Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Art and Theology: The Marriage

This semester I'm teaching a class on the Role of Women in Ministry. We explore women's history, the hard-to-understand Bible verses about women, first-century culture, and other highly controversial subjects.

Every time I teach this class, I require my students to visit Dallas's Women's Museum. And then we discuss it.

During this year's discussion one student in particular shared about a powerful revelation he'd had via the art.

On the top floor of the museum was an gallery with all items priced. Sales benefited research for a women's disease--I think it was breast or ovarian cancer. At any rate, this student told about how one painting caught his eye. He said it was of an old, wrinkled woman. Her top was exposed, but according to him it was not at all sexual or provocative. She also had her arms up as if in celebration. And he marveled that this old, wrinkled woman stood celebrating the wonder of her body.

The student went on to say it made him realize for the first time how much women must feel pressure to be young and beautiful, and how much confidence it must take to overcome such thinking to see beauty in the majesty of the God-created human body, whether or not it looks like [insert name of movie start you consider gorgeous].

I loved the intersection of art and theology in that encounter.

Has art made you consider spiritual thoughts or illuminated some truth for you? Tell us about it by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Creating Culture

"Like our first parents, we are to be creators and cultivators. Or to put it more poetically, we are artists and gardeners. The postures of the artist and the gardener have a lot in common. Both begin with contemplation, paying close attention to what is already there."

I pulled this quote from a terrific article in Christianity Today by Andy Crouch: Creating Culture: Our best response to the world is to make something

You may remember that back on August 7 I posted an entry about Andy's new book. This article gives you a glimpse into his thinking. It feels long to read online, so I recommend printing it. I read it in the magazine's print version, which somehow felt more manageable. But it's worth savoring.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

School Daze, Etc.- The Results

Congratulations to JULIA!!!

My ten year old drew your name as the winner for my SoulPerSuit Back-To-School Giveaway!

If you would kindly send me your snail mail address, I'll get it to you ASAP.
soulpererin at yahoo dot com

(Purple haze not included.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Worshipping to Bon Jovi

I quit my job in June. This is something that I've been planning on and looking forward to for quite a while. My list of things-to-do is short but sweet.

When I sit down and try to think about how I can serve people in my community I start by looking at where I'm gifted. One gift is computer software. I've used Microsoft products for several years but when I look at conventional ministries, I don't see where this fits in. I don't believe that I have achieved this level of expertise just to be a church secretary. Then MyGeek introduced me to the Computer Training Bridge (CTB).

While looking for a job after graduating, MyGeek got involved in volunteer teaching computer courses at the local library through CTB. Their goal is to make beginner computer classes available for people who have no other means of getting computer skills so they can get better jobs, attend college, or do better in school. They teach "Computer ABCs" and "Internet Basics" and most of the Mircorsoft products. I assisted in one of MyGeek's classes and was hooked. This was an incredibly fulfilling way to use my gifts.

Getting more involved with CTB was one of the two things I wanted to do when I quit work. The other was SPS - sub-category, more art.

If you check out my blog, you'll see that I started a mural on my outdoor heating oil tank. I've been nervous and excited about this project. I don't paint very much and, the times I have, it's been on unusual surfaces. How do you paint on metal? Oh, well, let's just jump right in.

There's been a lot of prep work but, finally, yesterday, I started painting on the design while the back of the house was in the morning shade. The temperatures have started to drop so the nights and mornings are cool and dewy. If that wasn't great enough, there was just the slightest cool breeze that wasn't strong enough to make it cold but just enough to feel like you were being caressed by a cool silk scarf. With my Nano on my "Rock" playlist, I entered another world, singing and jamming away to my favorite, feel good tunes. Could any place be more sublime? I'm painting outdoors, making art, and playing music that makes you want to dance and sing.

While in the middle of Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" I realized I was euphoric, having fun doing something I love. I didn't want to stop to eat or drink and I remembered a verse.

