It’s one of the greatest mysteries of my life that given my agnostic/atheist/whatever-you’d-like-to-call-it status, I still somehow inevitably end up in places that bubble over with jubilant fervor towards a higher power. Theology and the sociological aspects of institutionalized religion interest me, and visiting grand Cathedrals or other amazing places of worship always end up somewhere on my travel list wherever I go, but even if they don’t, I still end up sitting somewhere monumentally beautiful, just breathing quietly.
You’d think living in Texas I would get my fill of religious architecture, but the simple truth is, there is no great beauty in the mega churches that are so popular here. They stand either like great arenas where huge screens and big speakers broadcast sermons or they’re boxed up buildings that speak of a modernist twist that just doesn’t call forth that spark in the chest of reaching towards the heavens. There are a few here and there that are small and lovely- homages to what people call a “simpler time”, and a small number of older cathedrals that breathe a subtle gothic vibe amid their more progressive neighbors. In general though, beauty in religious architecture is incredibly hard to find here, at least as far as i’ve been given a chance to see.
Thorncrown Chapel though, in the midst of the green splendor color riot that is Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is an incomparable beauty. There is a feeling of being closer to something, anything, while sitting in the still quiet here and it is truly a place worth visiting even if you have zero inclinations towards anything regarding religion or architecture, just to breathe in a little of the calm devotional joy that overflows like a gentle spring here.