Friday, January 21, 2005

More catholic than Catholics
A very interesting OpinionJournal piece, today, about the architecture of two churches in Milwaukee—the one a renovated Roman Catholic cathedral, the other a new Episcopal chapel. The author concludes: "Indeed, for Catholics who think that the Milwaukee renovators have done a lamentable job of fixing a cathedral that wasn't broken, the Episcopal chapel displays such reverence for ancient usages that it might seem, well, almost Roman."

I have to say that I've seen this shown in other ways, too. I'm an Episcopalian—a high church Episcopalian, even, to the point where I classify myself as an Anglo-Catholic. The church I attend in New Haven is neo-gothic, and posesses all the trappings of the traditional R.C. Church. The few R.C. churches I've been in, on the other hand, seem to have an identity crisis. Their hymns are modern and, well, sort of tacky, but the priests still use latin. The buildings themselves have been more like the hymns, while the altar follows tradition.

Now, I don't want to say that all Episcopal churches are more traditional than Roman Catholic churches—that would be patently false. There is, however, an overall struggle within the American Catholic Church, which I think is at the root of this architectural issue. The Episcopal Church, by way of contrast, certainly has its problems (remember the gay bishop?)&8212;but generally adapts to change more readily than the Catholic Church, through its range from high to low.

I'm sort of rambling. I might try to better coordinate my thoughts on these issues later, though I'm likely to be quite distracted today, and over the weekend—personal stuff going on. For more on the Catholic crisis in America in the meantime, however, start by reviewing Peggy Noonan's comments from a few years ago.

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