God in Chicago

(via Lynn Becker)

Now available as a free downloadable PDF is Sacred Spaces: Chicago, a guide to 14 of Chicago’s houses of worship. Included on the list is Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park. Also in the publication are the obvious choices, the Baha’i House of Worship, Weese’s Seventeenth Church of Christ and Holy Name Cathedral. Also included are surprises: the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and the Tiffany domes in the Chicago Cultural Center.

For a Wright fan it would be fascinating to use the guide to tour other sanctuaries immediately before or after a tour of Unity Temple. Like architecture, the interesting stuff in religion always shows up when different traditions bump shoulders. Imagine pairing Unity Temple with Weese’s interpretation of Mary Baker Eddy’s version Christianity — Wright and Eddy were contemporaries, and Unitarianism and Christian Science share some philosophies (and differ greatly in others). Or visit Holy Name Cathedral and the Chicago Cultural Center — two buildings that Wright would have been familiar with when he designed Unity Temple.

Sacred Spaces: Chicago was produced as a companion to PBS’s recent documentary series God in America and guides are available to seven cities in addition to Chicago (Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans, New York, Portland, Santa Fe and San Francisco).

The eight city guidebooks were written by Deirdre Colgan, executive director of Sacred Space International and designed by a team of architects from the organization. Field research and principal photography was conducted in the summer of 2010 through in-person visits and recorded interviews with clergy and staff. To be included in a city guide, a site had to offer at least some free access to the public, be willing to engage in interfaith dialogue, and not be under significant construction during the launch tour weekend in October. Each guide contains a letter of introduction from Deirdre explaining how the city’s sacred spaces were chosen.