“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
So runs the popular phrase.
I hope with all my heart that that is true!
Today a friend (and father of a priest) wrote an email with an astonishing link:
When the ghost of Gene Roddenberry designs a church
“The Mass is ended. Live long, and prosper.”
The church in question? See the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
$12M Roman Catholic church going up in South Summerlin
I can hear the theme song in my head as I look at that. Do doooo do do do do dooooo….
What do you want to bet that in spite of Laudato si’, building has air conditioning. Perhaps as carbon offsets they can get some of those green gals from Orion as “Eucharistic Ministrices”.
“But Father! But Father!”, you eco-liturgical V2-Spirit-filled terrorists are wailing, “What’s wrong with that design? It embodies noble simplicity and it’s… it’s… groovy! We thought you were traditional. This is traditional 1960s, right? But you wouldn’t know anything about that because YOU HATE VATICAN II!”
If you want to know what’s wrong with this picture, obtain and read my friend Fr. Uwe Michael Lang’s new book: Signs of the Holy One: Liturgy, Ritual, and Expression of the Sacred.
“Welcome to the parish of St. James Tiberius, where we live long, prosper, and boldly go where no human person has gone before. To the fringes, and beyond!”
Interpret the statement as you will, but we’ve all seen MUCH worse.
[We’ve seen worse. So what? This is now and that’s something to be built.]
I truly wish I could say this is the worst I’ve ever seen; it isn’t.
Will the priest not get his feet wet if the full immersion baptismal pool fully surrounds the altar?
On a positive note, there appears to be a baldacchino over the altar – or perhaps it is simply the transporter dematerialisation process?
Among the many things that are wrong with such spaces is that the artist’s plans WILL be frustrated by subsequent use, leading to to an utterly disjointed presentation.
Case in point:
We have a magnificent new church in Downingtown, PA, patterned along classic lines. The 1973 church it replaced, the one that I received all of my sacraments in, had a rather emaciated Christ on the cross above the altar. It was suspended from wires and had bright lights that were meant to shine on it and present the three crosses in shadows on the static white wall behind the Tabernacle.
At some point in the mid-1990s, those lights were reoriented to provide additional lighting to the pulpit and an area off to the side of the altar where folks often tripped while serving at Mass. Thus, the artist’s purposes were thwarted by normal usage.
I have seen all kinds of decorations and such that fill up simple spaces like imagined here and I can easily see, in my mind’s eye, flowers and banners and all kinds of stuff that utterly wrecks whatever aesthetic value the design has.
Besides, it looks like a mausoleum, even as it stands now.
Open the pod door Fr. Hal. To be honest though, I almost like it – well – better than the Las Vegas Cathedral which clearly has a 70’s Native American tent vibe going on: http://www.catholicphotographer.com/p760239964/h41B10EFA#h41b10efa
Geordi on the comm to Will: “I’m seeing some unusual undulating wavy lines on the reredo, Commander. Data just told me that the phenomenon could indicate the presence of barion particles in the church’s warp core containment field. I’ll need Data’s assistance down here for while longer to run a Level five diagnostic on the entire area.”
I should add that I found it disappointing because everywhere in Vegas are beautiful hotels. The one building that OUGHT to attract with beauty is the Cathedral. It’s such a disappointment after wandering in and out of hotels along the strip. But the beauty of those hotels is merely a veneer masking the hollowness of what happens on the inside. And the simplicity of the Cathedral cannot take away from the true beauty of Christ’s sacrifice. But the sacrifice of the Mass would only be enhanced by a beautiful cathedral. Unfortunate really, the one place that should be exquisite in design and ornament was not. But I chose to look at it as the simplicity and rudeness of the stable in Bethlehem. It truly was a countersign in that city.
Dr. McCoy: “Dammit, Jim! Why did you allow that Vosko fellow on board to design the chapel?”
Somehow I get the impression the outside looks like this:
And during the week, it can double as an Apple Store.
Challenge for the architects here: show parishioners of this parish what their options are for a $12 million church:
I thought we were DONE with this. They are spending 12 Million dollars on this eyesore.
