Sunday, January 18, 2009

Architecture & Churches

Why do many church buildings have no windows? Is there a fear of looking out onto the world? Is there a fear of the world looking inside?

Many church buildings have stained-glass windows (or, should I say, stained-Plexiglas?), installed for decorative or inspirational effect, but few church buildings have clear-glass windows. Why? Am I alone in thinking that this cold?

We communicate in a number of ways. Through our speech, we obviously communicate words and thoughts. Through our body language and facial expressions, we certainly communicate emotions and feelings. Is it too much to assume that through architecture we communicate something about ourselves and our intentions?

What does a building without windows communicate about us? Do want to keep to ourselves? Do we want to hide our activities from the peering eyes of others? Do we want to have our eyes hidden from the things that are beyond our walls? What are we communicating as we gather and worship in a building without windows?

Perhaps I am nitpicking, but I wonder if the windowless-building is a symptom of a greater oddity: light that chooses to remain hidden under the bushel or salt that refuses to leave the salt-shaker.

And, as long as I am on the subject of churches and architecture . . . what does a meeting place designed like a movie theater suggest about the church?