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Art and Architecture for Congregational Worship

The Search for a Common Ground
Richard S. Vosko

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ISBN: 9780814684719, 8471
Details: 248 pgs , 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 1/2
Publication Date: 09/26/2019

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A deep strain of tribal politics is dividing societies around the globe. Organized religions are also coping with scandals, disappointments, and polarizing ideologies. The history of Christianity reveals that such frictions deeply wound the church. Fr. Richard S. Vosko recognizes that liturgical buildings are metaphorical expressions of the people of God. He proposes, in a relational way, that when all physical and psychological boundaries in a place of worship are removed people will discover a common ground. Building on theological foundations and design principles, Vosko envisions what an egalitarian "servant church" can look like. In a bold but thoughtful manner, he presents progressive insights into the fields of church art and architecture.

Richard S. Vosko, PhD, is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and has worked internationally as a liturgical designer and consultant since 1970. His award-winning portfolio includes 135 churches, 13 cathedrals, and innumerable synagogue consultations. Vosko is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects and is a well-known author and lecturer on religion, art, and architecture.

"In a time of strident civil and ecclesial divisions Richard Vosko argues for scientifically informed and theologically grounded assessment of how liturgical-space design contributes to or detracts from assembling the local faith community as members of Christ's one body missioned in the world. Vosko is at his best teaching about the bodily, neuroscientific, and ritual dimensions of worship spaces as essential to designing and assessing them theologically. While many will undoubtedly take issue with his own theological reading of Vatican II-era liturgical reform and renewal, Vosko's arguments for how the shapes of churches shape the people (clergy and laity) as church worthily invite constructive argument and debate. Vosko's clear-eyed concern for the younger generations steadily leaving the church brings prophetic urgency to the discussion."
Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, Vanderbilt University, author of Divine Worship and Human Healing

"Art and Architecture for Congregational Worship: The Search for Common Ground represents a lifetime of integrative practical and theoretical wisdom of one of the premier liturgical designers of North America. Richard Vosko's opus work on liturgical environment and art embodies his comprehensive reflection on the changing field of the aesthetics of worship and the challenges of finding common ground in shaping a house for Christian liturgy. This book is a must-read for individuals and groups involved in the ministry of church building and renovation. Moreover, Vosko's reflections help the reader fathom the deeper developments in the meaning of liturgical symbol in our contemporary age."
Mark E. Wedig, OP, Professor of Liturgical Studies, President, Aquinas Institute of Theology

"'Where we worship shapes our prayer. How we pray shapes how we treat one another.' As a skilled architectural consultant, Fr. Richard Vosko brings together a much-needed conversation between the spiritual longing for beauty and the formation of just relationships to heal our world. With a creative use of history, theology, and contemporary architectural theory, Vosko insists that we can build houses of prayer that are immanent and transcendent, honoring the assembly, the Tradition we love, and the creative innovation needed in these times."
Paul Janowiak, SJ, Associate Professor of Liturgical and Sacramental Theology, Jesuit School of Theology

"Vosko has opened a critical conversation between the meanings of liturgical ritual, liturgical space as ecclesial text, and the demands of social action. For him, worship doesn't just point to a social agenda, it includes every aspect of social action. This work is a provocative and thoroughly convincing proposal; one that can be realized by those with courage to search for common ground, to shape church beyond a building, and to be a people of justice, compassion and inclusion."
Father J. Philip Horrigan, DMin, liturgical design consultant, Chicago

"An exquisite fusion of faith, social conscience, and sage advice leavened by four decades of hands-on experience. This book is for everyone who wonders why churches look the way they do. For those charged with designing, funding, and renovating older houses of worship or building new ones, it will prove an exceptional resource."
Judith Dupré, New York Times bestselling author of Churches

"This book is timely. Vosko's powerful call for unity and his desire to build common ground are inspiring for anyone in these turbulent, polarizing times; but they are particularly poignant for those of us who seek to support and harness the potential power of spiritual communities to bridge our divides through architecture. His words engender ideas about the worship environment that are rooted in the past but look toward the future. In this era of a not-so-subtle ebbing of church membership, it is ideas like Vosko's that will serve and engage a new, diverse generation by reimagining what `going to church' can be."
Joan M. Soranno, FAIA, Design Principal, HGA

"Richard Vosko's book is more than a search for common ground. It is a thoughtful, scholarly, and pastoral approach to what is arguably the most basic question for worship today. Drawing on the rich resources of Christianity's historical past, weaving them together with the thinking of theologians, cultural critics, architects, and social ethicists, Vosko achieves what many might consider an unrealistic goal. With provocative questions and rich images, he leads the reader to search with him and find common ground even in today's polarized society. We arrive there more steeped the history of Christian art and architecture, enriched by having our minds and hearts expanded, and more confident that the People of God in Vosko's words `yearn to move forward and to pitch their tents in the land of hope.'"
Dr. Julia Upton, RSM, Distinguished Professor of Theology, St. John's University, New York

"Richard Vosko has for many years been a clear voice for encouraging congregations of different faith communities to come together through the sensitive design of worship facilities. This new book takes on the very important work of finding ways that architecture and design can lessen tribal dissonance and find ways to discover the holy spirit in each one of us. Vosko's important book highlights the critical ways that our worship environments shape who we are as believers."
Michael J. Crosbie, FAIA, Editor-in-Chief, Faith & Form: The Interfaith Journal on Religion, Art, and Architecture

"A compendium of Richard Vosko's life-giving liturgical knowledge. He has a rare gift for presenting divisive issues in clear-cut language, riding the pendulum of conflicts between Vatican II Reformers and the Reformers of the Reform. While he explores the significance of architecture as metaphor, central to his thinking is the challenge of building a building to worship a God who is simultaneously transcendent and immanent. Vosko is on fire with the link between social justice and community worship.

"If you think you know church architecture, read this book. If you are planning to build or modify a church, first read this book. If you are student of liturgy or architecture, absorb this book."

Rev. Virgil C. Funk, president emeritus, National Association of Pastoral Musicians

"The wound of division is the starting point that this thought-provoking and prophetic plea for `egalitarian places of worship' and social justice—although without exploring a dynamic use of the traditional distinction between nave and sanctuary—gently turns towards the core of a common ground: the healing, reconciling wound of the paschal mystery that transforms worshipers into the Body of Christ and the places they shape into `ministers of hospitality and hope' in this world."
Bert Daelemans, SJ, Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Spain, author of An Ignatian Journey of the Cross

"Vosko's extensive experience designing, constructing, and furnishing places for worship is guided by his abiding and ardent belief that those places should help to shape justice-seeking, compassionate, and God-centered Christian communities. His vision is evident on every page of this accessible, theologically-grounded, and inspirational book."
Robin Jensen, Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

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