Thursday, August 16, 2007

Built to Last a Thousand Years

Not too far from where we live, in Lilburn, Georgia, a Hindu temple is almost complete. Rising from the suburban landscape, carved completely out of stone, it vaguely resembles the Taj Mahal. No metal or steel was used, and it was built to last a millenia. No mega-church box-like structure, this.

It reminds me of the shimmering Al-Farooq Mosque that we watched rise and overshadow 14th street with its gleaming minaret. Pagan temples with glorious architectural design.

Influenced by books like Sidewalks in the Kingdom and Christ and Culture, I have to wonder: why isn't anything this beautiful being built by Christians anymore? It's a tired refrain: grand European churches turned into nightclubs, or bars, or mosques, while church attendance dwindles. Gothic cathedrals reduced to museums, shells of their former self. While in America, our churches grow ever larger and more unrecognizable, until a stadium and a house of worshp are indistinguishable. I know there are exceptions, I've seen them, both here and abroad. Living, breathing beautiful churches in beautiful buildings built to glorify God. However, very few of these awe-inspiring churches are new constructions.

One partial exception that I recently learned about is a Lutheran church that turned an ugly, big box sporting goods store into a beautiful sanctuary, complete with towering brick spire and bell tower. I can't find a picture online, but I drive past it 2-3 times a week and never guessed its origins until someone who had lived in the area much longer pointed it out. It may not last 1,000 years, since it still has the frame of a box store, but how's that for redeeming the suburban sprawl?

Anyone know of new churches that are being creatively and purposefully built to actually look like churches? I heard once about a South American man who was using his own funds to build a cathedral, but I can't remember the details.

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