Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Finally, a use for churches

In the art section of today's G2 magazine, was an article on a novel use for an old church in Holland. The 13th century Dominican church in central Maastricht, which until being converted into a bookstore was nothing more than a bike store, is now more popular than ever.

Isn't this a fantastic afflatus for utilising what would otherwise just be wasted space? I love the idea, as a bibliophile, that the towering spire of a church seen from a distance, could be a sign of learning and entertainment, and not just a testimony to human superstition. This may become a steady European phenomenon as more and more churches fall in to disuse with levels of religiosity plummeting in Europe.

But could you imagine this happening in the US?


Spanish Inquisitor said...

One thing you have to give to Christianity - it's ability to create beautiful, long lasting objects d'art. There is often nothing so majestic as a well proportioned Cathedral. I would hate to see these old churches fall into disuse, though I don't shed any tears seeing them not being used for their originally designed functions.

Xander said...

Thanks for dropping by John.

You've managed to sum up perfectly, my sentiments on the matter. Sometimes I see a really beautifully made church, cathedral or even mosque, and I'm just awed. It's not in any sense a religious or supernatural feeling, but they just look beautiful.

Of course, I wonder how much beauty we would see in them if we lived at the time when a lack of belief would have meant a death sentence.

RHM said...

Good points and we obviously have to throw in art and music with architecture.

But, as Xander mentioned, those works show the potential of human abilities - not the supernatural. Unfortunately, back during the renaissance the church was the dominant patron and commissioner of the arts (who else had money?).

I've always wondered what da Vinci, Michelangelo and their like would have created if left to their own tastes. But, hey, you gotta pay the rent somehow.

Good blog. You should post more. :)

Xander said...

Randall, thanks the comment and kind words. It would really be interesting to see what some of the great artists would have made of the majesty of evolutionary theory or the conception of the universe. I'm sure they could have made masterpieces to rival the Sistine Chapel et al.

I really should try and blog more, but whenever I feel like blogging I really have more important work to do, and when I do have the free time, I don't feel like writing. Ahh, c'est la vie.

Willard said...

I would think the upkeep expenses of churches for other uses could be considerable? More than standard businesses could afford?

Anonymous said...

I heard that a similar thing happened to the Oud Kirk in Amsterdam. It has a very fine Pipe Organ. The building is now used for musical concerts for most types of music.