I’ve been enjoying Waterdeep’s new record, “The Unusual Tale of Mary & Joseph’s Baby.”
It’s not a traditional Christmas album; it’s the soundtrack for a musical of the same title. From the Waterdeep site, the songs “take you from Mary & Joseph before their wedding, when Mary gets some stunning news from an angel that she will conceive and give birth to the Son of God. This is a little confusing and unbelievable for Joseph until the Angel visits him as well, confirming the story. Various hijinks ensue.”
This isn’t a record that will appeal to everyone but the songwriting is exceptional. On the whole, it casts the mystery, peril, weirdness, and wonder of the Christmas story in a remarkable and moving way.
Church buildings are supposed to be about creating an atmosphere that welcomes people and helps them tune in to God. That doesn’t mean going cheap, nor does it necessarily mean going extravagant. It means creating something that connects with your particular community in a way that honors and glorifies God.
A tradition’s view of architecture conveys a lot of beliefs, including ideas about worship, art, beauty, community, and–ultimately–the tradition’s view of God. Your church building may be a cathedral or a pole barn or somewhere in between. There are messages preached in church buildings every week; what message is your building telling visitors and passersby?
I grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition, where architecture tends to point to to the transcendence of God. Many Catholic church buildings are a visual feast. My wife and were in Vienna recently and visited St. Stephen’s cathedral, pictured above. It was striking–and interesting to note that it attracted visitors from all manner of religious (or non-religious) backgrounds.
For the past 20 years or so, however, I’ve worshiped in a tradition that is much more utilitarian in its aesthetic. Form often follows function slavishly (and unattractively). Based on their design alone, do these type of buildings attract curious visitors? Probably not.
To be sure, Jesus had words for things that were pretty outside but rotten inside. But that doesn’t mean something that’s beautiful in appearance can’t also have qualities of beauty inside.
I just read that legendary designer Massimo Vignelli died today. Even if you don’t know his name, you’ve seen his work: the American Airlines corporate identity, the New York subway signage and map, furniture, books, packaging–it is all simple, elegant, and beautiful. He had a profound influence on design and designers over the course of his life.
Michael Bierut has an endearing tribute on the Design Observer site. Take a few moments to read it, then follow up on some of Vignelli’s work. Trust me: it will be worth your time.
I’ve got a new batch of photography students at LCU this semester. They’re working through some difficult learning exercises: how to really use their cameras (instead of letting the camera make all the decisions), choosing lenses appropriately, finding and working with light. They’re making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. While I can see a significant improvement in their photographs in just a few weeks, the process can be discouraging because we often think things come so easily for others.
Here’s the truth: nothing is easy.
You want to get better? It’s going to take hard work and time.
And it’s not just photography. It’s everything: any creative work (writing, painting, music), business, learning, parenting, relationships–everything.
It’s hard for them, it’s hard for me.
I’m taking a photography class right now and had a still life assignment this past week. I mostly photograph people, not stuff. AND THE ASSIGNMENT WAS REALLY HARD FOR ME.
Nothing is easy. It takes time and effort.
But there’s a payoff.
Put in the time, put in the effort, do the reps. And you’ll get better.
Note: some product URLs mentioned on this site may contain affiliate links. This doesn't cost you anything more, it just puts a few pennies in my pocket if you click through and purchase something. Thanks for your support.