On Leitourgeia, I read a quote from architect Andrew Gould about church architecture that I found quite on target:
We don’t want to have a stage set, we don’t want to have a building that superficially looks like an Orthodox church, because that’s a stage set, that’s sort of what Baroque architecture is. That’s sort of trying to use plaster and ornament to give a theatrical impression of the Beatific Vision. But Orthodoxy’s not about that, Orthodoxy’s about building something absolutely solid, and permanent and honest that conveys the real ethos of the eternal Kingdom of God.
I then visited Gould’s architectural site, New World Byzantine, and it brought me great joy. We are, even in this age of ugliness, still capable of constructing fitting monuments for the faith. The soul stifling spirit of the present age makes one lose hope and think that we are only in a state of decay. Yet, here in the States and throughout the world, there is a resurgence of artists who value beauty, order, and the aesthetic tradition before the age of shocking originalism. The Intercollegiate Review had an interesting piece a few years ago by Noah Waldman, “On the Meaning of the Classical Movement in Architecture.” It gives me a reason to hope that the return to beauty is not simply a preoccupation of Christian artists but that the West in general is waking from its nightmare. Last year, I wrote about the architecture of Thomas Aquinas College in California in “Overcoming the Cult of the Ugly,” where even Novus Ordo folks have returned to the tradition of sacred and beautiful space. More recently, I attended liturgy in the newest church in Rome, Saint Catherine of Alexandria. It was a traditional and well situated temple. I believe that Christian architects are more comfortable now returning to the models of the past for inspiration instead of feeling like they need to ape rootless contemporary styles. Mencken remarked that Americans have a libido for the ugly, but perhaps enough people have been thoroughly satiated by the modern trough to know that they hunger for purer, wholesome food. I am not holding my breath, but I do wait for a modern renaissance. It must come, right?