Archive for May, 2010

The First Sin (not to be confused with Original Sin)

A couple days ago (or more like a week ago at this point) i got into a discussion with a good friend about Adam and Eve.  Eventually this discussion turned into a debate and things went down hill from there. 

My friend made the comment that if it wern’t for Eve’s sin then life would be perfect.  He then followed up with ‘It’s always the womans fault.’  To this, I countered, why didn’t Adam stop her. 

Before I go any farther, open up the Bible to Genesis.  Read all of Genesis 1, 2 and 3 for good measure.  Focus on the details.  Now let me point out some specific points of the story. 

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eatof it you will certainly die.”

 – Genesis 2:15-17

God then creates all the animals and, when Adam could find no suitable helper, He created woman from the rib (literally: the side) of man.  Andwhen Adam sees her for teh first time, he sings.  They are naked and they feel no shame (Genesis 2:18-25). 

So, enter the serpent.  note: the serpent is NOT Satan, Lucifer or a demon. 

Now, the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He siad to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘Youmust not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”

 – Genesis 3:1-3

Lets stop here and think about what was said in these couple verses.  Look at how the serpent phrased the question and, in response, the woman (who isn’t named Eve till after God ‘curses’ them Genseis 3:20) answers the question.  Look at her response, then look back at Genseis 2, when God commands Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

She misquotes God.  She adds in a little part about not touching the fruit.  But whos fault is that? 

Wasn’t it Adams responsibility as cultivator and leader to make sure the woman knew the commands of the Lord God?  Why didn’t he stop her when she made this statement, he was there (Genesis 3:6) with her?

I’m not making a definite, “This is who sinned first” statement, but just want people to think before they put the blame of sin on Eve and women as a whole. 

Just some thoughts

God Bless and PEACE

Senior Showcase

My Faith has called me to be someone who lives dangerously close to the presence of a powerful and majestic God.  As an artist, I try to infuse the emotions and experiences of this faith into my works of art.

 

This series of work explores what it is to live out my faith in a world that demands proof and solid evidence.  The main idea behind this series of work is how faith has affected me on the inside contrasted with how I reveal the effect on the surface.  Each self-portrait comes from the struggles that i have faced and the questions that have yet to be answered.

  

I utilize a number of different techniques in my paintings, from layers of washes of paint for an organic flow to each piece to the use of tape to get the hard edges and geometric shapes that compose the background of each image.  Each image is a self-portrait that has been abstracted to reveal the depth of my faith and how it has affected who I am. 

Im my drawings, I have kept the roughness of a sketch, adding to the emotion of a struggle to reveal where I am in my faith.  I have used a dry-brush technique with the white paint in order to bring the drawings off the page.

This series of work is the accumulation of my experience as an artist and as a Christian at Anderson University.

God Bless and PEACE

Update on Life and the Direction of this Blog

In less than two weeks now, I will be in Lome, Togo with the Africa Mercy, through Mercy Ships.   I fly out on the 31st of this month, and will be working in the dining hall until the middle of September.  I have the finances in order (still short about $2000, aka: the price of the plane ticket back to the states in September) but I trust that God will provide.  I’m trying to stand back and let Him do his thing without trying to take control of everything, its very stressful trusting in God for everything. 

If you want to donate, I have a personal fundraising page provided by Mercy Ships (anything extra that I get will go directly to Mercy Ships and their cause). 

I also had an interview with another organization (which will remain nameless until everything unfolds) about full-time missions for 2+ years.  I’m looking at spending 5-10 years in the mission field, then seeing where God calls me next (be it back to the states for Grad-School, into the wilderness for more missions work, or some other unforseen destination that only God knows). 

Keep that in your prayers and please continue to pray for both me and the numerous doctors and staff personell that will be aboard the Africa Mercy this summer. 

As for this Blog, a couple things are happening with it:

First:  I had an Art Blog that I kept for my drawing class while I was a student at Anderson University.  Well, I graduated and now I will be adding my thoughts on Art to this Blog also.  Since almost all my art is Faith based, It shouldnt be a harsh change. 

Second:  As I head out into the missions field (Mercy Ships this summer and then wherever I am next) I will be updating this blog whenever possible for a number of reasons: 1) to keep people updated on what i’m doing, 2) to let people back home know that I am doing okay and am still alive, 3) to continue to share what God has been teaching me through these experiences, and 4) so that I dont worry my mother too much. 

Third:  I will be uploading some of my photography and artwork to share. 

I hope this doesn’t turn to many people away, but it is the easiest for me, so I’m not sorry about the changes.

God Bless and PEACE

Be Still…

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire
“Be still, and know I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 – Psalm 46:8-11

Think about that for a second. 

Alright, second is over.  Rush off to the next blog.  Run to your next meeting.  Arrive breathless, tired, frustrated because the guy in front of you was slow.  Go about your life as everything begins to blur together. 

