Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Couple of Anglican Updates

Did you know that "Theological Outlines" by Francis Hall is back in print? You can get for $27 at Wipf and Stock. Theological Outlines is a quick reference/bare bones version of his 10 volume systematic theology. It's nice to have around, and who knows how long it will be back, so buy it now while you still can.

Also, a couple of really bad looking Anglican websites have been updated, and now they look pretty good: St. Alban's, Joppa, MD (my wife did that one); Reformed Episcopal Seminary; and the Anglican Catholic Church. Nothing is more important these days in terms of advertising than having a decent web presence.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Baptism of Christ

Here is a picture of a painting I recently completed of the Baptism of Christ. It is, obviously, based on the traditional iconographic composition of the subject, but it is not an icon. It is a 46" x 48" oil on canvas (traditional icons are always done in egg tempera). The unusual looking object coming down from the top of the painting is found in all iconographic representations of this image, and what it signifies is the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Our Lord at His baptism. (There is a small bird in bolt that may or may not be visible on the digital image.)

Woman Finds Art Masterpiece in the Trash

A lady found a painting by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo in the trash while on a walk in NYC. The painting had been stolen over 20 years ago. She didn't know who did the painting, but saw that it had a certain power, so she rescued it. Now it is being sold at auction for $1,000,000.

I keep waiting for the day when I find some lost masterpiece like that either in the trash or at a yard sale!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Biblical Criticism and Art Criticism

Many people look at the Bible as a CNN news report that explains exactly who did what, when, and how it happened. In doing so they completely neglect the various types of literature that make up the canon of Scripture, the context in which they were written, the mindset of the communities who produced the book, the social customs of the community, and so on. Because they are blind to these things, or do not consider them, when reading the Bible, they often come up with bizarre interpretations of certain passages. But employing tools like genre criticism, canonical criticism, narrative-historical criticism, and all of the rest of them, help us understand the text better. This is one of the main reasons why seminarians spend so much time studying higher criticism in seminary! It is helpful in most ways.

I think the same thing goes on when some people view art. Works by modern masters, such as Anselm Kiefer, are misunderstood and often derided by the average person because the viewer knows nothing of what the artist trying to say or accomplish. He doesn't understand the point of the medium or technique (genre). For many (but not all) great modern and postmodern artists, the last thing they are interested in doing painting a very realistic Madonna... not because they can't paint it, or don't see the value in it, but because they are trying to accomplish something else. We can appreciate modern and contemporary art (and music, and literature) if we try to learn something about what is behind the piece.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Promotion is Key

A cousin up in CT who is an art dealer told me years ago that if I wanted to be a an artist I had to paint as much as possible. And so I have. I have obsessively painted for years now all sorts of stuff: murals, watercolors, oils, cityscapes, nudes, still life, landscapes, the figure, religious works, etc. Most of the great artists from the last couple hundred years were very prolific.

But one day I realized that, in addition to doing all of that painting, I must actively promote my work. One of the goals is to sell these things! Otherwise they just pile up and get in the way, and that makes you depressed. Some artists (like myself) are tempted to survive off of the same people who always buy your art. But what happens if they do not buy anymore, or if they die, or something? What happens if you need to increase your income? Anyway, I can hear what people are saying: "Gee, you have an amazing grasp of the obvious." But hey, I am a little slow sometimes, so give me a break please! Now I devote a fair amount of time each week specifically to promoting my work and getting new customers. This, in addition, to creating new works like I always have. I have already begun to see this pay off in some small ways.

I guess I would liken all of this to studying philosophy, or theology, or some other great science or field, just for its own sake, and never sharing that knowledge with others. I do not see the value in that. Granted, it is better than sitting around and watching TV or whatever. But all of these gifts and interests should in some way I think serve the common good of people and society. And that can't been done when they are kept under a barrel. Moreover, are we being good stewards of what God's given us when we hoard it and keep it to ourselves? I don't think so.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Priest, Psychologist, and Art Critic

The other night on EWTN, Fr. Benedict Groeschel proudly proclaimed that he had never stepped foot in the MoMA, because he couldn't stand looking at all of the ugliness and disorderliness of "modern art". Apparently while he was doing his doctorate in psychology he took some courses in art history and art criticism. I couldn't disagree more with what he said. There is definite order in modern art - it might just not be readily apparent with some artists. Certainly the early work of people like Frank Stella, Leger, and many others, is very rigid and ordered. There is even order in Jackson Pollock paintings as Francis Schaffer showed in How Shall We Then Live. And besides that MoMA has many other paintings in it that are done in a more traditional style that he would probably enjoy. For example, I believe now there is a show of Lucian Freud prints and Seurat drawings. So I don't know what father was talking about in that interview. It really makes no sense to me.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sermon Giving

My spiritual director says that many times people will come up to you after a sermon and talk about what they "heard you say" in the homily and about "how it touched them"... even if you didn't say anything like what they thought they heard! The point is that people will hear certain things in a sermon that you don't say, or didn't intend to say. Obviously this gives one reason to be careful in what one preaches. But it also helps one see the various ways that God works... God says something to someone through the preacher's simple, flawed, human words - even something that he didn't intend to say!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Question: What is the root of all kinds of evil?

Answer: The LOVE of money.

I have heard it stated probably five times (at least) last month on some five different high-profile news and television programs that "money" is the root of all evil. Uhh, no. Timeout. Back up for a minute.

The bible says the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) I wish the braintrust at CNN, A&E, CNBC, and other networks would get that right. They always misquote the passage... and then they use their misquote to attack the church and the bible! What a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. They might learn something if they actually read the bible.