Category : Architecture

(BBC) Canterbury Cathedral stained glass is among world’s oldest

New research indicates that some stained glass windows from Canterbury Cathedral may be among the oldest in the world.

The panels, depicting the Ancestors of Christ, have been re-dated using a new, non-destructive technique.

The analysis indicates that some of them may date back to the mid-1100s.

The windows would therefore have been in place when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was killed at the cathedral in 1170.

Léonie Seliger, the head of stained glass conservation at the cathedral, and part of the research team, told BBC News that the discovery was historically “hugely significant”.

Read it all.

Posted in Architecture, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(CI) Phil Bishop makes a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral–to see the scaffolding

It is not just the frequent stand-down for prayers that makes this a different kind of job for All Access. The crew – of about 15 at peak but more usually less than half a dozen – is working cheek by jowl with the tourists, pilgrims and worshippers. They have to phase work not just around church activities – nearly 2,000 services a year – but also other events such as university graduation ceremonies.

And then there are all the fragile artefacts – stained glass windows and crystal chandeliers, some literally priceless – that a stray steel pole could easily encounter in this environment. So far, says Matt Butler, quickly lunging to touch the nearest piece of wood, no such untoward event has occurred.

Both the massive nave platform inside the vaulted roof and the external scaffold structures are scheduled to come down in summer 2021, more than two years away yet.

Most of the scaffolding on the cathedral has been purchased by the cathedral, since a five-year hire would have been prohibitively expensive. The deal is that All Access will buy back most of it, if not all, on completion – giving it a healthy inventory of kit for future projects.

More importantly, for a company established only 10 years ago, it is a powerful reference project for All Access to have.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(Diocese of London) Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project scoops European award

The Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project is a partnership between Cloudesley (an Islington based charitable trust), the Diocese of London and the Islington Deanery. It is the first time these three partners have worked together so closely to deliver a joint project. It was initiated by Cloudesley’s Trustees as part of Cloudesley’s 500th anniversary year.

The Sustainable Church Buildings Project has four parts; environmental audits of 24 of Islington Deanery’s Church of England churches; Energy-saving Benchmarking carried out by the Diocese of London; a dedicated Cloudesley grant fund of £440,000; and a learning programme to raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues and how to apply this to their buildings.
As a result, Islington Church of England churches are now applying to Cloudesley for grants to undertake a variety of energy-efficiency measures, such as LED lighting, solar panels and draught-exclusion.

Rev’d Jess Swift, the Islington Area Dean, says:

“The Sustainable Church Buildings Project is brilliantly placed by being both visionary and inspirational in promoting environmental responsibility, and also facilitating churches into being able to take practical action. It has revitalised our churches’ commitment to prioritising global sustainability and their own local environmental impact. We are so grateful to be a part of this project.”

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Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) Tom Freudenheim–The Cardboard Cathedral: An Architectural Resurrection Story

In Christchurch, New Zealand, one of the world’s most unprepossessing contemporary churches manages to be among the most spectacular and celebrated. Colloquially called the “Cardboard Cathedral”—officially, Transitional Cathedral—the potentially temporary structure was designed by Shigeru Ban (b. 1957), the 2014 Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect. Mr. Ban—who combined his native training with graduate work at New York’s Cooper Union, where he was strongly influenced by his professor John Hejduk’s revisionist views of modernism—has been celebrated for his use of unusual materials in creating buildings that can be rapidly constructed following disasters. He has also designed more conventional projects: the Japanese Pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany, and a couple of museums (Centre Pompidou-Metz in France and the Aspen Art Museum in the U.S.).

The Christchurch project, which Mr. Ban worked on pro bono, came about after the 2011 earthquake severely damaged Anglican Christchurch Cathedral (1864-1904), rendering it unusable for liturgical purposes—a partial ruin, subject to disagreements about whether to restore and rebuild or start from scratch. The new structure is a few blocks away, on the site of another church destroyed by the earthquake. A court decision—insurance money couldn’t pay the costs of a temporary building—made private fundraising necessary (about $5 million, including overruns). Dedicated in August 2013, its modest exterior hides a majestic interior. Is it a large A-frame house, oddly misplaced in mid-city? But the church also appears descended from the hall churches of the late Middle Ages, whose radical design shift created wide-open spaces, less encumbered by the massive basilica columns that impeded sight lines, with interiors more useful as preaching churches, a development especially important with the growth of Protestantism in the 16th century.

