Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light

Cathedral of Christ the Light in OaklandWhen I moved from Oakland four years ago, there was a big sign on this empty lot at Harrison and Lakeside Drive that read, “Future Home of the Cathedral of Christ the Light.” Well, the future is now, because today I rode my borrowed bike to that corner and took this picture of the church rising up in all its glass-encased glory. I’m a little bit surprised that it’s here. Not that it wouldn’t have been built, but, well, already? I mean, I live in New Orleans, where it has taken two full years to go from empty lots to the first parts of framing up near Louisiana and Claiborne, and that’s for much-needed public housing. But I’m in Oakland, and though California is certainly going to slow down on all kinds of things–the place is seriously bankrupt–the Catholics got this church built up. I was surprised to find it mostly empty on this lovely Monday afternoon. I took my time walking around. The place is mostly wood, and the separate altar rooms are incredibly simple, almost bare. The place is ostentatious on the outside, but inside it’s actually kind of homey. Above the main altar is a giant steel cutout, holes punched to make room for light to pour in, illuminating a giant Jesus. Now, this is unexpected, especially in a church both this fancy and this plain. I mean, he’s really, really big, and maybe even a tiny bit tacky. I expected to be wowed by the scale of this cathedral, or to find myself joking about it. I’m not Catholic, and this certainly isn’t my scene. But I found myself relaxed in there, happy to find its walls empty and eaves quiet. Seems a girl could get some thinking done in there. If I could separate the feelings I had in the space from the organized religion, I could probably find myself there a lot. But there’s that giant Jesus, staring down, reminding you that this is a religious space, and it is still hard for me to forgive the Catholic church some of its many transgressions of faith. Regardless, the place is interesting, and I definitely suggest a tour. I stopped at the gift shop for postcards and then hopped back on the bike to see if the old bookstore was still there–it was–and again I wished I’d had a bike back then. Alas.

One thought on “Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light

  1. In New Orleans, the pace of development is uneven. Where I live in mid-city seems to have a lot of growth: a new bank just opened, construction started on a new walgreens, plans to possibly turn an old hospital (mercy) into a nursing home (or something like that), and lots of construction workers working on houses.

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