& Perception - Paper 1
Stories & People Paper 1 was descriptive and
factual in its account of my journey through jobs and roles integrating
built environment, theology, ministry and building, in various ways.
That journey only has coherence and stability if one can see what was
going on at the same time in terms of a spiritual journey.
In this additional paper I have brought together some examples of the
people and kinds of thinking that have encouraged and refreshed me and
now serve as underpinning..
Again, as in Stories &
People Paper 1, these
examples can be imagined in the form of an octagon.
But this time I have added an
additional item numbered 0 because I see it at the centre of the
octagon, influencing my approach to all the others.
1 CHARLES HANDY
Charles Handy Professor at the
and widely known as a broadcaster asks whether there is a mystery at the
heart of things.
Mystery of the Universe:
Whence comes our Energy?
So many strive each day to build a better world,
Putting heart and body to a stringent daily test,
Why do they bother?
What keeps us good?
When the way ahead is snared with tempting traps
Like sloth and gluttony, or selfishness and greed.
Whence comes our virtue?
There is more mystery at the heart of things.
Could it be chance?
We all are just a random mix of genes
Our feelings chemistry, our bodies particles in flight.
Is it all luck?
Or is there something?
Some force or reason, some point behind it all
Something that hounds us on, for each to find
A Spirit and a Truth?
Is there a mystery at the heart of things?
2 JACK BURTON
Jack Burton, a ‘worker
priest’, drives his bus around
and sees the mystery as beauty in both a medieval church and, morning
and evening, in a new concrete office block
This evening I visited
parish church..... There is a quality about medieval architecture which
is inspiring and ennobling before ever a word is uttered; and this
church is a gem. It was a warm, still summer evening, quiet and perfect.
Most modern office blocks do not
impress me – they fill me with alarm and despair. But recently one new
building of glass and concrete caught my attention early in the morning
when the rising sun filled it with fire and set it seemingly ablaze.
Tonight, I noticed this building had been illuminated. The concrete
shone pure white in the surrounding darkness, and looked very effective.
Dag Hammarskjöld, working at
the head of the United Nations, interprets ‘God’s marriage to the
soul’ in terms of things given meaning, responsibilities accepted, and
‘quality’ pursued. He is also sensitive to landscape.
You are liberated from things,
but you encounter in them an experience which has the purity and clarity
In the faith which is ‘God’s
marriage to the soul’, everything, therefore, has a meaning.
So live, then, that you may use
what has been put into your hand...
What distinguishes the
‘elite’ from the masses is only their insistence on ‘quality’.
This implies a responsibility, to all for all, to the past for the
future, which is the reflection of a humble and spontaneous response to
Life – with its endless possibilities, and its unique present which
never happens twice.
Not to encumber the earth....
just this: not to encumber the earth.
A landscape can sing about God,
a body about Spirit.
4 HARRY WILLIAMS
Harry Williams, a Cambridge
college chaplain, says that ‘resurrection’ means that we are able to
make new values.
Living goodness ... must be the
result of renewed creativity, and it will manifest itself not, in terms
of realizing values which exist already in some changeless ideal realm
above and beyond man, but in terms of actually creating values which are
`The task of ethics is not to
draw up a list of traditional moral norms, but to have the daring to
make creative valuations. '. And values can thus be created only by
being lived, not by being argued about or assented to.
This creation of new values
means that for us to enter eternity and be given eternal life is not to
be raised up to
the vision of so me static state of changeless perfection, but to
participate more and more actively in the creative processes we find all
around us here an now. To share God's life is to find ourselves creating
John Rayner sees scaffolding
around the synagogue enabling it to be repaired, restored and renewed,
with prayers being said at the top and at the bottom, a reality and a
metaphor for his students’ work.
Speaking at the ordination of
four graduates of Leo
13 November 1966
where building work is going on,
Repairers of the Breach
the Mishnah we read: `Workers may recite the Shema on top of the
scaffold' (Ber. 2:4). But it goes on to say that in order to recite the
Tefillah they must come down. It is therefore perfectly in order to pray
at the foot of the scaffolding, as we are doing this evening. And though
the scaffolding hides from us, temporarily, the full glory of this house
of worship, it is yet capable of yielding its own symbolism. For the
purpose of the scaffolding is to enable the workers to repair, to
restore, to renovate and to re-construct; and that is not an inapt
description of the task of the modern rabbi.
For the House of Israel is today
in a state of disrepair. Its fabric shows everywhere the ravages of the
Holocaust. It suffers, too, from the stresses of disunity, the dry rot
of secularism, the dilapidation of neglect. Its furnishings are overlaid
with the dust of superficiality, and its unwashed windows admit only a
In this situation it is more
than ever the task of the rabbi to be a `repairer of the breach' (Isa.