Architecture’s tenet “truth to material” spans fields as disparate as the Arts and Crafts movement and brutalism, but Mr. Ban’s church suggests new by-ways of this principle.

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Posted in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Architecture, Art, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

(Church Times) Death of cathedrals: reports ‘have been exaggerated’

Suggestions that as many as half the 42 Church of England cathedrals are in danger of closing as a result of continuing financial mismanagement have been dismissed by the Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian Newman.

The Dean of Lichfield, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, called the stories “grossly erroneous”.

Dean Dorber was speaking during the three-day annual conference of deans, in London this week. “There are financial stresses but these are not new,” he said. “I am optimistic, but there is panic in high places, and we need calm rational discussion rather than public hand-wringing.”

Read it all.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Sun Telegraph) 1/2 of England’s Anglican cathedrals could close amid funding crisis

Anglican cathedrals could be forced to charge for entry or face closure, amid dwindling public funding and expensive running costs.

Financial crisis is threatening the future of half of England’s Anglican cathedrals, the chairman of a new working group has warned.

Currently just nine of the 42 cathedrals charge for entry, but that could change amid severe financial difficulties.

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Posted in Architecture, England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(The Observer) Anglicans launch rescue bid as England’s finest cathedrals battle a financial crisis

The Church of England has launched an investigation into the running of cathedrals, as financial crises threaten the future of some of the country’s most cherished buildings.

As Christians prepare to mark Holy Week and celebrate Easter Sunday, Anglican leaders have become increasingly concerned about reports of staff sacked, heavy debts accumulated and assets sold off.

On Monday the church will announce the 12 members of a working party ordered by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, to look into the way cathedrals are governed, their accountability and how financial decisions are made. The working party will include financial specialists and other experts and will be chaired by the bishop of Stepney, Adrian Newman, with the dean of York, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, as deputy chair.

The inquiry has been prompted by a recent report into the financial problems at Peterborough cathedral, where difficulties had led to the departure of the dean and the risk that the church might be unable to pay staff their salaries. A loan from the Church Commissioners helped deal with the immediate shortfall for the 12th-century former Benedictine abbey, housing Catherine of Aragon’s tomb, but 12 staff were made redundant.

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Posted in Architecture, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

I Really Enjoyed Seeing Chester Cathedral this Morning

Posted in Architecture, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Travel

(FT) England’s churches warn over loss of lottery repair ticket

They are among the country’s most treasured and historic buildings, but England’s listed churches are about to lose the dedicated state funding they have relied on for four decades.

Next week, the Heritage Lottery Fund will announce that it is scrapping its £25m Grants for Places of Worship fund as of 2018. Money for the maintenance of church buildings will instead come out of its overall heritage programme, which supports everything from industrial buildings to neolithic standing stones.

The HLF, part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said church organisations would still be able to apply for funding for repairs and it would “target” a similar amount of spending for churches and other religious buildings.

But Becky Clark, secretary of the Church of England’s church buildings council, said previous funding levels were no longer guaranteed.

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Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Liverpool Cathedral just awe inspiring!

Posted in Architecture, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Travel

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ralph Adams Cram, John LaFarge and Richard Upjohn

Gracious God, we offer thanks for the vision of Ralph Adams Cram, John LaFarge and Richard Upjohn, whose harmonious revival of the Gothic enriched our churches with a sacramental understanding of reality in the face of secular materialism; and we pray that we may honor thy gifts of the beauty of holiness given through them, for the glory of Jesus Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Architecture, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(C of E) New Director of Churches and Cathedrals announced

Becky Clark has been appointed to be the new Director of Churches and Cathedrals for the Archbishops’ Council. Becky has been Senior Cathedrals Officer and Deputy Secretary of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission since 2013. Prior to starting this role she worked at English Heritage, Surrey County Council and the National Trust.

In her new role Becky will be Secretary to both the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE) and Church Buildings Council (CBC) as well as a member of the Archbishops’ Council senior management team and the NCI Senior Leadership Group (SLG).

Secretary General, William Nye, said: ‘I know that Becky’s wealth of experience working in the heritage sector, leadership qualities, personal faith and her commitment to church buildings, equip her admirably to support the Church as it is transformed through Renewal and Reform.’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Economist Erasmus Blog) A new Orthodox church next to the Eiffel Tower boosts Russian soft power

The skyline of Paris has just acquired yet another arresting feature. Only a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, a spanking new Russian Orthodox cathedral, complete with five onion domes and a cultural centre, was inaugurated on December 4th by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, amid sonorous rhetoric about the long and chequered history of the Russian diaspora in France.

