Rather than sidetrack an existing thread, I'll start something here based on this post from choirfiend:
The first and the best goes to God, tithe, harvest, materials, and spiritual efforts. The Church building is heaven on earth and should absolutely look like it. Plain, drab, unadorned buildings and materials aren't Orthodox. If all you have is wood, you'd carve it into adorned oblivion, but if you have brass and gold, you use it.
"Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always."
First of all, I want to say that I'm not advocating bare-bones, sterile worship services or temples. Choirfiend's right on this point; it's not Orthodox to do that. Rather, I think, it's Calvinist.
My question is...isn't there a point where enough is enough, especially if those faithful around you are living in squalor? I say this as someone who used to live in South America and saw the village Catholic churches with their amazing architecture, gorgeous statues, gold altars, etc...whose faithful came in rags to the masses. The churches obviously had the money to help better their communities, but the majority of the funds were going into how the building looked.
Again, I'm not saying it's wrong to have a beautiful temple. It's needed. But isn't there a balance? Can't we have beauty without going overboard? And wasn't there a Russian bishop (I forget who; I heard it from Fr. John Matusiak, iirc) who basically called his diocese on this--the faithful were starving while the temples were gorgeous and he said all you really
need is an alter, the priest and the faithful--and was pretty much run out of town because of this?
Just food for thought more than anything else, I guess.