I realised I don’t need to go to church services anymore. All I need to do is look ‘through the keyhole’ and I recognise the ideology/theology of that place.
It’s something television has exploited. And we understand it intuitively. ‘Through the keyhole’ the cameras wander around someone else’s house, from living room, to kitchen, to bedroom, in order to discover what kind of person lives there. Is it open-plan? Is the living space a TV salon or place for conversation or reading? Is the kitchen a utility room or a creative suite for gastronomy? Where is attention lavished? What is omitted? What lifestyle, or ideology/theology is being played out there?
Let me take you through the keyhole of a few church buildings. You enter a high vaulted barn. Rows of wooden pews run wall to wall. At the front you are able to recognise three focal points. One at the centre, a table with a cloth over it; one on the right up three steps, a bronze eagle on an orb, with, on its wings a large open book; thirdly to the left a stone sided platform raised up five steps. So here what dominates the proceedings is a table, a book and a pulpit.
Ah yes, here we have middle England, middle of the road, Church of England. Peace be with you.
Walk into another building past some pamphlets and again there are pews. Row after row. This time at the front there is a big speakers lectern. To the side there is a piano, music stands and a hanging projection screen. Here the focus is an orator’s platform, supported by some musical production.
Ah yes, a conservative evangelical church. Amen.
Walk into another space, low ceiling with just a few chairs in an arc and cushions available for use. The room is quite minimalist. There is dimmable lighting, and a Tibetan bowl to hand.
Ah, quite rare, a centre for Christian mediation. Ma-ra-na-tha.
Somewhere else I visit, the host hangs at the centre of the space. In another church the band is the focus of attention and its not dissimilar to going to a music venue.
Next time you pop your head into a church and are thinking you ought to wait around for a liturgy or a sermon or stay long enough for sing song, don’t bother. You don’t need to hear the words. Just read the space and you will know exactly what the ideology/theology is. Just like anyone’s home, any house of G/god will say a huge amount about what the ideology/theology is there.
They say a picture says a thousand words, but when you move from two to three dimensions, I would say space speaks a thousand thousand words or more correctly a million words.
Now that’s a lot of words. The question is, what are they actually saying?