Sacred — and vital — spaces

May 1, 2020 by

by Marcus Walker, The Critic:

A serious house on serious earth it is,

In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,

Are recognised, and robed as destinies.

And that much never can be obsolete …

Well, nobody could have expected Philip Larkin to have predicted the coronavirus emergency. But even in his poem, “Church Going”, in which he mused on the bleak future “when churches fall completely out of use”, he never presumed that the sacred spaces would indeed be — temporarily — obsolete; whose blent air is deemed too dangerous for even a clergyman to breathe in alone with nothing but a livestreaming iPhone for company.

This decision by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York was met with howls of outrage and disbelief (especially by the laity), whose howls have, in turn, been met with an avalanche of derision (especially by the clergy).

What is it about these sacred spaces which inspire such love and devotion? This is a question worth asking, especially in the face of the charge that one can perfectly well worship the Divine from a sofa or a kitchen table.

Why is place and space important? Churches are an odd collection of the material and ideas of each generation.

Read here


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