Art and Audience

A recent article in Humanities has caused me to give some thought to the audience for a work of art. An abiding criticism of so-called “serious” or “fine” art, like poetry and painting, is its elitism—only a small coterie of followers, most of them professor-types and intellectuals, seem to care. The audience for a painting or [Read More...]

Got a Ph.D. in Theology? Go Work for a Church

What to do with all these worthless Ph.D.’s in the humanities? The Chronicle of Higher Ed relays a speech given by Michael F. Bérubé to the Council of Graduate School, called “The Future of Graduate Education in the Humanities.” He offers up, in the words of the article’s title, a “sobering critique” of the state of the [Read More...]

Parachurch Craziness: Freedom at Tufts and Equality in Louisville

My Facebook feed is a-twitter with exclamations about the recent decision at Tufts University to allow an on-campus Christian group (Tufts Christian Fellowship) to “discriminate,” so to speak, in selecting its leaders. Back in October, Tufts’ Community Union Judiciary had implemented an “all comers” policy, which stated that any university-sponsored campus group could not discriminate, [Read More...]

Odds and Ends

    I’ve been doing some work beyond my weekly posts here at CULTIVARE and so I thought I’d share them with you: Over at ThinkChristian I used the occasion of a new book on Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, to reflect on the continued importance of this painting. At Good Letters, the blog [Read More...]

Holy Discontent

In what has become an annual tradition with no connection to Elvis, churches around the country are sponsoring “blue Christmas” services aimed at people for whom the joys of the holiday season are elusive. Candles are still lit and ornaments hung, but they symbolize different things. For instance in one church, tree ornaments were pieces [Read More...]

Damien Hirst is Free

The market for artist Damien Hirst’s work seems to have bottomed out. And those who find his stuffed sharks, bejeweled skulls, and dot paintings overhyped and unjustifiable are delighted. The invisible hand of the art market has finally pulled back the curtain, they will say, revealing Hirst to be the sham they all thought he [Read More...]

Advent Shock: Jesus, the Crucified Peoples

Advent season formally begins this Sunday. I love this period of intentional reflection on the meanings of the “coming of God,” in Jesus of Nazareth. The incarnation. Emmanuel–God with us! Theologian Letty Russell wrote of “advent shock,” a poignant phrase that suggests that the current state of history and the “way things are” is being [Read More...]

With Malice Toward None

I’m an Lincolnphile. Love Abe. I have all his books. Read all the biographies. Whenever I’m asked who in history I’d most want to meet if ever given the chance, I always say Abraham Lincoln even though I know I’m supposed to say Jesus. (Of course I believe I get to meet Jesus, so he’s [Read More...]

The Ladder & The Bridge

There is a habit of thinking among Christian artists, philosophers, and theologians that conceives of the work of art as a ladder. It uplifts, drawing one closer to God. It is believed to do this in two ways. First, it operates in the register of philosophy, participating in the timeless ideas and eternal forms of [Read More...]

Black Friday, Good Friday, and the Eucharist: Being Consumed, Part II

Black Friday is receding into Thanksgiving. A U.S. News articlereports that Wal-Mart, Sears and Toys-R-Us will have flung wide their gates at 8 pm on Thursday. Target is exercising remarkable restraint, waiting an hour later to begin the madness. I’ve been reflecting on this phenomenon in the context of reading William Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed, where he [Read More...]

A Thanksgiving Prayer from Kierkegaard

“Father in heaven! You hold all the good gifts in your gentle hand. Your abundance is richer than can be grasped by human understanding. You are very willing to give, and your goodness is beyond the understanding of a human heart, because you fulfill every prayer and give what we pray for or what is [Read More...]

Haystacks & Shadows

One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching art history to college students is presenting to them an artist or work of art with which they have been long familiar, perhaps Michelangelo and his famous Pietà or Marcel Duchamp and his infamous Fountain, and opening it up to reveal something they hadn’t noticed, taking it out [Read More...]


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