Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cluttered Spirituality

This did not "just happen." This garage reflects someone's values. This garage speaks of mechanical attempts, radio-controlled airplanes, the need for heat and light, and probably a very busy life. I'm a clutterer and my wife Martha is an organizer and cleaner. If I sit in one place too long, a heafty trash-bag will slide over my head and Martha will start tugging me out to the patio. She's really a cleaner! But she has also helped me to see the intentionality of space.
During our trips to France over the years, I have begun to notice the arrangement of Romaneque sanctuaries, of what they put where. Where the baptismal font is placed roves all over sanctuaries. Pulpits appear mid-nave, upper-nave, at the crossing, and in a split chancel. Roaming around the apse and into the little chapels speaks volumes about what is of importance in this sanctuary over that sanctuary. Patron saints, reliquaries, sculpture, windows and crypts all tell stories of what is important here.
What happens when we take that degree of scrutiny and intentionality into the evangelical church? What values and stories does our use of space convey? What is central to the eye? How are colors used? Is there thematic integrity or helter-skelter chaos? Is the space trapped in the past or alert to the present? Is it about "the show" up front? or the comfort of the "audience?"
I am impressed with the aesthetic intentionality of Starbucks, Caribou, Smith and Hawken and Restoration Harware. There space moves you in an intended direction. How does church space move the worshiper?
Then, I come back to the nagging question in my heart: are we morally responsible to let our space be used by other churches who are content with less-than-beautiful space for worship, but not for weddings? Does that send a signal that God is dingy and brides are not? Does that say worship can be haphazard but weddings are more important than worship? What?


At 12:07 PM , Anonymous Doug said...


Ouch! Provoking questions!

At 12:49 PM , Blogger Rock in the Grass said...

Thank you. Somehow Jesus seems to take simplicity far more seriously than we do. We seem to collect clutter - both materially and theologically!


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