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Holy Creeper!

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That’s the altar at the Catholic student chapel [2]at the University of California — Berkeley.

Jeepers Creepers [3]!

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45 Comments (Open | Close)

45 Comments To "Holy Creeper!"

#1 Comment By JonF On February 27, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

Our Lady of the Lower Pleistocene?

#2 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On February 27, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

Besides being ugly is their anything we should notice?

#3 Comment By Lord Karth On February 27, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

This looks like a cross between an airport “chapel” and the Disney World set of “The Lion King”. Scarcely geared to inspire anyone.

Your servant,

Lord Karth

#4 Comment By Paul Emmons On February 27, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Look on the good side. At least the throne isn’t on a raised platform front and center directly behind the altar, as we can see in some places (not all of them RC).

The westward position of the celebrant was adopted ostensibly to reduce the prominence of the priest. This has proven one of the most counterproductive notions ever, for reasons that should have been obvious immediately.

And the altar itself isn’t a wooden picnic table (at least as far as one can tell from the photo).

Maybe the inspiration for the whole ensemble is African, where the church is growing. Do you think it will work?

#5 Comment By Church Lady On February 27, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

Funny, I kind of like the spare quality.

#6 Comment By Hetzer On February 27, 2013 @ 6:02 pm


#7 Comment By Jeremy On February 27, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

The most disturbing thing is how the crucifix is off-center. If not for that I could let it pass as an eccentric attempt to evoke the hallowed underground atmosphere of the catacombs (note the bonelike altar and lectern). But the off-center cross destroys any sense of it being a primitive place of prayer and renders it irredeemably post-modern.

#8 Comment By Vince On February 27, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

I may be the first reader to understand this reference. Hooray

#9 Comment By J.J. Gonzalez Gonzalez On February 27, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

Jeepers Creepers,
The altar’s got peepers!

But the song sure was good:

#10 Comment By EngineerScotty On February 27, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

Obviously, Rod, most of your readership doesn’t play Minecraft (nor has children who do….)

#11 Comment By GLR On February 27, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

Of all the places I expected to see a Minecraft reference, this wasn’t one of them.

#12 Comment By jaybird On February 27, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

No one who has a kid under 12 can possibly miss the reference.

#13 Comment By Paul On February 27, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

It’s the earthquake proof stipulation…

#14 Comment By Baconboy On February 27, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

I’m stunned. Who knew they had Catholics at Berkeley? Or was this a museum exhibit?

#15 Comment By Charles Cosimano On February 27, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

Proof that the Catholic Church has become a refuge for troglodytes?

#16 Comment By JonF On February 27, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

Actually, I just realized: this must be where the Flintstones went to church in Bedrock.

#17 Comment By JB On February 27, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

Those of us who have children under 12 but have them actually spend their free time reading or playing outside, are glad to miss references to Minecraft or any other electronic game.

#18 Comment By Consequences2 On February 27, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

I’m a fan of the severe, concrete architecture of the 60s, especially when off-set by simple blond woods, so I like this place. The altar “furniture”, on the other hand, shudder. Way too Hobbit-y for me. Still, it’s original and, I suppose, must be kept in order to retain the architectural integrity. I suppose it also serves as a lesson in morality, a reminder that bad choices can have consequences that reverberate for decades.


The most disturbing thing is how the crucifix is off-center.

It’s dead center from the main aisle. The altar is the focus of the aisle to the left. An interesting idea.

#19 Comment By Catechist On February 27, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

I used to worship there. It’s a giant, hideous, concrete box. The corpus on the crucifix looks like it’s being absorbed into the wall. My husband used to call it St. Cthulhu’s.

In 1995, it caught fire, and burned for a long time before anyone could tell. Concrete box.

#20 Comment By Cole On February 27, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

I don’t play Minecraft. However, that altar does look a lot like the thingy from the end of the first Hellboy movie that was supposed to unleash Lovecraftian horrors upon the earth. Do NOT led Ron Perlman get his arm near either hole…

#21 Comment By Beth On February 27, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

One word: Weird!!

#22 Comment By Lee Penn On February 27, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

The designer must have been stoned when he made this.


#23 Comment By Ethan C. On February 27, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

Speaking of creepers, Minecraft just blew up my graphics card.

#24 Comment By Tyro On February 27, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

This has the look of a [6] painting. It looks like the chapel was grown organically in situ in some kind of post-apocalyptic future

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 27, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

That must be the Newman Center. I recognize the concrete architecture, sort of made to resemble wood if you’re not too close or too far away.

I’ve never been inside, and don’t know if it looked like that in the 1970s. What I do know is that the exterior was a warm, green, leafy place, and you could hear the voices of some hundreds of people doing a very creditable job with “Lord of the Dance.” Lord of the Dance is NOT Kumbaya, although that too was a decent song before Americans got hold of it. Lord of the Dance is probably the most theologically correct set of lyrics I’ve ever heard (as I think of God — isn’t that what orthodoxy has always been about?)

Didn’t spend too much time in Berzerkley. Always anxious to get back to the real world over the line in Oakland. But the Newman Center was a better bunch of folks than you’d find on Telegraph Avenue.

#26 Comment By BradleyP On February 27, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

[sarcasm on] How inspiring! This elegant design raises the heart and mind to prayer and contemplation of the ineffable like no medieval cathedral could ever hope to do. Beauty, balance, symmetry, and refinement are all masterfully rendered with impeccable taste. [sarcasm off]

In all seriousness, I will say that the architecture does befit and even amplify the contemporary Roman Rite perfectly.

#27 Comment By Anglican On February 27, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

I kinda of like it, it has some merit, in the sense of being so bad it’s good. The one thing though that is not so hot, is the off center crucifix.

