The Human Cost of Religion: Buildings


During the reporting of earthquakes in Turkey and Iran, mosques, with their delicate decoration withstood the earthquake, modern buildings around them crumbled. At about the same time it was reported that in Italy buildings including blocks of flats, put up in the last thirty years were found to be in imminent danger of collapse, as one had already done, killing more than a hundred people. In this country over the 20th century, one set of slums was replaced with another & the lives of thousands have been blighted by having to live in substandard housing. In many parts of the world money and resources are spent on prestigious churches, while the population live in shanty towns or jerry-built estates. 


The religious interpretation of the quality and beauty of religious buildings is that it was attained because of the buildings religious purpose and that this accrued credit to the almighty. 


The reason in fact is that while the mosques, churches, and other religious buildings, had been well built, presumable with great care, materials and time and expense being no object in works dedicated to the glory of god; the modern buildings had been thrown up as quickly as possible, using cheap materials and cutting corners in order to maximize profit. In the past, up to the Victorian age of magnificent central railway termini, bridges and viaducts, and other prestigious buildings, and elegant squares, only grand houses for the gentry, and churches and monasteries, were considered worthy of the best fruits of such human endeavor. They were of course paid for ultimately by the compulsory taxation, tithes, labor and deaths of the peasants, laborers and artisans of the times. 


A Humanist perspective might be that if more effort was put into the secular values in a society everyone would be better off. That if the human effort and skills were to be put into public buildings of all sorts, more people would be able to appreciate and benefit from the skills of engineers and builders, and enjoy in their daily lives the beauty of architecture, arts, and decoration and the advantages of good design. 


If hospitals, libraries, schools, town halls, registries for weddings and other ceremonies, had been considered as deserving of care and quality in every aspect of their construction as churches; places deserving of the best art, stained glass, sculpture and design all our lives would have been enriched. 


Even more important to the lives and well-being of everyone, every individual, every family, is the devotion of as much care and skill to ordinary family dwellings, and their environs, which seems to have been so sadly lacking after a brief renaissance from the late nineteenth century up to and including the Edwardian era. 

Comments are closed.