It is sometimes a little frustrating to talk to fellow Catholics about Catholic matters.
Oh, not anyone here, of course. But I've had the experience, as I'm sure you've had too, of entering in to a conversation either in the real world or online, and saying something rather mild about what Church art or architecture or music should be like, only to have the other person or group of commenters act as though you've suddenly been transformed into a pearl-and-silk-wearing elitist who should be raising money on a PBS television fund raiser, because you're obviously out of touch with the Common Man who likes his churches bare, simple, and festooned with felt banners: and who are you to judge his tastes as inferior to your own?
The most recent time this happened to me I eventually gave up. People who are convinced that a church's architecture should be a reflection of the kind of space that makes people comfortable, and that all those stuffy old cathedrals did was re-emphasize a "false" idea that the clergy were practically minor deities who stood with their backs to the people mumbling to show how important they were and how unimportant the lay people were, aren't really going to listen to anything I say. I had someone actually tell me, in effect, that in place of all that hierarchy we now understood (based on Vatican II documents, apparently) that the Church is really a bunch of concentric circles and that the "presider" and his "helpers" should properly be summoned out of the assembly to maintain the integrity of this new image of Church. I had heard that such people existed, but had never before encountered one outside of a chancery. Circles? Really?
Of course, the "circle" model of Church does explain the whole "church-in-the-round" architecture that has been so prevalent in recent years. And if you haven't already read it, Michael S. Rose's book Ugly As Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces and How We Can Change Them Back Again is an excellent read, explaining how the ugly and uninspiring architecture of most twentieth and twenty-first century Catholic churches isn't accidental, but driven by this sort of revisionist theology that sees us all as God's good buddies, joining hands in an endless round of "Here I Am, Lord," both in this life and beyond. One can only be glad that the people responsible for this stuff didn't imagine "Church" as some other geometric shape; ugly as a church-in-the-round can be, I can only imagine what the result might have been if some genius or other had decided that the irregular decagon was the right new way to imagine the Church.
Why are issues like these so contentious for Catholics? Because at their heart they are not about anyone's tastes or preferences; they really are about competing visions that encompass not only architecture and music, but what it means to worship as a Catholic, and, ultimately, what it means to be a Catholic.
Richard Vosko has been one of the foremost Church architects in recent times. A perusal of his web site shows clearly that his understanding of the concepts of worship are quite different from what the Church actually teaches, as may be seen in his philosophy statement. And his philosophy shows in his work: examples like this, of a new church, and like this, of a church "renovation" project, seem to indicate that Vosko sees worship as being all about the gathering of the community; God, and what we owe to Him, is almost an afterthought (if, indeed, anyone is thinking of Him at all).
Compare any of the churches shown on Vosko's site to this, and you may see what a paradigm shift has been taking place. Even if you were to object that it's hardly fair to compare a simple parish church with an ancient Cathedral, it's still true that the pattern of Church architecture has been openly and hurriedly changed in the past sixty or so years, so that between Notre Dame in Paris and Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles there is scarcely any resemblance at all. And just as smaller churches once kept in mind the same architectural principles that governed the building of the huge cathedrals, so today are the principles behind Los Angeles' Cathedral's architecture likely to be the ones governing the construction of your own parish church, whether you like it or not.
There is one thing I give the "wreckovators" of recent years credit for, and it is this: they understood from the beginning how important all of this is, how they would have to smash and destroy the symbols and spaces of the past to make way for their new humanistic vision of what Catholicism ought to be. Though their inadvertent iconoclastic followers may truly be unaware of the agenda behind the work of their superiors, and therefore accuse traditionalists of trying to impose mere matters of taste on the congregation, the people behind this new iconoclasm understood all too well that a lot more than personal preference was involved. They understood that only by shattering the prayers in stone of the former ages could they erect buildings that would capture their own notions; chief among these is the persistent claim that God appears when the assembly does, couched in language that disguises the humanistic pantheism that underlies these statements. Lest anyone doubt that these designers and architects really do worship man, and not God, you have only to look at the temples they've designed, temples in which God is not even visible, and is often relegated to an ugly misshapen box in an even uglier closet, out of the way, so He doesn't jar anyone's sensibilities with His Real Presence.