This blog post is in response to a question posed to a friend of mine who neatly deflected it to me.
“What’s wrong with the cathedral in LA? Isn’t the church about the people and not the building? Or is it a case of the people loving the tabernacle more than what’s inside?”
This post is going to be very long, as it will delve into what makes a church a church, the current guidelines for how to build a church, why churches ought to have guidelines for being built, and finally why the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, aka the Taj Mahoney, is U-G-L-Y, with no alibi and definite cause to call for it to be extensively renovated or perhaps just scrapped and sold for as much money as the diocese can get for the materials.
Until I finish writing it, I have a visual activity for you. These buildings, found through a few casual Google image searches, are either churches or utilitarian spaces (i.e. not churches at all). Can you tell which is which? I will bake the favorite cookies of whoever gets all the answers right, and NO FAIR searching on the internet! Use your best judgment.
The questions to ponder are these: Should churches look distinctively like churches? What do churches look like as opposed to other buildings? What does (or should!) the appearance of a church say to the people who look at it? Feel free to discuss in the comments while I finish reading architecture articles and documents.