Saturday, July 08, 2006

sacred and civic spaces

Shelley has great photographs of a visit to the basilica in St. Louis. So few American buildings survive their period. We eat our history quickly. Churches, bridges, monuments, courthouses all represent periods of civic and religious pride, an opportunity to adorn a community, to signify importance within the community. By the nature of their special importance, they sometimes survive when more modest structures don't.

When they survive, we are not only lucky to have what has become iconic (for better or worse) places, but an opportunity to connect to the period of its building, to think about the lives and work carried out in it, to see that life is bigger than our own experience of it. In Christianity, this is the communion of saints, the great cloud of witnesses.

So few public buildings and churches nowadays are built to last much longer than 30 years or so, and flimsy in design and ornament.

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