Dear Architect, Circa 2067

Volume 50, Issue 3, Michael J. Crosbie

Dear architect, dear liturgical designer, dear artist of the sacred, dear creator of those spaces where worshippers of the future might gather. Perhaps you have found the words on this dusty page in a basement archive, or in a box of long-forgotten copies of Faith & Form in a congested attic. This time capsule is for you, written to give you an idea of what we—the architects, artists, and designers of the sacred in the first score years of the 21st century—were struggling with, were questioning.

The very nature of the sacred was, for us, a topic of passionate discussion and speculation. It had changed a lot in the first 50 years of this magazine’s existence, but maybe not as much as we thought, because this journal grew out of great shifts in organized religion in the first half of the 20th century. The very fact that this publication started in 1967 was due to the widening sense among many that maybe the sacred might be accessible to us in more ways than had been believed, and that our work as designers, architects, artists, and liturgists was never more needed.

We also had to contend with a great irony: the “dying” of what had come to be known as “main line” religions around the world, while at the very same moment a ravenous hunger was felt among many for the spiritual in their quotidian lives. Religious buildings emptied out, their congregations were spread thin, but the thirst for the spiritual did not disappear. If anything, its shoots of life appeared in places and in ways that some recognized and cultivated, and others dismissed. The form of faith was changing. But there was something familiar about it too: the need to express the human spirit, to assert a realm beyond the physical world before our eyes, and the desire to do so because these were the very qualities that made us most human. Can you yet understand this? Maybe this notion has become so quaint, so antique, and by now an embarrassment to you who read these words. But when they were written, there was still some hope that it was a possibility.

So, dear architect, dear designer, dear artist of the sacred in the future: If you are still there—and have not been wiped off the face of the earth by a nuclear holocaust, or mass biological weapons, or armed conflicts over clean water and air, or been replaced by a bot—know that we of a half-century earlier believed that you would have your work cut out for you, that there would be no easy answers, that human spirituality would still need a home, a place to be shared, a space in which to be demonstrated, over and over. Know that we had some inkling of the challenges you might now face. Know that the work you continue to do is needed, that it fits into a great chain of creativity that extends throughout human history. And know that we heard the same things you might hear today, as you read these words in 2067, about the work that you do: that it is “useless,” that it is “pointless.” It is always the most useless and pointless things that humans do—striving for the spirit, among them—that make all the difference.

Michael J. Crosbie is the Editor-in-Chief of Faith & Form and can be reached by email at [email protected] Back to editorials