I’ve been around a long enough time to read various Christian perspectives on art. They range from the benign to the downright vicious, especially when it comes to Modern Art.
Many Christians believe that art should be representative of the world. They believe art should copy the world and tell a story, usually moral in nature. They seem to believe that the only true art is classical art and anything that reeks of modernity is uncivilized and probably anti-Christian. Many think that art says a lot about worldview. Somehow, if you see the world as an abstract you must see the world in a nihilistic way.
Why does art have to tell a story? Why does it have to “mean” something? Why does it have to perfectly represent the subject as the subject is? If one wants a perfect copy of an object why not take a photograph?
To me, art should capture the emotion of something. Form is important, I definitely need to work on capturing form, but emotion is equally important. It is important to capture the essence of the subject, whether your medium is paint or film or clay.
Perhaps this is why I have a difficult time with seated poses. How much emotion can be conveyed by a sitting body? Maybe the emotion comes not from the subject but from the artist. The artist must project his emotions onto a subject as he would a light, and then capture the reflection, without losing the form in the process. Or maybe the reflection comes back in pieces and is copied in the abstract.
Either way, is that capture “immoral”? Is is immoral to disassemble reality and put it back together in an imperfect way? Disassembled emotions are not nihilistic. Breaking down objects into their various parts and reassembling them in ways which do not reflect reality is not denying reality.
In fact, I would argue that perhaps it reflects reality far better than some hyper-realistic painting of an idealized subject. Reality is messy, reality is emotional, reality is imperfect. We do not live in Eden anymore. To capture our world as it really is is to show the blemishes and the oddities and at times the harshness of it all.
Sure, there is a time for capturing idealized images of beauty. There is definitely a place for “realism” and capturing form exactly as it is. I respect and admire the painter who can perfectly copy the world as it is. But without emotion is it really art?
Christians should be the best at capturing both the world as it is and the world as it should be. We should not be shunning the opportunity to show the world reality through the lense of the Law and the Gospel. We should not fear our emotions and feelings about the world around us, instead we should embrace them and capture them with art to display them to the world. Our art should, like all of our activities, inspire people to ask us about the hope that is within us.
Christians should embrace the visual arts, and all arts, both to share the Gospel and to make this world a bit more beautiful in the process.
I will be the first to tell you that I don’t know much about hip hop. But I do know what I like. Reviews are supposed to be subjective anyways, right?
This week’s album is The Duval Space Progam’s Good Grief Itz Marlie Brown. It’s probably not an album that I would listen to except for the fact that I am Facebook friends with the album’s cover artist. It’s also probably not an album most people will listen to. They only have 5 monthly listeners right now (probably as many people as will read this, to be honest).
A lot of this album probably sounds great if you’re high, but without the aid of mind altering substances it’s tough to get through.
That’s not to say it’s all bad. There are a few high points (no pun intended) like “Crii Babiez” and the beat to “Good Grief!”. It’s a mixed bag with decent beats and from what I can tell decent rapping. But when singing is attempted… Well… ::thinks back to that Family Guy episode::
Go have a listen, who knows, I could be totally wrong. They could very well be the next big thing in hip hop.
Today on Music and Art Monday I present Hensley. They have a fairly new ep out on Spotify and it’s a good one.
Out of all the bands I have reviewed so far Hensley is probably the closest I have found to something that fits my typical tastes in music. This is probably because they are pretty eclectic. They do everything, from a folksy tune in “Give Me a Break” to a trance mix of their pop tune “Not the Clouds”. In just seven songs they pack in enough flavor to appeal to a variety of different tastes.
It’s hard to pick a favorite track on this ep because there is so much variation! Most might not hear it, hearing only a fairly mainstream pop sound, but as my wife says I have an odd taste in music, which means I know something different when I hear it. There is some derivative feel in this album, “Pills and Thrills” sounds somewhat similar to Laleh’s “Wag More, Bark Less“, but who but me listens to Swedish pop in Jacksonville? And who else would make that connection? Only me, probably.
Anyway, go check it out. They are only going to get better.
It was brought up at church that gossips won’t inherit the kingdom of God. They are put in the same category as adulterers and liars and thieves. I never really gave it much thought, but I’ve noticed quite a bit of it going around at work and in the culture in general. I suppose it’s always been there, but for some reason it has been more noticeable to me lately. Probably because of the mention at church. When you start looking for something, you’re guaranteed to find it.
What constitutes gossip? Is merely relaying information about the actions of someone gossip? Or is there a malicious intent that makes it gossip? I think we all know that one person who just can’t wait to tell us the juicy news about so-and-so and what they’ve been up to lately. Is that person a gossip? Is the news media gossip? Is pretty much everything on social media gossip?
