Friday, March 13, 2015

Raze Unity Temple

Some time ago, in Chicago’s Hyde Park, well, on the border with Washington Park, Laredo Taft built a statue of a concrete very close to sandstone.  It was a variety of people, sharply cut, in a procession.  He built the statue around a fountain and over time, it eroded as he meant it to do.  The statue was the Fountain of Time and it was a performance piece.  Eventually it eroded to nothing and then some stupid people decided to rebuild it at considerable expense since he obviously hadn't made it correctly.  Today you can see a replica of Laredo Taft’s performance piece desecrating the site.  Thank heavens there isn’t an afterlife or he would be furious.  Admittedly, it still will eventually erode, but they completely missed the point.
Over a hundred years ago, some Scots in Oak Park decided to build a temple. They wanted to stick it to all the other churches in the area.  Their point was that the congregation owned the church and not the other way around.  They didn't use granite, limestone or marble.  They didn’t decorate with gold leaf, statuary, carvings or expensive woods.  They hired a smart young architect to build something a little pricy, but as comfortable and elegant as their own living room, if they were blessed with that much taste.  He used poured concrete and the normal construction materials of the time.  People pointed out that it wouldn't last, but that was the point, the building wasn't supposed to last, the congregation was.  They could always tear it down, sell the land and move farther out when it came to that.  Now the affirmation has become a desecration; so expensive to maintain that the building receives government grants for its upkeep.  They have become the temple of Wright.  Thank heavens there isn’t an afterlife, those Unitarian Scots would be spinning like tops.
The Romans considered Jerusalem an outpost of the Persian Empire and the Romans hated the Persians. The Roman travesties included perpetual slavery,   institutional torture, messing up the calendar so that the land was destroyed rather than lying fallow and oppressive taxation for the purpose of building monuments.
The Roman Catholic Church, for all its faults, teaches that no matter how beautiful something is, no matter how much you love it, everything of this world has an end.
Now, Oak Park is building a combination hotel and condominium glass spire, designed to overlook the temple, ignoring the neighboring religious strip mall along Lake Street.  The temple has become the tourist attraction driving the development.  It’s hard to imagine anyone with a larger ego than Frank Lloyd Wright, but I am certain that he would be appalled. Thank heavens there isn't an afterlife.

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