Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Spaces in Which We Live

In a book I read recently, the author quoted an unnamed friend who said that, with respect to how groups of people interact, "Architecture always wins". This got me thinking; how much are we affected by the spaces we inhabit?

I could go on and on about important this is with regards to churches. I'll briefly give a few positive and negative examples:
  • Consider most large cathedrals and Orthodox churches, full of art. One is filled with awe, stimulated to worship by the beauty and care of the art. Who can feel proud in a cathedral?
  • Contrast this to a local baptist church I have visited: bare brick walls, angular architectural features. Focus is towards the stage, which is adorned only by a stark cross. How does this affect worship? Are we only worshiping God's truth and seeking to learn? Are we not also praising him for his beauty and awesome glory?
  • The local church I attend while in Houghton meets in an old building with stained-glass windows. My favourite part about the building is that the sanctuary is built so that all the pews are curved and the people sitting in them face one another. I think this contributes to the strong sense of community felt in that church.
  • My home church met in a retirement home. While I believe that the church should care for the aging, can a space that was originally designed for those who are quietly ending their lives also serve a church, which has such an urgent and active mission?
  • How much is the life and warmth of a house church due to the home in which it meets?
I think the excellence and craftsmanship of a space affects our behavior in it.

This week I came across an interesting phenomena: tiny houses. Watch this.

This is a relatively wealthy person choosing to live in a small space because he wants to. How does the chosen size of our dwelling affect our values? What do you think about his motives?

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