Now, of course, from the picture from the website: http://www.holyspiritlv.org/uploads/9/7/9/6/97967040/clergyatgroundbreaking_orig.jpeg, the Pastor, Father “Bill” Kenny, pictured center, is of a certain age that would definitely agree with the “grooviness” of this “Age of Aquarius”design. It isn’t going to be finished until next May, so maybe someone with some artistic sense will step in and stop it? Though, wouldn’t the Diocese already of done that?
“Scotty, beam me up, there is no signs of artistic sensibility here! Lock on Phasers and destroy target once we’ve cleared the target area. Landing party out!”
Another warning sign–from the article: “[The art collection] will include work by Artesanos Don Bosco, a company which trains young Peruvian artists to work with stone, wood and glass. Nine tapestries are planned created by John Nava, who designed the tapestries inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.”
Not at all surprised. I’ve been to this parish, with this pastor, when they were meeting in a high school cafeteria. Let’s just say — PLEASE pray and pray for the parishioners there who have been led so far astray as to be plunging down over the cliff.
At the Mass — and please this is NOT an OF vs. EF matter — something was pretty “off” right away. Then when the priest proclaimed the Gospel extemporaneously (i.e. not reading the words off the page), something was definitely wrong. For “Communion” — in quotation marks because it was clearly sacramentally invalid — they used several loaves that looked like pita-bread and were torn into pieces and placed in a very large glass party bowl, with someone holding the big bowl and two lines on either side as people came up and were given a piece of the pita from the bowl. And most of the people were all fairly happy hipsters about it all. I was stunned.
It was the only time I have felt compelled to write a letter to notify the bishop there.
Another ecclesial edifice brought to you by the designing Firm of Ray Charles; Stevey Wonder, consultant.
I. Just. Can’t believe. You would. Complain, Fr. Z. After all. You’re a mad. Fan of sci-fi! Name suggestions:
Church of the Holy Transporter
Holy Kirk Chapel
My only question is, where are the dancing 8′ puppets???
There is one church in my city which was built in the 60s. I have always said that if the Enterprise had a chapel, it would look like that church. This chapel may have my city’s version beat!
It is worse than Taj Mahoney!!
Will one piece jumpsuits be proscribed or prescribed?
If the church thing doesn’t work out it would make a nice showroom floor for new cars.
” O MY GIDDY AUNT !!! ”
Please, PLEASE, tell me, dear Fr Z, that you have Photo-Shopped this image !!!
Thanks MariaKap for your thoughtful comments about the Las Vegas Cathedral. It’s named Guardian Angels, but to me it looks more like Gaudy Ole Acrobats.
Enterprise A did have a chapel. We saw it during _Star Trek_ “Balance of Terror” (S. 1; E 8) It was the site of the about-to-be celebrated wedding of crewmembers Lt. Robert Tomlinson and Angela Martine; the proceedings were interrupted just as they were about to begin because the ship went to red alert. Tomlinson was later killed in action, and the final scene of the episode had Captain Kirk paying a call to the bereaved fiancée while she was praying in the same chapel.
kind of a “Fortress Solitude” Superman thing working there ….
It’s aesthetically pleasing, but certainly not as a church.
Thank God “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Two words summarize the $12 million dollar living room: Butt ugly!
Horrible. Simply horrible.
All sorts of questions come to mind, but none of them have anything to do with aesthetics or theology, because “this” does not have any reference to either exercise of human intelligence.
Who designed it?
Who approve it?
Who executed it?
Who paid for it?
What were they thinking?
Were they thinking?
What were they on?
What is the status of their present employment?
It does qualify as “Exhibit A” of much of what is substituted for authentic enterprise in both the arts or religion, and received accolades and approbation to boot.
Is that textured surface soft and meant for us upon which to beat our heads?
Walls are bad.
Maybe we ought to flip a coin for worst-conceived notion of a church. As I recall, the LA diocese insisted on buying Robert Schuller’s old church and will be converting it to a Catholic cathedral.
