Jesus+Nothing=Everything & Theology of Culture

  When asked what he had learned from his years of studying the Bible, the great Swiss Reformed theologian of grace Karl Barth responded, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The title of Tullian Tchividjian’s award-winning book, Jesus+Nothing=Everything, offers in similar Barthian fashion a reminder that the Christian faith [Read More...]

Piss Christ, Revisited

The culture wars are back. And they seem to have a corporate sponsor that sells fried chicken sandwiches. With the Presidential election looming the political pundits are active, as are the Reformed and evangelical bloggers, girding themselves for battle, urging their minions not to retreat and fight for traditional middle American values in the face [Read More...]

The Artist, the Work of Art, and the Freedom of the Unfree Will

What is the relationship of the artist to the work of art?  Is it merely the result of the artist’s intentions and nothing more—a visual, literary, or musical message sent to the viewer that contains the artist’s emotions, thoughts, worldview? This is a question that has long perplexed critics and Charles McGrath’s recent article, “Good Art, [Read More...]

Robert Hughes, Jackson Pollock, and Me

  The art critic has an impossible but necessary task. I was reminded of this earlier this week after learning of the death of Robert Hughes, one of the most successful critics of our generation. The art critic’s task is impossible because he or she must use one medium of expression (words) to communicate the significance [Read More...]

Art and Explanation

Susan Sontag has a point. In her well-known essay, “Against Interpretation” (1966), Sontag argues that the classical mimetic theory of art has created an unnecessary distinction between form and content, which modern (and now postmodern) theories have merely intensified. Interpretation presumes that art must have content that can be extracted for use outside the work. [Read More...]

Charley Friedman’s One Hour Smile (1995)

The most enjoyable part of my work as a museum curator was developing close relationships with artists, giving me privileged access to how they think and work, including opportunities to experience their art at its most vulnerable, in process. From time to time I will share their work as a way to reflect on the theological [Read More...]

Art and Culture, or Politics by Other Means—Evangelical Style

Justified by Use Lutheran theologian Oswald Bayer reminds us that in An Essay on Human Understanding, John Locke argues that “person” is a “forensic term.” The need to justify one’s existence to one’s self  and to others, to gain and maintain recognition, is the foundation of the human condition under the sun. In this transactional, [Read More...]

A Buffalo ’66 Theology of Culture

We live in a bipolar and schizophrenic culture. On one hand it is extremely crude and licentious and on the other, excruciatingly puritanical and legalistic. A robust and mature Christian cultural witness recognizes that this is two sides of the same coin, and thus resists the temptation to reduce the radicality of the gospel into [Read More...]

The Red Herring of Public Decency

The Chinese government’s “pixelation” of Michelangelo’s marble sculpture, David-Apollo in a television story previewing an exhibition of western art at the National Museum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, raises the question again of art, nudity, and public decency. Rather than make the sculpture safe for public viewing, did pixelating the work create an indecent or pornographic situation?  Should a work of [Read More...]

Bearing Cultural Witness

Poet and Editor Aleksandr Tvardovsky It was Aleksandr Tvardovsky’s habit to lounge about his apartment in his bathrobe looking at the manuscripts that littered his living quarters. As editor of the liberal magazine Novy Mir in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, Tvardovsky was well known as a Soviet poet as well [Read More...]


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