Here's a second report from Dr. Paul (of The Zahl File) on a strange place he went and a strange thing he saw on his travels this summer:


by Paul (“Famous Monsters”) Zahl

Last month, my wife Mary and I led a group of friends into Helsinki's Rock Church, as it is now called in English.  It is the Temppeliaukio in the Finnish language.

is a Lutheran parish church not far from downtown that is now
celebrated as being one of the most innovative worship spaces in
Europe.  It was excavated and constructed in 1969 within a hill of rock
and is now surrounded by a beautiful square of townhouses. The Rock
Church was designed by two brothers, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen.  It
was dubbed initially and locally as the “Anti-Devil Defense Bunker” but
is now treasured and loved.  It is a working church and the location for
many concerts, especially on its prized organ.  When we walked in,
Sibelius's Violin Concerto was being played.

But I was interested in seeing the church for a somewhat different reason:

It looks just like a flying saucer.  As a matter of fact, it could be a flying saucer.

you look down on the Rock Church from the square above, it appears to
be a saucer of light bursting from the ground, or, conversely,
embedding itself in the ground.  It especially resembles the
earth-craft touching down on Altair IV in
Forbidden Planet, not to mention the Martian saucer in Invaders from Mars,
and even more to the point, it is a lookalike for the saucers that
hide beneath the sea and within the earth, in the odd Canadian move
from 1977 entitled
Starship Invasions.

In other words, this is the coolest church in Christendom.  It requires a shout-out!

we stop and think for a sec about what the Rock Church is saying?  It
is saying there is something precious buried within a rockpile just
outside the city.  Whether the precious thing is coming out, bursting
out; or whether it is burying itself, embedding itself in granite, is
unclear.  But it is definitely rooted in the earth.  It could not be
more rooted.

Is it preparing to be a “sleeper cell”, like the alien machines in the Steven Spielberg version of War of the Worlds?  Or is it emerging from centuries of frozen sleep below the Arctic ice cap, as in The Atomic Submarine, from 1959? (Just so you know, ahem, The Criterion Collection has done up the
latter in a box set, together with three other classics related to it, like

Corridors of Blood

What is it doing in our midst?  We don't know.

But there is something here.  Whatever religion is
or could be, it is embedded in the nature of things.  It is not so
high, quoting the Bible, that we can't reach up to it, nor is it so
low, that we can't reach down to it.  But it
is here, to be
discovered within the nature of things.  It is in the root of a man,
and of the earth.  The Rabbi Jeshua said, “The kingdom of God is within
you.”  He did not spell out what he meant exactly.  Many people have
thought about this, and sought to fill in the blanks.  Nobody knows for
sure what he was intending.  But whatever it is, it is here.  It's an
open secret.  “Take A Look Around” (Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66).

you see what is really here, what is in front of you and above you and
below you, you're probably looking at it.

We can even get high-brow for a moment.  Goethe has a beautiful passage in Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship in which he describes the nature of religion as understood within a utopian school for children.  The children look up in order to express reverence.  They look around in order to observe the natural world, their environment.  And they look down in
order “to recognize humility and poverty, mockery and despite, disgrace
and wretchedness, suffering and death, to recognize these things as
divine; nay, even on sin and crime to look not as hindrances, but to
honor and love them as furtherances of what is holy.”

                                                                                                                              [Photo by Mary Zahl]

I think the lesson of the Rock Church, which is a world-class architectural site on account of its perfect resemblance to
an alien flying saucer, is this: the truth is here, embedded in rock,
unerodable through fashion or time, right in the marrow of the earth
and hearts, digging in or breaking out, and filled, just filled, with

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