At least this has the altar and ambo in the same plane. One of the churches in my local area here seems to me to have the priest and servers sitting near a wall, the altar ahead of them, then the ambo in front of that. I think it intended to induce the congregation to gather around the altar. Instead, it gives me the impression of a dagger being shoved through the wall, into the midst of the congregation.
This DOES give me a good reminiscence of Star Trek though.
Actually im pretty sure the “pita” style host is perfectly valid and licit. My parish uses similar, and I can verify it is comprised wholly of wheat flour and water. This is usually the outcome of a parish which makes it “in house”.
What jolly fun !
St Pancras Station London, a venetian palace in brick, was touted as a variation on “c’est magnifique mais ce n’est pas la guerre” to “C’est magnifique mais ce n’est pas la gare”!
I wouldn’t go so far as” magnificent” and erm somehow , a church ? independantly of those above thinking of Star Treck I immediately thought of an about 1960 scifi story “arky malarky ” googling got “eric frank russel”, “now inhale,” ???and “the hanoi tower”. Does leaving a link b++++++ up the blog’s workings ?
Im also reminded of an early sixties beeb set for pop music, no cross nor cruxifix but otherwise much of a muchness — I think it was meant to be reminiscent of then record players, or even a cafe jukebox, name either” top of the pops” or “jukboxjury”. Something like that. The prebeatle etc days when britpop was astroturfed brits showbiz copies of US stars , cringeworthy.
Never mind in a way , anywhere mass is said for long enough gets some odd grace attaching to the fabric of the building. That may be heretical, my faith isn’t tied to that statement, but I think something like that happens. Better Fr Mac-trendy in St Whirligig’s saying mass than no father and no church. but Catholic and beautiful d be better still.
Joel Osteen appearing soon!
The new pastor’s former parish was an interesting experience as well. Rather than “parish” it was known as a “Catholic community.” The church was devoid of stations or kneelers. Their hymn book was self-published and celebrated the long, rich tradition of Catholic music all the way back to about 1970. It looks and sounds like the new church is boldly going beyond that.
For what it’s worth I am trying to make a constructive comment. By the way, I am an engineer with experience in the construction industry:
1. While groundbreaking has started, is there any way that enough parishioners can spearhead design changes, or withhold pledges (and paying off pledges) from the capital campaign?
2. Did the diocese review the design? Certain liturgical standards (i.e.relics, tabernacle placement, keepers, etc.) need to be checked.
3. Is this intended for a permanent church (it looks that way) or will this be a “worship center” for a period of years until a more permanent building is needed?
4. Did the parish building committee have a say in this design?
I am wondering (since this is now, not 1979) that if enough parishioners find this to be an eyesore and are assertive, a positive change could work.
Guardian Angel Cathedral is a special old lady, a reflection of her city and the history of the time she was built. Superman Jesus ascending behind the altar is a gobsmack, no doubt. But spend some time with the stained glass windows. And let the minor miracle of a small, steady church in the middle of the Strip, standing for almost 80 years, work on your heart. This is the bishop’s seat. Most of the parishioners are poor. (Tourists fund the operational costs.) A lot of love and faith live in this strange building. Please don’t dismiss her so lightly.
Well, Gene Roddenberry was a humanist, and tended to say that by the time of Star Trek, religion would not be necessary. That is why we do not see much talk of religion in ToS and TNG, the two series he was directly running. However,the ToS episode “Bread and Circuses” has a direct Christian reference.
I thought the new Doctor had redecorated the TARDIS
The Las Vegas version of Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in LA. Upon seeing it, one gets the feeling of….. nothing. No thoughts are lifted upward to Heaven. The feeling of the Divine is non existent. It is a barren, shapeless, formless gathering space perfectly suitable for a diluted and humanistic liturgy. They could have consulted someone like Duncan Stroik, but that would mean building a church that would actually look Catholic.
the sad part is imagine think what COULD have been built with 12 million dollars
Several of these sound effects are applicable:
See Star Trek: The Original Series Sound Effects:
“We are in the hands of an adolescent.”
