Beauty from the rubble

I find myself a big fan just at the moment of anything which celebrates the good in the bad or finds the flash of light in the moment of darkness. Sitting in a hospital unit yesterday, surrounded by gravely ill people, I stumbled across the story of Christchurch’s new cathedral. When the building was damaged in February’s violent earthquake, there was some hope that it might be restored. However, the damage went too deep for that to be a possibility. In April of this year the decision was made that the remainder of the cathedral would have to be demolished for safety reasons.

Just this week it was announced that a temporary replacement, by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, would take its place for anything up to twenty years. Ban has already provided similar structures, such as the paper church in Kobe, Japan. That beautiful ethereal structure served its community for ten years, before being dis-assembled and the materials sent to Taiwan where they were needed next. I love the idea that the church rises like a phoenix from the ashes of destruction, and also the idea that it is more temporary facility than permanent memorial.


After reading about Christchurch’s new cathedral I put the paper down and picked up a book by Thomas Troeger on preaching. In it he talks about the “resurrection hemeneutics” of the church – where we interpret the world and the Word in the light of Christ’s ability to rise from death. I hope Christchurch’s cardboard cathedral will resonate with the sound of those resurrection hermeneutics throughout its temporary life.