The Church and Your Church: Denis McNamara on Catholic Culture Podcast
Denis McNamara, director of the Center for Beauty and Culture at Benedictine College was recently featured on the popular Catholic Culture podcast. See it below or here on YouTube.
Thomas V. Mirus, the host, said he has been covering several art forms and had just read McNamara’s 2009 book Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy, which he praised as “a crash course in Christian architecture,” and “a real treasure. It’s an aesthetic treasure but it’s also a theological treasure. I found I was very moved in many parts. I actually got a lot of a lot of joy from reading it. It’s such a really beautiful work.”
McNamara told him, “That book came after a lot of thinking about ‘What’s a church?’ and hearing everybody complain and argue about what a church ought to be and what they like and what they don’t like. I had to figure out ‘What is a church?’ at the level of its the very being, that level of its existence — and that book was the fruit of many years of thinking and research.”
Mirus said that in the book, church architecture is presented as “a built form of theology.” McNamara agreed. “People don’t think there is a Biblical vision for a church building but there really is,” he said.
In fact, God is directly concerned with architecture in Scripture, he pointed out — from his directions for Noah’s ark to the Temple of Solomon. Then, in the New Testament, “Christ’s body is compared to a temple and he’s the microcosm of all creation and so there’s there’s this fundamental notion that the Temple is a foreshadowing of Christ as made of many members.”
It is significant that Catholics call the Church and the church building the same name, he said. “But the building is such a close analog of the church. The mystical Body of Christ is a deep deep symbol or sign.”
Their fascinating conversation is wide-ranging, including the crucial differences between devotion and sacraments, and the difference between a devotional crucifix that shows the historical reality of Christ’s passion and a church crucifix which shows the eternal bloodless sacrifice of Christ.
He also mentions McNamara’s work with Ex Corde, referring to “the long running and popular podcast the Liturgy Guys.”