Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Cathedral Basilica at Sunset


  1. I do enjoy the nice photography that you post on your blog. You have been especially good in capturing the effects of light.

    I also noticed that you have been avoiding photographing modern architecture. By and large I certainly understand that post-WW2 churches just don't have that ambience and classic look to them. But considering how quickly many of the parishes were constructed in the post-war boom and the lack of construction materials, I think you should take a second look. Surely you can find a few gems in all the concrete block construction! Maybe not St. Dominics or Seven Holy Founders, but there's got to be a jewel somewhere there.

    Also, I want to point out that the next time you are in LA, you should take a closer look at the cathedral here. You have criticized it (Mahoney's Mistake), however, have you been in it yet? I initially had the same prejudice, but after seeing the cathedral, I changed my mind. I like how it looks, particulary in the downtown LA setting. I also like the interior - it is so different and at first seems cold and disconnected, but seems to offer a unique coziness quality to it.

    I love classic churches, but there are plenty of those around. You may argue that LA should have adapted California Mission architecture - that maybe the case, but this cathedral actually does a pretty good job offering its own distinct LA style.
    I say give it a second chance.

  2. Hegs,

    I typically only take photos of churches in the classical tradition, because I think that they are better suited to their purpose than most of those done in the modern style. Although certainly a church ought to give me the right feeling, it must also appeal to my intellect and imagination. Although the decades-long trend of modern church architecture is partially rooted in simple fashion and cost constraints, intellectually it is related to what I see as the problems of iconoclasm, politicization of religion, pantheism, and other social and spiritual problems of our era. And these latter problems were actually proposed as being laudable by many reformers, being a part of the break with Christian tradition: so I have a big problem with that.

    I haven't been to Mahony's cathedral, but I was intellectually repulsed by the cathedral's own description of its art on its website. It seemed to be in opposition to traditional Christianity, and was indistinguishable from worldly attitudes and theories held by those actively seeking to destroy the Church.

    Where I diverge from both Modernists and Traditionalists it that the former say that construction with modern materials and techniques must be done in the modern style (purity), while the latter say that traditional designs must be done with traditional methods and materials (authenticity). However, I think that we can use contemporary materials and methods to build structures in the classical tradition, which is more in line with what I beleive is orthodoxy. The Gothic style was highly advanced technologically yet remained intellectually sound (and, provided very good feelings).

    There are fewer classic churches all of the time, and many existing ones have major changes in their interiors. One such classic church in Saint Louis is to be destroyed soon.