Actually i kind of like the Lost Wages cathedral , the sanctuary has to be totally redone but other than the hideous mosaic behind the crucifix I could see a modern sleek high altar in there with more appropriate art work. At least the windows have figures in them instead of some abstract glass chunks, admitting they are a little brutalist
The “thrones” look like modern toilets, and only two, so I guess the Bishop won’t be sitting.
While beautiful in its elements it’s DEFINITLY NOT Catholic. It could be in any Protestant mega church and it would be perfect. If I walked into a Catholic Church and this is what I saw I’d walk out, go to another Catholic Church and pray for the people who attend the first Catholic Church.
This church reminds me of the renovated Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral here in Detroit. When the cathedral was renovated several years back, I remember thinking that the altar looked like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. The cathedra, in particular, looks just like Captain Kirk’s chair. Take a look for yourself . . .
As a young, very traditional Anglican, let me assure you, this would never draw me in. Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, in a place such as St. Marks or St. Agnes (both) in Minneapolis, that is attractive and a place I’d be ok worshipping. To paraphrase Fr. Z, the New Evangelization needs good liturgy.
Having just arrived home from the adoration chapel at St Mark, I assure you that both St Mark and St Agnes are in St Paul.
You may be thinking of All Saints, in NE Minneapolis.
Nan, I was thinking of St. Mark and St. Agnes, but you are correct about them being in St. Paul. I made the mistake of conflating the twin cities into one… I apologize.
How has nobody noticed yet that in the tapestry depicting Pentacost in the article link, the second apostle from the right was played by Leonard Nimoy?
I live in Summerlin but will not be setting foot in this pod. I will drive 25 miles across town to attend Mass at Our Lady of Victory SSPX parish.
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I wonder if the pastor will tend to schedule visiting priests on days calling for red vestments?
“What does God need with a starship?”
–Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
I am appalled!
“Computer, begin auto-destruct sequence, authorization Burke 4-7 Alpha Tango.”
“Computer, bishop Morlino. Confirm auto-destruct sequence, authorization Morlino 2-2 Beta Charlie.”
“Computer, Father Zuhlsdorf. Confirm auto-destruct sequence, authorization WDTPRS 3-7 Gamma Echo.”
computer: “Please enter the final code to start auto destruct sequence.”
“This is Cardinal Burke. Destruct sequence Alpha-One. 15 minutes, silent countdown. Enable.”
It is awfully ugly and I really feel for the poor people in this particular diocese, however TODAY this cathedral will be dedicated: http://www.holynamecathedralnc.org
I had the pleasure of meeting two seminarians from this diocese in the past few weeks and actually others too from Arlington and the Lincoln diocese and it was very encouraging. These young men knew that we liked the old mass and one told me about a new professor at their minor seminary who actually goes to the traditional form of the mass also.
Thanks be to God for bishops like Archbishop Burbidge and others. We have much to be thankful for in the middle of such distressing news as this.
The final Blessing to be replaced with: “Live long, and prosper”
Surely, ritual performed here is supported by Vulcan sacred music performed on a theremin.
One well placed photon torpedo would undoubtedly fix this. However they probably have shields up, so there would be a need to disable the matter/antimatter power generation perhaps by continual bombardment until the dilithium crystals give out.
There is a cross on ths altar at least.
What in the space itself says “Interior of a Catholic church?”. Remove the cross and the painting of the bird, evict the docents and ask passers by, “What is this space?”
It would make a fine background for a 2017 reborn “This is your Life!”
Well, it’s finally happened: a Catholic church has completely eliminated Jesus Christ from its sanctuary. There is no corpus on the cross, no Corpus in a tabernacle. As the (other) Black Pope noted, there were no tape recorders during Our Lord’s earthly ministry, so His ipsissima verba are lost forever. The architect of this church has taken the Father General’s observation to its logical conclusion: there were no video cameras around either, so maybe His actual Body was merely a symbolic device invented by the evangelists to convey the intensity of their experience of the Spirit. We have now advanced from the Christ of faith, to the Jesus of history, to the figment of imagination. The modernists have taken yet another step toward reducing the Trinity to a binity, and Fr. Spadaro can add this to his table of sums: 1+1+1=2.