58:12), to heal the rift between past and present, tradition and
modernity, belief and practice, promise and fulfillment.
6 PETER RICE
Peter Rice, an eminent
structural engineer, enables young engineers, craftsmen and theatre
personnel to practically design on site how the natural lighting will
work in the Full-Moon Theatre, being built along a pilgrim way to
The theatre is lit entirely by
reflected moonlight. The calculation to track the moon, define the
geometry of the reflections which perform different theatrical functions
– spots, sidelights, footlights and so on – was developed in
, working with Humbert Camerlo, a theatre director. Otherwise all the
development is the product of craftsmen working on site. Young engineers
don’t sit and draw in the office. They are all sent to the theatre to
participate in its development, both physically and mentally.
What I feel is essential to the
Full-Moon Theatre ... is that everything that happens there is rooted in
the place and comes from the hands of people who live and work there.
The spiritual side of the
experience is enhanced by the place itself ... on one of the famous
medieval pilgrim ways to St Jacques de Compostela, and there is a spring
just below the Full-Moon Theatre where the pilgrims used to stop for
refreshment and spiritual sustenance. This connection means that one is
permanently aware of an extra presence when one is at the Centre.
7 TEILHARD DE CHARDIN
Teilhard de Chardin, geologist
and Catholic priest, in his daybreak Mass on the World, offers all the
people and all that will be done to God.
Since once again Lord I have
neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these
symbols up to the pure majesty of the real itself.
I will offer you all the labours
and sufferings of the world.
Over there, on the horizon, the
sun has just touched with light the outermost fringe of the eastern sky.
Once again, beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the
earth wakes and trembles, and once again begins its fearful travail. I
will place on my paten, O God, the harvest to be won by this renewal of
labour. Into my chalice I shall pour all the sap which is to be pressed
out this day from the earth’s fruits.
My paten and my chalice are the
depths of a soul laid widely open to all the forces which in a moment
will rise up from every corner of the earth and converge upon the
Spirit. Grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence of all those
whom the light is now awakening to the new day.
One by one, Lord, I see and live
all those whom you have given me to sustain and charm my life.
One by one also I number all
those who make up that other beloved family which has gradually
surrounded me, its unity fashioned out of the most disparate elements,
with affinities of the heart, of scientific research, and of thought.
And again one by one – more
vaguely it is true but all-inclusively – I call before me the whole
vast anonymous army of living humanity: those who surround me and
support me though I do not know them; those who come, and those who go;
above all, those who in office, laboratory and factory, through their
vision of truth or despite their error, truly believe in the progress of
earthly reality and who today will today take up their impassioned
pursuit of the light.
8 ST MARTIN’S-IN-THE-FIELDS
The Church Prayer of
, links stone and Spirit, grace and intelligence, in its vision of a
real-time Kingdom in the city.
God of heaven and earth,
of history and eternity, of spirit and stones,
whose glory is proclaimed
in the life, death and resurrection of your Son:
renew your people in grace and truth
that with energy, imagination and intelligence,
we may build your Kingdom
and be transformed into your likeness
from glory to glory,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
0 THOMAS TRAHERNE
Thomas Trahrerne, poet from the
17th century, speaks of good action and ethical, responsible practical
living, being pursued ‘as if’ we had the assurances that only
eternity can give. That is not naive; it is true faith.
man to act as if
For man to act
as if his soul did see
brightness of eternity;
For man to act as if his love did burn
spheres, even while it’s in the um;
For man to act
even in the wilderness,
As if he did those sovereign joys possess,
Which do at once confirm, stir up, enflame,
And perfect angels; having not the same!
It doth increase the value of his deeds.
In this a man a Seraphim exceeds:
To act on obligations yet unknown,
To act upon rewards as yet unknown,
To keep commands whose beauty's yet unseen,
To cherish and retain a zeal between
Sleeping and waking; shows a constant care;
And that a deeper love, a love so rare,
That no eye service may with it compare.
Burton, Jack (1976) Transport of Delight
Cecil, Lord David (ed) (1940,
1951) The Oxford Book of Christian Verse Oxford Clarendon
de Chardin, Teilard (1970) Hymn
of the Universe London William Collins
Hammarskjold, Dag (1964)
Faber and Faber
Handy, Charles (1991) Waiting
for the mountain to move London Hutchinson
Rayner, John D (1998) A Jewish
Understanding of the World
Rice, Peter (1993) An Engineer
Williams, HA (1972) True