The Third Factor: Aesthetic Impact

Richard Kieckhefer

in Theology in Stone

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780195154665
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835676 | DOI:
 The Third Factor: Aesthetic Impact

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There is broad consensus that churches should be places of beauty, but for different reasons. The aesthetic design of a church may be viewed as a way of signaling holiness--the presence of the holy (i.e., the divine) within the sacred (i.e., a cultural complex drawing upon sacred tradition and fostering a sacred community). The emphasis in the classic sacramental tradition on an interplay of transcendence and immanence—with creation of height, light, and volume that call attention to themselves and serve as sacred symbols—is illustrated by early descriptions (ekphraseis) of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul) An alternative conception of church aesthetics is found at Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, where architectural forms are simple and subtle reminders of grace. A church by Julia Morgan serves as an example of architectural articulation. And the Thorncrown Chapel at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, illustrates the integration of church design with natural setting.

Keywords: aesthetic impact; holiness; transcendence; immanence; height; light; volume; Hagia Sophia (Constantinople); Christ Church Lutheran (Minneapolis); Julia Morgan; articulation; Thorncrown Chapel at Eureka Springs (Arkansas)

Chapter.  17456 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christian Theology

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