Music and Art Monday, August 6th, 2018: Culture and Christianity

How are Christians supposed to interact with culture? Are they supposed to ignore it? Avoid it? Yell at it?

A couple of things got me thinking about this topic over the weekend. One was a Facebook post complaining about Christians who watch Harry Potter or listen to Black Sabbath or appreciate other “things of darkness.” Another was an interview with Alistair Begg about the Beatles.

The first took the position that we are supposed to avoid all the “darkness” of the world. They quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

The second took the position that we ought to know the culture we live in. We ought to be intimate with it so we can engage it with truth. We should analyze culture to learn it’s theology and understanding of humanity.

Which do I agree with?

Well, I do agree with scripture that we should not be unequally yoked. We should not marry a non-believer, we should avoid serving two masters, we cannot follow both the world and God.

But I don’t think that means completely shutting out the culture around us. If the separator is going to be completely consistent he would need to avoid working for non-Christians or even working with them. He would need to be like the Pharisees and wash up every time he came in contact with a non-believer. The whole world is dark. We aren’t called to hide from the dark or completely avoid the dark, we couldn’t do it if we tried.

We are instead called to be light in the darkness. We are to shed light on the lies of Satan. And we can’t very well do that if we bury our head in the sand and have no clue what lies are going around.

In his interview, Begg quoted John Lennon as saying that the lyrics to “Help” were a subconscious cry from his heart. But no Christian of the day was reaching out to him with truth and light. No Christian responded with the Biblical definition of love when “All You Need Is Love” came out either. It was a great opportunity to show what real love is but it was missed.

It’s much the same today. We would rather chastise the unsaved than respond to them with truths. We would rather wear our spotless robes of piety and keep our distance from the world than risk getting muddy with those in it. It’s easier to yell at the darkness and deride it than it is to correct it.

Jesus went to the world. He spoke to the worldly and the pious both. He was not afraid of being soiled by the darkness, because He always had the light of truth with Him.

As Christians, we too should not fear the dark. We should instead shine a light into it. In order to do that we have to see the darkness and know it well.

And that may mean we have to get our hands dirty. It may mean that we read books with certain uncomfortable themes or listen to the lyrics of songs that may make us cringe. We have to take every opportunity to show the love of Christ to an ugly world, and that may mean looking that ugliness right in the face. We don’t have to yolk ourselves to it and hold it in high esteem. We don’t have to embrace the lies in it. But when there is a shred of truth we should grasp onto it and expound on it. We should commend truth and correct lies.

Christians need to be involved in the culture. We need to shine on it and spread the Gospel into it. We can’t very well do that from a bunker.

MAAM, July 30, 2018: Art as Escapism

I want to go to there…

What is it about art, photography, and to some extent music that makes it so enticing? Why do we like to look at pretty things? Why do we seek it out and pay tons of money for images?

If I was to answer that I would have to say that I am an escapist. The reason I collect and create so many images is that I like to look back at them and put myself in that space and that time.

Images create an imaginary world where I can fill in blanks and put myself there. They can transport me back to a time that my mind can idealize. They can put me in a place where I have never been but want to be.

It isn’t just art, it’s imagery in general. I love historic pictures as well for many of the same reasons. Even other people’s vacation photos aren’t immune to my idealization.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I imagine many if not most people are like me if they examined their reasons for appreciating art.

Is it wrong?

I don’t think so. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with imagining ourselves in other places and times. If it were we should avoid fiction books and movies altogether. We utilize things like art and books and movies to make us happy, teach us life lessons, and to make life that much better.

But can it be wrong?

Yes, if we are consumed by our imagination. If we obsess over images and the worlds they place us in they can become an addiction. Those places will seek to usurp reality and rob us of contentment. They will become idols and push us away from God.

Anything enjoyable can become destructive if overindulged, art included. That is why we must be careful to balance the beauty of fantasy with the often ugly reality.

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Daily Thoughts #28

It has been brought to my attention that sometimes my thoughts disappear… Thanks WordPress. I have gone back and fixed what I have found. Trust me, it’s not a comment on my brain activity for the day!

Is it possible to make plans and dreams and not have some negative streak of thoughts? I can’t name a single real instance where something big hasn’t worked out in my life. But man can I think of a ton of little ones. Why am I applying them to the big stuff?

I’m beginning to think that art is really just escapism. Now I’m trying to figure out how to balance a love of art with a healthy love of life… More to come on that…

Music and Art Monday, July 23rd 2018: Angel of Needs

Here’s an ancient song of mine for you this week. Unfortunately, I have to external link to the video. (https://steemit.com/music/@driptorchpress/6865nqgg)

Go easy on me, it’s been easily 10 years since I played it last.

