I can't disguise a bit of a chuckle this morning to see that architecture's prestigious Sterling Prize has gone to a practice that renovated a 12th century castle with patio doors. Those staying at Astley Castle can now fire-up their Lidl BBQs within sight of the 42" plasma. This must be the equalising tendency of the profession, which has long been committed to removing any sort of status from our public and ceremonial buildings.
We're more used to seeing Anglican bishops living in modern estate houses rather than in mediaeval palaces in the UK, but the same doesn't apply in Germany and Austria. The Pope has just given the German bishops a bollocking for their lives of luxury at the taxpayers' expense, and the sour old pusses are now contemplating with displeasure trading-down their E-Klasse Mercs for the sort of battered old Fiat driven by His Holiness.
In Germany the Church gets 8% in Bavaria and 9% elsewhere of all income tax paid by those declaring themselves church members - an arrangement envied by their Austrian cousins, who must pay an additional 1.1% income tax to the Church over their 'civil' income tax if they declare they are members of the Church. And yes the Catholic Church collects every cent - taking defaulters and debtors to court - to enforce the law introduced by Hitler and retained by the Republic. More and more Austrians are declaring to their local Gemeinde that they are Buddhists in order to avoid the impost.
Yes, I know it niggles, but are we really ready to see the Bishop struggling to light his barbie over the garden fence as his wife wipes fingermarks from the patio doors?