Jesus, under renovation


First United Methodist Church, Morrin & Longwood Architecture

I was in Cologne, Germany once (You know, on one of my many trips to Europa cuz I’m such a jetsetter) and I turned a corner to find an enormous Gothic cathedral rising above my head. In an astonishing instant, my eyes were filled to the brim with jagged spires bigger than any tree, with flying buttresses that had thwarted gravity and arched impossibly into the open air, with thousands of intricate details so tiny that they’d be overlooked expect for the incredible inkblot pattern that their collective shadows created. For the first time in my life, my breath left me in one gust.

After I walked around for a while trying to capture it all in one photo- an utterly impossible feat- I noticed that parts of the cathedral were under renovation. How strange it was to see the delicate frame of a workman’s walkway climbing up the gray mountain and twisting through its peaks. The spindly tower of toothpicks was to the cathedral as a mine shaft is to a mine: man’s fragile attempt to enter the realm of something much more powerful.

It’s funny how that memory was sparked by such a mod-ument as my childhood church. It’s known by the city at large as “the toaster church” for its long, hulking mass of a spire. To review, the world somehow went from erecting breathtaking, supernatural monuments to creating giant appliances meant for the same spiritual purpose, all in the space of 131 years (The church in Cologne was completed in 1880).

The haphazard ladder in the photo served as a sort of ruler for this downgrade, dominating the church as easily as the cathedral had twirled its own ladders through its stony fingers. What does all of this mean? Is the Old World on a slippery slope to obscurity? Or was mod architecture just a really questionable idea?

BONUS FUN: During my internet research on the FUMC building, I found this hilarious study on the “modern period” of Eugene architecture. Don’t bother trying to read those pesky words, just look at the glorious photos of all of Eugene’s mod mistakes. Turns out my high school has looked exactly the same since the 1960’s! Click here!


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