In our lives we rarely are able to settle down and relax.  There is always something to do, something to panic about, another thing on our plate.  As my father constantly reminds us, “It’s like your trying to shove ten pounds of [stuff] into a five pound sack.”

What if God isn’t calling us to run around in panic mode?  What if all God wants us to do is stop and be still in his presence? 

Look at his word again.  “Be still, and know that I am God”

Can we stop?  Can we keep from moving?  Can we actually silence ourselves long enough to understand this? 

I dont have all the answers.  Even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to explain it.  Try it for yourself.  See what happens when you take ten, twenty, thirty minutes and be still before God. 

God Bless and PEACE

The Sacred Made Real: Exhibition of Spanish Paintings and Sculpture from between 1600-1700

I recently got to see the exhibit “The Sacred Made Real” in the National Gallery of Art up in D.C. 

In the 17th century Spain began to produce artwork of ‘intense kind of realism’  focused around the renewing of the Catholic Church and the counter reformation.  These artists, which included well known painters Diego Velazquez and Francisco de Zurbaran and lesser known sculptors Juan Martines Montanes and Pedro de Mena, attempted to make images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints as convincing and acessible as possible. 

The realism that they strived for was and is considered ‘starkly austere, emotionally gripping, and even gory, intend[ing] to shock the senses and stir the soul.’

While this collection of paintings and sculpture was facinating, it is hard for one to seperate the artistic qualities of each piece from the Religious and faith inspired feel of the room. 

When viewed through the lense of a Catholic, or anyone who is focused on the Religious and Faith based affects of this art, the starkness and presentation was awe inspiring. 

The wing of the National Gallery was set up to inspire a Religious and emotional response.  The room was dark, the lights were dimmed, bringing the focus onto the paintings and polychrome sculptures that stood in the spotlight. 

From an artistic view, the lighting was horrid.  When one shines a spotlight on an oil painting, the glare of said light forces the viewer to see the painting in only one direction.  With such amazing paintings as these, my heart broke because one could not see them fully, because the exibition was focusing more on the Religious experience. 

In one of the first paintings of the exibition, Francisco de Zurbaran’s Saint Luke Contemplating the Crucifixion, I noted something that I probably never would have seen if I had never been tought the finer side of critiquing art by Professor K. and Dr. Korb at Anderson Univeristy. 

In this painting, a painter (identified as Luke the Evangelist, the patron saint of painters) stands before Christ on the cross.  The painting is painted with a delicate touch, worked to perfection.  The brushstrokes fade into the background, but then again, something stands out. 

Clashing against the realism of the rest of the piece, the painter holds a palette and some brushes in his hand.  This palette and brush seems to be added after the fact, a rough addition that scars the rest of the painting. 

For those who were not born and raised Catholics, one might be lost at the meaning behind each Saint and painting, for each one has a deeper and richer history than what appears on the surface of the canvas.  Even for one who has grown up in the Catholic Church, it took some explaining of an Uncle in the Deaconate program to rediscover the faith value of St. Francis (Pedro de Mena’s Saint Francis Standing in Ecstasy or Francisco de Zubaran’s Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation) or the story behind St. Bernard (Francisco Ribalta’s Christ Embracing Saint Bernard of Clairvaux). 

For anyone who does not have a basic knowledge of the stories and miricles surrounding the Saints displayed in this exibit,it is extremely difficult to see the spiritual side of these paintings, and even more frustrating to see and appreciate the artistic merit of these works. 

Each painting was perfect.  The skin smothed out.  The brushstroke falling exactly in the right place.  They are said to be graphic and gory.

I did not see the gory side of these paintings.  They were too perfect.  Too beautiful.  Too elegant.  Anything but Gory. 

The Spanish painters prided themselves at being the most realistic painters of the time.  Yes, they could capture life, but they couldnt capture the suffering or the agony of death.  Maybe it was there deep reverance for their faith that prevented them from showing the torture and pain that Christ and these Saints went through. 

Christ was flogged and beaten, a crown of thorns was thrust onto and into his head, piercing his skin (John 19:1-3) but yet in every crucifixion (save one or two) his flesh is unblimished, perfect, except for one or two minor scratches.  There is no blood flowing from his wounds. 

If the Spanish want to claim the right to say they are the most realistic painters, they might want to take a lesson from the Germans.

While I enjoyed the exhibit, I wish they had shown the pieces of art in the proper light.  Show art as art.  Like one’s personal faith, it speaks more powerfully when you dont hide it behind shadows and bright lights. 

God Bless and PEACE

I Remember…

I remember teh flames bursting across the sky, painting clouds with vibrant colors of love and life.  The warmth seeping across the dirt of the ground, drawing the joy of brreath.  And as I took it all in, for once I felt alive.

