May 25, 2011
Framing Faith: a review
by Amanda Luckey
Tribute Books invited me to be a stop on their blog tour of the book Framing Faith: A Pictorial History of Communities of Faith. I am doing this without monetary compensation. I received a PDF copy of the book for my review.
Framing Faith: A Pictorial History of Communities of Faith is a collaboration of author Sarah Piccini, photographer Ivana Pavekla, and students of ARTS Engage.
As you know if you've read even one of my blog posts, I am not here to write reviews. However, when Tribute Books gave me the synopsis of this particular book, I couldn't say no. Having both Czech and Italian heritage, I was particularly interested in reading about the rich heritage of the churches built when European immigrants came to the area. It was humbling to read of the sacrifices they made: It may be hard to tithe sometimes, particularly when the economy is poor, but these families made so little and still gave so much in order to contribute to the building of these churches.
The book is short (the 96 page PDF included the index, acknowledgements, and title pages) but packed full of full-color photographs. My understanding is that the author recruited students to assist with the photography, which I think is a great concept - it's neat to see different photographers' idea of which pieces of the church should be immortalized.
Quite honestly, many of the architectural styles of the churches photographed didn't "do it" for me. In some cases, the statuary and grounds of the church were lovely, but the altar itself was very plain. This isn't the fault of the book, of course, but my preference is to see a beautiful church with an even more beautiful and ornate altar. Most of the churches, though, are beautiful, and the photographs highlight both the vast sanctuaries and the intricate details of the churches. I was particularly struck by Immaculate Conception, which has an unassuming exterior but gorgeous woodwork inside the sanctuary.
Photography is not my field of expertise by any stretch, but I did find that a few of the photos had awkward composition. Most of the photography is amazing; only a scant few photos had me turning my head and trying to figure out what, exactly, I was looking at.
My favorite highlighted church was St. Mary of Czestochowa in Scranton, Pennsylvania. How sad that the church literally rose from the ashes when the original building was destroyed by fire, only to be closed (presumably permanently) in 2009.
I loved reading the stories of how these churches were founded. I would have liked to know why they closed, but I'm assuming that the goal of the author was to bring these churches to light and focus on their heritage rather than to go into detail on their closing. I'd also love some more information on some of the more ambiguous photographs (why is there an old red phone booth outside Our Lady of Czestochowa?! Maybe it just ended up there somehow, but I imagine a fascinating background story!).
Overall, this book would be a welcome addition to my coffee table, if said table were not already occupied by a half-dozen My Little Pony toys and yesterday's forgotten sippy cup. It was both inspiring and sad to read about the churches that were built with so much love and sacrifice but have since closed. I appreciate the opportunity to review this book and thank Tribute Books for their consideration.