it’s emphasis on the people, not God or worship. There does seem to be a limit to this thankfully and perhaps we will recover the historic architecture and implement it into modern challenges.

Here’s one from Calvin Institutes “How Church Architecture Affects Lord’s Supper Practices” and another from a Lutheran source Lutheran Architecture: How a Building Reflects Theology that seem to recognize that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Now I don’t agree with the design, but that’s because of my theology conflicts with theirs; however at least they are trying to bring their design in-line with their theology and that’s a good thing.

In the middle ages they took scriptural passages literally. Look at Jesus as the door and people will enter into the church from the west (symbol of entering through the door which is Christ) enter the nave (as the church which is the ark); the 12 columns as symbol of the 12 apostles (Rev 21:4), 3 entrance doors for the Trinity, of 4 for the 4 evangelists or they may use 7 columns for Prov. 9:1. You could go on an on. A medieval cathedral is packed with scripture everywhere one looks. Sadly those of us who think we “know” scripture recognize very little. I hope that this is so because we don’t learn via symbols much any more, but through books mostly. Still once you get the hang of it and have he privilege of living near one of these structures, your spiritual life will have added grace but seeking out its theological treasures.

Abbé Suger- inventor of pointed arches and flying buttress [1081 – 1151] had inscribed above the doorway of Saint Denis,

“Whoever thou art, if thou seekest to extol the glory of these doors,
Marvel not at the gold and the expense, but at the craftsmanship of the work,
Bright is the noble work; but being nobly bright, the work
Should brighten the minds, so that they may travel, through the true lights,
To the True Light where Christ is the true door …
The dull mind rises to truth through that which is material.”


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An good article written by John Armstrong Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department of Melbourne University

over at MercatorNet entitled : The sublime message of Christmas

on the effect of the Incarnation of Christ on art. Given that the pagan viewed art as entailing physical characteristics with the god on the one hand and the Jewish ideal of God as  eternal, omnipotent and omniscient unable due to limitation of material objects to capture anything remotely that depicts God. With God taking on human nature, He took on a material image and therefore both the material and spiritual could now be depicted at least artistically.

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sistine-chapel.jpgPaolucci (Vatican’s new director) also took issue with the modern trend toward “culture as spectacle” and the promotion of celebrity works of art over the study of collections. Even the Sistine Chapel suffers from this kind of fame, he said.

“This is one of the aspects of the barbaric obscurantism that characterizes our age: the fatal attraction for the well-known,” he said.

Webster’s defines obscurantism as “opposition to the spread of knowledge.” Paolucci’s point was that by giving almost exclusive attention to a museum’s most famous works much is overlooked.

The Vatican Museums once estimated that it exhibits about 30,000 objects of art and holds another 120,000 in storage. In recent years, officials have tried to highlight some of these lesser-known objects, including works of modern art.

Will new director take Vatican Museums far from the madding crowd?

While the art director is likely correct, it’s hardly the statement one makes if you want to retain your job.


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