Friday, December 29, 2006

Architecture of Conviction

When I lately stood with a friend before [the cathedral of] Amiens, . . . he asked me how it happens that we can no longer build such piles? I replied: "Dear Alphonse, men in those days had convictions (Ueberzeugungen), we moderns have opinions (Meinungen) and it requires something more than an opinion to build a Gothic cathedral.
- Heinrich Heine,
Confidential Letters to August Lewald on the French Stage
(letter 9), translated by C.G. Leland

Habitat for Humanity homes designed to match historic district styles

Habitat for Humanity and classical architects eye historic
districts to build traditionally-styled, affordable homes

Hopefully they'll look something like the Katrina Cottage

What a fun partnership for The Institute of Classical Architecture

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The Starlight Night

Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! the elves'-eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
Wind-beat whitebeam! airy abeles set on a flare!
Flake-doves sent floating forth at a farmyard scare! --
Ah well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.

Buy then! bid then! -- What? -- Prayer, patience, alms, vows.
Look, look: a May-mess, like on orchard boughs!
Look! March-bloom, like on mealed-with-yellow sallows!
These are indeed the barn; withindoors house
The shocks. This piece-bright paling shuts the spouse
Christ home, Christ and his mother and all his hallows.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas

“Christ in Christmas is rooted in every child’s memories of an astonishing intervention of love in their life, found, of all places, in their stockings.”

Fr. Nicholas Ayo, on his latest book

It may be difficult to discern in the heroic and daunting figure of the fourth century Bishop of Myra, the “jolly old elf” of Clement Clarke Moore’s endearing and sentimental “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem. The saint whose feast the Catholic Church celebrates on Dec. 6 may well have been such a pleasantly avuncular gentleman, but he is also remembered as a powerful leader who rescued many young women from sexual slavery, intimidated vengeful emperors, came between the executioner’s axe and the neck of a condemned prisoner, plucked despairing seafarers from perfect storms, and overwhelmed a threatened famine with a miraculous abundance of grain.

Writing of these older and more stirring accounts of his patron saint, Father Ayo remarks that “it does not take much imagination to wonder if the Santa Claus, who descends upon our roof, or the comic book superman, who swoops down upon our city, owe some of their inspiration and the cut of their figure to the original aerial wonder-worker, good Saint Nicholas.”

Computer generated reconstruction of the face of St. Nicholas from Discovery Channel

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On a Vulgar Error

No. It's an impudent falsehood. Men did not
Invariably think the newer way
Prosaic, mad, inelegant, or what not.

Was the first pointed arch esteemed a blot
Upon the church? Did anybody say
How modern and how ugly? They did not.

Plate-armour, or windows glazed, or verse fire-hot
With rhymes from France, or spices from Cathay,
Were these at first a horror? They were not.

If, then, our present arts, laws, houses, food
All set us hankering after yesterday,
Need this be only an archaising mood?

Why, any man whose purse has been let blood
By sharpers, when he finds all drained away
Must compare how he stands with how he stood.

If a quack doctor's breezy ineptitude
Has cost me a leg, must I forget straightway
All that I can't do now, all that I could?

So, when our guides unanimously decry
The backward glance, I think we can guess why.

C. S. Lewis

More Lewis Poetry Here

Images: Matthew Alderman proposal for a city church

Saturday, October 28, 2006

New Link

Society of Saint Barbara

Father Jenkins on Catholic Universities

A Harvard curriculum committee proposed this month that, among other things, a graduate should know "the role of religion in contemporary, historical, or future events -- personal, cultural, national, or international." Some of the President of Notre Dame's reply follows:

"The Harvard committee rightly noted that students coming to college today struggle with an academy that is "profoundly secular." This was not always the case, at Harvard or at many other universities. For centuries scholars, scientists and artists agreed that convictions of faith were wholly compatible with the highest levels of reasoning, inquiry and creativity. But in recent centuries this assumption had been challenged and assertions of faith marginalized in, and even banished from, academic departments and university curricula.

The Harvard committee hastens to explain that its proposal is not for "religious apologetics." Rather, the courses it envisions would offer an examination of "the interplay between religion and various aspects of national and/or international culture and society." They would deal not so much with the relationship between reason and faith as with reasoning about faith, religion and religious institutions and their impact in the world... Such courses are unquestionably needed...

But universities can do more than just familiarize students with the world's religions in survey-course fashion. The rise of religious fanaticism stems in part from a failure of intellectuals within various religious traditions to engage the faithful of their traditions in serious and reasoned reflection, inquiry and dialogue. The marginalization of faith within universities contributes to this failure...

It's time for universities to explore the reasoning that is possible within a tradition of faith, and to help their students appreciate this possibility and the rich resources in great religious traditions. Such efforts would enhance the ability of those with faith to engage in thoughtful, reasoned and self-critical spiritual reflection.

Read the rest of the essay here

Images: John Cassidy: Theology,Science and Art Raphael-School of Athens

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pope Benedict and the Cross

The masterful lecture that the pope-theologian delivered at the University of Regensburg really did send shivers throughout the world. Because what Benedict XVI said there is just what happened afterward. The pope explained the distance that runs between the Christian God, who is love, immolated in Jesus on the cross, but also “Logos,” reason; and the God worshipped by Islam, so transcendent and sublime that he is not bound by anything, not even by that rational assertion according to which there must not be “any coercion in matters of faith.” The Qur’an says this in the second sura, to which the pope conscientiously made reference, but it then makes other and opposite statements. And the violent eruption in the Muslim world against the pope and Christians confirms that this other tendency has the upper hand, giving form and substance to the way in which myriads of the faithful of Allah view the world of the infidels. The other side of pope Joseph Ratzinger’s lecture in Regensburg is the blood poured out in Muslim Mogadishu by sister Leonella Sgorbati, a woman veiled and yet free, a martyr whose last words were addressed to her killers: “I forgive you.”

