A glass cathedral?

The mayor of Christchurch has a plan for the cathedral.http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/8201874/Christchurch-mayors-vision-A-cathedral-in-glass

This would mean covering some of the ruins of the old cathedral in glass. Why is this not a good idea?

1. Light. There would be little internal control over how dark or light it is in the cathedral. Candlelight services would have to be later, when it is completely dark. Lights from traffic and buildings would be very obvious.

2. Sound. Sounds from the surrounding areas would travel in, and sounds from inside would travel out.

3. Weather. Glass is hard to insulate as it conducts heat so well. In a sweltering summer day like today, it would be like an oven inside, and in the depths of winter it would be freezing. Being inside the building during heavy rain or hail would be deafening.

4. Building. You can’t easily attach nails and screws to glass, so putting up the organ, or a shelf, or a wall, would be impossible.

5. Privacy. You can see through glass. The surrounding public would be able to see in, and the worshippers would be distracted by what was going on outside. There would be no privacy for conversations in offices, even if there were any. Kids who are in the creche would see Mum and cry, instead of playing happily while they forgot to miss her. And how about the toilets?!

6. Pigeons. These numerous birds would roost all over the building, distracting people inside with their movements, and leaving corrosive white trails down the glass.

7. People outside the building. One can ignore the seamier side of Christchurch if you can’t see them, but, worst-case scenario maybe, a prostitute leaning on the wall of the cathedral would be very obvious from inside.

It seems to be that Mayor Parker’s idea is rather like one of those glass paperweights with a weta trapped inside it, to put it charitably. Or like Lenin’s Mausoleum, to be rather less charitable. His idea does nothing to make a place where people can find a haven, an oasis of the numinous in the heart of the city, and be with God. Whether they want to worship alone, or with others, a cathedral made of glass would be useless in this context.

Christchurch has the opportunity few modern cities have, to redesign how large-scale public worship in the Anglican style can be done. There is a chance to re-think the sacred space, and control everything from sizes of spaces, which could be flexible, to heating, furniture and lighting. This cathedral has been less than satisfactory since it was built – rather than being up-to-date for its time, it was an anachronistic, sentimental reminder of cathedrals ‘back home’, for a new settlement that was meant to be a little England.

Parker’s view is very pretty, but it doesn’t look at the surrounding area, just a nice sunset with the alps in the background. And I suspect that the east and west windows have been swapped too. Maybe my memory is a little hazy.

Why can a deacon in Wellington comment on a Christchurch building? I grew up in Christchurch, and our school held its Founders’ Day and Carol services in the Cathedral. It was a dear and cherished part of my youth, but it’s the people that make up the church, not some broken bricks and stone, entombed in glass.

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