Liturgical/sacred art and its devolution (?)


#1

What is your opinion as to why Western liturgical and sacred art of all kinds is not being produced to a level of quality to rival that of the past? Is this limited only to the Church, or is it a problem that Western society faces as a whole?

I am thinking:

Painting
Sculpture
Architecture
Music
Whatever else

Let me say from the beginning that I do not buy the money thing, except for music, as music is an ongoing and living thing. But for the physically stable arts, things that are “one pop purchases,” in a manner of speaking, I cannot understand why they have been so fabulously destroyed.

There are a few possible answers:

  1. Western culture at its basic level is now dead (plausible)
  2. The Church prohibits Western expression in the liturgy (false)
  3. At a common level, contempt or lack of understanding of the value of beautiful art (plausible)
  4. A loss of skill (somewhat plausible, but there are plenty of artists out there who can make truly gorgeous art in any of the Western traditions)
  5. Connected to 1 above, a sort of utilitarianism that says that nothing but the very basic is required (plausible)
  6. Connected to 1 above, Western culture has been replaced by something else entirely (plausible)
  7. Western people are, consciously or subconsciously, afraid to express their own culture out of fear of offending those not of Western descent (plausible)

I believe it is some combination of these.

The reason I do not accept price as a valid reason is because:

  1. Many or most of the most aesthetically brutal or garage-like churches and art since the artistic devolution has been insanely expensive.
  2. A parish church is a work of ongoing scale. That is, a parish church can be constantly added on to, little by little, in the aesthetic realm. This puts price in check over time. Perhaps we have lost this concept of constantly improving the aesthetic aspects of our churches. I think this is plausible.

Western culture is, even if only in a fantasy sort of way, based largely on European ideals and principles. So why is it that the aesthetic expression of Western culture has been effectively eviscerated so fabulously in many places?

The thing that prompted me to start this thread is this fantastically hideous cover of OCP’s latest edition of Breaking Bread. Now, Breaking Bread is not exactly the best liturgical resource and OCP is not exactly the best liturgical publishing company, but this is an absolutely egregious example of… well, of I don’t even know what to call it. Please view here:

cdn.ocp.org/shared/images/products/bb-131.jpg

Please note that I do not intend this thread as some central complaining zone. I intend for this to produce real discussion and for it to not be a place to moan about how “my parish is so ugly” etc.


#2

And now the socially required disclaimer:

And please note that, yes, there are plenty of examples of recently constructed churches that are absolutely gorgeous, and so on. This is not a universal problem, but it is widespread.


#3

I can't go into this too much at the moment, but I think you brought up some very interesting points which I agree are probably plausible. My husband, family and I had a similar conversation regarding the "devolution" on art in general. This has nothing to do with modern vs. traditional as I do think there can be beauty in the modern. In the arts there used to be this idea of raising people to this higher "spiritual" plane whether it was with sacred art or secular art. It believed in touching everyone, but with the best talents available, not just what was most popular. (Popular music, art, architecture, etc. is nothing new either.) Then you had those in the "high-brow" arts who completely left everyone and created works (I'm thinking more specifically with music) which might have been very interesting from a analytical point-of-view in regards to music theory, but not particularly beautiful and inspiring to most.

People today still want to reach out to everyone with their art, but I think a problem is that they think in order to make it "accessible", they leave out brilliance and genius and, in turn, shut out those who might want more from the arts to inspire them. When it continues, more and more begin to accept mediocrity as something wonderful and perfect, when only a couple generations earlier, it might have been considered good at a "popular" level, but not truly beautiful and inspiring. I want to also note that something truly brilliant and beautiful doesn't need to be complicated. The most simple piece of art, architecture, composition, etc. can also be these things.

I think to also add to one of your points, people are more impatient. No one wants to put the money out for a gorgeous church or cathedral because it takes too long and you need to actually pay the artisans to create the work. We are a society that desires and demands instant gratification. Waiting a year for a church to be built is already too long. Waiting 50 years or a centuries for the finished product, is just too much to be handled. Many don't think about the future generations. They only think of the now.

