I have developed a certain tendency to use the phrases “changing the world” or “taking over the world” when speaking with creative friends. I usually leave this without any particular explanation, a seeming little absurdity thrown into a comment or conversation, but I actually mean what I say. I fully intend a lifelong conspiracy with these friends. You see, these friends understand and create beauty, and beauty changes the world. Continue reading
I’m beginning to think that if I don’t have an identity crisis at least once a month, I’m simply not taking in enough good art. A few weeks ago, I watched a piece of theater that has become a bit of a local staple here in Louisville: Actors Theatre’s production of Dracula. It is really one of the very few pieces of theater I have seen in recent years, but with the performance came a flood of emotions, the degree of which I wasn’t quite expecting. It threw me into a serious identity crisis that, if I were to be quite honest, I’m not entirely over. In fact, I intend not to be. Continue reading
A few days ago a received a package containing the Blu-Ray box set of the Universal Classic Monsters films of the 1930s through 1950s, specifically the eight films considered essential to film audiences. The entire series excited me, being digitally remastered and rendered in high-definition for the first time, however what excited me most was that Dracula, Frankenstein, and Bride of Frankenstein have had brand-new, painstaking restorations to their picture and sound. As soon as I got the package, I opened the set and placed the Dracula disc into the Blu-Ray player. The next thing that happened was a bit overwhelming. Continue reading
Sojourn Midtown now gathers in a century-old cathedral known for the majority of its life as the Church of St. Vincent de Paul. Largely because of its long association with Shelby Park, Smoketown, and the surrounding neighborhoods, we have chosen to keep calling the building “St. Vincent’s.” However, our frequent use of the name brings to mind a question we would be wise to ask: who was this namesake of our new cathedral? Continue reading
(This post is a vast revision of a previous article, recently rewritten for Sojourn Midtown’s move into our new St. Vincent’s Cathedral facility.)
Gothic architecture (and its revivals by default) was created for the specific purpose of corporate worship space. Originating in the rebuilding of the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis by Abbot Suger in the 12th Century, the style was meant to instill a sense of awe, of inward and outward meditation, and to convey spiritual truth in simultaneous experience. Here are a few key highlights of the Gothic-style church building that we can see in Sojourn Midtown’s new worship space, the former St. Vincent de Paul Church. Continue reading
(Cross-posted at Image of Truth)
On Monday, Jesus, after cursing a fig tree for not producing fruit (thus establishing his authority over the created world) re-enters Jerusalem and raises quite the ruckus in the temple.
When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them,“The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.
That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city. (Mark 11:15-19 NLT)
Some interpreters have turned this passage into a diatribe against capitalism, particularly in some artistic portrayals. Modernized Passion plays have portrayed the temple courts as everything from a flea market to Wall Street. However, capitalism itself is not what Jesus is rebuking. Those selling in the temple courts were taking advantage of pilgrims who came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. They would change out Roman currency for temple currency at exorbitant exchange rates, then sell clean animals to be offered as sacrifices by those who had not brought their own animals. The temple merchants were taking advantage of people… and in the very temple of God. The courts had become a cesspool of dishonesty and greed, and Jesus would have none of it. Those who portray Jesus as a mere docile, nonabrasive figure must ignore this passage, where his righteous anger overflows into violence.
(Illustration: Rembrandt, Christ Drives the Money Changers Out of the Temple, 1626)
(Cross-posted at Image of Truth)
Tomorrow, Palm Sunday, beings Passion Week (or Holy Week) in the Western Christian calendar. I will be blogging through the week, reflecting on the significance of the days, the ways broader Christianity commemorates this week, and particularly how it has been expressed in artwork. I hope you will journey with me.
(Illustration: Hans Memling, Scenes from the Passion of Christ, 1471)
Perhaps there is no place that is more of a treasure-trove of Western Christian art than the Vatican City. The works of great Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo adorn the chapels and haunt the recesses of the Vatican so that the entirety of the Roman Catholic compound is a work to behold. Now, thanks to the Vatican Museum, you can tour virtual renderings of several areas of the Vatican online, such as the Sistine Chapel and Pauline Chapel, allowing you to see the extent of their extensive frescos and sculptures. Amidst all this, you are accompanied by some beautiful music to set the mood.
(There is also a very impressive guided tour of the Vatican Necropolis, the very bowels of St. Peter’s Basilica, featuring the original tomb of St. Peter.)
Christianity has made no bigger news in the art world as of late than with the premiere of Makoto (“Mako”) Fujimura’s illumination of the Four Holy Gospels, commissioned by Crossway for the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible and released in a print edition with the English Standard Version gospels later this month. At the opening of the exhibit, Mako’s pastor, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, introduces the exhibit and explains one of its primary pieces, “Prodigal God.”
“What is the means by which the demonic realm is vanquished? In a word: mockery. Satan’s great sin (and our great sin) is pride. Thus, to drive Satan from us we ridicule him. This is why the custom arose of portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail. Nobody thinks the devil really looks like this; the Bible teaches that he is the fallen Arch-Cherub. Rather, the idea is to ridicule him because he has lost the battle with Jesus and he no longer has power over us…
The gargoyles that were placed on the churches of old had the same meaning. They symbolized the Church ridiculing the enemy. They stick out their tongues and make faces at those who would assault the Church. Gargoyles are not demonic; they are believers ridiculing the defeated demonic army.”
– James B. Jordan, “Concerning Halloween”