On Architecture

The architecture of a single-story home on a circular drive. The laughs and cries of children filled its space, earlier today. Now the house is left to watch the sun set behind the trees, to cool in the mottled shadows cast by the leaves. In the little office beside the garage, sounds of rushing traffic faintly reach the ear. The sound is indistinguishable from a light rain in winter. The house seems to enjoy the quiet. A family of six lives beneath its roof. How rare is silence for this silent witness? It has watched children avoiding homework, mothers cuddling babies, fathers tossing large balls to their young sons. And arguments and the tragedy of divorce. And the death of the old. The birth of the young. It has shielded its peoples from the wind, cold, rain, snow, and heat. True, but this house has done more than that.

It’s provided physical shelter, but also psychological comfort and spiritual sanctuary. It has been an icon of identity. People who left long ago, upon returning, remember who they were, which is to say who they are. Some remember that bare spot in the lawn where the ants toil, where the natural rules of life and death were taught in tiny relief. Some remember the cold of the window glass in winter that brought conflicting desires to play in the snow and to snuggle in the warmth inside.

This house could not solve all of its occupant’s adversities. Still, it gives evidence of happiness freely bestowed upon all who have ever entered it’s doors. This, it seems to me, is the main contribution of architecture. It has the character of the artisan rather than the artist.

The artist makes beautiful things. The artisan makes beautiful things that are also useful. Beautiful and useful. What better description could there be for good architecture?

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The View From Nowhere

God created the world. Or he didn’t. Let us think on the first case. What was created? It seems that God created the cosmos and man in the cosmos.

In the beginning God made heaven and earth. The earth was invisible and unfinished; and darkness was over the deep. The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw the light; it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day; the darkness He called Night; and there was evening and morning, one day. […]

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of heaven, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that moves on the earth.” So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them.

Why was the earth invisible? Most readers and theologians say it was invisible because there was no light. This is a very unsatisfactory reading. Surely the earth was not invisible to God merely because it was dark. The Greek word translated as ‘invisible’ is αορατος. It can mean invisible; or that which cannot be seen; or that which is unseen. Again, surely God can see the invisible and nothing is unseen by Him. So the γη αορατος, the unseen earth, is not unseen by God. Who cannot see it?

Only God’s creatures are unable to see the invisible earth, but at this point in the story God hasn’t created them. And that’s the answer. The earth is invisible precisely because there is no created being to see it.

We have a world that is created, and later we have a world that is seen. The created-world preexists the seen-world. Are they the same world?

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