I don't want to sound cynical and negative. I'm not. I'm just throwing ideas and opinions that have been discussed in my circle for years and which I have mulled over since I was a girl of 11 or 12. It has always interested me and used to depress me heavily as a girl and younger woman. Now that I am trying to make a difference, I don't feel that way anymore. Interesting discussion. Now off to work.


#4

I see, Sarabande. Good insights. But why do you think this happened? You outline some of the mechanisms, but what is the underlying reason, do you think? People are this or that and they used to not be, yes, but why?

I think you alluded to it in your talk about artists wanting to take people to a higher "spiritual plane." I agree, and what this suggests to me is that, as a society, we simply do not believe in God anymore.

Something that prompted me to write this was a song I heard earlier on a CD I received from a university near me. Their music department released a recording recently, and the songs they chose to sing ranged dramatically. They sang the Kyrie and Gloria from Monteverdi's Mass for Four Voices and the Gloria from Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass. Then they began to devolve into this funky kind of pagan a capella dance music, and sang a song called "Chile con Carne," about, of all things, MAKING SALSA! Now, the song was good, I liked it, but it just struck me as so profane. Here you have this respected music organization singing this gorgeous music, then they go to singing about, "Don't forget, don't forget the Mexican spices, the Mexican spices!" WHAT?! I do not think there is anything wrong with such a song, but it just strikes me as so odd that they would choose to sing these kinds of things together.

In a wicked sort of poetic way the disc is a microcosm of what I see as the devolution of Western art over time. Pagan to Christian to pagan again.

/rant


#5

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:1, topic:307590"]
What is your opinion as to why Western liturgical and sacred art of all kinds is not being produced to a level of quality to rival that of the past? Is this limited only to the Church, or is it a problem that Western society faces as a whole?

[/quote]

I would say it is an issue for Western society as a whole.

I have other thoughts that I can't fully get in too right now but I will offer a secular observation that I think is related: When we took our children on vacations to see some of the more memorable natural places in the United States they would look at the Grand Canyon (or whatever) and say, "That's nice. But we saw even more on TV. What are we going to do now?"

I think some people's senses are so over stimulated that it doesn't occur to them to taste and savor real beauty. Real beauty takes time, both to create it and to appreciate it.


#6

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:4, topic:307590"]
I see, Sarabande. Good insights. But why do you think this happened? You outline some of the mechanisms, but what is the underlying reason, do you think? People are this or that and they used to not be, yes, but why?

I think you alluded to it in your talk about artists wanting to take people to a higher "spiritual plane." I agree, and what this suggests to me is that, as a society, we simply do not believe in God anymore.

Something that prompted me to write this was a song I heard earlier on a CD I received from a university near me. Their music department released a recording recently, and the songs they chose to sing ranged dramatically. They sang the Kyrie and Gloria from Monteverdi's Mass for Four Voices and the Gloria from Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass. Then they began to devolve into this funky kind of pagan a capella dance music, and sang a song called "Chile con Carne," about, of all things, MAKING SALSA! Now, the song was good, I liked it, but it just struck me as so profane. Here you have this respected music organization singing this gorgeous music, then they go to singing about, "Don't forget, don't forget the Mexican spices, the Mexican spices!" WHAT?! I do not think there is anything wrong with such a song, but it just strikes me as so odd that they would choose to sing these kinds of things together.

In a wicked sort of poetic way the disc is a microcosm of what I see as the devolution of Western art over time. Pagan to Christian to pagan again.

/rant

[/quote]

That's just lack of musical sensibility, whether or not you believe in God. Mixing clashing genres of music is rarely a recipe for success.

As for the art - in Europe at least I'd say in the past there has been an overload of religious art of all kinds. Some of it great but much (at least as far as things like painting go) of very ordinary, even kitschy and saccharine, quality. Think of the sort of bland, simpering images of saints usually found on prayer cards and the like.