Around me, children run.  Each dirty, stained face tells a story, that few can read.  Their calm, brown eyes draw me in, as their calloused hands trace the lines of my own face.  The touch of their fingers smear dirt and grime with the sweet sweat that permeates forth from every pore, but I dare not move and disturb the story being read.

The children crowd around and shout ‘lion!’, as their wide eyes gaze in wonder at the blond locks of hair that fall over my shoulders.  Their laughter echoes across the stillness of the earth, as if time, for one moment, stopped.

Their clothes are tattered and torn, but they hold onto the rags as if they were a lifeline to a life that they cannot live.  The stubble of a shaved head rubs and scratches against my arm, as the little ones draw closer, each one fighting for attention and the chance to be recognized. 

I don’t remember her name, the little one sitting on my lap, her white teeth flashing a shay grimace as the ‘lion’s’ mane brushes against her shaved head as I try to look into her eyes.  As she turns away, I catch the green spark of life that the others tell me was never there, but I know for sure I saw.

I cannot remember their names, but their faces are burned into my memory, something that could never be removed or replaced.  Each streak of dirt, every tear stained face, every scar can be seen and felt with calloused fingers that engulf my thumb and never let go. 

The faces sometimes blur together, each one bringing another specific feature to a portrait that never existed.  The crooked smile of the kid with the red beanie and the missing teeth of ‘No-Pants’ merge inot one, as the soft, brown eyes of the small deaf girl come together with the large ears of the shy boy that always peaked his head around the corner in the morning sunlight as I sat there and wrote. 

There are people that tell me that these people, these places never existed, but they havn’t seen the bright sadness that I experienced while in Uganda.  They never had the oppertunities to see the black of night melt before the burning flames that rose above the clinic walls.  They never had a piece of their heart ripped from their chest, always calling them back to where they belong. 

God Bless and PEACE

The Church and Idols

Our God is in heaven;
    he does whatever pleases him
But their idols are silver and gold,
     made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
     eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear
     noses, but cannot smell
They have hands, but cannot feel,
     feet, but cannot walk
     nor can they utter a sound with their
         throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
     and so will all who trust in them

 – Psalm 115:3-8

While in an interview today, I came to the realization that many people have made Christian icons into Idols of worship. 

Take a look around and see how many statues of the Virgin Mary or any number of various Saints litter the landscapes.  We have a Patron Saint for almost everything.  I won’t lie, my Patron Saint is St. George (the slayer of the dragon).  I wear a medallion with his image engraved on it around my neck.

To often I hear of people and see people turning to the Saints for help, rather than turning to God.  What makes it okay for a Christian to turn to a mere human rather than God?  What makes the Saints any different than pagan idols?  Can these people, who lived so long ago, actually  hear us and listen in on our prayers?  Is praying to a name any different than praying to a molded lump of gold or silver? 

Saints have become Idols.

I keep my Patron Saint, St. George, the Patron of Armor and England, not because I pray to him for protection.  If I need protection, I turn and pray to someone much more powerful than him, I turn to God.  I keep St. George as a Patron Saint because his life is an example to live by. 

He was an extraordinary man who, when put face to face with death, stood firm in his Faith.  In legends, he slays the dragon, freeing a kingdom, but in reality, he was a Roman soldier in Britaina who refused to renounce his faith in Christ, and was killed with his own sword. 

He is an example to live by.  Just like all the Saints.  The Martyrs.  The Persecuted.  The Condemned. 

The only difference between us and them, is they trusted God fully, where we falter and turn back to what the world has to offer. 

We have made these Saints Idols by  trusting in them more than we trust in God. 

Just some thoughts…

God Bless and PEACE

Things I’ve Learned

At some point we all must step back and look at where God has brought us.  As I walked across the stage at graduation this morning, I looked back at the four years of living on the campus of Anderson Univeristy and soaking everything in. 

I realized a couple things about the way i have lived and about life in general. 

I no longer say ‘good bye’ because I know that this is not the end.

I no longer view God as just a friend, but I see him in fearful awe and wonder. 

I no longer duck and run, but I rely on God to get me through rough waters.

I have come to realize that family is more than flesh and blood, but it includes all those that we have shared moments of Joy and Sorrow with. 

I have come to consider people not just friends, but brothers and sisters who will stand side by side me and I am proud and honored to do the same. 

I have learned how to Love.  Not a superficial love, but a love that can never be taken away. 

I have learned to trust.  To let go and allow the world to flow. 

I have learned to listen.  To silence myself before God and before others and actually hear them.

I hav e come to realize that I am hesitant.  I have fears.  And I will fail.  But in those failures, God will plant the seeds of success. 

I have come to realize that people are more than you or I give them credit for. 

I now know that following God will never be safe.  And I am Okay with that. 

Just some thoughts….

God Bless and PEACE