At least I can post the chords and lyrics here. The title and chorus come from a painting “Angel Of Needs” by Giles LeBlanc, seen above. I saw it in Nova Scotia when I was 12 and fell in love with it.

Angel of Needs
12/4/00-12/9/00

Intro and bridge: G Em C D7

(Chorus)
(C)You’re just an angel (F) of needs,
(D)An angel sent (G) to me,
(Em)Maybe someday (Am) you’ll be, (Em)What you seem (Am) to be.
(Bridge)

(C)You find it hard (D) to see,
(G) What I’ve (Em) realized,
(C)When I look (D) into your eyes,
(G)And I can see for (Am) miles and miles,
(G)And I can see (Em) your smile,
(C)You’re such (F) an angel (D) to me.

(Chorus)
(Bridge x 2)

(C)Beautiful when I (D) look at you,
(G)How I see (Em) the skies,
(C)When I look (D) upon your face,
(G)I can’t see (Am) another, no others,
(G)But I can see in (Em) this place,
(C)Nothing but (F) the angel (D) for me.

(Chorus)
(Bridge x 2)

(C)I know now how (D) to be alive,
(G)How to share (Em) your time,
(C)When I hold your (D) hand in mine,
(G)And I can feel your (Am) smiling heart,
(G)I can tell no (Em) other touch,
(C)That it compares (F) with the angel (D) for me.

(Chorus)
(Bridge x 2)

(C)You make me (D) so at peace,
(G)How I love (Em) your warmth,
(C)When I hold you (D) close to me,
(G)And I can feel your (Am) laughing hands,
(G)I can feel no (Em) other hearts,
(C)As beautiful as (F) the angel’s (D) for me.

Chorus:
(C)You’re just an angel (F) of dreams,
(D)An angel meant (G) for me,
(Em)Maybe someday (Am) you’ll be,
(Em)The angel you want (Am) to be.

MAM, July 9th,2018: Artpal

Due to some technical difficulties (WordPress claims I have too much media uploaded), today’s post is simply a link to my Artpal page.

On that page you will find prints (framed and unframed) and mugs with my photos and paintings on them.

The prices vary depending on the size of the print and the item type. If you buy something, I make a decent profit and you get something fun to hang on your wall. Or drink out of. Whatever suits your tastes.

Thanks!

MAM: July 2, 2018: A Waterfall is Within

I don’t know exactly when I wrote this or the circumstances, but it seems pretty descriptive of so many points in my life. Enjoy!

A waterfall is within,
But drying up before my eyes, I weep dry tears, I fear I am falling out of faith, I fear I am falling out of grace, I fear grace was never here.

Beating my head against a brick wall of my own sin, breaking through every barrier I have put in my way, endlessly tripping down the same path, when will it end?

I fear I may never be able to win this war, I lose battle after battle, I fight with no ally, I fight alone, I fight within, I fight myself to sleep and grieve with every broken promise made to myself and the ones I love.

Is there an end, a way to win, is there a battle I may be victorious in? Never alone will I win, never alone can I conquer myself, I am too frail, too deep in my own flood of desires and passions. I am consumed.

I am faltered, I am weak, I am weary, I have fallen. I can’t get up from this pit, I am endlessly lost in this grave, underground but still walking, dead but still breathing, I need help, I need life.

I need forgiveness, I need strength, I need a Hand to lift me up, I need to turn around, to make my way back to joy. I cannot win my battles alone, I cannot fight my struggles inside, I must bring the war into the open.

Lead me on, Spirit. Be my shield and my sword, be my horse that carries me through the sea of deadly temptations, wielding their bloody axes, hacking into those without You, killing those who mock You, not knowing of Your might.

Lift me up, turn me away, send me running far out into the open, far away from the death that is within me.

Forgive me, cleanse me, heal me, cause my heart to be apologetic, cause my life to reflect You, cause my mind to dwell on You, cause my body to desire You.

I have thirsted, I have drowned, I have hungered and been gluttonous with that which is deadly, I have been arrogant and I have been smashed to bits.

But my life is faith, my walk is delicate, my desires are few, for I am fulfilled by my salvation, I am lifted up and guided through hard times by the Spirit who is greater than I.

I am nothing. God is Everything.

Music and Art Monday, June 11th 2018: Evolution

Sometimes I am a bit hard on myself. OK, much of the time I am a bit hard on myself. This goes for all things performance related. Life is performance based. We all strive to perform the best we can, at whatever we do, and sometimes we tend to beat ourselves up if our performance does not match our expectations.

Some things are easier to compare than others. If we are lifting weights we can see progress from lighter weight to heavier weight. If we are running we can watch our mile times shrink. Other things aren’t so tangible. Some things are so gradual that we hardly notice the change at all.