As for architecture - simply a change in tastes to the more utilitarian, and a loss of the sense that sacred art and architecture should be different from other types. Why? Well, a decrease in religiosity stemming perhaps right back to the collectively brutalising and traumatic experience of WWII. Very difficult to retain a sense of the sacred - or indeed a sense of beauty and sublimity of any kind - when you and people around you are being exterminated en masse by bombs, guns, starvation, disease, put through the horrors of Nazi or Japanese concentration camps and the like.

Equally so when you are a teen or young adult of the following generation - the 60s - growing up with stories of the same and witnessing its psychological aftermath. I'd imagine such things could easily shake your belief both in a benevolent God worthy of worship and the existence of lasting joy and beauty in things sch as art and architecture.


#7

Eastern iconography has suffered from modernism as well. Don't think this is just a Western problem. Probably the influence of the Renaissance and the desire to put "artist's interpretation" into art.


#8

[quote="LilyM, post:6, topic:307590"]
As for architecture - simply a change in tastes to the more utilitarian, and a loss of the sense that sacred art and architecture should be different from other types. Why? Well, a decrease in religiosity stemming perhaps right back to the collectively brutalising and traumatic experience of WWII. Very difficult to retain a sense of the sacred - or indeed a sense of beauty and sublimity of any kind - when you and people around you are being exterminated en masse by bombs, guns, starvation, disease, put through the horrors of Nazi or Japanese concentration camps and the like.

Equally so when you are a teen or young adult of the following generation - the 60s - growing up with stories of the same and witnessing its psychological aftermath. I'd imagine such things could easily shake your belief both in a benevolent God worthy of worship and the existence of lasting joy and beauty in things sch as art and architecture.

[/quote]

I'd like to go one step further and not blame it ultimately on taste. Taste is formed ultimately by culture, as you imply, of course. I do not believe that people can truly prefer barn-type barren churches to ones built in a more human style. If they can, then that shows that they have been emotionally scarred or something, as you say with the War and the 1960's. Ultimately, this shows to me that this kind of art and architecture is illegitimate, that it is not truly worthy and that it is, indeed, an aberration that needs to be exterminated.

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:7, topic:307590"]
Eastern iconography has suffered from modernism as well. Don't think this is just a Western problem. Probably the influence of the Renaissance and the desire to put "artist's interpretation" into art.

[/quote]

Hmm. I'd say more the influence of Godlessness. I do think that is what it comes down to.


#9

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:8, topic:307590"]

Hmm. I'd say more the influence of Godlessness. I do think that is what it comes down to.

[/quote]

I agree. Godlessness and also artist's interpretation goes hand in hand in bringing this about. The Reformation as well, perhaps people started thinkig that they can put in their own interpretation disregarding Scripture and Tradition. Frankly, we (as a society) belittle the effects of such freedom of art, but this has already caused heresy among many because of the influence by art that is not supposed to be taken literally. But it is human nature, that why religious iconography is useful when done right.


#10

[quote="ConstantineTG, post:9, topic:307590"]
I agree. Godlessness and also artist's interpretation goes hand in hand in bringing this about. The Reformation as well, perhaps people started thinkig that they can put in their own interpretation disregarding Scripture and Tradition. Frankly, we (as a society) belittle the effects of such freedom of art, but this has already caused heresy among many because of the influence by art that is not supposed to be taken literally. But it is human nature, that why religious iconography is useful when done right.

[/quote]

But the thing is, I don't know if this is how it happened.

When the Counter-Reformation was initiated by the Church, the Western Church widely began to build the great Baroque churches, fantastically florid churches full of imagery, as a sort of sensory counter to the Protestants. I don't see the absolute destruction until perhaps the 1950's/1960's and definitely the 1970's. Or this is how I understand it.

