Via Media

Via Media

Not Just Us Catholics, part XXIV

Internet Monk with sad photos of a UM church in Gary.

(Demographic inevatiblities…yes. I’m a realist on that score because I’ve lived in the South, where church and parochial school construction can’t keep up with the demand. But it’s always a sad sight, nonetheless)

The comments are interesting, highlighting, as they might not so much in an RC discussion of this issue, questions regarding the perceived necessity for buildings, or at least rather ornate, substantial buildings, at all.

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posted August 2, 2005 at 11:18 pm

I don’t believe that demographic inevitabilities have to spell the end of what apparently was a beautiful church in Gary, Ind. I fault the city fathers there, and private developers, for not having the vision to preserve this building. Perhaps it can still be saved.
The comments on the link include a fair amount of tsk-tsking about we humans spending so much on churches. This view is truly niggardly, for I ask: Can someone point to me a modern megachurch with half the architectural grandeur as this old Methodist church in Indiana? Most of the modern churches look to these RC eyes like bowling alleys with a couple of additions slapped on.

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posted August 3, 2005 at 7:18 am

Looks like another Vosko renovation. Didn’t know he did Methodist.

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Sr. Lorraine

posted August 3, 2005 at 9:49 am

The saddest picture I’ve seen was of a beautiful old church that had been turned into a bar. I think it was in Pittsburgh. The new owners actually did a good job of incorporating the church architecture, but the thought of going from church to bar was very sad.

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posted August 3, 2005 at 11:16 am

All old pretty buildings will crumble and fall down. The great cathedrals in Europe will eventually be destroyed by a fire or a quake or a terrorist or a wrecking ball. Moth and rust consume, thieves break in and steal. That’s just how it is.
What is sad is not the loss of the building, but the loss of the tradition – the collective piety, creativity, industry, and intelligence of our ancestors who developed the great aesthetic languages (Byzantine, Gothinc, Renaissance, Baroque) for the glory of God and the benefit of future Christians.
We Catholics needn’t weep at the destruction of beautiful buildings if we still had the will and ability to create them. But we have become so estranged from our traditions that we not only accept ugly architecture (and music, liturgy, art, etc) – we convince ourselves that we like it. Our aesthetic is so poorly formed that most of our own attempts to create beauty are not organically developed from the art of the Church Triumphant; are merely lazy exercises in the prevailing iconoclastic aesthetic of our age or (at best) slavish imitations of past glory.

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posted August 3, 2005 at 12:36 pm

Reminds me of Mark 13:
1 As He was going out of the temple complex, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!” 2 Jesus said to him, “You see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down!”

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posted August 3, 2005 at 1:38 pm

While I agree that these edifices are impermanent, it’s the unnecessary loss that gets me. Does anyone really suppose that there aren’t evangelical congregations in Gary that could support this lovely church? The reason why, I suspect, no one is jumping at the chance to take on the building is that the typical evangelical style of worship requires a gymnasium-type environment- projectors, worship band, video camera & screens, etcetera. I bet most evangelicals would prefer to worship in a church like this, but the technology doesn’t allow for it.

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Der Tommissar

posted August 3, 2005 at 5:54 pm

I’ve been to Gary. Actually, that church looks pretty well preserved compared to much of the rest of the town.

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posted August 3, 2005 at 7:04 pm

Good point, Der. I’ve seen Gary too.
This picture stunned me. It looked like the ruins of the Church, figuratively. A completely sad picture….reminds me of the real state of catholicism in Europe. (yes, i know it’s in Gary)

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posted August 3, 2005 at 10:11 pm

Just a note…it can be incredibly expensive to make any alterations or improvements (I mean real ones, not litur-nazi “improvements”) to an old church like that.
Also, I wonder if it’s “protected” by “historic site” designation? That ties an owner’s hands.
At a beautiful Catholic church, in the heart of Dayton, I met some folks on our way to a talk. They said, “Oh, isn’t it awful the Archdiocese will end up closing this one day?”
I replied, “yes it is. Isn’t it awful all the people who belonged to this parish moved away and left it behind?”

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posted August 4, 2005 at 1:51 pm

Suburban residents with ugly churches should make old downtown churches their parishes. We’re willing to drive downtown for work every weekday, a drive out on Sundays for Mass shouldn’t be too hard. Probably would help avoid the debacle here in St. Louis.

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Kenjiro Shoda

posted August 4, 2005 at 8:06 pm

I would not lament what happened to a Methodist Church, but rather the art and design of the building itself. In my area outside Philadelphia we have several vacant Methodist and Epsicopal Churches. As congregations they are doing worse that Catholics.
I never could understand how an Episcopal congregation of 67 people could survive….as a Catholic Church it would be closed decades ago. But a friend told me that these tiny Protestant congregations (all dying out with aged memberships), many survive on the rich endowments made to the Church when it was a thriving community. Money well invested.
BUt eventually they go the way of the Methodist Church in the picture….imploded or just sold.
I would’nt weep for the sad state of the Methodist or Episcopal, Presbyterian or Lutheran Churches….but some of the art of their empty Churches is impressive.

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