I think the inside of the TARDIS is more conducive to contemplation than this brutally amorphous, I don’t know what to call it, ‘worship space’?
Does anyone REALLY REALLY in their heart of hearts, think this is a good idea or beautiful?
“Beam me up Scotty. No intelligent life forms here.”
Phil_NL, I like yours the best so far. It’s really funny.
Phil_NL, Kerry, Senex Calvus, et al: indeed. Charles E Flynn, thanks for that Star Trek soundbite link.
I echo many commenters: What Playground of Man is this?
“Art is able to manifest and make visible the human need to surpass the visible, it expresses the thirst and the quest for the infinite…A work of art can open the eyes of the mind and of the heart, impelling us upward…When we enter a Romanesque church we are spontaneously prompted to meditate and pray. We perceive that these splendid buildings contain, as it were, the faith of generations.”
-Pope Benedict XVI
I have accepted that we can no longer build churches the way our ancestors did in the 12th or 13th centuries. Shucks, I’m not certain that we could even build a church the way that our U.S. immigrant forebears built them in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Such churches are treasures that should be preserved and cared for with tenderness. They are gifts from our ancestors.
So I really can’t get worked up about this or that attempt to build a brand new church in more modern styles. Honestly, I probably prefer such an architectural approach over something that pretends to be ancient. But the pure hatchet jobs – the destruction – perpetrated on venerable worship spaces in the U.S……why??? I suppose it was done with good intentions, in the “spirit of renewal” etc, etc. But I also look upon the disfigurement as displays of hubristic folly. Now the challenge is to try and recover what was lost, which involves resources.
Not saying that this venture in Las Vegas is my scene, but allow me to note two positives: 1) the “presider’s chair” is not behind the altar, and 2) there appear to be pews canted at an angle behind the sanctuary thus allowing for ad orientem-esque worship for some Mass-goers.
Why do all modern churches have to look like the iconoclasts were the winners at Nicea II?
The liturgy says at the moment of the singing of the Sanctus that we are joining with all the hosts of Angels in singing to the glory of God. Sadly, there is nothing about this church which would lead anyone to actually believe that. When we recite the Apostle’s Creed, we proclaim our belief in the communion of the saints. Sadly, there is nothing about this church which would lead anyone to actually believe that.
It is a shame that Catholics produce this when our Protestant brothers and sisters can produce this: https://www.churchofthetransfiguration.org/
This is not the church. This is the holodeck. This will be where they host the holo-televised Masses in the year 2050.
The Masked Chicken:
“This is not the church. This is the holodeck. This will be where they host the holo-televised Masses in the year 2050. “
It’s not even that. True, I can see the comparison to a place that didn’t seem to have much immediate purpose except to entertain, distract, or otherwise act as an opiate for the masses.
Yet at the same time, the holodeck provided an environment where the crew (and the writers) could escape the tidy, sterile, limited environment of the starship. It was, in its own way, transcendent of the limited experience of shipboard life.
Not a very good analogy for a church perhaps, but if the holodeck just provided another stark, abstractly decorated space like the rest of the ship, it would be hardly any more useful than 10-Forward. The crew and the writers liked it, however, because it hinted at the reality that was larger than the visible ship. There were other places that were the crewmembers’ real home, not their temporary home. There were other people who throughout history had done significant things that they sometimes used the holodeck to make re-present to them – pardon my comparison of a simulation to actual Transubstantiation.
The holodeck was filled with imagery of this. The entire purpose was to evoke thoughts of some other place.
“You’ve got the sanctuary number one (deacon), I’ll be in my ready room (sacristy).”
Thanks, Marion Ancilla Mariae.
Perhaps for an even better result it should have ended with “Facias!” rather than “Enable.” Ah well.