How sweet are Your words to my taste! {Yes, sweeter} than honey to my mouth! - Psalm 119:103

I stopped to take in my surroundings and realized this was worship and I cried. In nature there is Truth. In art there is Truth. In my gifts there is Truth. This must be what it's like to be in the presence of God because I want to go back there. So much of what I learned about being a follower of God told me I'm only doing it right if I'm miserable, but that can't be true. It has to be a place you desire to be more than anything else. Being in God's presence must be pure beauty and joy.

So if you happen to be driving around one day and see some crazy lady dancing in her backyard with a paint brush in her hand, why don't you pull over and join her. If you don't like Bon Jovi, she has some Elvis Presley.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Giveaway- School Daze, etc.

Our family started school today. The oldest kid has the sniffles, the middle child can't recall how to abbreviate "September", the youngest one flat out refuses to do any learning of any sort this year (she told me so herself), and I'm wishing for just one more month of summer. (I mean, it's only June... isn't it?) Each of us has begun the academic year in something of a daze.

The beginning of school always brings back memories for me. As a child of military parents, we moved a lot, so my first day of school often came with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I was usually the new girl so had to make friends all over again, had to learn a new grading system, had to memorize the layout of an unfamiliar school; all things I dreaded. But I also got new textbooks, a spanking new backpack or lunch box, and had a locker to myself or different art supplies than my last school, so there were things I looked forward to.
I spent many Septembers learning a new school's wayz.

One of my favorite back-to-school rituals was choosing my outfit to wow my classmates on our first day back at school. In 5th grade, we'd just moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and I was entering the top rung of the elementary school ladder with a bunch of kids who'd known each other since Kindergarten. What better way to win their admiration than to sport a fetching all-purple ensemble? Wine, raspberry, lavender- shades and hues need not match as long as they were some derivative of PURPLE. I begged my mom for a pair of lavender Jordache sneakers that fastened with a funky new invention called, Velcro.
When School Day #1 rolled around... oh yeah, man... I was a fascinating purple haze.

8th grade found me as a new student in Rocky Run Middle School; again, the new girl amidst a bunch of kids who'd known each other since long before my time. I made some new friends and we all looked forward to our lunch break when we could talk about the latest New Wave hair fashion or the cutest boy in our locker row. Fridays, in particular, were popular because the cafeteria served pizza. In my school all of the 8th grade population turned out for pizza day. Long lunch lines snaked around the cafeteria and if you happened to loiter too long in the lobby, you might just miss your chance at some greasy lunchtime goodness. The pizzas were rectangular and always had a puddle of oil surfacing on the top. My personal favorite was pepperoni pizza with a side of French fries.
Fridays in my school were an 8th grade pepperoni pizza craze.

Why am I telling you this? I want to give away a school-themed SoulPerSuit gift.

Here's what I've got:

A vintage school memories 8 X 10 album, completely blank and crisp and ready for you to alter it as you see fit.
I used one of my own yearbooks (from my 8th grade pepperoni year, to be exact) as a "card" for our last SoulPerSuit adventure through Espresso with Esther. It was a nice break from using playing cards for SPS, I could keep all my "cards" contained together in the pages and the larger size allowed more room to work. This blank high school memories book lets you alter a blank album rather than your precious high school memories. (I, however, seem to only be able to remember the greasy pizza and my frizzy New Wave hair, so I didn't object to painting over the faces of the 1986 Rocky Run Woodwind Ensemble.)

A mini set of acrylic paint and brushes. Mini tubes of titanium white, cobalt blue, lemon yellow, viridian (green) and vermilion (red) and 4 mini brushes. Small and self-contained, these will fit in your locker, no prob. Sadly, you'll have to mix your own purple haze but it comes with a mixing tray.

This giveaway is perfect for anyone who is a new student to SoulPerSuit, painting, or altering books. No fear or trepidation on this first day of school. Just come sit at the desk beside me and tell me two things to be entered in the drawing:

1) Your most stunning first-day-of-school outfit.
2) The best food your cafeteria served.

Tell us about the Haze and the Craze from your School Daze.

I'll announce the winner on Thursday, Sept. 11th.