Thursday, December 14, 2006

Barnfloor and Winepress

And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?
2 Kings VI: 27

Thou that on sin's wages starvest,
Behold we have the joy in harvest:
For us was gather'd the first fruits,
For us was lifted from the roots,
Sheaved in cruel bands, bruised sore,
Scourged upon the threshing-floor;
Where the upper mill-stone roof'd His head,
At morn we found the heavenly Bread,
And, on a thousand altars laid,
Christ our Sacrifice is made!

Thou whose dry plot for moisture gapes,
We shout with them that tread the grapes:
For us the Vine was fenced with thorn,
Five ways the precious branches torn;
Terrible fruit was on the tree
In the acre of Gethsemane;
For us by Calvary's distress
The wine was racked from the press;
Now in our altar-vessels stored
Is the sweet Vintage of our Lord.

In Joseph's garden they threw by
The riv'n Vine, leafless, lifeless, dry:
On Easter morn the Tree was forth,
In forty days reach'd heaven from earth;
Soon the whole world is overspread;
Ye weary, come into the shade.

The field where He has planted us
Shall shake her fruit as Libanus,
When He has sheaved us in His sheaf,
When He has made us bear his leaf. -
We scarcely call that banquet food,
But even our Saviour's and our blood,
We are so grafted on His wood.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins

Friday, December 08, 2006

Aesthetics and Eschatology

"I came across this passage in Norman Davies' epic history, Europe, in a section analyzing the ultimate collapse of European communism. He said: 'Artists and believers were often the only people who could imagine a world without communism.' To the extent that fantasy books paint a picture of a world that is in some way more heroic, more humane, more beautiful and hopeful than this one ... that is something that people really respond to, and I'm all for it. Perhaps the number of people who are willing to wade through a hopeless and depressing book is dwindling."
-Stephen Lawhead in this interveiw

True art, I suggest, approximates more and more to the vision of the way things are and the way things shall be. We humans know in our bones that we are children of the present creation, which is simultaneously both glorious and shameful, and that we are designed for a fuller creation, a new order, a world flooded with the creator’s glory, full of justice and joy and, yes, beauty. The point of new creation is that it is the redemption and transformation of this present creation, with its shame and horror overcome; that is the way, if I can put it like this, to the reconciliation of Isaiah’s dilemma. And the true point of biblical apocalyptic, as opposed to the distorted and dualistic versions which have been so powerful and prevalent in our day, is that biblical apocalyptic is all about God’s future breaking in to the present, seen in glimpses, known above all in Jesus, and best expressed not in abstract theology or even in preaching but, yes, in genuine and visionary art. Apocalyptic, both in form and in biblical content, is not about the denial of the present creation, but about the overcoming of its sorrows and the realising of its promise. Apocalyptic is the key to understanding, and re-expressing, the beauty of God."

N.T. Wright in Apocalyptic and the Beauty of God, (mp3 here)

This is a sculpture Wright talks about at the end of that lecture, it's called Tree of Life and is made entirely out of "entirely from decommissioned weapons: bits and pieces of old AK47s, bullets and machetes..."
What a great image of swords beaten into pruning hooks!

Edit: From the quotes above, perhaps it's not surprising that Left Behind is aesthetically poor as well as eschatologically poor.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

blog links

Hungry for a Month:
"For the month of November, I’m only spending $30 on food. The only exception will be things that are freely available to the average person (salt taken from restaurants, sauce packets from Taco Bell, free coffee from an office). Buying in advance is fine, but at the end of the month, it all has to add up to $30 or less..."

How to Change Your Mind
"This post contains a four step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind.
'...I saw something in his Christian life to which I was a comparative stranger –a peace, a rest, a joy, a kind of spiritual poise I knew little about. One day I ventured to ask him how he had become possessed of the experience, when he replied, “By reading the epistle to the Ephesians.” "

Form Follows Function?
"After noticing that the ugliest buildings in town are at the art gallery, I began pondering modern design. Since modernism is all about shifting blame to root causes, I’ve decided that the poverty of modern plastic design is rooted in a failure of poetic vocabulary.

...Better: “Form REJOICES in function”. This gives both nouns something to do. Function’s work is outside the epigram, in the activity itself that is — let’s say — taking place within the building this architect is drawing. Form’s work is to rejoice in the activity, not just accomodate it, and not distract from it"

Digital Poetics:Film Stills and Third Meanings
"Until then, there is the radical beauty of CGI action sequences of so many Hollywood blockbuster films (The Day After Tomorrow and Spiderman 2 below). These are surrealist still images, experiments with time and space and frame composition whose beauty is lost on us because they go by so fast, and because they are embedded in familiar stories that practically beg to be dismissed. Take them out of the film, blow them up, and hang them in some swanky art gallery showcasing surrealist images and they'd be right at home."

The Book Design Review This is an interesting ongoing reveiw of book covers and their design, and is mostly image bases "I need to see this in person -- I hope the colors are as fantastic as they look here. And as one who very often criticizes tame typography, here it makes perfect sense; anything more than this would have competed with the rest of the jacket."

not for the feigned of art

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

thoughts in the middle of an all-nighter

here's what I want to do: take a sketchbook, a notebook, a bible, a good novel I've read and one that I hadn’t, a good art book, a good theology book, and some other non-ficiton book; an mp3 player with an audio book, some of mars hill audio, podcasts and music; Some money, an empty suit-case for books to buy, just enough clothes and some travel food, and travel by train or some other public transportation with plenty of people and time to draw or read. Explore cities, buy books to sell (I could get my brother to ship books from home if they sold), draw, think, and visit friends and family around the US.

perhaps 2 weeks.

But perhaps I would need a camera, but I would have to limit myself, perhaps the natural physical and financial limitation of real film would provide that limit. That way I wouldn't spend the trip looking through the lens of my camera and I would be forced to choose what to take pictures of.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

on earth as it is in heaven

"I'm what is called a "post-millenialist," meaning that when Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like leaven working in a lump until the whole lump is leavened, and that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that grows until all the birds of heaven come and nest in its branches, then we are supposed to expect that the world lump will be leavened with the gospel, and that the world birds will find their home in Jesus' kingdom. Jesus said to go and disciple nations, teaching them to obey everything he commanded, and so we can expect that the nations will learn to obey Jesus.

This hasn't happened yet. But I expect it will happen. And I expect it will take a long time. That means that we may now be in the period that will someday be known as the Early Church."
-The next 10,000 years (a blog post by the Presbyteer)

"... it would seem odd if the Lord gave Adam a commission to rule and subdue the earth, sent His Son to die and rise again as the Last Adam to restore humanity to that task, and then ended the whole process after a couple thousand years, just when we were beginning to make a few meager advances in achieving dominion over creation. Humanity – I say it with reverence – would feel more than a little cheated, like a teenager never given a chance to grow up.

Most editions of the Book of Common Prayer has a table for calculating the dates for feast days, and the table can be used up to about the year 6000 AD. I'm with those guys."
-Coming Soon? (Peter Leithart)

"The next thing looks like it will be China, which probably has more Christians now than the U.S. does. And the Chinese don't know from Calvin or Aquinas. They have been insulated and isolated and have grown up with just Jesus and the Bible. Who knows how that will play out.

And then the next thing will be the Muslim world. The West's Christians have been sentimental, revivalistic, and exhibiting an irrepressible genius for the slide into liberal apostasy. Once the Muslim world converts, then the West will look absolutely anemic."

-The next 10,000 years (a blog post by the Presbyteer)