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Christ the Light

December 25, 2007

Since I moved to Oakland six months ago, I've been watching the new Catholic cathedral gradually rise out of what used to be a parking lot on the North West corner of Lake Merritt.

Designed by Craig Hartman of the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the building is the largest worship space within the Oakland Diocese, with room for some 1500 of the faithful. According to the cathedral's website, it is the only Catholic cathedral presently being built in the world. The site has a cool feature on it where you can watch a slide show of the building gradually taking shape.

I wonder if The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Bishop of Oakland, realizes that his new House of God resembles a giant vagina? Close up, the building, known as the Cathedral of Christ the Light, looks like an enormous funnel made of wood and glass. It's innocuous enough. But viewed from the East side of the lake, the cathedral is quite different. Never has the Virgin Mary's inner life ever been so outed by the Catholic church. It's excellent.

Although I'd much rather the structure were an arts center or a library, I still hold out hope for the place. I'm particularly interested to find out what the acoustic is like in there. Could be an excellent venue for concerts. And I'm pretty happy about the design. It's rare for an organization as patriarchal as the church to erect something so womanly. There's absolutely nothing phallic about this building. Hail Mary!


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