PTK_70 says “I have accepted that we can no longer build churches the way our ancestors did in the 12th or 13th centuries. Shucks, I’m not certain that we could even build a church the way that our U.S. immigrant forebears built them in the 19th and early 20th centuries. ”
It’s not that we can’t, it’s a matter of will. 13th Century churches are in fact being built – see Clear Creek Abbey OK for one example. Mostly we just don’t care enough because we don’t really believe. It’s the same reason the Mass is done so casually, with poorly trained altar servers who have never been taught even when to genuflect because nobody thinks it’s important.
The blog Rorate Caeli (https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2017/07/you-report-priest-in-drag-on-national.html?m=1) has identified the ideal pastor for this church, an Irish priest who performs in drag on national TV. I could not bring myself to watch the video clip, so I can still hope that someone brave enough to do so will reveal that I am the gullible victim of a sordid hoax.
jflare suggests we flip a coin for the worst conceived notion of a church.
My vote would go to Notre-Dame des Lilas in a Paris suburb where the first stone was laid in 2009 – the first church to be built in the 21st century in the area. It replaced a temporary church built in 1887 but which was in a sad state of disrepair.
Clinically white it resembles a hospital theatre. There is a thin white cross (no crucifix), a ‘ butcher’s block’ altar and what looked like a strange ghostly figure climbing up the wall behind the altar. I had difficulty locating the tabernacle until I think I found it on the wall in the form of an old fashioned washboard. I wondered where the Stations of the Cross were and it was only after having read the leaflet about the church that I realised they were the squiggles on the floor contained in 14 squares. I had walked over them without realising their significance.
I was lucky to have visited before the ‘old’ church next door was pulled down so was able to compare the two. Of course this church was not old compared to the many ancient churches all over France but it was beautiful in its own way even if somewhat dilapidated. It had been infused with more than a century of prayer and this was tangible. Will its replacement – the clinical hospital theatre – feel the same in a hundred years? I very much doubt it.
@JonPatrick…..Yes, we in the Age of Self-Made Men have to will very hard the building of something which approximates that which was crafted in an Age of Faith. The great cathedrals of Europe are a testament to that Age of Faith, were shaped and came to fruition in that same age. The more humble, but still lovely, churches built all around North America by the Catholic immigrants are themselves a testament to their rootedness in the Faith and their affection for their home country. We may disagree on how easily repeatable such manifestations of faith are nowadays. Without passing judgement on any current initiatives, for me once will becomes the primary driver, the product is already a second-rate imitation. Nevertheless, I hope we can agree on the importance of caring for the monuments of faith which our forebears bequeathed to us. Not only that, but also repairing the damage done to too many of these treasures during the heady days immediately following the Council. Maybe this latter is more a North American concern……
When it comes to television, am I the only one who notices that whenever there is a wedding or a funeral in the script, the church, regardless of denomination, ninety percent of the time, looks like a traditional church?
The church is sad, sad, sad–but as someone here pointed out, at least it’s not a “wreckovation” of an existing church, and I kind of like the John Nava tapestries. They’re actual images of sacred events, not abstractions. Some future pastor might be able to work with this church and turn it around visually. That’s what happened with my own parish church, which was practically gutted during the 1970s in the name of liturgical renewal. Then we got a new pastor who has removed all the ghastly “modern” furnishings, installed a new altarpiece with the tabernacle where it belongs in the sanctuary, etc. It’s really unfortunate, though, to have to wander forty years in the desert before something good happens to your church, especially in this age in which traditional church architecture has made a real comeback.
The church may not in the end look as bad as it does in the architect’s conception. Being half-Peruvian myself, I visited the website of the Artesanos Don Bosco who will be decorating the church:
They work in wood and make furniture that’s not to my taste but is made of beautiful wood using expert craftsmanship. They specialize in wood-carved religious art which isn’t great but is very pretty and in very traditional styles (13th-century Gothic for one). So if they fill up the church with their products, the church won’t look quite so stark as it does in the architectural renderings. (The tabernacle–which I don’t think is theirs–is a horror show, however, that ought to be the first thing to go when the church is actually built.)
It’s called Sin City for a reason … and the ppl there embrace that