We might not call your average Latin parish of the USA built in 1905 with a wedding cake altar an "exquisite example of Catholic architecture." It might be cluttered, in a slightly unappealing [edited] I just ate WAY too much chocolate cake kind of way, but churches even this late in time still exude a heavily God-oriented focus. But perhaps what you mention about artists taking their liberties is right.


#11

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:8, topic:307590"]
I'd like to go one step further and not blame it ultimately on taste. Taste is formed ultimately by culture, as you imply, of course. I do not believe that people can truly prefer barn-type barren churches to ones built in a more human style. If they can, then that shows that they have been emotionally scarred or something, as you say with the War and the 1960's. Ultimately, this shows to me that this kind of art and architecture is illegitimate, that it is not truly worthy and that it is, indeed, an aberration that needs to be exterminated.

Hmm. I'd say more the influence of Godlessness. I do think that is what it comes down to.

[/quote]

But how can you say barn-style churches are less 'human' than other types? They are both expressions of the humans who designed and built them, neither more so than the other.

I for one find something large and ornate like St Peters in Rome way less human than your average suburban barn-style church. And being the easily distractable ADD-type, sometimes less conducive to prayer and contemplation. This is one of the reasons monastics live in bare cells - sometimes we all need that stripped-bareness, even a stripped-rawness.

I think there is plenty of room for both styles and each expresses a different - but equally valid and even necessary - part of our psyche and relation with God. And thank Him that our views on such things are not all uniform!


#12

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:4, topic:307590"]
I see, Sarabande. Good insights. But why do you think this happened? You outline some of the mechanisms, but what is the underlying reason, do you think? People are this or that and they used to not be, yes, but why?

I think you alluded to it in your talk about artists wanting to take people to a higher "spiritual plane." I agree, and what this suggests to me is that, as a society, we simply do not believe in God anymore.

[/quote]

I do think this is a part of it, as I do believe that many people have forgotten about God and the spiritual part of their lives. But what do we say about those artists today who are trying to create sacred art, yet fall very short from the level of brilliance and ultimate spiritual beauty that was the expectation of our ancestors? Do they have a lesser degree of belief in God? No, I do not think so. I believe that for many, there is probably an intense love and devotion to God. Mediocrity, in a way, has become the new superiority. How did this happen? I think what SMHW's observation has contributed to this:

I think some people's senses are so over stimulated that it doesn't occur to them to taste and savor real beauty. Real beauty takes time, both to create it and to appreciate it

People really don't give themselves time and patience to truly "savor" real beauty. Everything around us goes at lightening speeds. We are inundated with so much information and "stuff" that we either do not have enough room or enough time to truly take it all in. We see things at the surface and it stops there. It's like being in a perpetual child-like state. When you are very young, everything is brand new and a bit superficial. You are trying to take it all in and process it, but are sometimes overwhelmed. You see things differently as beautiful. My friends and I always joke about our kids' tastes, "The tackier the better." As you get older, your tastes usually change and become more refined over time due to life experiences, knowledge, etc. I use the Cool Whip analogy. As a kid, I thought that was the best stuff on earth. Then I had a taste of real whipped cream... after that Cool Whip tasted like chemicals to me. No one said that real whipped cream was better. I was just at a point in my growing up years that I could actually learn how to appreciate and enjoy the real, homemade whipped cream. It took my mother more time to make, but the end product was worth the time spent to make it.

I'm wondering if it is taking more time for people experience something with more depth and beauty because of this overstimulation of the senses. So we are left accepting something of lesser quality and brilliance. There may be some people who go through almost their entire lives never experiencing anything more than mediocrity and what they see or do is truly what they believe to be the utmost in beauty and talent. I think about some of the current pseudo-classical singers today whose ability is ok, but no where near the expertise and depth of beauty of the real greats who have given themselves to the music. They have been marketed to the masses as equal and most people think they are incredible, when in reality they actually aren't. They are good, but not great or incredible. This has happened with the sacred/religious arts as well, especially with music. The people who are making the art probably are truly doing what they consider the best and with spiritual love, but are they really living up to their abilities or could they give more? Have they been stifled and molded by society's idea of what is the ultimate in real beauty? Then, what is "real beauty"? How much of it is subjective and affected by the culture and how much of it is truly beautiful?