Read the rest of this brilliant essay by Sandro Magister here!

Read what the man actually said

It's a sad world where being a good scholar gets you into this much trouble.

Actual text from Pope Benedict's discussion of Isalm

Intelligent discussion of the same at Holy Whapping

Image:Inside of a Greek Orthodox church in Tulkarm this Sunday

On Architecture in a Virtual World

Interesting discussion here
Image by Philippe Paul Froesch

Veritas et Venusitas is linked!

click here or check out the sidebar!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Del dicho al hecho, hay mucho trecho.

I take courage in remembering, as William Ware is so fond of reminding his reader, that following the Orders will not stifle a good architect's talent and creativity, but they will keep a bad architect from designing complete trash.

Note the new link: Humanist Art Review

Begining to Understand the Orders

A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst of architects from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at its commencement.

Marx, Capital
Image: Phidias Showing the Frieze of the Parthenon to his Friends, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Monday, August 14, 2006

Le meilleur des mondes possibles

Beux arts to illustrate theological imagination:

The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" was coined by the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu. It is the central argument in Leibniz's theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil. Leibniz was concerned with the question of theodicy: how, if God is good and omnipotent, do we account for the suffering and injustice that exists in the world?

Imagine that all the world is made of good and evil. The best possible world would have the most good and the least evil. Courage is better than no courage. Yet without evil to challenge us there can be no courage. Since evil brings out the best aspects of mankind evil is regarded as necessary. So in creating this world God made some evil to make the best of all possible worlds.

I think the Beaux-Arts style is an attempt, though conventions, to remind us that this is the best of all possible worlds: it is, in fact, orderly!

What do you think?

Ecole des Beaux-Arts image by D'Espouy. Click for more!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What I Learned About This Week


Lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder in Bohemia in 1798, and it was the first new printing process since the invention of relief printing in the fifteenth century. In the early days of lithography, a smooth piece of limestone was used (hence the name "lithography"—"lithos" is the ancient Greek word for stone). After the oil-based image was put on the surface, acid burned the image onto the surface; gum arabic, a water soluble solution, was then applied, sticking only to the non-oily surface and sealing it. During printing, water adhered to the gum arabic surfaces and avoided the oily parts, while the oily ink used for printing did the opposite.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hymn: Enter the New Adventure

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

Text, John G. Whittier
Sung to setting by Parry this morning in the Basilica

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Notre Dame

"The proper rewards are not simply tacked on to the activity for which they are given, but are the activity itself in consummation."
C. S. Lewis - The Weight of Glory

Visit my new school here!

Watercolor by Francis Parkes Bonington

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

kings chapel

Within King's College Chapel, Cambridge

Tax not the royal Saint with vain expense,
With ill-matched aims the architect who planned
(Albeit labouring for a scanty band
Of white-robed scholars only) this immense
And glorious work of fine intelligence!
Give all thou canst; high heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely-calculated less or more:
So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense
These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof
Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells
Lingering -and wandering on as loath to die;
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.

by William Wordsworth

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Feast of the Presentation

In honour of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.
Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendour of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.

The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.

The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.

The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. ... Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendour.

By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honour.
From a sermon by Saint Sophronius, bishop

Images: Giovanni Bellinni 'Presentation of the Child Jesus at the Temple'
Rembrandt 'Presentation in the Temple'

The 'Magnificat' and the 'Temple' of God's Word

Mary's poem - the Magnificat - is quite original; yet at the same time, it is a "fabric" woven throughout of "threads" from the Old Testament, of words of God.
Thus, we see that Mary was, so to speak, "at home" with God's word, she lived on God's word, she was penetrated by God's word. To the extent that she spoke with God's words, she thought with God's words, her thoughts were God's thoughts, her words, God's words. She was penetrated by divine light and this is why she was so resplendent, so good, so radiant with love and goodness.

Mary lived on the Word of God, she was imbued with the Word of God. And the fact that she was immersed in the Word of God and was totally familiar with the Word also endowed her later with the inner enlightenment of wisdom . . . .

Thus, Mary speaks with us, speaks to us, invites us to know the Word of God, to love the Word of God, to live with the Word of God, to think with the Word of God. And we can do so in many different ways: by reading Sacred Scripture, by participating especially in the Liturgy, in which Holy Church throughout the year opens the entire book of Sacred Scripture to us. She opens it to our lives and makes it present in our lives.

Pope Benedict XVI 'Homily for Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary' (August 15, 2005)
Image: Presentation of the Child Jesus

Friday, January 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Mozart

250 years old and still going strong...

Click HERE for an audio quiz to test your expertise in 'Mozart-ology'

Click question mark boxes for other images and links

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rainy Day

Geburt und Grah
Ein Weschselnd Weber
Ein glühend leben

So scharf’ ich am sausenden Wehstühlderzeit
Und Wirhe de Gottheit lebe3ndiges Kleid

Birth and death
A changing web
A glowing life
Thus do I work at the humming looms of time
And fashion the living garment of God.”

Song of the Earth Spirit
Image: Waterhouse ‘Boreas’

New Links on Side Bar

Pay After Abortion and New Dream a visit and let me know what you think...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Books and Only Children

'I am the product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstair indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes and the noise of wind under the tiles.

Also, of endless books.

There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep)in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parent's interests, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seeminly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves...'

C.S Lewis, on his childhood

Image: 'The Bookworm'

Monday, January 09, 2006


A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

T. S. Eliot
Image: Velazquez 'Adoration of the Magi' (look at the infant Christ's face!)
Courtesy of Skyminder