The Last Word

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

Open Frame

The quintet sits silently, off center of the pulpit, awaiting their cue from the conductor standing near the first pew. Baton lifted, she quickly makes eye contact with the five, launches the downbeat, and the first notes of Handel’s Water Music flow … [Continue]

Of Tactile Light and Landscapes

The interrelationship between building and perception is one of the most powerful and enduring concepts in architecture. Beyond a metaphor, the idea that architecture functions as a “window” through which one “sees” to the outside world remains a … [Continue]

How I Carved My Inner Buddha

At gas stations, on roundabouts, and in front of the Balinese city of Kuta’s beach hotels, black and white checkered cloth adorned everything in sight; I was mesmerized. Gray statues glared back. Their faces were frozen, smiling ferociously, daring … [Continue]

Transformative Liturgy

Recently I participated in the most transformative worship service in my life. It was held at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I say “transformative” because it demonstrated possibilities of imagination I had not … [Continue]

The Trouble with Those S Words

Several months ago Michael J. Crosbie wrote an editorial in these pages (Vol. 45, No. 1, p. 4) describing his thoughts on a panel discussion that Karla Britton and I had organized, titled “Space, the Sacred and the Imagination.” Crosbie noted the … [Continue]

Avenues to the Holy

As I browse this year’s winners of the Faith & Form / IFRAA international awards program I recall the words of the German expressionist architect, Erich Mendelsohn. Writing in Commentary in 1947, Mendelsohn observed, “It has been said that … [Continue]

Six Signs of Sacred Landscapes

Making my way through woods of the Canadian Shield, I come upon billion-year-old primal basement granite rock. On a path navigating an island surrounded by shrub swamp and shallow marsh, I move through a grove of mature hemlock we call “The … [Continue]

A Question and a Revision

“Can an atheist make great sacred art and architecture?” This was the question posed on Faith & Form's Linked-In discussion group. A lively dialogue ensued. It was a quiet Sunday and although I am neither an architect nor a religious person, I … [Continue]

Market-Driven Design

For years my professional portfolio has included providing resources and support for congregations that are engaged in all facets of an architectural project. By far my favorite interactions are those that occur at the very beginning stages of … [Continue]

Engage and Change

As I was preparing to fly east to Charlotte to chair the 2011 Faith & Form/IFRAA Awards jury, I had just received news from the National Episcopal Church that the numbers were in. The Episcopal Church is officially in decline. We are closing … [Continue]