Kolbe Report 5/25/24

The Devolution of Architecture

Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

In this newsletter, we will conclude our reflections on Augustus Pugin’s prophetic insights into the crisis of Christian culture in relation to the evolution revolution that erupted after his death.  Before we do, I would like to remind you that beginning in June, Ellen Finnegan who runs the Catholic educational website, “Teach to the Text,” will host a ten-week course on “I Have Spoken to You from Heaven” during which I will give a weekly 30-minute presentation to a class of up to 20 students, followed by a 30-minute discussion.  You can learn more about the course at this link.

Augustus Pugin’s “Big Ben,” London, England

Pugin and the Evolution Revolution

We have seen that Augustus Pugin identified the sources of corruption within Christendom as paganism and Protestantism.  And, indeed, Enlightenment philosophy was little more than a re-hash of various schools of pagan philosophy which had proposed a uniformitarian naturalist account of the origins of man and the universe hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.  Pugin realized that only by a return to the Catholic Faith that produced the wonderful monuments of Christian civilization could Christendom be restored.  However, he does not seem to have realized that the neo-pagan philosophy of the Enlightenment would lead to a further devolution of European culture into an anti-culture that would deny nature itself in the name of a progressive evolution towards an imaginary future utopia.

The BT Tower, London, England

During my recent trip to the UK, I was stunned by the contrast between the beauty of the ancient Catholic architecture still in evidence throughout the country, and the hideous modern architecture that punctuates the London skyline.  Writing shortly before the advent of evolutionism as the fundamental dogma of secular humanism, Pugin could not have anticipated the way that the naturalism of pagan and neo-pagan architecture would give way to the anti-naturalism of evolutionist anti-art and anti-architecture.

The abandonment of the traditional doctrine of creation and the embrace of theistic evolution has coincided with an explosion of ugliness in sacred art and architecture, as exemplified by modern monstrosities like London’s BT Tower.  Prior to the evolution revolution, a long line of Church Fathers and Doctors had seen in the various kinds of creatures, instantiations of the "logoi," or Divine Ideas, which existed in the mind of God from eternity. In the Summa Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas affirms:

Augustine says that God made man and a horse by distinct exemplars. He also says that the exemplars of things are a plurality in the divine mind. This conclusion likewise saves to some extent the opinion of Plato and his doctrine of Ideas, according to which would be formed everything that is found among material things (Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One, 54, 5).

According to this view, each kind of plant or animal corresponded to a certain "form" in the Mind of God, while the form of Man summed up in itself all of the perfections of all of the spiritual and corporeal creatures. This understanding went hand in hand with the doctrine of special creation, since God created each kind of creature, perfect according to its nature, and equipped those that reproduce sexually to reproduce after their kind. Within this view of the cosmos, it was natural for sacred artists to recognize and reproduce the forms with which the Divine Creator had filled the universe.

With the widespread acceptance of evolution, however, many Christian artists and architects abandoned the idea of stable forms in favor of an evolutionary world-view. Instead of a stable symphony of different kinds of creatures, they imagined a continuum of creatures in constant flux, continually morphing one into another, just as they imagined that a one-celled organism had evolved over aeons of time into the bodies of the first human beings. Moreover, they imagined that this constant evolution entailed a struggle for existence, so that new and superior life-forms emerged through the extinction of the less-fit and the "survival of the fittest." Within this framework, most artists saw no need to remain faithful to traditional forms, and all kinds of hideous experiments in art and architecture began to spread throughout the Christian world.

Bell Tower, St. Joseph’s Monastery, Ava, Missouri

The Doctrine of Creation Holds a Key to Restoration

In spite of the current war on Catholic Tradition, waged by many of the very men consecrated by God to be “Guardians of Tradition,” religious communities faithful to Tradition are exploding with vocations.  In our travels all over the world, we have never met a religious community that believes and proclaims the true Catholic doctrine of creation more whole-heartedly than the Benedictines of Mary.  Many readers of this newsletter have probably heard that the Benedictines of Mary are making two new foundations, one in the Diocese of Evansville, Indiana, and the other in Colwich, England, in part because their existing foundations are bursting at the seams.  In their new foundation at Ava, Missouri, where one of our daughters is a novice, the Benedictines of Mary are close to finishing construction of their new church and cloister.  As you can see from the photograph of the new bell tower shown above, St. Joseph’s Monastery will be a place where Our Lord will truly be worshipped in “the beauty of holiness.”  Yet the beauty of the church building and of the liturgical music that will soon echo within its walls flows from the supernatural Faith that animates the hearts of the sisters, a Faith that fully embraces God’s Genesis revelation of how He created the world.

Indeed, faith in the traditional doctrine of creation and beautiful Church architecture have gone hand in hand from the time of the Apostles within the Eastern and Latin traditions of the Church.  In the East, the church is seen as a microcosm of the created universe, and this is often reflected in beautiful blue ceilings decorated with stars.  In that context, the offering of the Holy Sacrifice restores the universe back to the beauty that it had in the beginning, when it came forth from God, before sin entered the world.  And in that context, all of the beautiful forms in nature correspond to the logoi, the perfect ideas in the mind of God, which He instantiated in material forms to beautify the world and to serve mankind.

Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy (14th c.)

But do not think for a moment that recreating the beauty created by the faithful who believed, without believing as they did, will provide even a partial solution to the current crisis of faith.  I recently heard the true, heart-breaking account of a brilliant Orthodox Christian musician in a faraway place whose child was raised in an Orthodox home, attending magnificent liturgical services, in a magnificent architectural setting, week after week.  But this gifted man and his wife believed in theistic evolution and raised their offspring in that belief, so that while the child grew up in surroundings that reflected the faith of men and women who would have died for the truth of the sacred history of Genesis, their child grew up believing that, beginning with the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, their imaginary god had transformed non-living matter into the first human beings via microbe-to-man evolution.

When one of their children was not even a teenager, the parents allowed the child to have a cell phone.  Before long, the child joined a chat group where gender-confused children and teenagers encouraged each other to mutilate themselves to correspond with their desire to be transgendered.  By the time the parents discovered what had happened, their daughter was determined to be treated as a boy and to obtain hormonal treatments that would allow her to “become” what she desired to be.

This tragedy underscores the brutal reality that all the beauty in the world will not save us without the truth.  I have no doubt that if those poor parents had taught their daughter the truth about creation, she would have been protected from the diabolical transgender deception.  Only supernatural faith provides the foundation for supernatural hope and charity.

Through the prayers of the Mother of God, may the Holy Ghost guide us all into all the Truth!

Yours in Christ through the Holy Theotokos, in union with St. Joseph,

Hugh Owen

P.S. We would like to offer you a concrete opportunity to let the true Catholic doctrine of creation beautify your homes and the homes of your children and grandchildren.  This magnificent 54-piece puzzle of the beautiful holy icon of the first day of creation from Monreale Cathedral gives the lie to the many modern commentators who insist that “There could not be days without the sun,” by reminding us that God created the light on the first day of creation to alternate with darkness to form the day-night cycle, continuing in that role until God created the Sun on the fourth day of Creation Week to “rule the day” that He had created on Day One.

P.P.S.  The Kolbe leadership retreat will take place at the Apostolate for Family Consecration retreat center from August 25-31.  Fr. Lawrence Carney will be our chaplain.  For information or to register for the conference, please contact me at

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