The dictionary defines gossip as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as true”. Given this definition I’d say we could call gossip lies. The facts may be true but then again they may not be. The entire purpose of telling them is merely to malign the character of the person you’re gossiping about.
So yes, probably most of what is on the news and in social media is gossip.
There is a bandwagon effect underneath most gossip. Those who share or indulge in the gossip are only sharing the “information” favorable to their own team. The source of the data is unimportant. What matters is that it confirms the suspicions of those sharing it. Sex abuse scandals are fraught with this kind of gossip. If you believe the accuser you share all the nasty details of the accused. If you support the accused you smear the accuser.
True justice is lost in gossip. Due process shuts down, mired in the tedious, nasty points of each side. Everyone loses, some more than others. The case never ends either, even if the courts are done with it. Years down the road there will still be fingers pointing back and forth and rumors being ruminated on.
The worst part about gossip? You know the person sharing gossip with you is most definitely gossiping about you. Heaven forbid you end up on the receiving end of someone’s poor opinion created purely out of the mouths of others.
Be careful what you listen to. Be even more careful what you pass on.
They are probably the most polished of all the local bands I have listened to yet. It’s not bad music. But it’s background music. I have a hard time putting them on and really listening hard, because I don’t have to. What you hear is what you get.
I like it though. And with just four songs on an EP it’s just enough of a taste to make me want to hear more. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this band.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how much the little things affect us:
The few minutes one way or another that completely change the traffic patterns and can be the difference between being late and being on time.
The little phrases that parents use that get stuck in the mind of a child and affect the way they think for years. These always seem way more powerful than the monologues of wisdom we try to pump them full of.
The way a simple paint stroke can completely change the look and feel of a painting.
The small seed that becomes a towering tree.
The little items that pile up in our homes, slowly cluttering it, barely with our notice, until one day we look around and panic a little at how for we have let it go.
The power of little phrases we use in every day language to hurt or build up those around us.
The tiny raindrops that flow together to make a flood.
The little thoughts that eat our soul if not kept in check.
The way a single smile from a stranger can completely brighten a day.
The smallest splash of color from a flower here and there can change a drab landscape into a bright and beautiful one.
The lasting impact that one good day or one bad day can have on our whole life.
Little things add up for good or for bad, yet we hardly notice them. We take them for granted granted. We assume that it’s the big things in life that have the most effect.
Nothing local this week, I had a bout with anxiety over the weekend. So I went back to old stuff. There is something about going back to stuff that you used to listen to, not for nostalgia purposes, but for the uplift.
Also, it is fun to introduce your kids stuff that you used to listen to around their age. My daughter requested Queen in the car. I obliged for a bit and then decided I wanted to listen to David Bowie instead. She had never been introduced.
I realized that I was listening to him twenty years ago and at that time the music was already pushing thirty years old. Pretty much everything I listened to at her age was already thirty to fifty years old. It’s pretty incredible that some music has lasted fifty to seventy years and still resonates.
My favorite David Bowie album, and the one I got her listening to is ChangesOneBowie. It’s not technically an album but a compilation but it was the first music of Bowie’s that I ever really listened to. My best friend’s dad had it on vinyl and I swear we wore it out trying to learn the “Rebel Rebel” riff.
Those were good memories but even without them the album still picks me up. Also around that time I was listening to “Earthling” which I thought was pretty epic. “Hours” has also made its way onto my Spotify list as well. All the old is new again.
Another album I’ve been listening to for the first time in forever is the 1967-1970 compilation from The Beatles. The “Blue Album”, as I would call it, is what I used to listen to while cleaning the kitchen when I was thirteen or so.
I listened to it so many times that if I hear the songs on their original albums I get frustrated because I got so used to the order on the compilation.
Another good blast from the past is Pink Floyd’s Delicate Sound of Thunder. It is probably the only live album (other than “Wings over America”, another album that I’ve been listening to again for the first time in 10 years) that I can tolerate. Most live albums are sloppy versions of the studio songs, but these actually stand up on their own.
Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Hopefully next week my brain will be functioning correctly and I will be able to dissect something new for you. But for now you should go check out these “ancient” albums that bring me such pleasure to listen to.
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Again my brain is too ADD to focus on one topic at a time, so here are a few to chew on:
Outrage Porn and Social Media:
I was kicked off Facebook for a week last week. Not by Facebook mind you, but by my wife. She changed my password and I was only allowed on to share my blog posts. As grumpy as I was at first I’m glad she did it.
I did not realize just how much time I spend on there. Every spare moment is spent mindlessly scrolling through the newsfeed blindly clicking reaction buttons. And for me most of what shows up in the feed is nonsense trolling or posts designed to stir irritation. Or click bait.
