Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dallas Churches: The Truth

Over the past year this blog has posted a number of entries about the unique and distinctive architectural stylings which have besot the diocese of Dallas with some remarkably unattractive churches ranging from unfulfilled potential to outright horrid with most falling somewhere in the middle. We now know why. The answer is to be found at the University of Dallas.

At the heart of the University of Dallas—hidden mostly out of sight by the twenty trees in the city of Irving—rests the Church of the Incarnation. Designed to look like a womb, the students have taken to calling the church St. Fallopius.


The first view inside the edifice disorients the visitor, as he stares across the narthex atrium at the other entrance. Off to the right is a Eucharistic chapel which meshes Our Lady of Guadalupe with Soviet brutalism.


As when one enters the church proper, there is no center of view in the chapel.


On the left side of St. Fallopius' atrium is the statue of Mother and Blob, accented tastelessly by a faux-oriental, faux-copper lamp.




In front of the Mother and Blob stands, or, rather, rests a few steps down, the chlorinated font.


45 degrees left is the main worship area (cannot call it a nave and sanctuary), again disoriented.


The entrance invites one to drift to the right, where the aisle twists around this uteral space.
On the floor are some crosses and words meant to pass as Stations.


Artificial light directly above in the ceiling illuminates the "station."


The center view fools one into assuming the church proper is symmetrical when,
in truth, the concert grand piano and choir stage adjoin the altar space.



Again, the faux-copper lamps stolen from a sheikh's palace.


Not only do they use the Gather hymnal, but they spent money on
embossed copies made with high quality paper. Bad taste is expensive.


I gave myself a quick C-section and escaped the womb of St. Fallopius. Immediately outside I happened upon this ordinary, but quite well made marble statue of Our Lady in prayer. "J" told me that this statue of the Virgin was carved by a university art student for use in the chapel, but it was placed out in the elements because the style was discordant with that of St. Fallopius.

Why tell you all this information and show you these lurid images, dear readers? I have not neglected care for your senses. On the contrary, I wish to fulfill your minds. This building, directly, and the other ugly churches in the diocese of Dallas, indirectly, are the work and responsibility of one man: Lyle Novinski.

Lyle Novinski designed St. Fallopius and, quite inexplicably, established himself as an expert on liturgical art and architecture in the Catholic tradition, so much so that the previous bishop of Dallas gave him veto and reviewing rights over every new church erected within the diocese. Novinski must take efficiency and brutality as his inspirations, having eviscerated all concept of maximalism and tradition. In one lecture he regales the listeners with tales of the English bicycle wheel: take anything away and it fails, add anything and it becomes redundant. 

Unfortunately, God is not a bicycle wheel and the worship of God does not take inspiration from recreational vehicles. God is a maximalist Who demands fitting praise and worship. Arranging a metal and brick silo with a few Marian images and a stone block altar does not make St. Fallopius a church in any traditional sense, only in an efficient sense. Brutalism kills beauty, which is a great sin in itself. People are more readily captivated and oriented to God by beauty than by rhetoric or logic. Beauty is often the start of conversion, it has kept a great many weak souls within the bounds of the saving ark for centuries, and it tells the reverent among pagans that the Church offers something that they might understand. Removing beauty, as Mr. Novinski and the previous bishop of Dallas have done in many places, is a crime in itself, a great spiritual crime for which there is no immediate expiation. 

Below is a feature on the man behind St. Fallopius from a local news agency.


22 comments:

  1. I find the Star of David-shaped crown of thornes on the first station especially tasteless.

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  2. Thank you, The Rad Trad, for highlighting this terrible, terrible, insult to Catholicism.

    In fact, I covered exactly the same topic, recently, at
    http://zephyrinus-zephyrinus.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/please-dont-tell-me-this-is-modern.html

    Keep up the good work. The Good Lord needs help.

    in Domino

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  3. Replies
    1. Because... This is not a revolution against the rationalistic scholasticism of the counter-reformation that fully blossomed in the 19th and 20th cenuries. It is the consummation.

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    2. Albeit, on second thought, it still beats the Catholic Center's Chapel at UCLA and The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels here in Los Angeles! It could be worse, guys!

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    3. Heaven spare us from anything worse!

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    4. VPL,

      If you think those are bad, you should see the Catholic chapel at Berkeley, with an unerring "Land of the Lost" vibe: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/holy-creeper/

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    5. Athelstane,

      Ouch! That is painful to see!