#28 Comment By The Sicilian Woman On February 27, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

Clearly, that “chapel” was built with the intent to discourage attendance and any form of Catholic worship.

#29 Comment By Andrya On February 27, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

I was a Catholic student at Berkeley circa 1970, and I loved this chapel. The photo doesn’t do it justice: it has something of the feeling of a Romanesque cathedral and something of the feeling of a cavern or catacomb. The crucifix isn’t really off center- that’s an artifact of this particular photo.

#30 Comment By CatherineNY On February 28, 2013 @ 6:01 am

The first thing the altar made me think of was a guillotine for two. Or stocks.

#31 Comment By Upstate On February 28, 2013 @ 6:50 am

is that a stockade for an altar? A sort of “insert ankles of the offender here” stockade…

#32 Comment By PJ On February 28, 2013 @ 7:12 am

That some find this miserable cave attractive is further evidence of the widespread delusional madness so common to our age. Divorced from the One Who is Beautiful, True, and Good, we’ve become deranged, unhinged. We have lost all the aesthetic, moral, and ontological insights that distinguish us from beasts of the wild.

Any Catholic who finds that awful excuse of a “chapel” the least bit edifying must repent and believe in the Gospel. Serious catechesis is in order. Churches are the the gospel in stone: and the “gospel” suggested by that chapel ain’t good news. Indeed, it looks more hellish than heavenly.

Blech. Satanic. God, save us from ourselves!

#33 Comment By PJ On February 28, 2013 @ 7:14 am

“I was a Catholic student at Berkeley circa 1970, and I loved this chapel.”

Go figure.

#34 Comment By Naturalmom On February 28, 2013 @ 8:20 am

Why is there a stockade where the alter should be?

(And I should have gotten the creeper reference, but I didn’t at first. My boys are only recently into Minecraft. I love the stuff they build there — very cool dwellings and other structures — but I couldn’t be less interested in the zombie/creeper aspects.)

#35 Comment By Naturalmom On February 28, 2013 @ 8:22 am

I just looked at the chapel picture again. Still looks like not my cup of tea, but I noticed a person praying in the lower right corner, sitting in the front pew. Lucky for us, God isn’t as much of a snob as we are.

[Note from Rod: Is an appreciation of beauty, which implies an awareness of its opposite, evidence of snobbery? — RD]

#36 Comment By Naturalmom On February 28, 2013 @ 9:20 am

Is an appreciation of beauty, which implies an awareness of its opposite, evidence of snobbery?

No, but making fun of something other people find beautiful (0r at least pleasing) in a way that implies that your sense of beauty is spiritually superior, is. I’m not sure that’s what you did here, but it could be read that way, as could some of the comments. PJ called it Satanic and put down the spiritual experience of someone who worshiped in this chapel.

Look, I am not offended by this post. As evidenced by my first post, I thought it was kind of funny. The worshiper just reminded me that there are things that are deeper and more important than pleasing everyone.

#37 Comment By Edward Hamilton On February 28, 2013 @ 9:28 am

I feel like I’d have a decent chance to scale the wall itself and escape, given the proper equipment and training, but I’m concerned that the Communist authorities may have placed hidden sniper’s nests in watchtowers along the perimeter.

Someone needs to create a diversion. Quick, go press that glowing red button!

#38 Comment By Richard M On February 28, 2013 @ 10:36 am

Note to liturgical architects: No matter how good it sounds to you, after a few good bong hits, to use a “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” motif for sanctuary design, please resist the temptation.

#39 Comment By Richard M On February 28, 2013 @ 10:40 am

Lord Karth,

This looks like a cross between an airport “chapel” and the Disney World set of “The Lion King”. Scarcely geared to inspire anyone.

It is, admittedly, iconoclastic in a “Land of the Lost” sort of way that you just don’t see very often. Usually, we’re stuck with industrial brutalism.

[Note from Rod: Do Sleestaks have souls? — RD]

#40 Comment By Richard M On February 28, 2013 @ 10:49 am

One other observation: After browsing around the Newman Hall website, I must say that their sacred architecture, as wrongheaded as it is, may well be the least of their problems as a Catholic student center.

#41 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On February 28, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

[Note from Rod: Do Sleestaks have souls? — RD]

Well they have a religion, admittedly a brutal one as it involves feeding Will and Holly (as well as their own defectives) to their God. But clearly they have a sense of the numinous, so how can they not have souls?

#42 Comment By Andrya On February 28, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

PJ- it sounds like you think that any member of the Berkeley Newman community is some barely Catholic hippie who doesn’t believe in much of anything. That isn’t at all true. I converted from Episcopalian to Catholic while in college, partly driven by my utter horror at the Episcopal church’s de facto acceptance of abortion. While I’m kind of a Catholic liberal (albeit very serious about my faith), I knew people at the Newman Center who were very theologically (and politically) conservative. And bear in mind, I’ve actually seen the chapel, and this is a really bad picture that doesn’t capture the spirit of the real thing.

#43 Comment By blindfella On February 28, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

“Ape shall not kill ape”

#44 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 28, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

Ankles of the offender are inserted into stocks, not stockades. A stockade is a fortification, generally formed by a wooden fence of piles driven into the earth.

(Echo: “Well that’s your opinion. I want the word stockade to mean what the ankles of the offender are inserted into. And my opinion is just as good as yours. So there!”)

#45 Comment By Steve On September 12, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

We were married there 30 years ago. My wife converted at the Newman Center, we later became NFP teachers and Catholic home schooled our 4 kids. So, in spite of this “parking garage” as we called it, there is hope.