Author Archives: Colin Foote Burch

‘The Nostalgia of the Infinite’ by Giorgio de Chirico


I’m grateful to have seen this at the MoMA earlier this week. De Chirico’s work gets at something in me. I first saw his work at the MoMA back in May, but only three of his paintings were on display, and “The Nostalgia of the Infinite” was not one of them. I could see it, though, on the screen of the audio guide. It was in the MoMA collection, just not on display at the time. Ugh! But during this visit, graciously provided by a friend of a friend, I found several of de Chirico’s paintings in a small gallery room, and the tower I had wanted to see back in May was present. 

Since May, I had read a bit about de Chirico and was surprised to learn this particular style of de Chirico’s — called metaphysical art — was short-lived, about three years. He founded the movement, Scuola Metafisica, in 1917 with Carlo Carra. They later had a falling-out.

In 1919, de Chirico described metaphysical art in this statement:

“Everything has two aspects; the current aspect, which we see nearly always and which ordinary men see, and the ghostly and metaphysical aspect, which only rare individuals may see in moments of clairvoyance and metaphysical abstraction. A work of art must narrate something that does not appear within its outline. The objects and figures represented in it must likewise poetically tell you of something that is far away from them, and also of what their shapes materially hide from us.” 

(I found the quotation in this great old Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms, published for the first time in the U.S., as a 3rd edition, in 1964 by the New York Graphic Society.) 

NYC Postcard


From the Viacom building in Manhattan. I love the Chrysler Building, and this snapshot doesn’t do justice to the scene late Friday afternoon.

Ash Wednesday Prayer From a Family Heirloom


This page is about the size of a playing card. It’s in a small Book of Common Prayer that belonged to one of my great-grandfather’s brothers.

I love the beginning of this Ash Wednesday prayer, which seems controversial in some theological circles even today: “Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made…”

‘C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Myth of Progress’ — A Podcast Interview


Inklings fans, take note: A recent episode of The Art of Manliness podcast featured an interview with Joseph Loconte, author of A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, & Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18.

The interview with Loconte taught me new things about the way Tolkien and Lewis viewed life and literature. I also was challenged to think more about my deeply held, Western-world belief in the supposedly inevitable outcome called progress.

Speaking of Inklings, you might also be interested in reading Charles Williams’s take on dogmaand watching a short documentary on Owen Barfield.

 

A Caution About Big Evangelical Churches and Popular Ministers


Author Dan Pink, in an Intelligence Squared podcast (about something completely different from church-related stuff), responded to a question at the end of his presentation with this:

“Power ends up corrupting people’s ability to see another person’s perspective…. The more power someone has, the less acute their perspective-taking skills are. If you look at high-status people in organizations, in general, high-status people in society, they’re not very good at taking other people’s perspective.”

Start a Ministry in America


With your donation, my ministry can become God’s will.

The truth is revealed by the numbers.

So let’s work to make God work.

Martin Luther Says to Drink Away Temptation


I recently posted “C.S. Lewis Drank Three Pints of Beer in the Morning — A Letter From Tolkien.”

So, to continue with the theme of famous Christians who write letters dealing with alcohol:

Lapham’s Quarterly recently offered this letter by Martin Luther, written to Jerome Weller. Here’s an excerpt dealing with the temptation to be melancholy:

“Whenever the devil harasses you thus, seek the company of men, or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you, ‘Do not drink,’ answer him, ‘I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.’ One must always do what Satan forbids. What other cause do you think that I have for drinking so much strong drink, talking so freely and making merry so often, except that I wish to mock and harass the devil who is wont to mock and harass me. Would that I could contrive some great sin to spite the devil, that he might understand that I would not even then acknowledge it and that I was conscious of no sin whatever. We, whom the devil thus seeks to annoy, should remove the whole Decalogue from our hearts and minds.”

That, Protestant evangelicals, is your great-granddaddy.

Amen.