Down With Evangelistic Art!


“When art is used as a tool for evangelism, it is often insincere and second-rate, devalued to the level of propaganda. I would call this a form of prostitution, a misuse of one’s talent.” — H.R. Rookmaaker 

Also see Auden Explains Poetry, Propaganda, and Reporting.

Functional Ignorance


It’s not what he says that bothers me. It’s that what he says is all he knows. His worldview is informed only by his worldview, and maybe by his worldview’s prefabricated responses to other worldviews, so investigation won’t be necessary. And of course he’s sure he’s right.

‘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.”