How The World Lost Its Story by Robert W. Jenson | Articles | First Things

It is the whole mission of the church to speak the gospel. As to what sort of thing “the gospel” may be, too many years ago I tried to explain that in a book with the title Story and Promise, and I still regard these two concepts as the best analytical characterization of the church’s message. It is the church’s constitutive task to tell the biblical narrative to the world in proclamation and to God in worship, and to do so in a fashion appropriate to the content of that narrative, that is, as a promise claimed from God and…

The World’s Most Beautiful Mathematical Equation – The New York Times

We all know that art, music and nature are beautiful. They command the senses and incite emotion. Their impact is swift and visceral. How can a mathematical idea inspire the same feelings? Well, for one thing, there is something very appealing about the notion of universal truth — especially at a time when people entertain the absurd idea of alternative facts. The Pythagorean theorem still holds, and pi is a transcendental number that will describe all perfect circles for all time. But our brains also appear to respond to mathematical beauty as they do to other beautiful experiences.

Beautiful Places: The Role of Perceived Aesthetic Beauty in Community Satisfaction

Our main findings confirm the hypothesis: beauty and aesthetics are among the most important factors in perceived community satisfaction. In fact, only one of the coefficients, that for current economic conditions, was stronger. Our findings for beauty and aesthetics lend support to those by Glaeser et al. (2001), and Carlino and Saiz (2008), among others, who highlight the importance of amenities in urban and regional development.

Life shouldn’t be ugly just because you’re poor | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

[Mr. Hayes, the Transport Minister] did touch on a problem that is both important and gritty. There is a kind of inequality that few mention in this country — an inequality that is as stark and dispiriting as the rest. Let’s call it aesthetic inequality. Many deprived areas are horribly ugly — and we should take more seriously the effect this has on people’s spirits and lives. In the debate on poverty, all energy is expended on weighty issues such as welfare, education and housing. The views that frame our lives don’t get a look in. Yet how does it…

James K.A. Smith in Practices Making Community at Judson’s Didier Symposium

The Judson University Department of Architecture and the Association for Christians in Architecture will host the fifth annual James Didier Symposium On Christ & Architecture Sept. 15-16. …. This year’s symposium will include an impressive roster of featured guest speakers who will take on challenging and relevant topics: • “Places of the Heart: How We Learn to Love” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. Calvin College professor of philosophy and author James K.A. Smith will address the Judson community, including architecture students and faculty, visiting architects, arts professionals, as well as place-based and home schooling educators. He will explain what…

Design for the One Percent | Jacobin

Not so long ago, the world’s leading architects debated how architecture could be used to transform society by providing housing for workers, improving public health, and fostering social solidarity. Today, global architecture is peopled with “starchitects” like Hadid who specialize in mega projects for the global elite. Some of the starchitects’ projects are beautiful, to be sure. But they also often waste public money, facilitate corrupt and exploitative practices, and strengthen a planning model that excludes the populace from decision-making. Many architectural creations are poorly constructed, requiring exorbitant maintenance costs (invariably following massive budget overruns) and lacking consideration for the…

Humanism and the Urban World: Leon Battista Alberti and the Renaissance City, Caspar Pearson

“Everyone relies on the city,” wrote Leon Battista Alberti, “and all the public services that it contains.” This statement, delivered in such a matter-of-fact manner, indicates the exceptional importance of cities in the society in which Alberti lived. His world was an urban one. He was born in Genoa, grew up in Venice, was educated in Padua and Bologna, and subsequently lived and worked in Rome, Florence, Mantua, Rimini, and Ferrara. Fifteenth-century Italy, divided into a patchwork of city-states, boasted what was arguably the most developed urban society in Europe at the time. Moreover, Italy offered a wide variety of…

If a City Were Perfect, What Would It Look Like? – The New York Times

When Baldassare Castiglione described Urbino in 1506 as a “city in the form of a palace” he would probably have expected his more cultivated readers to catch the allusion to Leon Battista Alberti’s assertion in his “De re aedificatoria” (On the Art of Building) that “the city is like a great house, and the house in its turn a small city.” During his reign between 1444 and 1482, Federico da Montefeltro’s marvelous edifice played host to as much intellectual and artistic activity as entire cities many times Urbino’s size. And Alberti, along with Luciano Laurana, Piero della Francesca and Francesco…

The Stones of Washington by Michael Knox Beran, City Journal December 26, 2015

Like so many other new-made towns, Washington lacks whatever it is that gives Old Western (I have followed C. S. Lewis in capitalizing the words “Old Western” as he did in his lecture “De Descriptione Temporum”) cities like Arles and Kraków, Munich and Venice, their charm and interest. It would be extravagant to criticize Lewis for his failure to ask why Washington lacks this deeper civic artistry: yet it is difficult not to conclude that the problem of Washington—essentially the problem of the American city—is bigger than Lewis allows.A truly revealing history of any American town, big or small, would…