To secular observers, this was the latest success for Russian soft power, showing that even in times when intergovernmental relations are frosty, ecclesiastical relations can still forge ahead. In October, Patriarch Kirill reconsecrated the Russian cathedral in London and had a brief meeting with the supreme governor of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth; this was a more cordial chat than any conversation the political leaders of Britain and Russia have had recently.

The new temple in Paris was, in a sense, both a product and a hostage of secular politics. Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s then-president, agreed to its construction, with Russian funds, back in 2007 as a good-will gesture to Russia. Plans to turn the cathedral’s opening into a moment of diplomatic togetherness, attended by the French and Russian presidents, foundered after the countries’ row over Syria sharpened. But nothing prevented Patriarch Kirill from inaugurating the new house of prayer, with French cultural figures like the singer Mireille Matthieu in attendance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Architecture, Europe, France, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Russia, Urban/City Life and Issues

Television recomendation–CNBC's Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear

I finally got to Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear hosted by Jim Cramer; its very worthwhile–put it on your list.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Architecture, History, Movies & Television, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(History in Pictures) Construction of The Twin Towers, 1970

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Architecture, History, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) Cash concerns for England's Anglican cathedrals

Almost two-thirds of those running England’s Anglican cathedrals are concerned about their finances, a BBC survey suggests.

Of the 38 cathedrals who responded fully, 26 said they were “worried” or “very worried” about the future.

Last year, the Church of England gave £8.3m to the historic buildings but the cash does not cover all of their needs.

Some cathedrals are now looking to new ways of fundraising including hiring the buildings out as venues.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

Christopher Howse on Winged angels carved on the beams of churches in East Anglia

Those who like angels ”“ and they’re popular at the moment ”“ have had a rolling feast of the creatures this week, with the Guardian Angels commemorated yesterday and a separate red letter day earlier in the week ”“ Michaelmas. Michaelmas is not about daisies. It honours St Michael, no man but the prince of the heavenly host of angels.

I celebrated by devouring The Angel Roofs of East Anglia by Michael Rimmer (Lutterworth, £19.95), enjoying the astonishing colour photographs. The book’s subtitle is Unseen Masterpieces of the Middle Ages, which may sound odd, since the carved angels have been on show for 600 years. But is quite accurate, since they are mostly so far above ground level and badly lit that only a telephoto digital camera can catch the true details.
People who use Twitter might know Michael Rimmer’s Angel Roofs account that since 2012 has shown the progress of his work recording the riches of East Anglian timber church roofs aflutter with angels. It’s a peculiarly English glory, and of the 170 or so angel roofs that survive, about 120 are in East Anglia.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Art, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK

Launch of major new report on how the C of E manages its 16,000 church buildings

As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.

The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church’s approach and makes some specific recommendations.

The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England’s churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.

Read it all and follow the link to the full report.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Art, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews Landscapes of Communism: A History through Buildings by Owen Hatherley

I’ve noticed before the strange tendency of hateful buildings to become almost lovable after the passage of decades. Not all of them, of course. Some, like the 1960s highrise clones lining Moscow’s New Arbat (Kalinin Prospekt) become more annoying as they get shabbier. But the Moscow State University building on Lenin Hills, one of Moscow’s seven late-Stalinist wedding cakes, has definitely undergone a metamorphosis in my mind. When I lived there in the late 1960s, I regarded it as an anti-people monster, guarded by dragons who, if you had lost your pass, would throw you out to die in the snow. (According to Hatherley, they now use swipe cards to protect the building against invasion.) But I noticed a while back that I had started regarding the wedding cakes with something like affection; apparently the passage of time has naturalised them.

But Hatherley is young, and so are the Poles who like the Palace of Culture; their reassessment must come from somewhere else. Actually it seems to come from two different places. One is the Western pop/youth phenomenon that might be called Soviet ruin chic ”“ a fascination with Soviet imperial ghosts or, as Hatherley puts it, ”˜tourism of the counter-revolution’. Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker, with its memorable imagery of the Zone, is a reference point here, as is real-life Chernobyl, now a tourist destination for those with a ”˜ruin chic’ sensibility. Hatherley distinguishes his own position from that of the admirers of Totally Awesome Ruined Soviet Architecture, and his ideological and personal baggage is definitely not counter-revolutionary. But there’s some family ”“ or perhaps more accurately, generational ”“ resemblance.

The other place this re-evaluation comes from is Eastern Europe, specifically young people who grew up in the Soviet bloc at the end of the communist era, and don’t share their parents’ bad memories.

