An architect’s vocation

World Magazine has a  profile of architect David Greusel, who specializes in designing baseball stadiums.  In addition to a fascinating discussion of ball parks, focusing on the one hailed as the best in baseball–Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, which Greusel designed–the article by Janie Cheaney highlights the architect’s Christian faith and his sense of vocation.  This excerpt has wide-ranging implications:

Integrating work with family and faith shouldn’t be controversial, but over the years Greusel has found himself running counter not only to the architectural establishment, but also to certain strains of Christian fundamentalism. In an online essay called “God’s Trailer,” Greusel boldly states that “bad church architecture is as much the result of bad theology as it is of bad design”—meaning that an overemphasis on saving souls has blinded some congregations to the value of nurturing souls. Too many Christians buy into a perversion of the old architectural saw that “form follows function,” seeing their buildings as so many square feet of function with a cross stuck on, instead of a place to direct our attention to God’s glory.

Greusel likes to quote Winston Churchill: “First, we shape our buildings, then they shape us.” He believes the need for Christian architects who bring their worldview to their work has never been greater, for at least three reasons. One, the “creation mandate” (Genesis 1:28) implies that we can continue God’s work on earth by designing spaces that are both useful and beautiful. Also, as creatures made in His image, we honor God by following in His creative footsteps and striving for excellence. And finally, designing (and insisting on) beautiful buildings puts us on the front lines of the culture war: Against the dreary functionalism, commodification, and standardization of concrete boxes, our buildings can reflect both the glory of God and the humanity of man—whether their primary function is to encourage worship or to showcase a perfect double play.

via WORLDmag.com | All-star architecture | Janie B. Cheaney | Jun 30, 12.

Read Greusel’s entire essay God’s Trailer.  The contradiction he cites–”fundamentalists” buying into the dogmas of the “modernists”– is very telling.  By the same token, some of the biggest critics of pop culture are insisting on pop music in their worship.  And theological “conservatives” are arguing that the church must conform to the culture, the textbook definition of theological liberalism.

Epic fails

Do you read the mad-cap sports columnist Norman Chad?  His latest column is about the mystery of Albert Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals superstar–who has hit an average of 40 home runs each season with a career .326 batting average–who can now do hardly anything (one home run, batting .196) after being paid a quarter of a billion dollars to join the California Angels.

Chad wonders if the Pujols deal might join his top five flops of all time:

●New Coke (1985): Was anybody complaining about Coca-Cola? What were they thinking? This was like adding skylights and terraces to the Pyramids.

●Chevy Chase’s talk show (1993): Magic Johnson’s talk show actually was worse, but he was a point guard; Chase is an entertainer.

●Ben-Gay Aspirin (1990s): Yes, Ben-Gay Aspirin. For real. I mean, I’ll smear that delightfully smelly stuff on my back, but do I care to swallow it?

●Dennis Miller on “Monday Night Football” (2000-01): I still have nightmares of the former funny guy referring to Coach Mike Shanahan as “Shanny” 37 times in four quarters.

●Susan B. Anthony dollar (1979-81, 1999): Hey, I was as big a fan of women’s suffrage as the next guy, but I don’t want some feminist coin rolling around my pocket ruining the feng shui of my favorite quarters and dimes.

via Couch Slouch: Albert Pujols’s California dreams quickly turn to nightmares – The Washington Post.

What are some other epic failures?

Christian perfectionism

Phil Humber of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect game last Saturday against the Seattle Mariners:  no hits, no runs, no walks.  He was only the 21st person in baseball history to achieve that feat.  It turns out that Humber is an outspoken Christian, like Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin.  See WORLDmag.com | Perfection | J.C. Derrick | Apr 21, 12.

 

Opening Day!

The baseball season begins again! Hope springs eternal. I add reading box scores to my morning routine. Every season has its drama, intrigues, and some team that comes out of nowhere. Please report on the state of your team. What are your predictions?

Contraception is not health care

The great Anthony Esolen reminds us, in the midst of the Obamacare insurance mandate, that contraception is NOT, strictly speaking,  a medical issue:

The use of estrogen as contraception is not medical at all. Quite the contrary. A couple who use estrogen to prevent the conception of a child do not ingest the drug to enhance the performance of their reproductive organs, or to heal any debility therein. Their worry is rather that those organs are functioning in a healthy and natural way, and they wish they weren’t. They want to obtain not ability but debility. They want not to repair but to thwart.

