Architectural Crusades:

TitleArchitectural Crusades:
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsMcKenzie, Karen
Academic DepartmentAnthropology
Thesis AdvisorBrauner, Dr. David
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in Anthropology
Number of Pages42
Date Published11/2007
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordsanthropology, architecture, cathedrals, comparison, France, Medival churches, modern churches

The Gothic cathedrals of France arose in a particular social and political
environment, and the material culture, the structures themselves and their
contents, bear witness to those realities even today. In addition, the cathedrals
themselves were catalysts for cultural change. They encouraged urban growth
in a country that had previously been mostly rural, as craftsmen and parishioners
moved closer to the construction sites to enable themselves to take part in the
architectural and social evolution that was occurring as a result of the
unprecedented building projects. The cathedral towns become county seats, and
as such, the center for social and cultural activities. The cathedrals themselves
were symbols of the partnership of Church and State, and the strength that
partnership had garnered. The cathedrals changed the face of French society
The American mega churches today could be interpreted as a similar
phenomenon in some regards. They have served as a catalyst for cultural
changes, creating strong communities. Perhaps they represent a comparable
partnership between Church and State, even if this is not the most politically
correct interpretation at this point in history. The mega churches have cultivated
their own cultures, sometimes seeming like small cities with all that they have to
offer - coffee shops, bookstores, childcare, social programs and worship - all in
one large, convenient location.
The research represented in this paper has sought to examine the
differences and similarities between the medieval churches and the modern day
mega churches, and to make a logical and insightful comparison of the two
phenomena and then to develop an appropriate interpretation of that
Although many fairly evident differences exist between the two, the
research revealed many similarities between the Gothic cathedrals of France and
the American mega churches, both in their construction and in their cultural
impacts. The resulting analysis revealed much, not only about French culture
and history, but about the American culture today as well.