A Catholic reads the Bible, week 20: God's blinged-out building

Some pages of Scripture sound like Architectural Digest, Bible-style
Laura Bernardini

(CNN)This is week 20 of an ongoing series: A Catholic Reads the Bible. Read Week One, Week Two and Week Three.

Last week, I wrote about Pete and Repeat. That is, the vast similarities between the two books of Kings and the two books of Chronicles that follow them.
The advantage of basically rereading is that you are able to focus in on topics that just barely missed the cut in the previous weeks. It's a second chance to revisit topics.
    When I first read about Solomon building the Temple during the book of Kings, I was struck by the luxuriousness of it all. It's Architectural Digest, Bible-style.
    Page after page in Chronicles described the gold, silver and specific height and cubits needed. I feel like I am now an expert in cubits. (What a useful skill!)
    And then when I read all about the luxuriousness in Chronicles again, it really got me thinking.
    I understand the veneration of God, but was all that gold and silver necessary? Even the utensils were mandated to be made in gold, according to the plans that David passed on to Solomon.
    Does a building that is that "blinged out" really praise God?
    I mean, God visited with everyone prior to Solomon without a big, gloriously decorated building. That seemed to work well.
    But things change during David's reign. He tells his son, "The Lord has chosen you to build a house as his sanctuary. Take courage and set to work."
    No pressure. You're just building God's house.
    When the Temple breaks ground in the second book of Chronicles, bring on the gold. And the silver. And the jewels.
    Then there was even a grand opening -- "All the men of Israel" turned out to see the beautiful sanctuary.
    I am not doubting it was beautiful.
    But, it was too much for me.
    I grew up going to a church that was in the basement of my elementary school. It was a big deal when they "modernized" it.
    The passage really got me thinking about how I worship and where I pray. What do I need to have my personal conversation with God?
    As I was reading it, that question kept coming back to me through the week. Through my travels, I have seen the most glorious of churches with the most astounding artifacts and murals.
    But, it has come down pretty simple to me. I like to just have a quiet talk with God. I don't need the glorious locations. They don't add anything to my conversation. Unlike real estate, prayer is not about location, location, location.
    In Chronicles, when the measurements were given, it talks about how big the temple was and from its size you get the idea that it could hold thousands.
    I just thought of my basement church and its simplicity. It could hold hundreds. But, the most important person in my relationship with God is me in the pew.
    Maybe this project is having much more of impact on me that I first thought.