There are others who are brought to a "revelation" when they take the time or are forced to take the time to experience something with depth. Sometimes it takes numerous times. Other times, it can happen once and it changes their lives forever. I think once that happens, it is sometimes difficult to "go back". I know for me it was.

Ok... I've been all over the place with my thoughts. Have to back to work.


#13

Good points, Sarabande.

Some people will say, "You don't like modernist and post-modernist architecture just because you don't like it. You don't like it because it's new. That's your opinion." Well, yes, in part. But why is it? It's not like I sat down and cultured it.

The thing about it being something new is not really true. Modernist architecture has been around for something like going on a century now, and post-modernist for over forty years. I am 19 years old. This kind of architecture has been part of my life for as long as Baroque, Gothic, Romanesque, and so on. 19 years.

There is something that ties practically all older church architecture together, even of different styles. Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Byzantine, "genuine" or not, it doesn't matter. There is something that ties it all together, something that just makes it all seem part of a whole. They all seem to carry the same basic themes and characteristics, even in their more extreme examples. With only a few exceptions, modernist, post-modernist, and barn/garage style church architecture does not seem to carry these themes. You can take the sparsest ancient monastery church and it is still infinitely, qualitatively different from sparse modern garage churches.

Even people who don't like Gothic architecture or Romanesque architecture or whatever will almost always agree that it is nevertheless fitting for church construction. There is something about the modern architecture resistance squad (no implication that this is an official group) that is markedly different than those people who oppose other, more traditional kinds of architecture.

This kind of architecture is qualitatively different than all other architecture that came before it. It is clear how church architecture evolved from the earliest churches all the way through about 1950 or so. But it is not clear how the modernist movement and most of what came after it is connected in much of any way to what came before it.

I accept that the idea of sensory over-stimulation has something to do with it. But the philosophical origins of the artistic movements of the last century were not of a time of TV and radio. I maintain that there is something qualitatively different about this artistic and aesthetic movement to everything that came before it.


#14

[quote="Sarabande, post:12, topic:307590"]
I do think this is a part of it, as I do believe that many people have forgotten about God and the spiritual part of their lives. But what do we say about those artists today who are trying to create sacred art, yet fall very short from the level of brilliance and ultimate spiritual beauty that was the expectation of our ancestors? Do they have a lesser degree of belief in God? No, I do not think so. I believe that for many, there is probably an intense love and devotion to God. Mediocrity, in a way, has become the new superiority. How did this happen? I think what SMHW's observation has contributed to this:

People really don't give themselves time and patience to truly "savor" real beauty. Everything around us goes at lightening speeds. We are inundated with so much information and "stuff" that we either do not have enough room or enough time to truly take it all in. We see things at the surface and it stops there. It's like being in a perpetual child-like state. When you are very young, everything is brand new and a bit superficial. You are trying to take it all in and process it, but are sometimes overwhelmed. You see things differently as beautiful. My friends and I always joke about our kids' tastes, "The tackier the better." As you get older, your tastes usually change and become more refined over time due to life experiences, knowledge, etc. I use the Cool Whip analogy. As a kid, I thought that was the best stuff on earth. Then I had a taste of real whipped cream... after that Cool Whip tasted like chemicals to me. No one said that real whipped cream was better. I was just at a point in my growing up years that I could actually learn how to appreciate and enjoy the real, homemade whipped cream. It took my mother more time to make, but the end product was worth the time spent to make it.