Here it is usually argued that the drug is medical because it prevents a disease. But that is to invert the meaning of words. When the reproductive organs are used in a reproductive act, the conception of a child is the healthy and natural result. That is a plain biological fact. If John and Mary are using their organs in that way, and they cannot conceive a child, then this calls for a remedy; that is the province of medicine. It is also the province of medicine to shield us against casual exposure to communicable diseases—exposure that we cannot prevent, and that subjects us to debility or death. Childbearing and malaria are not the same sorts of thing.

via A Tale of Two Sex Hormones « Public Discourse.

The use of artificial estrogen to prevent conception is, in fact, he argues, parallel to the use of artificial testosterone–a.k.a. steroids–by baseball players.  (You’ve really got to read how he ties baseball into all of this!)

HT:  Mark Misulia

Baseball’s new labor agreement

Major League baseball, unlike the National Basketball Association, has a new labor agreement, one attained with no strikes, lockouts, or threats to the season.  Here are some highlights:

HGH [human growth hormone]: Baseball will be the first North American team sport with HGH blood testing once it begins next spring. All players will be tested during spring training and will be subject to random offseason tests. The sides agreed to explore in-season tests, which can be conducted on a “reasonable cause” basis, which was not immediately defined. Weiner said the union wanted to learn more about the effect of taking blood on players’ performances. A first positive test would result in a 50-game suspension.

Replay: Expansion of video review from the current limit of potential home runs is subject to negotiations between MLB and the World Umpires Association. But MLB and the players agreed to add fair/foul calls and whether balls are caught or trapped.

Playoffs: The addition of a second wild-card team in each league was announced last week; each league’s two wild cards will meet in one-game playoffs for the right to advance to the division series. If a decision is reached by March 1, the format will make its debut in 2012; if not, the wild cards will be added for 2013.

Realignment: As previously announced, the Houston Astros will move from the National League Central to the American League West in 2013. That means interleague play virtually every day of the season. A committee has been formed to work out the scheduling formula.

Draft: Players taken in the June draft can sign only minor league contracts, eliminating major league deals agents often bargained for. The signing deadline for drafted players will move from Aug. 15 to July 12-18.

The most significant change is a compromise on owners’ hopes for a bonus slotting system. Teams will be assigned an annual pool based on industry revenue, which will cover bonuses to picks in the first 10 rounds plus any bonuses over $100,000 to later picks. Teams can spend beyond the pool but will be subject to penalties: 75% tax on amounts up to 5% over the pool; 75% tax and loss of first-round pick for 5%-10% over pool; 100% tax and loss of first- and second-round picks for 10%-15% over; 100% tax and loss of two first-round picks for more than 15% over. Teams’ bonus pools will be determined by their draft position and number of draft choices.

Tax money will go into revenue sharing for teams that did not exceed their pool; those teams also will garner the forfeited picks through a weighted lottery based on teams’ records.

Competitive balance lottery: Will provide extra draft picks for the lowest-revenue and smallest-market teams. The first 10 teams in each category will be in a lottery — weighted by previous year’s record — for six extra picks after the first round. Teams not getting a pick in that lottery will go into a similar lottery for six picks after the second round.

Free agent compensation: Rules for compensating teams that lose free agents will be abolished. Instead, teams will be eligible for compensation if they offer the player a contract equal to the average salary of the 125 highest-paid players from the previous year. That was just over $12 million last season. The offer must be made within five days of the end of the World Series, and the player has seven days to accept. Only players with their team for the entire season are subject to compensation.

Teams signing a compensation-eligible player lose their first-round draft pick unless that pick is in the first 10, in which case they lose their next pick. Teams that lose such a free agent get an extra draft pick after the first round.

•International free agents: A committee will begin studying drafting of international players. In the meantime, teams will be assigned equal signing bonus pools for the year beginning next July.

Social media: All players will be subject to a new policy.

Salaries: The minimum rises from $414,000 to $480,000 and incrementally to $500,000 in 2014, followed by cost-of-living raises the next two years.

Smokeless tobacco: Players, managers and coaches cannot use tobacco when fans are present or in televised interviews, nor can they carry the products in their uniforms.

Equipment: Beginning in 2013, no player entering the major leagues can use maple bats that have come under scrutiny for how often they break. Tougher helmet requirements will be in place as part of enhancing the concussion protocol.

Rosters: Teams can add a 26th player for some as yet unspecified doubleheaders.

via What’s new in baseball’s new labor deal? – USATODAY.com.


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