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Repaso: March 15, 2013


1. Extended use for sacred space
PRI’s The World has a really fascinating story about efforts to preserve Europe’s historic (and largely empty) buildings through “extended use” – using facilities for a variety of purposes that get people inside the building, but that have nothing to do with church. This idea, it seems to me, raises important questions about “sacred space” and what it means for a church to truly be an integral part of a community.

2. Secularism in Latin America
This week the world was introduced to the first Latin American pope, and much has been made about him being a man of the people, and about the weighty challenges he will face, both in Latin America and, even more urgently, elsewhere. Writing before the papal announcement, meanwhile, religious historian Philip Jenkins points to another challenge – the rise of European-style secularism in the new pope’s continent:

In recent months, observers have remarked on the growing number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation (the “nones”), whose numbers are highest among the young. We can argue about just what these numbers mean, but possibly they do mark the beginning of a secularizing trend, a drift toward European conditions. Surprisingly perhaps, given our customary assumptions about Latin America, conditions in several Latin American nations mirror those in the U.S. Increasingly these countries are developing a European coloring.

3. Saving great ideas from the ideas industry
Umair Haque makes a compelling case in the Harvard Business Review that the ubiquitous rise of “TED thinking” might not be as wonderful as it first appears. A challenging piece for TED fans like me:

TED thinking assumes complex social problems are essentially engineering challenges, and that short nuggets of Technology, Edutainment, and Design can fix everything, fast and cheap. TED thinking’s got a hard determinism to it; a kind of technological hyperrationalism. It ignores institutions and society almost completely. We’ve come to look at these quick, easy “solutions” as the very point of “ideas worth spreading.” But this seems to me to miss the point and power of ideas entirely.

4. Let justice roll down
Bearing that “ideas industry” critique in mind, videos of all the main speakers’ talks at last month’s Justice Conference have now been posted. I hope they lead not only to many good conversations, but that they truly spur us on to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

5. La Sagrada Familia
It seems fitting, in a Repaso that includes talk of the Catholic Church and sacred space, to finish with this video featuring La Sagrada Familia, a basilica in Barcelona, arguably “one of the most remarkable buildings ever built by human hands.”

[Photo: Basílica de la Sagrada Família via]

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