Read it all from the LRB.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Architecture, Atheism, Europe, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Russia, Theology

(Liverpool Echo) Look around unseen sections of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Art, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(CC) Philip Jenkins–New churches, old Europe

European churches are currently engaged in an architectural culture war.

Cardinal Gian­franco Rav­asi declared the outbreak of hostilities in 2013 with a sweeping condemnation of many recently built churches in Italy, which, he said, were intended to win design prizes rather than to serve the needs of liturgy. Instead of seeking to create a suitable mood for celebration or meditation, architects have extolled ab­stract geometric form. Ig­noring religious needs, they “tend instead to focus on space, lines, light and sound.”

Nonsense, replied those pro­gressive architects. Con­cepts of the appropriate setting for Christian worship have changed enormously through the centuries. Throughout history reactionaries have condemned innovative buildings that over time come to be recognized as epochal masterpieces.

I can see both sides in this debate, although I do take Ravasi’s point that some recent structures seem deliberately intended to infuriate traditionalists. What is most startling is that such a debate is raging at a time when Europe’s mainstream churches have been so weakened by secularization and when the Roman Catholic Church in particular faces so many challenges. Yet, as in centuries past, these institutions are not only creating many new buildings but serving as key patrons of great architects.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Architecture, Europe, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Work starts on Westminster Abbey’s secret space

In an unremarkable corner of Westminster Abbey is a wooden door marked “Private”. Behind it are 78 wooden steps spiralling upwards in a narrow staircase. And at the top of those is one of the Abbey’s hidden treasures: what John Betjeman once called “the greatest view in Europe”.

More than 20 metres above the floor of the Abbey, and largely invisible to the tourists taking pictures below, is a vaulted gallery that runs the entire length of the building. This is the Abbey’s eastern triforium, a centuries-old secret expanse that is to be opened to visitors for the first time as part of a gallery and exhibition space.

The Dean, Dr John Hall, invited us, a group of reporters, to join him in a final tour around the triforium before building work begins in earnest to transform the dusty space into the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries

Read it all and make sure not to miss the slideshow.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(BBC) Recycled bells installed in Churchdown, Gloucestershire, church tower

New bells, made from the recycled metal from an old peal, have been hoisted into a church tower in Gloucestershire.

St Andrew’s and St Bartholomew’s in Churchdown raised more than £80,000 to replace five of its six historic bells, damaged by centuries of ringing.

The new peal of bells is due to be rung for the first time on Friday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Architecture, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, sees its first church–Holy Trinity Anglican–built in 50 years

The church near the corner of Peace and Blount streets looks as though it could have been there for centuries, with its peaked roof and mottled brick walls ”“ except for the insulating wrap that still sheaths half its exterior.

It’s the first new church building to be built in downtown Raleigh for half a century.

“We wanted to build a transcendent space,” said the Rev. John Yates III, his breath hanging beneath the arching steel bones of the sanctuary. To his left, a construction worker rode an accordion lift to finish the details of a window that reached toward the 60-foot ceiling.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church formed about a decade ago, splitting off from the national Episcopal church alongside scores of other groups.

Read it all from the News and Observer..

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Architecture, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Westminster Abbey wins permission to add first new tower in 300 years

Westminster Abbey has won planning permission to add its first new tower in almost 300 years, which will create public access to a museum of treasures and curiosities housed in the triforium, the church’s attic gallery.

At present, the public can get only a distant glimpse of the spectacular and shadowy space through the stone arches 70ft up at the top of the walls above the high altar.

The only way in is a perilous journey up narrow spiral staircases and along ledge-like passages high above the nave. The spectacular but vertigo-inducing view down to the altar and nave has mostly been enjoyed by maintenance staff and camera crews covering major state events.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Rod Dreher–Go to Europe in search of truth, not illusions of tradition

Thoughtful U.S. travelers approach Europe with a sense of pietas. Europe is no Disneyland but the home of our fathers.

That’s the attitude I take, anyway, and never did I feel more pious, in the classical sense, than on this recent trip to Florence. Within the previous year, discovering the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri had changed my life””saved it, I would say, because it drew me out of a dark spiritual wood.

I wanted to go to Italy to see the city that nurtured the poet who had been the spiritual father of my new life, the same city that threw him out in disgrace and in so doing seeded the creation of an immortal work of literature. For me, the trip to Florence was very much a pilgrimage, as much a spiritual journey as an intellectual and cultural one.