I'm wondering if it is taking more time for people experience something with more depth and beauty because of this overstimulation of the senses. So we are left accepting something of lesser quality and brilliance. There may be some people who go through almost their entire lives never experiencing anything more than mediocrity and what they see or do is truly what they believe to be the utmost in beauty and talent. I think about some of the current pseudo-classical singers today whose ability is ok, but no where near the expertise and depth of beauty of the real greats who have given themselves to the music. They have been marketed to the masses as equal and most people think they are incredible, when in reality they actually aren't. They are good, but not great or incredible. This has happened with the sacred/religious arts as well, especially with music. The people who are making the art probably are truly doing what they consider the best and with spiritual love, but are they really living up to their abilities or could they give more? Have they been stifled and molded by society's idea of what is the ultimate in real beauty? Then, what is "real beauty"? How much of it is subjective and affected by the culture and how much of it is truly beautiful?

There are others who are brought to a "revelation" when they take the time or are forced to take the time to experience something with depth. Sometimes it takes numerous times. Other times, it can happen once and it changes their lives forever. I think once that happens, it is sometimes difficult to "go back". I know for me it was.

Ok... I've been all over the place with my thoughts. Have to back to work.

[/quote]

Funny how it goes - that Cool-Whip feeling is exactly what I sometimes (not always) experience in the older more traditional-style churches. I get bombarded with statues upon paintings upon stained glass upon ornate carved wood upon bronzed and gilded whirligigs until I'm so visually overstimulated that it gets cloying and I long for something simpler. It's the visual equivalent of music that is so loud that you cannot hear yourself think.


#15

Whatever this conversation comes down to, I do not think it is reasonable to say that it is mostly a matter of taste or opinion.


#16

I would suggest getting some art history books and talking with art history professors at a local university.

I think that your question has been dealt with by these knowledgeable people, and those of us who are Philistines when it comes to art are just guessing.


#17

[quote="Cat, post:16, topic:307590"]
I would suggest getting some art history books and talking with art history professors at a local university.

I think that your question has been dealt with by these knowledgeable people, and those of us who are Philistines when it comes to art are just guessing.

[/quote]

Yes, they would probably be enlightened.


#18

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:17, topic:307590"]
Yes, they would probably be enlightened.

[/quote]

I'm thinking that there have probably been questions and discussions like yours for centuries, and that there are entire textbooks full of theories of "Art Unity," or "Is it Art?" or "Does Art follow form or does form follow Art?"

And I'll bet that many of those heavy textbooks contain hundreds of pages, maybe even thousands of pages, of research and endless facts to back up the theories.

And I'm guessing that many students pursuing degrees at liberal arts universities have to take one of those art courses and study those textbooks as part of gen ed courses.

AND--I'd bet cash that many of those students find that required art course unbearably boring!

So maybe you can catch one of those students before they dump their art book into a bonfire when they are done with Finals Week, and you can buy their textbook for cheap!

My daughter has a MFA in Theater, and I remember how surprised I was when she told us about all the "theories" behind light design (stage and film). Silly me--I just figured they pointed the spotlights at the performers and that's all there was to it. :blush:

So have fun delving in the "theories of art!" I'm a Philistine myself when it comes to visual art and architecture. I'm a big believer in practicality. I like my human beings to look like human beings, not like splashes of color, lines, and blobs and one big eyeball.

My biggest complaint with the architecture of the older Catholic churches is "Why are the bathrooms down in a basement somewhere?!" Not practical at all!

I'm wondering if perhaps such bodily functions were at one point considered too "profane" for a church building? Or perhaps the bathrooms were originally out in the outhouse?! Yechh! Lucky us, living in the Age of Indoor Plumbing! Or...perhaps at one time, people just came to Mass and went home, and there was no need for a trip to the bathroom. But surely there were people back then who couldn't hold it in through an entire Mass. Or are bladder control issues fairly recent? Maybe it's all that coffee and soda that many of us drink constantly.

At any rate, I'm sure you'll enjoy researching your questions and talking them over with art teachers or professors. Let us know what you find out. I often wish that our diocese would do more classes on "The Arts in the Church."


