Years ago I set out to think about, write about, and practice the following question:
- How do Christianity and architecture connect?
As I pursued this question it became slippery and changed into a number of other questions:
- If architecture is a practice that affects my neighbors, how do I love my neighbors through the way I practice architecture?
- If buildings create the spaces in which people interact every day how do they affect those interactions? And how can they do this in positive ways?
- What, if anything, does Jesus teach about the physical and spatial dimensions of our everyday interactions?
If I have to distill all this into a new central question it might look something like this:
- How can we think about, take responsibility for, and enjoy the spaces we make for one another in our work, with our words, and through our everyday interactions? OR
- Where do designing and neighboring intersect?
As I’ve wrestled with how to think about design as an action these questions have taken me from architecture theory to philosophical ethics to political theology and beyond. As I blog I do write about architecture at times but more often I write about the interactions that occur between people where architecture forms the stage. I tend to write about how we design our spaces, our things, and most importantly our lives for one another.
The neighboring in the title of the blog is a reference to Jesus’ call for us to love our neighbors, the particular people we interact with every day. Jesus proposed and modeled a particular flavor of love: a self-giving, reconciling, being together kind of love that is intentional and active. I find this vision and Jesus’ demonstration of it in his life radically compelling. This, for me, is the ultimate goal of my designing, my writing, and my life.
Many engage with my blog who have a genuine concern for others and who do not consider themselves followers of Jesus. You are certainly welcome and loved here. Sadly, some have avoided engagement with Christianity precisely because what they have seen from Christians looks like the opposite of loving their neighbors. I’d like to apologize for the ways I and my brothers and sisters in Christ have been unfaithful in loving you as our neighbor. I hope that this conversation can be open and generous enough to include anyone concerned with design and concerned with those around them. Please challenge me if it isn’t.
Some other things about me:
I’m an architect. I have a Masters degree in architecture from Harvard, am registered in two states, and have been designing buildings for a couple of decades.
I’m a teacher. I get to teach architecture, graphic design, and engineering at a public high school in central Texas. Yes, they teach those things in high school now. Or at least I do. I have the best job ever.
I’m a writer. You’ve probably already figured this one out, but it’s taken me a while to realize that I can do this writing thing and that I enjoy it. Apart from the blog I have a few books in progress which you can read about HERE.
I always appreciate any thoughts or feedback you have. I’d love for you to participate, either in the comments section of the blog or on social media. Thanks for reading and being part of this conversation!
Books in Progress
I have a series of books in various stages of construction. Of course all titles and topics are subject to change. Words rarely follow the path I’ve carefully mapped out for them.
Situated Faithful Work: The everyday work of justice, healing, and making in the context of life together.
Grappling with the question: Where do the practice of daily work and the practice of following Jesus intersect?
Many have written about Christianity and work. Most assume the world as the place where God is at work, with the church and discipleship as a support for our work in the world. This book will turn this upside-down to see how daily work in the world looks when the primary place God is at work is in our lives with God and with one another — our discipleship and our life as the church. It will explore recent challenges from neo-Anabaptists (primarily Stanley Hauerwas) and spiritual formation thinkers (primarily Dallas Willard) to live a fuller richer life in Christ, then in the workplace.
Embodied Faithfulness: Assuming postures of self-giving love in physical space
Grappling with the question: What does God’s story tell us about how to understand and guide our daily interactive stories as physical bodies in physical space?
Though the incarnation undermines any divisions between life with God and life in our physical bodies, the meaning of our everyday physical interactions in physical space has been addressed directly by almost no one. Or at least I have been looking for over two decades now and have only found bits and pieces here and there. This book will explore various dimensions of the life Jesus taught, practiced, and called us to so that we can construct a bodily ethic for everyday life.
Designing Buildings for Life Together: Practicing architecture and following Jesus
Grappling with the question: Where do the practice of designing buildings and the practice of following Jesus intersect?
I could have just asked myself how to be a Christian architect but as I tried to answer this question the answers didn’t let me keep things there. Designing is an action, not just a concept, so discussing it coherently requires connecting it to the action of following Jesus, not just Christian concepts. This book will build on the foundation of the first two in order to propose a conceptual model for the practice of architecture for people living out their lives in physical bodies as neighbors to one another.
Are you an agent or publisher that wants to connect? Contact me here.
Are you a reader that has thoughts or questions about any of these books? Contact me here.
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