Discover more from Religion Unplugged’s Week in Headlines
⛪️ Architecture and the creation of holy spaces
Visiting the works of an Irish craftsman in New Jersey and a restored Greek Orthodox church in Lower Manhattan
Hi ReligionUnplugged readers,
When you visit your house of worship, do you take note of how it looks? Whether traditional or modern, opulent or minimalist, the physical space of worship plays a role in worship itself.
This week, we explore two churches where location — and design — plays a notable role in history and culture.
Executive Editor Paul Glader visited Saint Vincent De Paul Church in Bayonne, N.J. The Roman Catholic church is adorned with 40 detailed stained glass panels that depict Old Testament stories paralleled with New Testament counterparts. The stained glass art was created by Harry Clarke of Dublin, a master of the medium, and has been in the church for almost 80 years. Community members Peter Keenen O’Brien and Priscilla Ege are devoted to preserving the stained glass, as it’s begun to warp from heat in some places. They’re just as devoted to educating others about the church’s history.
Intern Mariam Razmadze visited St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. Its doors reopened for the first time since in the past year; the 20-year project cost $85 million, and the building contains the same marble used to build the Parthenon and iconography created by a Greek monk. The church stands out because of its white dome, which Razmadze writes looks like “a porcelain object such as a tea set or a doll.”
The costs of church buildings have long been a point of contention both within religious circles and outside them. Take into account the proper use of church tithes and tax exemptions, rising costs, the popularity of virtual worship and other factors.
Still, it’s undeniable that these physical places hold profound meaning — whether through their history or just the feeling they inspire.
“For a while I could not make up my mind if I supported the idea of a house of worship that costs as much as this one does,” Razmadze writes. “But when I accidentally passed by this building on another occasion (this time it was evening and the church was glowing like a firefly in the midst of all the other buildings that emitted much darker and gloomier light), I could understand the philosophy behind it.”
After all, as O’Brien told ReligionUnplugged, “The architecture of the church reflects the theology of what you believe.”
The windows keep drawing your eyes to study the images. The telling, minute details — lines in a beard, expressions on faces — are detailed in ways that make other stained glass windows seem dull. The color palate is more brilliant - like an LED screen from the 2000s rather than the picture tube technology from the 1980s. Instead of pastel colors found in other stained glass works, these hold bold, rich jewel tones. by Paul Glader
(REVIEW) Although it is a supernatural anime, Demon Slayer is set during the shortest era in Japanese history — the Taisho Period (1912-1926). Japanese religion during this time was made up of several different elements, including Shintoism, “the way of the spirits or deities” that was present in the nation before the sixth century, and Buddhism, which began during the sixth century in India. by Brianna Jacobs
(ESSAY) It’s impossible not to notice St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in case you pass by the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Not because it is particularly tall — especially near a much taller buildings that define New York City’s essence — but because something just profoundly sets it apart from the city’s usual mundane, grey backdrop. by Mariam Razmadze
Modeled after soccer’s World Cup and organized after the International Olympic Committee’s decision in 2005 to remove baseball from the Summer Olympics, the World Baseball Classic is contested every three years. The WBC returned this month with 20 teams that includes Israel, which is made up largely of Americans of Jewish heritage. by Clemente Lisi
Christian organizations, many from the West, are among the groups trying to provide aid in Southern Turkey following the Feb. 6 7.8-magnitude earthquake that is threatening 1.5 million people in the disaster zone, which includes Northwestern Syria. by Michael Ray Smith
This week’s Weekend Plug-in highlights the Religion News Association’s annual meeting in Bethesda, Maryland. Plus, as always, catch up on all the best reads and top headlines in the world of faith.
Don’t forget! You can subscribe to receive Bobby’s column directly in your inbox on Friday mornings!
(OPINION) Politically, rallying Hindus around one overarching religious figure has been a key component of the BJP’s strategy to create a new pan-Hindu identity that transcends its myriad traditions and caste hierarchies, which are considered a roadblock to Hindu political unity. by Riyaz Wani
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