Monday, March 19, 2007

Religion and Architecture

We met in our new church building yesterday. It's finally finished. No, this isn't the replacement for the one that burned down. The church was already in the process of building a chapel in Azle, the town just north of us. I think it's a Phase 1 building, which means that it was designed for a small ward. The chapel has about 12 rows of pews. To accommodate our rather average size ward, all three overflows were opened.

It's a nice little building. Standard early 21st century LDS. It looks just like so many other buildings I've been in, and after meeting at the Church of Christ for several weeks, it was a bit of a letdown.

Not that it isn't a nice building - it's actually quite a bit nicer than the other church. It's just that it's so unoriginal.

Now, I understand why the church has a little folder full of blueprints that they use over and over again. A
s many buildings as they build, it would be prohibitive to come up with a new design for each one.

But I also believe the old saying about variety being the spice of life.

There are as many churches here in Texas as there are in Utah. Maybe even more. The biggest difference is that most of the churches in Utah are cookie-cutter chapels, and even the non-LDS buildings seem to have come from a similar mold.

Not so in Texas. Around here, church is big business. The competition for attention includes both size and style, and there are some very large, very interesting buildings. And even those that aren't so big have their own individual style. Some are quite nice. Some gaudy. Some are just a trailer with wooden cross bolted to the side. But there is significant architectural diversity, which is refreshing.

Which brings me back to the chapel in Azle. The irony here is that since none of the many other Texas churches look like an LDS chapel, the building designs that are so uniform in Utah actually add to the diversity.

OK. I've decided I like the little building after all.

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