Luther, Evangelicals, and Modern Art

Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Wittenberg Altarpiece, 1547, Wittenberg, Germany Modern and contemporary painting is the heart of my theology of culture. It is not the kind of cultural practice, however, that receives any positive attention from evangelical cultural theologians and critics, for whom art is irrelevant at best and harmful at worst. But painting [Read More...]

Melville’s Epilogue

  In 1857 an exhausted and depressed Herman Melville travelled to Jerusalem in an effort to recover his Christian faith. He returned bitterly disappointed with what he apparently didn’t find. Unfortunately, Melville’s life-long struggle with faith is not the exception in the history of modern art and literature. This history is characterized by loss, brokenness, [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 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...]

Art after the Fifth Grade and beyond Sunday School

  I am in Hyderabad, India to lead a track on arts and ministry design at the YCL (Young Creative Leaders) conference, and I look forward to sharing my reflections on the conference in the weeks to come. But for now, I’ve reprinted (and slightly revised) a book review that appeared in Comment magazine in [Read More...]

The Ear and the Eye

Makoto Fujimura, The Golden Sea, 64 x 80, mineral pigments and gold on Kumohada paper, 2011   I recently spent the weekend with artist Makoto Fujimura at his new studio in Princeton, New Jersey, and in the course of our conversations, some of which were videotaped for a documentary, we discussed the presence of grace [Read More...]

The Final Word on Thomas Kinkade

  Thomas Kinkade My theological analysis of Thomas Kinkade’s work (“The Dark Light of Thomas Kinkade”) was an attempt to make sense of my abiding discomfort with his work as well as respond to my dissatisfaction with the commentary it has generated over the years. Neither his supporters nor his critics have offered compelling arguments. [Read More...]

The Scream

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1895 Last week one of Edvard Munch’s four versions of The Scream (1895) sold at auction for a record price of $120 million. An icon of modernism, The Scream was made by a truly great but complicated artist whose remarkable body of work produced throughout his sixty-year career put a sizable [Read More...]


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