Web Reads: Is your church building ugly?

by Susan Olasky
Posted 8/21/14, 01:20 pm

Glorifying God in buildings. Urbanologist Aaron Renn suggests eight reasons Protestants tend to “place a low value on sacred architecture—resulting in generally poor modern churches.” He ends the piece this way: “In a society that is increasingly abandoning faith, architecture may not be the top concern. But as the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.’ That call is to glorify God in all that we do, not just through special spiritual practices. I hope that we Protestants will rediscover how to glorify Him in our buildings, recognizing them as an integral part of our worship. Let us do that without neglecting to glorify Him in our hearts, actions, and every other aspect of life as well.”

Orwellian tragedy. A fascinating 2009 essay in The Guardian (UK) describes the grim circumstances under which George Orwell penned 1984. He wrote on a remote island in the Hebrides to which he escaped after the premature death of his wife during routine surgery. He faced  deadline pressure from his publisher that forced him to write while increasingly ill. He suffered a brain hemorrhage and died seven months after the book came out. The article ends with a glossary of words from the book that are now part of everyday vocabulary.

Ivy League challenge. The Atlantic describes Minerva, a for-profit college with “a proprietary online platform developed to apply pedagogical practices that have been studied and vetted by one of the world’s foremost psychologists, a former Harvard dean named Stephen M. Kosslyn …” The school has a 39-year-old founder who has already raised more than $25 million to go head-to-head with Ivy League schools. The university promises to “strip the university experience down to the aspects that are shown to contribute directly to student learning. Lectures, gone. Tenure, gone. Gothic architecture, football, ivy crawling up the walls—gone, gone, gone.”

A noisy introvert. Lifehacker interviews radio producer Ira Glass about how he works and the equipment he uses to produce the public radio program This American Life. His answer to the question, “Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?”: “I am a noisy introvert. My sister Randi made up that phrase and it describes lots of people I know. Lots of writers seem to be introverts who love to now and then be on stage. Lots of radio people too. I covet large amounts of time alone, and I'm most comfortable and very happy when I'm alone, but obviously there’s another side to me because true introverts don’t end up with their own national radio shows.” Caution: a couple of obscenities.

Digitizing the Classics. Harvard University Press announced it has digitized the Loeb Classical Library, making it fully searchable. “In short, our entire Greek and Latin Classical heritage is represented here with up-to-date texts and accurate English translations. More than 520 volumes of Latin, Greek, and English texts are available in a modern and elegant interface, allowing readers to browse, search, bookmark, annotate, and share content with ease.”

Susan Olasky

Susan is WORLD’s story coach and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Austin, Texas. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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