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.

And the ruling on the health care law is…

Today, the Supreme Court will announce its decision on the 2010 health care bill. According to the official schedule, the ruling won’t have occurred by the time this post goes live — and it certainly hasn’t happened as I actually write this post on Wednesday night — so I don’t have a lot to say about the decision right now. But presumably you all will, as events unfold.

If you’re reading this before the decision has been announced, you can read SCOTUSblog’s helpful summary of what exactly we’re waiting for. Law junkies can also follow SCOTUSblog’s live coverage of the event throughout the day — they’ve even created a backup site in case their main site gets flooded with viewers.

So, did the Supreme Court get it right?

The right to lie about your accomplishments?

Though easily overlooked in all the discussion about the health care decision, the Supreme Court is announcing its decision in other cases today, as well. Perhaps most interesting is United States v. Alvarez, in which the issue is (as summarized by SCOTUSblog):

Whether a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.

I assume we all agree that it is morally wrong for a person to lie about what honors they have received. The question is: should this moral failing also be criminalized? And, perhaps an even more important question is: why or why not? What criteria must a moral failing meet in order to merit criminalization?

Arizona v. United States

From The Washington Post:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down several key parts of Arizona’s tough law on illegal immigrants, but it left standing a controversial provision requiring police to check the immigration status of people they detain and suspect to be in the country illegally.

SCOTUSblog provides an explanation “in plain English”:

The decision was largely (but not entirely) a victory for the federal government:  the Court held that three of the four provisions of the law at issue in the case cannot go into effect at all because they are “preempted,” or trumped, by federal immigration laws.  And while the Court allowed one provision – which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they detain or arrest before they release that person – to go into effect, even here it left open the possibility that this provision would eventually be held unconstitutional if not applied narrowly in Arizona.

Click on the latter link to read more about the four provisions at issue.

So what do you think? Does this only further increase the federal government’s power, with a commensurate erosion of state control? Or is this a proper understanding of the federal government’s constitutional control over immigration?

Into the wilderness

Today we head out for a little cabin in the big woods.  We will have no internet connection, no cell phone reception, no cable television, and no newspapers.  If we survive, we will crawl out of the wilderness like Rip Van Winkle, if Rip Van Winkle only slept for five days.   Still, we have been looking forward to this for a long time.  That does mean that I won’t be doing any blogging for the rest of the week.

If we can avoid dying of exposure or getting eaten by wild animals, I’ll be back the first of July.  In the meantime, if something happens in the world that you think I would normally blog about–for example, if the Supremes rule on Obamacare–please make a comment to that effect here and discuss as you think appropriate.

If all goes well, I’ll be posting again on July 2.  By then I’ll probably be grateful again for the blessings of civilization, technology, and the information age.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy being without them.

[Updated by tODD: Actually, at the risk of presuming on our good host’s hospitality, I’m going to create at least one new post for the discussion of the Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. United States, as I assume that’s one topic we’ll want to discuss here, and it might keep discussion a bit tidier than having it all in one thread. And, come Thursday, I’ll set up another one specifically for the Supreme Court ruling on the health care law.

Feel free to discuss other matters here, or to propose topics we could discuss in separate posts this week. I’ll do my best to create posts on topics that seem of general interest. I know I’m often wrong about everything you hold dear, but I’ll try to be impartial here — at least, in the creation of discussion posts. I just don’t want us all trying to discuss everything in one thread for four days. I know how whiny you guys can get when you’re not getting your Cranach fix.]

Happy Augsburg Confession Day!

On this day 482 years ago–June 25, 1530–the Reformation princes and free cities confessed their faith before Emperor Charles V at the Diet (the governing assembly of the Imperial states) held in Augsburg, Germany.  The 28 articles drawn up by Philipp Melanchthon (not Luther!) became known as the Augsburg Confession.  It was the first confession of faith of the Reformation and, to this day, it is perhaps the most succinct and definitive summaries of Lutheran theology.

Part of its genius is that it spells out what did NOT change in the Reformation churches–the continuity with historical Christianity that later protestants would throw out–as well as precisely what elements in the medieval church did need to be reformed.  The Augsburg Confession is still startlingly relevant to today’s controversies of theology and practice.

Honor the day by reading it:  Augsburg Confession – Book of Concord.


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