Why were so many churches wreckovated?

This could answer the question of why bishops and priests wreckovated so many churches. From The Week.

Baptist church says it is removing a statue of Jesus because it looks ‘Catholic’

An artist who created a seven-foot statue of Jesus for the Red Bank Baptist Church in Lexington, South Carolina, received a curious letter in the mail from the church’s pastor, who warned him that the work of art would soon be removed because it looked too “Catholic.”

In addition to carving the statue of Christ, Delbert Baker Jr. also created several reliefs surrounding it, showing scenes from the life of Jesus. Pastor Jeff Wright sent Baker a letter that said the statue and reliefs were coming down because “we have discovered that there are people that view the art as Catholic in nature,” The Guardian reports. The letter also stated that Baker had until Thursday to remove the outdoor statue and reliefs himself, otherwise everything would be destroyed.

Baker responded by explaining that the statue of Jesus is “represented as though he is stepping outside of the building, not just confined to the idleness of inner walls. Under each arm, the reliefs depict scriptural and historical events that we as Christians believe represent the life of Christ.” He said it made no sense for the statue to be removed, and because he had been “obedient to my Lord in creating it,” he had to “respectfully decline to take part in its removal.”

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19 Responses to Why were so many churches wreckovated?

  1. bobbird says:

    I only wish Catholic churches would begin to look “too Catholic”. My next door neighbor, a serious evangelical, admitted that when he went to Europe, the Catholic churches there gave him a sense of beauty and sacred lacking in today’s evangelocatholic gymnasiums, theaters and meeting rooms. I also pointed out to him that Anglican cathedrals might approach them but are hollow shells without the Real Presence.

  2. tamranthor says:

    The reason for the wreckovations is simple. The hippies who demanded that we look upon Jesus as our dinner partner and buddy were trying to convince everyone that the mean old Catholic Church should be more like the Baptists and the Pentecostals, and focus on ME rather than on HIM. After all, our sins aren’t really all that bad and who is mean ol’ Daddy Church to tell us that we aren’t wonderful people in everything we choose to do?

    Same sin, different day.

    And you know, it is so difficult to sin properly with a nice painting of Our Lord looking down upon us. Same deal with His Mom. So, they’ve got to go. If the crappy translated liturgies don’t get rid of ’em, demolishing the images in the Church will.

    Fortunately for all of us, those hippies came up against the Church over which the gates of hell will not prevail.

  3. maternalView says:

    This also probably explains why some people have left Christ out of their spirituality — He’s too Catholic!

  4. ChrisP says:

    Reminds me of our time in Scandanavia and being shown the mutilated statues of Christ, Mary and Saints in old Churches and castles with the hands cut off. The early Nordic Nutty Lutherans cut the hands off to protest indulgences and to stop devotion to the Rosary.

  5. haydn seeker says:

    My first thought was that this statue was way too ugly to look Catholic. My second thought was, uh….

  6. Karteria says:

    Removal is likely to be a violation of his rights under the Federal Visual Artist’s Rights Act.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Artists_Rights_Act
    He can probably find a pro-bono art lawyer.

  7. RichR says:

    I took my kids to confession at a parish across town that was built before the modern craze of abstract architecture appeared. The adoration chapel had many statues, a marble altar, and the incense from decades of use still permeated the environment. My boys were entranced and left that encounter knowing that they had just visited a House of God.

  8. richiedel says:

    These people sound like they have just as much a clue about what the tradition of art within Catholicism is as the actual Catholics who wreckovated so many churches.

  9. dmflinn says:

    The odd thing is the statue has been there for 11 years and the artist was a member of the church at one time. Ok, I figured it out – we need to get photo on our Catholic membership cards – Problem solved.

  10. hwriggles4 says:

    Here is something to consider:

    Next time you enter a Church that looks like a Church, watch the behavior. Young boys under 12 (yes, I was one once) realize they are in a special place and their behavior becomes silent. The boys are struck by the stained glass windows, statues, tabernacle, and altar rail.

    Fathers, if your sons are misbehaving, try driving a little ways one Sunday. What is the old saying, “That sounds so crazy it just might work.”