Painting is one such thing. Skill growth is so gradual that you won’t see changes over a short span of time. But if you look back you will see drastic differences.

Nicole, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Nicole, Oil on Canvas, 2018

Or you may see no difference at all..

After the Bath, Acrylic on Paper, 2014. My first painting.
The Room, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes you just have a change of perspective.

Fine Cigars, Acrylic on Paper, 2016
Fine Cigars Revisit, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

Sometimes your details get sharper.

Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, January 2014
Selfie, Acrylic on Paper, June 2014

Frequently you change the way you see yourself.

Self Portrait, Acrylic on Paper, 2014
Self Imposed, Acrylic on Paper, 2016

The evolution of our abilities isn’t always linear or perfect. We ebb and flow in our talents. Sometimes we meet our own expectations, sometimes we fall short. But we should always keep going…

Stop Fearing Your Own Voice

Kids aren’t afraid of their own voice.

I got an email the other day about writing in your own voice. We grow up being told in school how to write, and writing in your own voice is a big no no. You must write through a filter, just like good speakers talk through a filter. I can’t tell you how many “great” speakers truly grate on me with their speech patterns (Hillary Clinton and Obama both have a cadence that runs me up a wall).

It’s much the same with writers, there are some bloggers who I read once and think “never again.” Sometimes it is because they are too long winded. Sometimes it is because they are too stiff and formal, sometimes they are just trying to sound too fluffy for my tastes.

That article really got me thinking though. I filter a lot. (My 12th grade English teacher would kill me for using “a lot.”) I hold back so much out of fear. Mostly fear of the audience and what they might think, but also just fear of really being myself. (And “really”… she really hated that one.)

Whether it is writing or painting or picking a picture to post (don’t get me started on my guitar playing) I hold back. I don’t put my all into anything, I am afraid of it. I am afraid you will see me for what I am. You will see my flaws, my lack of talent, my lack of ability, or my ignorance. I fear that you will chuckle at me or walk away confused by me. I fear you will think I am a fool or a dork or any number of other pejoratives.

Perhaps I am all too aware of my flaws. Knowing them makes it all the more difficult to show my best. I am not the aloof kindergartner who actually believes his recorder playing sounds good (it never sounds good), I am a grown man who knows what he is trying for and exactly how far off the mark he is.

But just because I am not quite on the mark does not mean that I can’t show off my progress. I am getting ever closer to the mark, when I put in the effort. Whether it be in painting, in writing, in taking pictures, in playing music (that one’s in a holding pattern) or any of the dozen or so things I attempt to do in life, I am progressing.

Not sure if better…
Or just a change in style.

I need not fear my own voice or my own hand, for both are bound to improve with exercise.

And neither should you.

Music and Art Monday May 21st, 2018: The Finished Works, New Works, and a Song For Good Measure

I finally finished my trio, here are the results:

I didn’t even notice the fly. Argh…

Hobby Lobby recently opened up in town, so guess who’s playing with oil paints? This guy!

Here is the first little bit of it:

Of course the kids had to paint:

The master at work…
“A Bird That’s Flying”
“A Zebra” or “A My Little Pony”

And just for a little filler here’s a song I wrote a billion years ago, somewhere I have a recording of it, but for now you’ll just have to settle for the lyrics:

Billy Joe 3/25/01

Billy Joe’s life was shattered when she was seven years old,
When her mother came home and she was told,
“Your daddy ain’t comin’ back no more,
Last night they found him drunk dead behind the general store.”

And she grew up thinking he was gone,
She never asked why at the break of dawn,
She’d seen him leave with a lady in red,
The morning before they said he was dead.

She’d seen him drunk many nights before,
But had never seen him leave from their front door,
There’d never been a night she hadn’t “fallen”,
When the man she feared came callin’.

Her mother said, “It’s okay honey”,
Told many stories to make life funny,
But he’d come home late at night,
Loaded up drunk and picking a fight.

She always said that she loved him,
She’d never think to even leave him,
Even after all those black eyes,
All the nights Joe could hear her cries.

But one day he was gone,
Packed up and left at the break of dawn,
Found himself a lady in red,
All mother could say is “He’s dead.”

South Alabama’s a lonely place,
All alone at night with her pale face,
Joe lies in bed every night,
To sleep with all the whispers she couldn’t fight.

Her mother had flung herself off a bridge one day,
The sheriff came all he could say,
“Your mother’s died of a broken heart,
Life moves on and has given you a fresh start.”

Billy Joe’s life was shattered when she was seven years old,
When her mother came home and she was told,
“Your daddy ain’t comin’ back no more,
Last night they found him drunk dead behind the general store.”

If you like any of my paintings or pictures feel free to pop over to my Artpal store here.