Sunshine Recorder

"Corpus Christi" by Fabrice Fouillet

Through the series « Corpus Christi », I wished to highlight the architectural aesthetic of the new places of worship and their hymn to minimalism, which has represented a genuine creative inspiration in modern religious architecture. Participating in a movement initiated in the 1920s and perpetuated by great architects such as Guillaume Gillet, Gottfried Böhn and Auguste Perret, most of these churches were built in the 1950-60s. Scattered throughout Europe and the world, they reveal a new conception of the sacred, a representation of the divine imbued with modernity, thus triggering a debate and a rejection from some architects and members of the clergy. I have chosen to capture this break with centuries of architectural tradition, the choice of materials; reinforced concrete, plastic, crystal, diffusion of diaphanous or bright light, and to draw the viewer’s attention to the altar at the bottom of the picture, respecting a perfect symmetry, while the height of the building confronts our smallness to the greatness of the sacred. This work also insists that many unique interiors could be made for the same type of institution.

Link: How Religion's Demand for Obedience Keeps Us in the Dark Ages

For the vast majority of human history, the only form of government was the few ruling over the many. As human societies became settled and stratified, tribal chiefs and conquering warlords rose to become kings, pharaohs, and emperors, all ruling with absolute power and passing on their thrones to their children. To justify this obvious inequality and explain why they should reign over everyone else, most of these ancient rulers claimed that the gods had chosen them, and priesthoods and holy books obligingly came on the scene to promote and defend the theory of divine right.

It’s true that religion has often served to unite people against tyranny, as well as to justify it. But in many cases, when a religious rebellion overcame a tyrant, it was only to install a different tyrant whose beliefs matched those of the revolutionaries. Christians were at first ruthlessly persecuted by the Roman Empire, but when they ascended to power, they in turn banned all the pagan religions that had previously persecuted them. Protestant reformers like John Calvin broke away from the decrees of the Pope, but then created their own theocratic city-states where their will would reign supreme. Similarly, when King Henry VIII split England away from the Catholic church, it wasn’t so he could create a utopia of religious liberty; it was so he could create a theocracy where his preferred beliefs, rather than the Vatican’s, would be the law of the land. And in just the same way, when the Puritans fled England and migrated to the New World, it wasn’t to uphold religious tolerance; it was to impose their beliefs, rather than the Church of England’s.

It’s only within the last few centuries, in the era of the Enlightenment, that a few fearless thinkers argued that the people should govern themselves, that society should be steered by the democratic will rather than the whims of an absolute ruler. The kings and emperors battled ferociously to stamp this idea out, but it took root and spread in spite of them. In historical terms, democracy is a young idea, and human civilization is still reverberating from it - as we see in autocratic Arab societies convulsed with revolution, or Chinese citizens rising up against the state, or even in America, with protesters marching in the streets against a resurgence of oligarchy.

But while the secular arguments for dictatorship have been greatly weakened, the religious arguments for it have scarcely changed at all. Religion is very much a holdover from the dark ages of the past, and the world’s holy books still enshrine the ancient demands for us to bow down and obey the (conveniently unseen and absent) gods, and more importantly, the human beings who claim the right to act as their representatives. It’s no surprise, then, that the most fervent advocates of religion in the modern world are also the most deeply inculcated with this mindset of command and obedience.

We saw this vividly in recent weeks with the controversy over birth control. As polls and surveys make clear, the overwhelming majority of American Catholics use contraception and in all other ways live normal, modern lives. They mostly just ignore the archaic bluster of the bishops. But the Pope and the Vatican hierarchy conduct themselves publicly as if nothing had changed since the Middle Ages; as if there were billions of Catholics who’d leap to obey the slightest crook of their finger.

One branch of the popular Dutch bookstore chain Selexyz can be found right inside of a 13th century Dominican church in Maastricht, Holland. The project known as Selexyz Dominicanen Maastricht, designed by architecture firm Merkx + Girod, exemplifies a brilliant union between the opposing aesthetics. The space maintains the church’s architectural structure and definitive design attributes while inviting the contemporary stylings of a modern bookstore.

(via notmanetstype)

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
— Denis Diderot

Link: The Church of Internet Piracy

Sweden’s newest religion may be the only faith that was born out of an insult. The idea to form a church promoting Internet piracy first came to an activist named Peter Sunde “four or five years ago” when he saw a comment by one of the lawyers seeking his prosecution for facilitating copyright infringement. Asked in an interview for her opinion of enthusiasts such as Sunde, at the time the spokesman for the popular file-sharing site Pirate Bay, the lawyer replied: “They’re a cult.” The slur provided a new direction for Sweden’s vibrant anti-copyright community to explore. “We have this history that every time somebody calls us something negative, we just take the name and make it ours,” Sunde says. “We were called pirates, so we said, ‘Let’s make pirates cool.’ O.K., so now, we’re a cult. Let’s make that fun as well.”

Thus was born the Missionary Church of Kopimism. Sunde never took action on his idea, but he mentioned it to his fellow activists and mused openly about it on the Internet. Soon enough a group had gathered that held sacred the act of copying information. The group adopted the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste, ctrl-C and ctrl-V, as holy symbols—the church has no formal doctrine regarding ctrl-X—and began to develop a theology.

In stark opposition to “Thou shalt not steal,” the church’s central commandment, “Copy and seed,” is a call to download files and make them available for sharing. Life itself, the newly declared believers observed, depends on the replication of cells and the endless duplication of DNA. The church even survived a mini-schism when some believers questioned why their religion had adopted holy symbols popularized by —a company that has increasingly based its business model around the tight control of information—rather than, say, escape-W and ctrl-Y, the copy and paste commands for the open-source text editor Emacs. “For me it’s a fun prank, and it’s even better because I didn’t have to do it myself,” says Sunde.

More than 5,000 people have signed on to Kopimism’s website, according to its directors. While many of the church’s members likely share Sunde’s whimsical attitude, it would be a mistake to say no one takes the religion seriously. Kopimism is far from the first religion to get its start out of political expediency—think Henry VIII—and many of its adherents share deeply held political and philosophical beliefs about freedom of information. “In the beginning, it was a joke,” says Gustav Nipe, the church’s chairman. “But maybe we’ve stepped on something greater than we thought.” Sunde supports the cause, although he hasn’t signed up. “Like most Swedes, I’m an atheist,” he says.

To the extent that Kopimism has a spiritual home outside Internet forums, it is Uppsala, a university town some 40 miles north of Stockholm, where long, dark winters, monotonous weather, and a large student population provide fertile ground for the dissemination of the church’s precepts. For Nicholas Miles, a 21-year-old student of social work at the University of Uppsala, the copying held sacred by Kopimism isn’t just about file sharing (though it’s that, too). “By having this conversation, you and I right now are copying information,” he told me. “Sharing can involve music or a video game or a movie or, indeed, a philosophical text.”