“Form Follows Function”: How We Got to Where We Are

What is clear… is that forcing modernist principles of building design upon unwilling church congregations and passing them off as if they were principles of the Council simply must stop.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about what church architecture ought to be; that there is a “theology of architecture” developed and passed down over centuries that should inform how our church buildings are designed.

Many of us are painfully aware that this model of church building was largely abandoned at some point in the recent past. But why? How did centuries of architectural tradition disappear in such a short time? And how did so many Catholics, who should have known better, happily jump on the modernist bandwagon?

The article linked below from the Catholic Culture website provides a fascinating look at how modernist principles came to dominate our church architecture. As you read it, think about the church building in which you currently worship. Does what the author describes sound familiar?

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8000

2 thoughts on ““Form Follows Function”: How We Got to Where We Are

  1. I might propose that the problem resides not in just form follow function, but in something deeper, in that, our perception of “personhood” has changed. Pope St. John Paul II identified the problem of our time is in our understanding of personhood. If persons are just random a collection of atoms then the form follows function fits perfectly. However, if the human person is a body in union with an eternal soul, then your understanding of architecture, a mere reflection of our ideologies, fundamentally changes. I heard a priest tell us that our modern churches keep lying to us. Or better yet, do not reflect what the church teaches us about personhood. Traditionally, Catholic churches have always been a theological and artistic expression of the human person in stone. Fully expressing the material body and the eternal soul. At once, revealed and concealed and hylomorphically unified, if you want to get metaphysical with it. 🙂

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    • Always ready to get metaphysical, though I admit I had to look up hylomorphism.

      Yes, what you wrote gets to the heart of the issue. I was reminded that Bauhaus luminary Marcel Breuer designed the new buildings for St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota in the 1950’s and early 60’s. The “brutalist” abbey church in particular is a clear example of what you’re saying, and demonstrates that the Church began losing the plot well before Vatican II.

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