I stumbled across a bit from Chesterton having to do with Gothic architecture. I don't have the exact quote with me at present, but it compared the architecture to the Church militant: the tall spears and the crossed swords, strong and soldier-like.
Chesterton not only brings me to understand other things, but he also brings me to understand myself. I think I can see a little clearer now why Gothic architecture 'speaks to me' so clearly. It represents the strong and true Church that I love... marching on against the armies of Hell, continually proclaiming Truth in a world that doesn't believe in such a thing as objective Truth. It represents the countless saints and martyrs, those heroic soldiers of Christ, who have gone before me. It represents Christ, the same yesterday, today, forever.
And on the other side, I see a little clearer why I do not like the architecture and art we see in many churches today... those vague and abstract forms, strange swirling crystals above the altar, everything flitting, dodging, unsteady, uncertain. They seem to represent a different kind of church, a church that doesn't quite know where it came from or where it's going, a church that doesn't really have any set doctrine and dogma, a church that flutters and shakes and bends in the strong breezes of the world.
In a piece about Modernism, Chesterton made the comparison between the Tree and the Cloud. While the Tree, representing a philosophy grounded in truth, could grow and expand, the inmost rings were always present, and were also the center and foundation of the tree. Now the Cloud, representing Modernism, is vague and hazy, scuttling here and there across the sky, with no roots and no grounding.
Why is it that classic church architecture, such as Gothic, seems in its great height and strength to be very much like a tree, while the art we see in so many churches undeniably resembles clouds?
Gothic architecture, and other traditional forms, most definitely 'speak to me.' But I'm not going to say that modern church architecture doesn't. It, too, speaks to me. It's just that I don't like what I hear from it. Vagueness, abstractness, uncertainty.
And I wonder if the proponents of modern architecture in reality feel somewhat the same way? They often say that those gorgeous old churches of ages past don't 'speak to them,' but I wonder if maybe they are hearing something, and simply not liking it. Strength, swords and spears, an unflinching and resolute Truth.