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American Catholics and the Church of TomorrowBuilding Churches for the Future, 1925-1975$
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Catherine R. Osborne

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226561028

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226561165.001.0001

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Theology in Concrete

Theology in Concrete

(p.79) Chapter Three Theology in Concrete
American Catholics and the Church of Tomorrow

Catherine R. Osborne

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the development of building technology (especially reinforced concrete) in the 19th and 20th centuries against the backdrop of Catholic interest in technological development more broadly. While many Catholic intellectuals resisted a narrative of technological progress, some felt that modern materials needed to be appreciated and used within the Church. Catholic modernists made three interlocking claims in favor of new technologies. First, in line with their evolutionary understanding of technological and design development, they believed that new technologies were necessary because they were well adapted to the twentieth century American environment. Second, they argued that the specific properties of new building materials would enable priest and people to unite in the celebration of the Mass. And third, the use of new technologies in postwar church buildings and, further, their potential to transport the Mass to previously impossible corners of the cosmos also caused Catholic modernists to reflect on God’s sacramental presence in the world, and on their own role in enabling divine indwelling. Case studies of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ; St. Louis Priory Church, Creve Coeur, MO; and St. Patrick's, Oklahoma City.

Keywords:   architectural history, concrete, technology, liturgical movement, Chapel of the Holy Cross

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