Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Misc. Graham Greene Quotes

It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself. The Ministry of Fear

My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.

Sentimentality - that's what we call the sentiment we don't share.

Success is more dangerous than failure, the ripples break over a wider coastline.

We are all of us resigned to death: it's life we aren't resigned to.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Vision Questions for Parish Church Architecture

As we think Biblically about architecture and Church construction, here are some salient points to consider:
We’re building a Parish Church not Cathedral.
A building needs to be modest and within financial means—especially for the sake of conserving resources for Church Planting.
We must think multi-generationally and lay plans and foundations now for future additions and buildings.
Beauty, Goodness, and Truth are all essential considerations.

How should the physical facility encourage and support our vision and philosophy as a Church?
As you consider a Biblical worldview application of architecture, what is your overall desire or vision when you think of the new facility?
How should our priorities as a Church family and individual families be reflected in the design and process of building?
What are some specifics that you think should to be taken into consideration?
What are some things typically done in church architecture and building programs that you hope we do not do?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Strangeness of Mercy

You cannot conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.
—Graham Greene, Brighton Rock

Monday, April 14, 2008

Permanence in Architecture

As the ark of salvation, the Church should literally and theologically convey a sense of safety—both spiritual and physical. The following quotes come from Michael S. Rose.

There are several ways a church can assert its permanence. First, and most obvious, is by its durability. The church, a building that will serve generation after generation, transcending time and culture, must be constructed of durable materials. Mere sticks and stones, shingles and tar won’t do. Typically, one or another type of masonry construction is used, employing the finest materials available.

Related to durability is massing: the church must be of significant mass, built with solid foundations, thick walls, and allowing for generous interior spaces. This massing is another aspect of the architectural language of churches. It’s integral to be verticality (the massing of volumes upward creates verticality) and iconography (the massing of the church helps it convey its iconic meaning, i.e., its massing can make a church look like a church and function like a church).

Architects of future generations need to comprehend the language of church architecture in order to build permanent sacred edifices for their own times and future centuries. No successful church architect can be—or even pretend to be—ignorant of the Church’s historical patrimony. Continuity demands that a successful church design can’t spring from the whims of man or the fashion of the day. The architect who breaks completely with architectural tradition robs his church of the quality of permanence that is essential to any successful church design.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Power and the Glory

Having just finished The Power and the Glory for the second time, I think I can safely say that it is one of the most profound books of the twentieth century—especially dealing with issues of faith, sin, vocation, truth, and suffering. Graham Greene does not always lend himself to easy quotes because so much of the writing is dependent on the situations of the narrative. However, here are a few attempts:

The wall of the burial-ground had fallen in: one or two crosses had been smashed by enthusiasts: an angel had lost one of its stone wings, and what gravestones were left undamaged leant at an acute angle in the long marshy grasses. One image of the Mother of God had lost ears and arms and stood like a pagan Venus over the grave of some rich forgotten timber merchant. It was odd—this fury to deface, because, of course, you could never deface enough. If God had been like a toad, you could have rid the globe of toads, but when God was like yourself, it was no good being content with stone figures—you had to kill yourself among the graves.

This is a keen observation on what has become a culture of death (infanticide, euthanasia, non-sanctity of life) and self mutilation through piercings, tattoos, and even visual art (think of the disfiguring of the image of God in cubist paintings and subsequent “art” movements).

The following quote reveals the main character’s growing realization of the need to move beyond surface piety and into the heart of the Gospel and true faith.

That was another mystery: it sometimes seemed to him that venial sins—impatience, an unimportant lie, pride, a neglected opportunity—cut you off from grace more completely than the worst sins of all. Then, in his innocence, he had felt no love for anyone; now in his corruption he had learnt…

Monday, April 7, 2008

Art and Worship

“People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be. There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants, and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They worked until the building was completed — master builders, artists, labourers, clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres.
Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than other artisans; 'eternal values,' 'immortality' and 'masterpiece' were terms not applicable in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable assurance and natural humility. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation.
The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other's eyes and yet deny the existence of each other.
We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon's head, an angel, a devil — or perhaps a saint — out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts.
Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.” Ingmar Bergman

A Beautiful Thing

Now, first, to define this Lamp, or Spirit, of Sacrifice, clearly. I have said that it prompts us to the offering of precious things, merely because they are precious, not because they are useful or necessary. It is a spirit, for instance, which of two marbles, equally beautiful, applicable and durable, would choose the more costly, because it was so, and of two kinds of decoration, equally effective, would choose the more elaborate because it was so, in order that it might in the same compass present more cost and more thought. It is therefore most unreasoning and enthusiastic, and perhaps best negatively defined, as the opposite of the prevalent feeling of modern times, which desires to produce the largest results at the least cost. John Ruskin

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spreading Benediction

“Every man is a missionary, now and forever, for good or for evil, whether he intends or designs it or not. He may be a blot radiating his dark influence outward to the very circumference of society, or he may be a blessing spreading benediction over the length and breadth of the world.” Thomas Chalmers

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 1

Happy Gowk Hunting!

Loss of an Historic Independent Book Store

Canada's oldest book store is closing after 169 years of business--yet another book retailer is unable to compete in a book world.