#19

[quote="LilyM, post:14, topic:307590"]
Funny how it goes - that Cool-Whip feeling is exactly what I sometimes (not always) experience in the older more traditional-style churches. I get bombarded with statues upon paintings upon stained glass upon ornate carved wood upon bronzed and gilded whirligigs until I'm so visually overstimulated that it gets cloying and I long for something simpler. It's the visual equivalent of music that is so loud that you cannot hear yourself think.

[/quote]

I completely understand that feeling you describe. Sometimes, certain things can be too overwhelming, even if it is beautiful or well-crafted. I find a lot of beauty in simplicity as well as the ornate. I also think too much ornamentation (this includes music when singers and musicians add a bit too much fioreture) can take away from the beauty. It might be technically brilliant, but it may not always be tasteful. I don't know if it pertains to a Cool-Whip feeling, though, at least how I meant for the analogy, mainly because real whipped cream doesn't necessarily have to be the equivalent to the ornately beautiful. It can be the most simple, but masterfully done (the key here), thus creating true beauty with its brilliant simplicity. Cool-Whip is something less than that. It can also be completely over-the-top "fancy-ness" as well, especially if it was not masterfully done. Something old or "fancy" does not necessarily equate beauty either.


#20

[quote="Cat, post:18, topic:307590"]

And I'm guessing that many students pursuing degrees at liberal arts universities have to take one of those art courses and study those textbooks as part of gen ed courses.

AND--I'd bet cash that many of those students find that required art course unbearably boring!

[/quote]

I took a couple art history courses in college for my major and also because I'm very interested in art. I was one of the few who didn't find it boring. But I've always been considered an odd-ball. lol! My roommate and best friend in college was an art major and my uncle is a successful professional artist who also teaches at universities and elementary/high schools. My grandfather also was an artist later in life after he retired. I'm surrounded with art... practically all of the arts - music/drama (me - drama in terms of opera), brother is an architect, sister is an animator, a few cousins in the visual arts as well. The ideas, opinions and thoughts being thrown around here is close to what I remember being discussed in my college classroom and one-on-one in family/friend/colleague settings. Even when colleagues/family don't have a close connection to any particular religion, there is still this desire for the spiritual and when that is lacking within the art that they see or attempting to create, they feel it. It's rather interesting.

[quote="Cat, post:18, topic:307590"]
My biggest complaint with the architecture of the older Catholic churches is "Why are the bathrooms down in a basement somewhere?!" Not practical at all!

[/quote]

lol! I think it is mainly because older buildings didn't originally have bathrooms, due to the fact that most people had to use outhouses. At many of the older churches around where I am, they built bathrooms in former closets on the same floor of the church, or they put them in the basement because that is the only room they have. A few of the churches in my area are over 200 years old. That means 18th century. Most people used p-ss-pots or outhouses at that time. Some of the aristrocracy and royalty might have had their own "bathroom", but that was an enormous luxury and rare. I mean, my own grandparents had outhouses in their backyards and took baths in the kitchen back in the 1920s and 1930s. It really wasn't that long ago. At a little country church near my family mountain home, built in the 1800s, still has its old outhouse. I never used it. (The original buildings on my family property had outhouses as well, built by my grandfather in the 1960s.)

It's funny that you bring this up because I have asked my grandmother what they did when someone had to go to the bathroom during mass, since so many of our older churches have bathrooms in the oddest places. She told me that you had to hold it and wait till you got home. But you always made sure to go right before you left for mass. It was basically self-discipline and being prepared. Hmmm...

[quote="Cat, post:18, topic:307590"]
I often wish that our diocese would do more classes on "The Arts in the Church."

[/quote]

Yes, that would be wonderful. When I taught music at a school, I did something similar with my elementary school students with sacred music in the Church starting with Gregorian chant through modern day. It was a volunteer after-school activity. I hope I opened some minds up. It would be great, if something like that was offered for adults.


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