Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Picture of the Kingdom: Strange Platypus(es)

There's a marvelous place in North Houston, the Lanier Theological Library.  In the old days, we would have called it a "folly;" a rich man's capricious little building project.  This particular "folly" takes the form of a Oxford style library complete with paneled walls painted ceilings with a replica of a byzantine church a short walk away.  I should also mention the recreated Cotswold village and the peacocks.  Again, all this in the middle of nowhere North Houston.  Weird, I know.  In the true old tradition of nobelesse oblige, the library and church are open to the public.  Beyond that, Mr. Lanier has taken it upon himself to bring world class lecturers (Alistair McGrath, John Michael Talbot, Simon Conway-Morris, Edward Fudge, etc.) in to speak at the library and opening the lectures to the public free of charge.  There's also a free desert buffet in the library following each lecture.  It's an odd thing, and it draws an odd crowd.  At any given time you can stroll around with a cup of coffee and lemon tart and find John Michael Talbot in all his Gandalf look-alike glory squirreled away in an alcove talking to Texas farmer, or the local clergy hashing over anihilationism with Edward Fudge.  Elsewhere, they'll be a nun or two and a couple college students and some visiting intellectuals.  Turn the corner again, and there will be a rare codex on loan from the Vatican and John Mark Reynolds admiring the painted ceiling.  The library's a rambling, odd place.  The more time I spend there, the more I think of Jesus' words to his disciples: "in my father's house are many rooms."  Walking through the twists and turns of the Lanier is like a little piece of the Eschaton.  There's plenty of room, and plenty of food, and there's a place for everyone; great and honored hobnobbing equally with the poor and lowly.  The only thing that's wanting is the Master.

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