Val Brinkerhoff is an associate professor of photography in BYU’s Visual Arts Department, and over the last decade has focused his studies on sacred architecture, particularly of temples. He’s authored or co-authored a number of books, the three most recent being about finding the meaning of symbolism in sacred architecture. Yesterday he gave a lecture on this subject at BYU as part of the Kennedy Center Lectures. A video of the lecture is embedded below (on the website), or can be found at the Kennedy Center website. It is about an hour long, and provides a fascinating look into the symbolism of temples, ancient and modern. Thanks Lee!
I’ve been taking notes this morning at the Sacred Space symposium at BYU, and was thinking of posting my scribbles. But instead of reinventing the wheel, you might want to check out the great notes at the Juvenile Instructor blog. Jared and Ben are doing a fantastic job over there of summarizing the presentations. I don’t think I could do any better.
I will still probably post about my experience at the symposium, but it will be my own take and thoughts on what was presented.
This Wednesday, June 3rd, the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding at BYU will be sponsoring an academic symposium entitled “Sacred Space.” The symposium will commence at 9:15 a.m. at the Gordon B. Hinckley Center at Brigham Young University, with a welcome from President Cecil O. Samuelson. Presenters will include Terryl Givens, Richard A. Cohen, Jeanne H. Kilde, Hamid Mavani, Michael Fishbane, Steven Olsen, and Laurie Maffly-Kipp. There will also be a panel discussion in the evening with Richard Bushman as moderator.
The symposium comes in recognition of the open house of the new Oquirrh Mountain Temple, and will discuss the idea of sacred space among several scholars of different religious backgrounds. It should be very interesting. I’m planning on attending. I’m still unsure whether I will liveblog it or not. The last time I liveblogged a BYU conference, it did not seem like there was that much interest. Let me know if you would be interested in a liveblog.
Have you ever wondered what goes into the design of new temples? How much is planned ahead of time? To what extent do they know what the temple will look like when it is finished? What level of detail is thought about even before construction begins?
I have thought those things many times before, and I believe they have now been answered in large measure by something fascinating that Elder Bednar shared in his CES fireside address just a couple weeks ago on May 3, 2009. His talk was entitled, “Things as They Really Are,” and he spoke about how the virtualization of reality through modern technology can take particularly pernicious forms that can have damaging eternal spiritual effects. It is an excellent talk, and one that every member of the Church should read and study carefully.
He also spoke of the good that can come through these technologies. One of the positive influences of our modern advances in virtual reality was shown in architecture, engineering, and design planning. Elder Bednar showed two sets of images of how computer graphics technology is used in the design of temples, and they are incredible:
As you can see, an extremely detailed plan of the Newport Beach California Temple was conceived before construction even started, even down to the fabrics, textures, colors, lights, windows, and furniture. Here is another:
Again, the attention to detail is astounding in the lobby rendering of the Copenhagen Denmark Temple before it was constructed. Needless to say, the Church knows a great deal about what a temple will look like before the dirt is stirred. Coming from a computer graphics background, I am greatly impressed.
The Church spares no expense in doing things right, particularly where the Lord’s temples are concerned. As in ancient times, the House of the Lord is only built with the finest of materials, craft, and skill available, and the most painstaking efforts are made beforehand to ensure that the Lord’s most holy house ends up being what it should be—the most sacred place on earth.
Note: I taught our Elders Quorum class today, and was assigned the topic of the Mosaic Tabernacle as a Temple. Below are the notes and illustrations I used for my lesson.
Review of prior lesson on the exodus:
- Children of Israel escape Egyptian bondage (Ex. 14)
- Moses leads them out
- Parting of the Red Sea, Pharoah’s armies are drowned
- Lord begins to organize his people
- Manna rains down from heaven, sends Quail for meat (Ex. 16)
- Moses strikes the rock, and water comes out
- Lord covenants to Israel a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, an holy nation (Ex. 19:5-6)
- 10 commandments and Mount Sinai (Ex. 20)
- The people start to refuse to become what the Lord had offered them – “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Ex. 20:19). Foreshadowing…
- Many instructions, laws, covenants, etc. are delivered to Moses, which he delivers to the people, who all answer with one voice, “Yes, we will be obedient (Ex. 24:3, 7)
Moses goes up Mount Sinai again to receive instructions for 40 days and nights (Ex. 24:18). Matthew Brown – “As part of his ascension experience, Moses is said to have been washed, anointed, clothed in heavenly garments, called with names of honor, enthroned, and initiated into heavenly secrets” ((Brown, Matthew B. The Gate of Heaven: Insights on the Doctrines and Symbols of the Temple. American Fork, Utah: Covenant Communication, 1999. 58)). Joseph Smith noted that Moses received the “keys of the Kingdom,” and “certain signs and words” ((ibid.)). [Read more…]