  11. Absit invidia says:

    I don’t want to be in the shoes of these filthy scoundrels who have robbed Catholics of their due inheritance and birthright.

  12. JonPatrick says:

    The Puritan tendency in Protestantism contains a streak of Gnosticism, a denial of the goodness of the physical world and emphasis on the spiritual. There is also that need to define oneself against the Catholic Church in such things as crosses without corpus, no sign of the cross, etc.

    Reminds me of an event during my Episcopal Church days, when our Anglo-Catholic favoring pastor installed a statue of St. James the patron of the church in front of the sanctuary. It did not sit well with the low church types in the congregation. Fortunately the pastor was strong willed and had the support of the vestry so the statue stayed.

  13. frjim4321 says:

    Brutalism took off in the second half of the 20th Century, and there were many dumbed-down, cheapened attempts to channel it in church architecture. There were a handful of successes in the US, but not many. I really love the style, and we did end up in a stunning Brutalist R.C. church in Bavaria years ago, but for the most part, it’s hard to pull off well. Also, I’ve never seen a Brutalist church roof that didn’t leak like a sieve. Not only that, cast cement seems to discolor quiet rapidly, adding to the problem.

  14. Markus says:

    I have observations of what happened regarding this situation. Being not only involved in Church art for over 45 years but also being an altar server during the transition (1962-1996 years Latin Mass, 1966-1970, vernacular). My degrees are in art, art history, concentrating in Early Christian, Medieval art and architecture. I was certified as a Liturgical Design Consultant and have served on parish and diocesan committees along with five Bene national awards for liturgical art. Following Fr. Z since the CompuServe days, I believe that I am qualified to post some observations. Not that they matter, but they may explain what happened and what may happen next.

    We are observing art, not church decoration or liturgical essentials. One of the missions of an artist is to predict the future. The predicted future (for the last 50 years or so) doesn’t look too good, does it? At the start of the church changes after VCII, there were no programs for liturgical art, only a study of the past with art history. Not only was this unfortunate, but the theological emphasis in Catholic worship shifted. The social (horizontal) was the revived emphasis (Early Christian) and the individual (vertical Romanesque, Gothic, devotional) was de-emphasized. The St JPII revived the importance of the devotional and there was no direction the cope with this. And all of this followed the changes in the rites. Aesthetic and practical solutions were far and few between.

    Attending annual liturgical conferences, for over 20 years, where artists and vendors displayed their works hoping to obtain commissions, I observed the following. At least 20% exhibitors where not Catholic, thus having no or limited knowledge of Catholic symbolism. Another 50% never attended Masses offered thus leading one to suspect that they were not practicing Catholics. I found this disturbing. The remainder where doing good work, dedicated, and expensive. They were professional, but controlled by architects, pastors, time constraints and budgets.
    Most pastors I have worked with have had no formal training in Church art. A few were very informed, but most were ignorant or did not care. The process of commissioning usually starts with an art & environment committee > building committee > finance committee > parish council > pastor. If over a certain amount (varies by diocese) it then goes to the diocesan level, committees and then the bishop.

    There are also many other reasons and subtle influences, too numerous to post here. What does the future hold? I have my suspicions.

  15. bobbird says:

    All the comments here were pithy and spot-on. To hadn seeker, the thought occurred to me that — perhaps — this artist is a former Catholic, who has a dim memory of Something. If the art looks lame, perhaps his memory is completely based on Post-Vatican II “art”. Also, why 11 years? Well, it is not known in this case but often a matter of a new pastor. Ask many evangelicals and they will tell you how they have “jumped ship” several times from one denomination to another because of the New Pastor Syndrome. The nuanced differences of theology are, to many, as unimportant as the entertainment value of a good homilist. That’s why their “churches” look like stages, gymnasiums and meeting halls. Trying to retrieve what was lost, the Post Vat II clerics have imitated this mess. It works, right?

  16. trad1 says:

    Let’s go get it!

  17. mburn16 says:

    Part post-VII popular theology, but also partly the culture of the time. Our churches built in the 50s, 60s, and 70s look a lot like the schools and post offices and municipal offices built in the 50s and 60s and 70s.

