Daily Update: Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Conversion of Paul (Parmigianino) and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2015

Today is the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is also the Feast of the Conversion of Paul, Apostle. Today also is the Eighth and Final Day of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with the overall theme for 2015 being “Jesus said to her, “’Give Me A Drink’.” (John 4: 7); for today, we meditate on “Many believed because of the woman’s testimony”.

The story of the conversion from the virulently anti-Christian Saul to the Apostle Paul is told no less than five times in the New Testament; on the road to Damascus with a mandate to persecute the Christians there, Saul was blinded by a light from heaven, fell to the ground, and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” When Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” the answer came back, ”I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” He regained his sight upon being baptised, changed his name to Paul, and became the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Christian theological implication of the Conversion of Paul is that it witnesses the absolution of sin that is offered by faith and grace through belief in Jesus Christ. The magnitude of Paul’s transgressions, such as his attempts to completely eradicate Christianity, indicate that any sinner may be forgiven, no matter how terrible his sins, except for the Unforgivable Sin against the Holy Spirit. Today also is the Eighth and Final Day of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with the overall theme for 2015 being “Jesus said to her, “’Give Me A Drink’.” (John 4: 7. For today, we highlight “Many believed because of the woman’s testimony”, and we pray, “God, Spring of Living Water, make of us witnesses of unity through both our words and our lives. Help us to understand that we are not the owners of the well, and give us the wisdom to welcome the same grace in one another. Transform our hearts and our lives so that we might be genuine bearers of the Good News. And lead us always to the encounter the other, as an encounter with you. We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

On Saturday night our LSU Men’s Basketball team beat Vanderbilt in overtime by the score of 79 to 75. Our Tigers will next play a home game against South Carolina on January 28th.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and when we left the house we dumped a bag of trash in the dumpster. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, did my Meditation for the Eighth Day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and did the First Day of my Novena to Saint Blaise. When we got to the casino Richard and I both put in for ten hours of PTO to cover the time we got out early this pay period. Once we clocked in, Richard was on Mississippi Stud until about half-way through our shift, when he went to Mini Baccarat. I was first the Relief Dealer for the second Three Card Poker table and Switch Blackjack, then I was the Relief Dealer for the third Mississippi Stud table, a Blackjack table, and Switch Blackjack, then I was the Relief Dealer for Mississippi Stud, Switch Blackjack, and Three Card Poker. All during our shift I was troubled by what felt like a horrible cramp in my right big toe, which made walking difficult; and standing at my tables all day did not help, either.

When we got home from work I ate my lunch salad and read the Sunday papers. I then took a nap until about 6:00 pm, when I got out of bed to come catch up on stuff on the computer and to do today’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Timothy and and Saint Titus, Bishops. Tomorrow is the First Day of the Pay Period, and we will work our eight hours at the casino.

Our Parting Quote on this Sunday afternoon comes to us from Philip Johnson, American architect. Born in 1906 in Cleveland, Ohio, he studied at Harvard University as an undergraduate, where he focused on history and philosophy, particularly the work of the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Johnson interrupted his education with several extended trips to Europe; these trips became the pivotal moment of his education, as he visited Chartres, the Parthenon, and many other ancient monuments, becoming increasingly fascinated with architecture. In 1928 Johnson met with architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was at the time designing the German Pavilion for the Barcelona exhibition of 1929. The meeting was a revelation for Johnson and formed the basis for a lifelong relationship of both collaboration and competition. He returned from Germany as a proselytizer for the new architecture. Touring Europe more comprehensively with his friends Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and Henry-Russell Hitchcock to examine firsthand recent trends in architecture, the three assembled their discoveries as the landmark show “The International Style: Architecture Since 1922″ at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1932. The show was profoundly influential and is seen as the introduction of modern architecture to the American public. It introduced such pivotal architects as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe. The exhibition was also notable for a controversy: architect Frank Lloyd Wright withdrew his entries in pique that he was not more prominently featured. Johnson continued to work as a proponent of modern architecture, using the Museum of Modern Art as a bully pulpit. He arranged for Le Corbusier’s first visit to the United States in 1935, then worked to bring Mies and Marcel Breuer to the US as emigres. During the Great Depression he resigned his post at MoMA to try his hand at journalism and agrarian populist politics. His enthusiasm centered on the critique of the liberal welfare state, whose “failure” seemed to be much in evidence during the 1930s. As a correspondent Johnson observed the Nuremberg Rallies in Germany and covered the invasion of Poland in 1939. The invasion proved the breaking point in Johnson’s interest in journalism or politics, as he returned to enlist in the US Army. After a couple of self-admittedly undistinguished years in uniform, he returned to the Harvard Graduate School of Design to finally pursue his ultimate career of architect. Johnson’s early influence as a practicing architect was his use of glass; his masterpiece was the Glass House (1949) he designed as his own residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, a profoundly influential work. The building is an essay in minimal structure, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection. After completing several houses in the idiom of Mies and Breuer, he joined Mies van der Rohe as the New York associate architect for the 39-story Seagram Building (1956). Johnson was pivotal in steering the commission towards Mies, working with Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of the CEO of Seagram. This collaboration of architects and client resulted in the bronze-and-glass tower on Park Avenue. Completing the Seagram Building with Mies also decisively marked a shift in his career. After this accomplishment, Johnson’s practice enlarged as projects came in from the public realm—such as coordinating the master plan of Lincoln Center and designing that complex’s New York State Theater. Meanwhile, Johnson began to grow bored with the orthodoxies of the International Style he had championed; although startling when constructed, the glass and steel tower (indeed many idioms of the modern movement) had by the 1960s become commonplace the world over. He eventually rejected much of the metallic appearance of earlier International Style buildings, and began designing spectacular, crystalline structures uniformly sheathed in glass. From 1967 to 1991 Johnson collaborated with John Burgee. This was by far his most productive period — certainly by the measure of scale — he became known at this time as builder of iconic office towers, including Minneapolis’s IDS Tower. That building’s distinctive stepbacks (called “zogs” by the architect) created an appearance that has since become one of Minneapolis’s trademarks and the crown jewel of its skyline. In 1980, the Crystal Cathedral was completed for Rev. Robert A. Schuller’s famed megachurch, which became a Southern California landmark. The AT&T Building in Manhattan, now the Sony Building, was completed in 1984 and was immediately controversial for its neo-Georgian pediment (Chippendale top). At the time, it was seen as provocation on a grand scale: crowning a Manhattan skyscraper with a shape echoing a historical wardrobe top defied every precept of the modernist aesthetic: historical pattern had been effectively outlawed among architects for years. In retrospect other critics have seen the AT&T Building as the first Postmodernist statement, necessary in the context of modernism’s aesthetic cul-de-sac. In 1987, Johnson was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Houston (died 2005): “All architecture is shelter, all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”

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