So much of what is out there is nothing but outrage porn. Someone posts some video or article or screenshot of a Tweet that has something horrible in it. Everyone else jumps on board and rants about it. They too share it and on and on it goes. Outrage porn is not quite click bait, it’s more akin to virtue signaling.
Basically outrage porn is designed to outrage who ever views the content. People who post it are basically saying “Look! Look at me! Look how outraged I am! Aren’t I special?!” Well, no, you’re not really special if you’re angry about something that most people are angry about.
It’s not just Facebook where you find toxic people. Pretty much everywhere you look you can find them. Go to work and people are disgruntled. All they want to do is gossip and complain. It gets old quickly. I could very easily be dragged down into the office politics and misery of these people but I prefer not to.
Not being on Facebook gave me the perfect opportunity to put energy into productive pursuits. I managed to write more. I engaged in some of the creative activities that I had been neglecting. I got on Instagram, which is wayyyy better than Facebook in terms of posts to get angry about.
Who knows, I may self-impose the next hiatus!
Posts and Editing:
In the past I would just write my posts and never look at them again. I might tweak a few things here and there before posting, but heavy editing to ensure clarity? Ha! My thinking was “If you read it and don’t get it, you just don’t get it, there is no helping you.”
Then my wife started reading my posts and critiquing them (not mean critiques though, helpful ones). She offered to edit my posts from now on. You will notice that she edited the post on Wednesday. That post turned out to be a very successful post. Who knew that someone who knows me so well could interpret my words better than me? She does a much better job than I do of understanding me sometimes. Now that I think about it, she is often my translator when people have no idea what I’m saying.
I think I will go back and edit some of my old posts for clarity. From now on, with the exception of this post, I’ll have her look over my posts before I subject others to them.
Since I was on the topic of outrage. There are some things in the world that you should legitimately be angry about. The latest law in New York and the push for a law in Virginia allowing abortion up to birth is something that we should be outraged about.
However, I’m not sure the best way to share my opinions on the subject. I could make posts on Facebook about it which would lead to endless arguments and the anger from my friends who mostly don’t know what they’re talking about. Or I could post it here and maybe ten people will read it. I have written about it before and the stats are pretty sad.
Let’s just say I oppose all abortion and I find the latest developments pretty disgusting.
That’s it for now. There are other things bouncing around in there but they will have to wait. Soon, brain, soon…
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There’s a new craze going on. People are going “KonMari” on their homes and tidying them up. Lives are changing, with every cymbal flourish and Marie Kondo Coo, rooms are being magically transformed from dumps to habitable spaces.
I knew nothing of this show until it started appearing in my newsfeed. Then my wife watched it…
My wife has spent literally the last ten years trying to KonMari our house without knowing she was doing it. She has emptied her closet onto the bed several times and whittled down the clothes to a manageable number. She has sought to create spaces for the objects that she loves to be on display to bring joy to her house. She emptied and rearranged kitchen cabinets, she disposed of piles of things that no longer meant anything to anyone (and a lot that she still loved).
But because of me, this labor was in vain. I am a hoarder, or at least a recovering one. I have held onto papers and books and random objects from my youth for odd and unhealthy reasons. It’s been a process, slow and painful (yet cathartic), to get rid of my stuff and only keep what really makes me happy.
So seeing the craze, and hearing my wife’s reviews, I decided I should watch a few episodes myself and see what it was all about.
First off, skip the first episode unless you want to know why the rest of the world dislikes Americans. Stereotypes exist for a reason, sadly. The one upside to the episode is that it normalizes breastfeeding.
But episode three was great (we accidentally skipped episode two), especially for us, because we live in a smallish house with seven people in it. Seeing another family downsize from a huge space to a tiny space was uplifting and gave me some hope for this household. Plus they were just so dern wholesome. The kids were polite and the parents well spoken. They seemed like normal people trying to get by, just like most of us.
There was another episode with a couple just like us, the wife (in our case, me) just couldn’t bear to get rid of her clothes, books, and miscellaneous items. We had to laugh because if we didn’t laugh we would cry. This woman said many of the things I do. It was humbling to see someone else do it. She kept things for various reasons, usually utilitarian in her mind. I completely understood what she was saying. And her husband? The words he spoke could have been stolen from my wife’s mouth.
So what do I think of Marie Kondo?
Well, first off, she seems like an absolute sweetheart. She doesn’t come into her client’s home like a wrecking ball, deriding them for having stuff. Instead, she sweetly reminds them of some pretty common sense stuff like you’re all in this household together, so you have to work as a team to keep it tidy and only keep what brings you joy. Common sense frequently escapes me, so her reminders were well needed.