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    6. VPL: And the sad part is that I can never look at that chapel again without contemplating Rod Dreher's question in the combox: "Do Sleestaks have souls?" Preferably with an overdose of Valium.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. hey, at least the altar is in somewhat traditional shape....it's something...

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  6. Dear Rad Trad. Something other than our sins accounts for these evil buildings. In Venice, beautiful churches abound although during some of their construction there was a growing population of sodomites to such an extent that the Serenissima approved of sponsoring prostitutes to attract men away from their vice (same thing happened in Florence with belled whores sent out amongst the sodomites to turn them away from that vice) and, to this day, one can visit Venice and cross the Ponte delle Tette where the prostitutes used to spread their legs and bare their breasts to try and attract sodomites back into normal sex.

    O, and the mention of chutes by this monster seemed apt as he is making spiritual abattoirs and, of course, the famous autistic woman, Temple Grandin, constructs similar chutes to lead cattle pacifically towards their death.

    He is the embodiment of the banality of evil

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  7. The church in the "unfulfilled potential" link is one of the newest churches of the diocese. If that is the direction things are heading, then we can have a sliver of hope.

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  8. The Borg need religion too...

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  9. Spartan, bleak and oppressive. Seems almost calculated to make ex-Catholics.

    Mr. Novinski seems to be another standard-bearer in the Vosko Brigade. I'd wonder at just what the previous ordinary saw in his work, but then I also wonder why he saw fit to continue letting Rudy Kos have access to children for years. It's not just bad taste that's been expensive for the Diocese of Dallas.

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    Replies
    1. Careful, Athelstane, you might make it sound like many Catholics in Dallas had justification to go to SSPX chapels for all those dark years under Grahmann. ;)

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    2. Hello LoB,

      Well, I refrain from comment or judgment on that question. Certainly there was ample justification, however, to, er, aggressively explore sane liturgical refuges, be they Eastern Rite or, well, whatever....

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  10. Final parting thought:

    There is at least one likely advantage to the rapid shrinkage of the Catholic Church underway as revealed by the recent Pew Survey (which Leah Bibresco at FiveThirtyEight calculates leaves Catholics on track to compose only 6% of the U.S. population on current trends) released last week: we might well become small enough fry to make us no longer worth bothering with by the architectural jacobins like Mr. Novinski and the status-seeking would-be prelates who have been their slavish collaborators and enablers for lo these past three generations.

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  11. Have you heard of St. Michael the Archangel in McKinney? It's the parish I'm from and I'd love you hear your thoughts on it! Would you be interested in reviewing it?

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  12. St. Fallopius must be a new nickname in the 10 years since I graduated from UD, but I like it. In any event, I went to quite a few Masses there. And disorienting is the word that best describes it in my memory. We actually had a longtime astronomy professor there who was an Eastern Christian (uniate or Orthodox, I'm not sure) who one time brought up in class the idea of "orienting" churches, and he mentioned that Eastern churches all face the east. He asked whether anybody knew in what direction the Church of the Incarnation was oriented, and some student in the back just blurted out "Ugly!" My experience at UD was that anyone who was fairly serious about the faith went to this church on weekdays out of convenience but would avoid it on Sundays.

    And you are entirely right to blame Lyle Novinski for his artistic atrocities. You've probably never met a man who can talk about himself as long as he can. I had to listen to him for a week in Greece, where he told the class over and over about how certain masterpieces of ancient Greek art and architecture reminded him of his designs in Dallas.

    Finally, if you haven't already done so, you should check out the church at the Cistercian monastery across the highway. I'd be interested to hear your opinion about that church. The Cistercian community there has an interesting history as well--they were originally mostly Hungarian refugees in 1956, but they have become a solid group, with some American vocations, over time. They're not traditionalists, but they would certainly fall on the more conservative end of the spectrum in Dallas.

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  13. The Cistercian monastery has an interesting composition: out of local limestone blocks, roughly cut. What little art they have is mostly sculpture or bronze cast, ranging in quality from standard devotional-lite to creepy-modern (https://www.cistercian.org/abbey/art/damian/index.html). It's a nice place to visit once in a while, if you're wanting to escape local liturgical abuses. I can't say that I have personally found it attractive, otherwise.

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