Building on Truth by Philip Bess | Articles | First Things

Building is a willful act of symbolic import, sometimes intended and sometimes not, and all architecture expresses the power of its makers and their aspiration to legitimate authority. This is true of individual buildings, public spaces, and all human settlements. Temple, forum, cathedral, city hall, town square, primitive hut, urban townhouse, suburban ranch burger, LEED-platinum office building, interstate highway interchange, urban landscape installation, medieval town, hypermodern metropolis—all require and represent the ability to bring them into being and sustain them over time. Their very existence requires power in the most elemental sense of the word. More than this, we attach…

Prof. Carroll William Westfall–American Architecture and the American Civil Order: the Shared Foundations • James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding

Please join us for a lecture on American architecture and the American civil order with Prof. Carroll William Westfall. Prof. Westfall has taught for nearly 50 years architecture and architectural history at the University of Notre Dame, University of Virginia, and Amherst College. A central theme of all of his studies has been the history of the city with particular attention to the reciprocity between the political life and the urban and architectural elements that serve the needs of citizens. His emphasis is on the usefulness of knowledge of history to practicing architects. This, rather than a stylistically based interpretation…

Paul Carvalho Films: Geometry of Love

Margaret Visser, author of a book on the symbolism of churches called THE GEOMETRY OF LOVE, enters the church of SantAgnese furoi le Mura in Rome and proceeds to explain the profound meanings hidden in everything from stairwells to aisles, the altar, the marble tent above it, the columns and the shape of the church itself. Visser blends anthropology, theology, art history and architecture to provide us with revealing insights into the Christian search for transcendence and the evolution of Western civilization. Margaret Visser is a Canadian citizen and long-time Professor at the University of Toronto. She has written several…

The Catholic Writer Today Encouraging Catholic writers to renovate and reoccupy their own tradition. Dana Gioia

[excerpt from Dana Gioia, The Catholic Writer Today: Encouraging Catholic writers to renovate and reoccupy their own tradition.] The great and present danger to American literature is the growing homogeneity of our writers, especially the younger generation. Often raised in several places in no specific cultural or religious community, educated with no deep connection to a particular region, history, or tradition, and now employed mostly in academia, the American writer is becoming as standardized as the American car—functional, streamlined, and increasingly interchangeable. The globalization so obvious in most areas of the economy, including popular culture, has had a devastating impact on literature. Its…

The Mystery of Sarah Losh | Books and Culture

Self-taught architect of a curious and beautiful church. In the village of Wreay in Cumbria, five miles from the city of Carlisle, stands the curious and beautiful St. Marys Church, which since its construction in the mid-19th century has aroused much commentary and a good deal of wonderment. The pre-Raphaelite poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti called it “a church in the Byzantine style, full of beauty and imaginative detail, though extremely severe and simple” and by any measure “much more original than the things done by the young architects now.” But he could not find words to describe the church well…

BEAUTY AND TRUTH – Is There A Christian Architecture?

[Excerpt from 2002 essay by Daniel Lee at Regenerator] What I sense and see in my own involvement in the religious community, and in my reading, is that most Christians cannot begin a conversation on architecture. Several years ago I met a highly regarded Christian poet, who in response to a similar question I posed, answered, “I really don´t know, architecture is such an esoteric art form.” Her comments surprised me but illustrate well the current state of affairs. The architecture that churches are building today is as confused as the tastes, and faith, of building committee members. Building committees,…

Apocalyptic Reading in a Technological World: Why We Need Jacques Ellul Today | Comment Magazine | Cardus

According to Ellul, technology/technique self-propagates by creating increasingly favourable conditions for its continued adoption and development. Ellul focused in particular on the way in which propaganda perpetrated through modern mass media serves as a specific technological tool by which to, as the authors of Understanding Jacques Ellul put it, “integrate humans into a dehumanized world, to adapt them to the technological society.” A ready and current example of this is way in which Apple is able to generate enormous, favourable attention from the press surrounding the future release of a new electronic device or software operating system, thereby subtly beginning…

Mike Metzger: Shape of Things to Come?

American Christians are generally a happy lot – but don’t act very holy. Surveys indicate American believers behave about as badly as those who don’t attend church. There are all sorts of contributors to this calamity, but how many consider architecture’s role? …. God is omnipresent – everywhere – but everything and everywhere is not holy in a fallen world. God’s presence is more vivified in particular places, less so in others. The Jews symbolized this in constructing the Holy of Holies in the temple. This sacred place vivified God’s holy presence. It was supposed to vivify holiness in believers….

A Monastery for Seaside | Better! Cities and Towns Online

[Philip Bess, Notre Dame University] What would bringing Benedictines to Seaside accomplish? The main achievement would be a permanent worshipping community in Seaside, the effect of which would be to animate Seaside’s currently understated acknowledgement of the sacred order within which Seaside exists. This is because the most appropriate human acknowledgement of and response to the sacred is to worship, especially to offer as gifts things in and by which we ask the sacred to be present among us: prayers, song, bread and wine, acts of justice and charity, church buildings, cities—and sometimes, consecrated religious life. But why Benedictines? After…