Hagia Sophia- what religious architecture fails to attain

“Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

-2 Corinthians 4:6

I’ve been commenting here and there on how existential views of man or theological concepts have shaped religious building works. Architecture is very philosophical and theories abound as to why or how we should build and what our built environment says about us. Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Modern all, at their core, are tectonic theories about life.

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The Ineffable Lightness of Being

“Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you for a share of the allotted portion of the saints in the light; who delivered us out of the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”

-Colossians 1:12-13

Your portion as a Christian is “in the light.”

Gothic architecture may have been founded on similar theological notions, but the religious, creative mind of the day, in its attempt to materialize this truth in concrete terms, stripped it of its full import. Beautiful stained glass windows diffracted light into a kaleidoscopic metaphor of God and a whole new genre of religious art flourished. Medieval man’s experience of this ‘lux nova’ was confined to basking in the colorful glow of physical light. The resultant concept was that man could rise to the contemplation of the divine only through the senses- a physical experience of an immaterial abstraction.

The far reaching ripples of this objective or physical experience of God lap upon the shores of modern Christianity.

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