October 4, 2005

Math meets spirituality at Brent House

Brent House, University of Chicago's Episcopal Center, will host the first of its Dinner and Conversation series on Wednesday, October 5. Guest architect Ben Nicholson will lead a discussion titled, "Numb(er)ing the Spirit: Awakening the Spirit within Number."

Nicholson's work concentrates on the relationship between mathematics and spirituality, focusing on the contrast between the abstract geometrical world and the concrete physical world. "Drawing interlocking circles on a sandy beach with stick and string prompts the question, ‘Were the circles always there, residing beneath the surface of the sand, waiting to be revealed?'" he said.

The event follows an initiative by Brent House last spring to build a labyrinth on the quads. Organizers intended to give students a break from academic stress through a brief spiritual exercise.

Nicholson's name emerged as an authority on labyrinths and a valuable resource for the project. "He talked to us about how walking a labyrinth is a way of physically and spiritually experiencing the geometric forms, moving through space and time; and, when done with other people, a way of expressing the complex dynamics of relationship," Stacy Alan, chaplain of Brent House, said

According to Nicholson, the mathematical and material aspects of architecture provide us with an opportunity "to make comprehensive, very complex systems," and architecture has been the "best expression of human endeavor" for the past 5,000 years. Nicholson studied at Cranbrook Academy, Cooper Union, and at the Architectural Association under renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.

The event is open to the public, and discussion will follow a vegetarian dinner. RSVP to (773) 947-8000 or e-mail Brent House is located at 5440 South Woodlawn Avenue.