  18. Prayerful says:

    Nothing in Sacrosanctum Concilium, nothing even in tendentious interpretations of it afterwards, required the smashing of altars or removal of altar rails, tabernacles in some side room, nor for that matter the risible liturgical mess that Mgsr Bugnini foisted on us. Yet it happened. Hopefully soon all be restored in Christ.

  19. TonyO says:

    because he had been “obedient to my Lord in creating it,”

    He may even be right, in some remote sense that conveys absolutely no approval of his artistic sense. I.E. the Lord approved of the man complying with the contract he signed to produce the requested work, in accordance with justice. No approval of artistic sense involved.

    Removal is likely to be a violation of his rights under the Federal Visual Artist’s Rights Act.

    Almost certainly not. The rights under the Act have effectively nothing to do with the place that holds the artwork continuing to provide a venue for the artwork. The main rights provided under the Act are:

    right to claim authorship
    right to prevent the use of one’s name on any work the author did not create
    right to prevent use of one’s name on any work that has been distorted, mutilated, or modified in a way that would be prejudicial to the author’s honor or reputation
    right to prevent distortion, mutilation, or modification that would prejudice the author’s honor or reputation

    The only one that even comes CLOSE to this situation is this: authors of works of “recognized stature” may prohibit intentional or grossly negligent destruction of a work.

    Since this certainly isn’t a work of “recognized stature” this provision would not come into play. And even if it did, all it would require is that when the pastor removes it, he not damage or destroy it. Nothing requires that the pastor keep it in place. And even for the matter of removing it, giving prior notice and opportunity to the artist to take it himself probably meets most or all of the pastor’s obligation.

    I really love the style, and we did end up in a stunning Brutalist R.C. church in Bavaria years ago, but for the most part, it’s hard to pull off well.

    Gaaaccckkk! You can change “hard” to “impossible” and be much closer. I don’t object to some brutalism-influenced design for a sloppy, temporary, needed-soon and to be destroyed soon item like a temporary fortification against tank attack. For a CHURCH? Not. Even. Remotely. The very idea of lovingly designing a place for the holy sacrifice of the Mass in brutalism is an oxymoron.

    One of the missions of an artist is to predict the future. The predicted future (for the last 50 years or so) doesn’t look too good, does it?

    Markus, I agree with much of what you said, but I would take issue with this. First, to the extent that it might be true that the “mission” of the artist is to predict the future, this is only an element of his overall purpose, and a fairly limited element at that, nowhere near the core. The artist DOES need to have enough forward-vision to perceive how his work is going to be “used”, (knowing that “use” here is different from mere functionalism in designing a screw that works right). Just as an example, for a church, he has to think of how music will work in that space, which means that he does have to have some sense of what kind of music we are talking about. But any space that is amenable to the music of Palestrina will also work for the music of Dan Schutte, so it’s not an issue that is greatly amenable to mere variability of fashion in church music. And he doesn’t have to predict what kind of variations will come to church music in the next 50 years. Indeed, if he is worried about the next 50 years specifically (for music), he is going about it wrong, because he should be designing a church for the ages. (Ideally, the music and the liturgy should ALSO be for the ages, as well – like the music of Palestrina and the Mass of Pius V).

    The artist’s purpose in church design should be more characterized by “predicting” the eternal. He needs to do in art and architecture what the priest does in the liturgy (and what the musician does in the music), put us in touch with the Everlasting. One of the beauties of the Mass is that it’s reality transcends this or that time. To intentionally make it “fashionable” is quite the mistake, it calls for being beyond fashion.

    In 1965 the predicted future was incredibly rosy – compared to what we actually have now. That divergence between expectation and reality is due in no small part to the bad choices made in the 1960s out of mistaken confidence in the permanence of 1960s fashions, new mental trends, and so on all imbibed in direct and knowing opposition to the customs handed down through the ages. In rather shocking hubris, artists and liturgists had the effrontery to not only say “we can do better than all that stuff from the past” but also “and we are ‘all grown up now’ so what we create now will therefore be good for the future.” It didn’t even last a beyond one generation before people turned around and abandoned it.