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Gathered under a church roof. (Spring Books).

On the way we visited the old stave church at Borgund; it was the most fantastic sight you could imagine, like the whim of some brilliant child, a cockchafer's shell carved by a simple giant with his sheath-knife, with simple crosses and arrogant dragonheads, all twists and twirls, louver on louver.

-- Holger Drachmann, 1886

Church buildings are places where many aspects of human endeavor intersect. There, architecture and art, local politics, technology, doctrine, tradition, horticulture, community sensibility, the limitations of materials, the demands of climate -- all come together to influence the shape and furnishing of an enclosed space that serves a deep human need. A new book from HarperCollins, Churches, displays the wide range of edifices constructed for this purpose around the world and throughout history (page 36).

The photo above of the 14th-century Borgund Stave Church in Norway, taken from that book, shows beautifully the blending of architectural exuberance with the practical function of shedding snow in Northern winters. The intricate, fanciful carving on the roof ridges and the shingles arrayed like a dragon's scales are held up by massive wooden timbers, like a dream supported by a solid sleep.

Christianity is an incarnational religion, which takes deep nourishment from the intimate rapport between God's life and our own, a relationship expressed not only in church art and architecture, but in writing and reading.

In this Spring Books roundup, we bring together such topics as spiritual classics, corporate irresponsibility, parish structure and management, monasteries, dying, Mary the Mother of God, Catholic social teaching and modern church history. Like a church roof, this issue shelters a diverse population gathered for your consideration.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Heffern, Rich
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Feb 1, 2002
Words:272
Previous Article:Celebrating an elder in King's mode. (Perspectives).
Next Article:Church is an agent for progress: Charles Curran tells how Catholic social teaching challenges individualistic status quo. (Spring Books).


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