the effect is ‘unusual,’ but not truly modern, and is obtained by mouldings and shapes and colors which are the result of indigestion after a visit to Stockholm Town Hall, and the Neue Baukunst of Germany. Some young man has thought he would invent new moldings, new window shapes, new pews, new light-fittings, and in his anxiety to avoid the admittedly bad “churchliness” of ecclesiastical fittings, he has gone to the other extreme and produced an arrogant decoration of his own. […] The trouble is that a ‘modernistical’ as opposed to ‘modern’ architect, mistakes unusual detail for the truly modern. The thing that matters is the function of the church. […] Style is a side-issue.There is a clear difference between this monastic modernity, developed in continuity with tradition, which has as one feature of it a contemplative simplicity, and the modernistic taste for pseudo-primitivism and mechanistic minimalism. One springs from a spirit of noble sacrifice, putting aside a created good for a greater good, while the other comes out of a misplaced sense of “spirituality” that is really a sort of attenuated mentalism—I am what I think, I am not the God-created union of a body and soul. The monk has a body—admittedly one tempered by work, self-discipline, and fasting, but it is a body and not a skeleton or a disembodied spirit. [It is useful to compare the] alien and disturbing starkness [of a modernistic building, as below] with the beautiful and timeless simplicity of the Romanesque.
One can see, simply by comparing these two images, above and below, that even the most austere Cistercian architecture had a sense of humanity and warmth that is lacking in its faddy modernistic--but not necessarily truly modern--counterpart. The purity of the monastic life is rather different from the sterility needed to produce microchips.