Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Light and structure

Beautifully simple and dignified, no? Classical New England.

First Congregational Church, Bennington, Vermont

Ironically, this reminds me of my old liturgy professor, the leonine Orthodox priest Alexander Schmemann. Sometimes, he said, he longed for the simplicity of Protestantism, with its sheer white imageless walls and clear glass, its stark and powerful central pulpit, preacher in black gown, and orderly clean congregations listening to The Word of John Calvin's God.  But then, he would say, he knew that before long, he would grow "homesick for the flesh-pots* of Orthodoxy, the extravagance, the scheming, the feuds, the obsessions."

*Exodus 16.3

PS. I later came across this reconstruction of that paragon of Orthodox churches, Haghia Sophia in Constantinople and found this image of its central pulpit. Remove the pillars and circular architrave and it is strikingly like Bennington's.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Orthodoxy's fleshpots do sound more enjoyable than this sort »bearing witness, creating change, transforming lives«. But eventually even the experts in interpreting Egyptian signs were desperate to flee into the desert, eh?

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