Houses of Worship, Metaphors of Man

October 2004

if a house is where the heart is,

then perhaps a house of worship is where our deeper hearts dwell. 2 Whether built of hand-carved stone or machine-extruded siding, churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques are the physical spaces where we humans go to sense that which is beyond the physical, to reach outside ourselves. 3 Purposefully set aside from our everyday lives, in these higher houses we congregate. 4 We sit and stand and kneel together, we sing and chant and weep together.

5 just as every religion has its own idea of God, each has a particular way of designing space to suit its own observance. 6 The building is a metaphor of the belief. 7 Early Christians in Egypt constructed their churches with 12 columns, each representing an apostle. 8 And it might not be a coincidence that Buddhist temples are often accentuated with four columns. The Four Noble Truths. Mosques inevitably show followers which way to kneel toward Mecca, the source of all truth.

9 each wave of settlers to denver brought their own metaphors with them. 10 As surely as they unpacked their food, furniture, and finery, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, and who knows how many others have unpacked – and constructed – their ideas about sacred space. 11 Here we celebrate five houses of worship and the impact those buildings have on spirituality in the Mile-High City.