The Proximity of Love
Christians are interested in the relationship between form and content. We trust that when Jesus took bread (not grain, but bread) and a cup of wine (not grapes, or even grape juice), he knew exactly what he was doing. He was sanctifying that which was a product of daily life and labor – culture. In doing so He blessed and sanctified all of life, assuring us that he is both concerned with and at work through the supposedly “mundane” tasks of gathering, gleaning, crushing, mixing, baking, fermenting, eating, and drinking.
Thus, we are interested not only in ideas, but also in the carrying out of such. One of the areas of the culture that we continually explore as a staff is one quite basic to the wedding of form and content – architecture. The following article by James K.A. Smith, even notes some of the folks who have edified us (people like Alain de Botton, whose work The Architecture of Happiness is a fascinating read & John Ruskin, whose Lectures on Art is a fine illustration of concern for aesthetics in the basic aspects of modern life – like the building of roads and the arrangement of cityscapes).
In this article written for Comment Magazine, Dr. Smith considers the relation between geography & architecture and the greatest commandment.
Aaaah, yes, the disappearance of the front porch. I recognized this a long time ago, and thought about it recently while having a glass of wine on the Grooms’ fantastic front porch. As much as Glenn and I enjoy our home, we note that our condo complex is a collection of “insulated pods”, and there is no reason for interaction with each other aside from the annual HOA meeting. Not even a community mail drop. I’d be curious to see how life looks at The Triangle or The Domain, with shops and restaurants downstairs, and living quarters above with separate open parking garages one would have to walk to. Is that an improvement over the suburban garage-door-as-design-element? I also think about what it means as we search for a place for All Saints to permanently settle. Is it too Utopian to hope for a location that might allow for more interaction with a greater population of Austin? Rather than in a location where we all arrive and depart in our individual cars out in the ‘burbs? One aspect I love about All Souls in London is the community lunch in the basement after the Sunday morning service; nothing fancy, and you don’t have to be a member to come in and eat. It’s quite a diverse crowd.
Thanks for giving us more good food for thought.
It’s very nice to see this type of article posted here. I so wish I could ride the bus to work and church, but they are just too far for now. I’m not even sure that buses run to either location.
I love Jill’s memory of All Souls’ lunches. I do miss that kind of casual interaction around food in a place where we already are. So many of us come from so far away to church on Sundays that it would be lovely to get to do more while we are there to get to really know others in the congregation.
And as an architect, I can say, Yes! there are ways to really engage or push away neighbors. It’s a very conscious decision that follows the requests of the client (and the client’s perception of what’s “in”) more than the desires of design professionals. Then again, design professionals are neighbors too and not always looking out for the good of the neighborhoods either.
Thanks for this article.
Bill, what is the vision of the church related to this article? My tendency is to shoot from the hip first and ask questions later — I realize my earlier comment may have ignored my beloved church family who do live in the suburbs. I got carried away with the article’s content and potential without truly considering what All Saints has stated as its mission/vision (and would very much like to know what that is). Pardon my ignorance!