But then, they all are. For well over half my life, I have been going to Europe at every opportunity, drawn mostly by its art, its architecture, and its culture. (And, well, its food.) It was in Europe””inside the Chartres cathedral, to be precise””that I rediscovered the Christian faith that I, as a know-it-all teenager, had rashly discarded as an ideology of either bourgeois dullards or televangelistic vulgarians.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Architecture, Art, Books, Church History, Europe, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Telegraph) Christopher Howse–A throne In Exeter Cathedral like a church spire

The bishop’s throne in Exeter cathedral is a “monument of unprecedented grandeur,” wrote Nikolaus Pevsner, “the most exquisite piece of woodwork of its date in England and perhaps Europe”. Its date was 1312-25, and when finished its crocketed spire rose 53ft, like a tall hollyhock, into the roof vaults of the choir before the high altar.

There it stands today, its dark oak meeting our idea of what a masterpiece of carving should look like: expressing the medium in which it was made. The lightness and tensile strength of wood enable the central structure to appear to float in space. We know the very woods from which its oak was taken in 1313: at Chudleigh and Norton (now Newton St Cyres).

Yet, when it was finished we must picture it as of very different appearance. From fragments that remain, it is apparent that the whole structure was painted in blue, red and green, with gilding on a gesso ground.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Art, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Rod Dreher–Architect Philip Bess on faith, reason, and urban design

Bess has long served as an unlikely apostle to New Urbanists and conservatives alike, neither of whom seem to get the other. He tells New Urbanists that building good neighborhoods is a necessary condition for building good communities, but not a sufficient one: they must integrate their architectural vision with a broader vision of the good life. To put it in an Augustinian way, you can’t build a city fit for man without a vision of the city of God.

“Urbanism is about human flourishing, and human flourishing requires virtues, which are character dispositions that lead toward certain goods. People aren’t passive receivers of urbanism,” he says. “New Urbanists do a lot of things right, but good urbanism is more than bioswales”””environmentally friendly alternatives to storm sewers””“bike lanes, good coffee, and olive oil.”

Yet the bigger challenge, from Bess’s point of view, is to convince conservatives that New Urbanism is something they should embrace. In a 2005 address presenting New Urbanism to the right, Bess made the familiar Aristotelian claim that “the best life for human beings is the life of moral and intellectual excellence lived in community with others.” The built environment is an indispensible foundation for that.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Architecture, Education, History, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC Magazine) Berlin House of One: The first church-mosque-synagogue?

Berlin thinks it is making religious history as Muslims, Jews and Christians join hands to build a place where they can all worship. The House of One, as it is being called, will be a synagogue, a church and a mosque under one roof.

An architecture competition has been held and the winner chosen. The striking design is for a brick building with a tall, square central tower. Off the courtyard below will be the houses of worship for the three faiths – the synagogue, the church and the mosque. It is to occupy a prominent site – Petriplatz – in the heart of Berlin.

The location is highly significant, according to one of the three religious leaders involved, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin. “From my Jewish point of view the city where Jewish suffering was planned is now the city where a centre is being built by the three monotheistic religions which shaped European culture,” he told the BBC.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Architecture, Europe, Germany, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

The recent 'What I want to say now' sermon by the former Bishop of St Albans Christopher Herbert

So what did I not speak out about, which I can do now?

The main issue I failed to address was the question of beauty. Please bear with me, because when I talk about beauty I am not talking about the overly self-conscious and preening opinions of art critics. They write for a very limited audience. The kind of beauty that I want to talk about is much larger and much more profound than that.

When I refer to beauty I am referring to the absolute, ineffable, ultimately inexpressible beauty of the Divine, of God, of the Almighty”¦

There is a delicious and troubling irony here: going to churches throughout Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire as I did, gazing out from our house across to St Albans Abbey as I did, I did not often reflect on the stunning loveliness of our church buildings. I loved them, I worked in them, I preached in them, but I did not stop to consider the relationship between the beauty of those buildings and the beauty of God. Let me not confine myself to Herts and Beds. Think of any of the countless thousands of our churches in these islands: the medieval glass in Fairford, the soaring perpendicular of Patrington in Holderness, the grace of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, the racy, provocative carving at Kilpeck in Herefordshire, the strange carvings on the font at Melbury Bubb (what a glorious name for a village in Dorset), and whilst still in Dorset, the windows etched by Lawrence Whistler at Moreton, or more prosaically, the graffiti at Ashwell in Hertfordshire concerning the Plague and a design for old St Paul’s.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Art, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology