Wednesday, May 2, 2012

They're Back

(The Somewhat Traditional Architect is drinking copious amounts of coffee and drafting something very like the Round Temple in the Forum Boarium, when up comes the Liturgical Consultant and with an exaggerated gesture taps him on the shoulder. This causes the STA's covered coffee mug to be in remote material danger of spilling, and he unnecessarily devotes his entire life-force to the safety of his drawing, despite the considerable distance between the mug and the paper. Having seen to it that his project receive nothing of detriment, he faces the LC, who appears likely to want a hug. However, the STA denies him that, and begins a conversation instead.)

STA: Hello, there. How's the church going without any architectural guidance whatsoever?
LC: Oh, pretty well, actually. I've brought along my preliminary plans.

(The STA looks at them. They do not resemble plans. They contain far too many smiley faces, for one thing. Also, the concept of scale is lacking.)

STA: This looks like a good start. I see you've decided on Modern then.
LC: No, no, this is Early Christian. Notice that the community space...

(At first the STA is nonplussed. Then he says:)

STA:: Oh, the nave.
LC: Yes, the community space. Notice that it's welcoming and comfortable like you said.
STA: Did I? Well. It's practically a square, though, you see.
LC: I was under the impression the Early Christian equivalent of a basilica was rectangular.

(The STA ignores the LC's mistaken perception of an anachronism.)
STA: The terms square and rectangular are not interchangeable. Vitruvius gives pretty specific proportions in Book V.
LC: Well, it seems more gathering-spacey.
STA: Yes, I suppose in a way it does. At least more circular. And at least more spacey. But this isn't a basilica.
LC: No? Why not?
STA: There are no columns. There are merely these obnoxious beams that look like something out of a Star Wars film.
LC: So? At least they don't break up the community and block the view of...oh never mind, it's not supposed to be a viewing sort of thing anyway.
STA: I notice you put the choir pretty much on the apsidal wall, and...what is this? a drum set? That's one pretty big drum set. Usually the ambo is there, and the drum set, if there is one, is somewhat closer to the choir and...well, considerably smaller, you see.

(The LC appears confused for a moment, as he had not intended the drum set to appear larger than normal. At least, not much larger.)
LC: I read a reactionary book from sometime before the Church...I mean before the Council...that they used to call the part of the church where the altar was the choir. I thought I might make a little accommodation to that set of viewpoints. Of course this was back when there actually were separate parts of the church for the oppressed and the oppressors...I think they called them laity and clergy, or something like that.
STA: Something very like that. That was, however, a hold-over from even earlier times when the clergy actually sang in a choir near the altar during Mass. I think a better model for you, if you like a central choir is a schola cantorum type of thing.
LC: OK.. What's that? I'm open to dialogue.
STA: It's an enclosure where the...
LC: Just stop right there. I will not have an enclosure in my church! I will not have an enclosure; I will not have a boundary; I will not have an ascent or a descent or change in any kind of level! It will flow, I tell you!
STA: Let's leave that to the baptistery.
LC: I will not have any separate space for ANYTHING! Everything and everyone must be together! Except the children during the Liturgy of the Word! You know what? I've had it. I'm going to go back and work on my church by myself!

(He storms off to read a book on swimming pool design as an aid in creating a fluid environment. The STA realizes it is time for lunch, and then orders a burger that he notices resembles the Round Temple in the Forum Boarium. He lets out a satisfied sigh, and wonders if the LC will ever learn that architecture is everywhere and cannot be escaped. Then he thinks: Maybe that's just because I'm an architect.)

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