September 22nd, 2016
Architecture is the confluence of science and art.
It adheres to inviolable laws of mass, scale, and load. But it also reflects the unique sensibilities of both the architect and the era in which he finds himself.
As its own art-form, architecture is a therefore a window into the heart. A structure reveals what a world finds worthy of enshrining in form and material.
Andrew Wilson (remember him?) recently shared an observation by one scholar of ancient architecture, Larry Siedentop. It had to do with a shift in architectural priority that derived explicitly from a theological conviction:
Christianity was turning outward and visible things inwards. The basilicas built in Rome by the Emperor Constantine, after his conversion in 312, gave architectural expression to the difference of focus between paganism and the new moral beliefs. In place of the ancient temple, with its splendid columns and decorations on the exterior, the Christian basilica was simple, unadorned brick on the outside, with columns and decorations reserved for the interior. The change was symptomatic. Where paganism had concerned itself primarily with external conformity of behaviour, Christianity now concerned itself especially with inner conviction.
True theological conviction will manifest itself both in the interior recesses of character and in the outer forms of our public life and practice–including our creations in wood, stone, and metal.
We’ll end our study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount this Sunday with His words about two kinds of structures, their only difference being on what kind of foundations they’re laid.
Foundations as well as forms reflect underlying (ha) beliefs. The call of the end of Jesus’ Sermon is not merely to mimic the ethics He’s outlined, but to reckon with all that underlies them. For their visible “structure” rests on a foundation, the apprehension of which will determine whether we find them sound and worthy of obedience.
The Sermon closes with wonderment among those who listened at His singular authority. Was it only a charismatic presence that created that perception, or some intuitive sense that what He shared constituted wisdom, love, and perhaps an echo of something grander to come? Was there something beneath the surface of his words that afforded him a respect and deference others might not?
Sit with the last six verses of the Sermon. Ask yourself what makes the difference in you whether only to hear His word, or to do it also?
Our Community Groups reconvene this month. Among the four groups two have either filled up or are nearly filled! Visiting a group doesn’t oblige you to join, but groups will “close up” for the fall in early October. Contact the group’s facilitators for more information.
Cooler weather is rumored to be on the move. Just in time for our fall potluck, October 16th, immediately following worship. Details to follow, but save the date. Food, games, and a bounce-house will all be in play again.
We close with this. It’s not architecture on display, but it requires the same precision and patience to bring forth the worker’s intention. It is an ancient practice now largely replaced by machines. In a world increasingly losing its capacity to give its attention to anything for long (more on that in a later post I hope), the marvel of this short film may not be so much the intricacy of the object wrought as the attentiveness required to fashion it.