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Chalkware Catholicism: The Aims and Art of Catholic Statuary Reconsidered

What does a sacramental imagination make of the religiously mundane? Sleeping Among the Saints “Chalkware Catholicism” is a phrase I coined some time ago in my writing on sacred art and architecture to describe an approach to the faith, once widespread among the faithful, that relied heavily on the plaster statuary — or “chalkware” — […]




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Topiary, Aviary, Bestiary, Breviary: An Organic Reading of Church Architecture

What do our great church buildings tell us about our relationship to creation? Our Mechanized Environment The Swiss-born Modernist architect LeCorbusier (1887-1965) is credited with having inspired several generations of architects throughout the world to regard their art as one aligned with the mechanization of human life, something akin to the business of boilermakers or […]



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Church Buildings and the Disciplining of the Mind: Bringing an Un-Churched Generation into Sacred Spaces

With beautiful historic church buildings crumbling, and Catholic demographics shifting, how do we share the rich heritage of sacred architecture with an un-churched generation? Several years ago, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) launched its ingenious “I Look Up” campaign, an attempt to raise public literacy about the art of building by encouraging people of […]


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“A Crib Fit for a King”

Can a crib modeled on a Medieval counterpart awaken faith and wonder in the minds and hearts of modern, restless onlookers? For almost a decade, I have been building original Nativity scenes to display at Christmastime on the campus of the Catholic university where I teach courses in the fine arts and theology. I consider […]

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My “Death Metal” Kids: Closet Sacramentalists

A father muses on the musical and existential journey of his eldest son and daughter. Could Easter and new life be at the end of their fascination with the grave and death? I confess to taking a perverse pleasure from walking through supermarkets, restaurants, and other public places with the eldest of my four children, […]

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