The wisdom of the Church has been known for millenia, and now science has “proven” it: high ceilings are good for expansive, creative thinking, and one might infer, prayer and meditation.

A recent study at the University of Minnesota suggests that ceiling height affects problem- solving skills and behavior by priming concepts that encourage certain kinds of brain processing. “Priming means a concept gets activated in a person’s head,” said researcher Joan Meyers-Levy. “When people are in a room with a high ceiling, they activate the idea of freedom. In a low-ceilinged room, they activate more constrained, confined concepts.”
The news story reported that the the scientists’ labeling for their somewhat abstract concepts, “freedom” and “confinement,” comes from a speculative paper on how lofty cathedral ceilings might encourage a different religious experience from the low ceilings of a modest chapel. Of course, we might call this the transcendent power of a sacramental understanding of liturgical art and architecture.
This study was meant to apply to business methods, recommending that “managers should want noticeably higher ceilings for thinking of bold initiatives.” What could be bolder than establishing a connection with God through the sacramental system of the liturgy? It is part of our God-given anthropology to be ordered toward God and things which lead us to God. Church architects take note!

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