The Last Word

In each issue, The Last Word features the views of a guest columnist.

Show Me the Ether

As a nature enthusiast, I was recently drawn to Tristan Gooley’s How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea. In this field guide to the often-overlooked characteristics of movement, Gooley explains that all bodies of water can be … [Continue]

What’s in a Name?

The name of our magazine is Faith & Form and when I started to think about a subject for my column in this issue, I suddenly realized that I almost always address form instead of faith. Why? Is it so difficult to describe one’s faith in words? Of … [Continue]

What Should Mosque Architecture Be?

The religion of Islam is built upon an understanding of the relationship between humans and nature. Many verses in the Quran urge Muslims to think deeply about creation and the miracles of the universe. Fasting, prayer, and all other forms of worship … [Continue]

“The Pierless Bridge”

How should we protect and, in the event of disruption, help communities recreate “sacred space”? The question itself provokes more questions, including unintended consequences. Set aside the goal of an impregnable sanctuary and think about the sacred … [Continue]

To Notice

In the words of architect John Hejduk, “the fundamental issue of architecture is that does it affect the spirit or doesn’t it. If it doesn’t affect the spirit, it’s building. It if affects the spirit, it’s architecture.” I strive to make the … [Continue]

Landscape as Poetic and Sacred Architecture

Maybe seeing the Plains is like seeing an icon: what seems stern and almost empty is merely open, a door into some simple and holy state. Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography Eons ago, a retreating glacial blade gouged a region through … [Continue]

Everything Old is…Old Again

We are a nostalgic people, in part because the past can be known, judged, and the “good parts” can be repeated. There is little risk in replicating from the past what today is deemed “traditional.” Tradition is comfortable. We can snuggle down in it. … [Continue]

Sacred Dirt

Imagine, for a moment, a forest, perhaps a redwood grove, with sunlight slanting through the trees. If you have ever stood among the redwoods, it is hard not to feel a sense of the holy, what the theologian Rudolf Otto described as the “numinous.” In … [Continue]

Library of Souls

Louis Kahn was late for his lecture. The U.C. Berkeley student center ballroom was packed with people eager to hear the great man that spring evening in 1968. But nearly an hour past his scheduled appearance…still no Louis. Where was he? Speaking … [Continue]

What’s Past is Prologue?

Shakespeare used it. John Toynbee used it. It’s engraved on the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. “What is Past is Prologue” is a phrase that commonly refers to the influence history has on creating a context for understanding and maybe … [Continue]