It wasn’t planned that way, but Expo 67 mirrors surprisingly well the state of today’s Christian Church, its big theological cleavage, and its relation to the world.
Dozens of pavilions boast of man’s achievements with scarcely a reference to spiritual forces. Not even the dominant U. S. Pavilion finds a place for religion’s role in its national life. The pedestrian Soviet and glamorous Czech pavilions, however, manage to preserve a little corner to reflect their countries’ Christian heritage.
Somewhat off the beaten path on Notre Dame Island is the $1,300,000 Christian Pavilion, a valiant effort of major Canadian church bureaucracies to present a solid front. Its message, projected via a glorified photo exhibit, wallows in the sea of subjectivity. As an experiment in indirect communication it emphasizes questions and minimizes answers.
Much more in the mainstream of Expo traffic is the Sermons from Science Pavilion featuring the well-known Moody evangelistic films based on natural wonders. Although it is an independent effort, it draws significantly from Canada’s old established churches for support. It doesn’t raise many questions, but it zealously promotes the Answer to man’s most basic problem.
The pavilions of Israel and Judaism unashamedly exhibit their spiritual histories. The pride of the white stucco Pavilion of Judaism is a 440-square-foot model of the Temple of Jerusalem built by Herod. The building also contains the only chapel on the fairgrounds; Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform congregations take turns conducting services nightly.
The Expo visitor might well interpret the fair’s religious flavor as strikingly similar to what he finds in the world: an uncertain church leadership that champions relevance but seldom ...1
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