Kate Jordan (2023) Between the Sacred and Secular: Faith, Space, and Place in the Twenty-First Century, Architecture and Culture, DOI: 10.1080/20507828.2023.2211823
In his 1954 poem, “Church Going,” Phillip Larkin anticipated the end of religion and the ruination of Britain’s churches. “What remains,” Larkin asked “when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky.” In one respect, Larkin was right: the decline of traditional worship in the West did produce scores of redundant churches. But he was also wrong: the tendency to view abandoned churches as proof that ultimately “belief must die,” misses the myriad ways in which faith has, in fact, simply reconfigured and produced new spaces. Such weaknesses in the Western-centric disenchantment model have been recognized in the social sciences, where scholars are increasingly looking toward the built environment to understand new alignments in religion and society. However, the field remains somewhat overlooked by architectural theorists and historians. This article explores religious practices from an architectural perspective, offering an overview of faith, space and place in the twenty-first century.