Other shows of this genre show you “horrible” people and build up drama around their horrible addiction to materials. They literally guilt you into cleaning up your house, because only “horrible” people live in messy houses. Not “Tidying Up”, this show shows you average people who are just trying to get themselves out from a completely relate-able situation. It’s feel good TV.
People will mock Marie because of her Shinto beliefs, saying she does odd things like “waking up books” and greeting the house. Sure, there is a bit of superstition involved, but that doesn’t make everything she does incorrect. Watching her talk about her beliefs got me to thinking, what is the correct way for Christians to think about the objects in their house?
So many Christians in America just go along with the materialism of our culture. We buy stuff we don’t need, we collect things with no intrinsic value, we hoard and take pride in our displays of wealth and blessings. Most of us are able to keep our material possessions manageable, but there are more than just a few of us that are drowning in them.
Wealth is not bad. Having material possessions isn’t sinful. Buying stuff you don’t need or having collections are not intrinsically bad behaviors. But, like all things we do, we should examine our motives and the effects the behaviors have on our lives and the lives of those around us.
Watching the show encouraged me to ask myself a few questions:
Does my home or the objects in it hinder my ability to share the Gospel?
I can’t share the Gospel when I can’t invite anyone in to my home. My home is an extension of my life, and the best way to spread the Gospel is to let others into it. But I am too embarrassed by my chaos to let others in.
Does my home reveal a lack of self-control, a Fruit of the Spirit?
My home definitely reveals some lack of self-control. There are places for things, but things are not put away. Clothes are not put in hampers, dishes are lost in far corners, the tables are used as catch-alls. Habits are not maintained.
Is there peace in my home, or is it chaos?
There is no peace. While training to be a bus driver I was told that having a clean bus actually encourages good student behavior. This is obvious even in my home. My kids aren’t bad, but clutter stresses them out and can lead to grumpiness, sloppiness, and laziness. How much more relaxed would they be if they knew where their stuff was? How much more willing would they be to keep up with their chores if they didn’t have to shift around mounds of stuff?
What does my mountain of stuff and my inability to get rid of it say about what me and what’s important to me?
What’s more important to me: this stuff that I’ve been dragging around for years, or the health and well being of my family? Stuff, or my ability to have friends over to share my life? Stuff, or my ability to do the things I love instead of wasting my time moving sand dunes of clothes and papers around?
Do these objects rob me or members of my family of joy, also one of the Fruits of the Spirit?
Joy is the one thing that Marie brings up more often than her love of tidying. Objects can rob us of our joy. Mountains of material possessions can drag us into depressing and awful places.
We should only keep what brings us joy. We should not hold on to the stuff that robs us of joy or inhibits our ability to share the Gospel. We should use our home to bring joy to others. Keeping a house full of clutter often means keeping a home empty of friends.
Go check out the show, then go KonMari on your house, you won’t be disappointed.
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This is “Music and Art Monday” , not just “Music Monday”. So where has the art been?
Jacksonville is not just a city churning out great bands and soloists, visual artists are also busy creating beautiful works every day in this town. This week I decided to take a break from my local music reviews to introduce you to some of the local visual artists that I have the pleasure of knowing and frequently working alongside of.
First up is Annelies Dykgraff, from The Art Center Cooperative. She organizes the figure drawing sessions that first got me hooked. She grew up with missionary parents in Nigeria and much of her work shows that influence.
Second up is the artist who organizes the current Wednesday night figure sessions at Raindogs. Kevin Arthur is a part of the Art League of Jacksonville and has done extensive work within the Jacksonville art community. He specializes in portraiture and figures and has a style I find particularly pleasing. https://www.instagram.com/kevarth/
Jef Taylor is another member of The Art Center Cooperative. He is fun to watch work and is always quick to joke that his work is “just squiggly lines”. Out of those squiggly lines come some pretty cool images though!
The next artist is a self-described amateur who I think does wonderful work, especially given that she’s only been working on her technique for a few short years. Marji (I have no idea what her last name is) works mainly in pastels doing awesome portraits. Her son is also the horn player for Viewers Like You, a fact that she is quite proud to tell. https://www.instagram.com/marjiol/
From the series “Vibrations” Anna Miller not only makes great art, she also breeds adorable puppies. And she is a great conversationalist. And eventually I will get some lessons in drawing hands from her. https://www.facebook.com/amilarte/
All of the works above were snatched from the interwebs. If you are mentioned above and prefer me not to share these, please let me know. But I admire you all and your work as well.
Next week is a gamble, could be art, could be music. Stay tuned!
If you like my blogs/paintings/photography, please like and follow me! Follow me on Facebook! Check out my Steemit page for more content also. Many of my images are available as prints on my Artpal page