Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sacrifice of past generations

I have commented before on the beauty of many of Detroit's old church buildings. Many of these, for whatever reason, are Polish churches. (I intend to publish a piece on the Polish legacy at some point in the near future.)

Anyway, I was talking to a student of Polish extract this afternoon, who described how he had read that in past generations, his Polish forbears in Detroit had gone so far as to mortgage their homes in order to contribute toward the building of their community churches.

Can you imagine anyone doing that today? Parishioners in the affluent suburbs today seem happy to be driving very nice vehicles and living in houses that their grandparents would likely consider lavish, while their suburban churches look more like gymnasiums or auditoriums built in airport hangers than the churches with bell towers, stained glass and soaring spires of their ancestor's era.

The ironies abound as you begin to think about how siblings doubled up in bedrooms in small houses generations ago, while they built soaring and splendid churches to the glory of God.

To the glory of what do people today live in sprawling houses with cathedral ceilings and produce such impoverished structures as their "worship spaces"?


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Since the NO anti-liturgy is printed in disposable worship resources, what is more appropriate than that it should be heard in the same?

The Buffalo NY diocese has closed over 100 churches under the reign of our current Bishop Ozymandias. I have heard that this is the largest such cutback in the entire country -- to do a better job would take a stalinist bureaucracy. Churches such as you describe in our city have been virtually wiped out. They are left abandoned, with leaky roofs, cracked masonry, and locks on the doors. Suburban cow palaces with bare walls and minimal statuary are all that remain. Ironically, they are locked most of the time as well.

You can't really blame Bishop Ozymandias, who is also known as Edward Kmiec -- he is only giving the people what they want -- portable, disposable religion, like protestants have.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

The language really does tell all, doesn't it? If you think of churches and missals as "worship resources," as employees are "human resources," and coal and cord wood are "natural resources," then what you are left with is the idea that nothing has any intrinsic value -- utilitarianism as a form of nihilism. In such a view, everything exists for the purpose of being used, until it is used up. Nothing, not even God, is exempted from utilitarianist criteria. And what is an utilitarian view of God? That His value to us lies in His usefulness to us: religion has the same status as a weight loss program or the power of positive thinking. Religion as a form of therapy originates in Kant, and in certain species of protestantism. For all the blustering about America as a Judeo-Christian citadel, religion in America has a primarily therapeutic value.

It all fits in snugly with PP's comment on NPR secularism. Nothing has an intrinsic value: we exist to use and be used. And when we are no longer useful, we are planted in the ground, to be used for sustenance by the grass and the weeds -- unless that is not found to be cost-effective, in which case we are thrown into the fire. And that is our happiness. And in that context, suicide and abortion are conscionable -- indeed, they are almost obligatory.

George said...

"Bishop Ozymandius" ... brilliant name. One wonders what animates the innermost heart of such bishops. It's almost enough to make one believe the fringe group stories about Kremlin plots to infiltrate the Church and undermine it. One wonders whether he found more joy in seeing his accountants balance their diocesan budget or in seeing the photos of the protesting parishioners as he had the church door coercively shut and forever locked. Pastoral indeed.