The imagination as the forgotten power of the mind

When we think of the mind, we tend to think of the intellect, our ability to reason and understand.  But the mind has many other facets:  We experience our emotions in our minds.  Another mental faculty is the will.  There has been quite a lot of theological reflection on those three, but not so much on the mental faculty that we use far more than any of the others:  the imagination.   When we do think of the imagination, we mystify it by associating it with creativity and the arts.  Those do issue from the imagination, but what the term really means is simply the ability to form mental pictures in our minds.

Anyway, I’ve just finished a book on the subject with Matthew Ristuccia, which will come out in November.  I spoke about this in Canada, recently, at Concordia Edmonton.  Mathew Block, communications director of the Lutheran Church Canada, interviewed me for the Canadian Lutheran.  I thought I’d run a series of posts built around his questions, starting today. [Read more...]

Cranach at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has put much of its collection online in digitized high-resolution images, including scores of works by the patron of this blog Lucas Cranach.  Go to this link:  Search | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Click the title of the work and you will go to a larger image with a brief discussion of its significance.  Click the image again and it will fill your screen.  You can then zoom in for the most exquisite detail.

After the jump, two paired paintings depicting the theme of God’s grace:  Jesus with the children and Jesus with the woman taken in adultery.  (HT:  Paul McCain) [Read more...]

Pornography, Idolatry, and the manipulable image

Dr. Jack Kilcrease has a rather brilliant post at Theologia Crucis on the connection between pornography and idolatry.  Both fixate on images that can be manipulated according to our desires, as opposed to the “real presence” of an actual human spouse or of the true God.

A bonus in that post is a discussion of how the Reformed view religious images vs. how Lutherans view them. [Read more...]

Downton Abbey

Yes, I’m a Downton Abbey fan.  Of course I am.  I also liked Upstairs Downstairs, which pioneered the British period piece about early 20th century aristocrats and their servants.  This season’s finale of Downton is this week.  (Why do British series have such short seasons?  Another of my favorites, Sherlock, had just three episodes!) [Read more...]

Ugliness and Civilization

Have you noticed how ugly most of our communities are, all the strip malls, concrete boxes, offices, and even churches, void of aesthetic touches?  There is certainly “art,” but it tends to be walled away in museums, rather than being part of a living community (as many of the pieces in museums once were).  Have you noticed that this is a relatively new phenomenon?  In the cover story for the latest National Review, Michael Knox Beran writes about why that is and what the decline of beauty and the rise of ugliness tell us about our civilization. [Read more...]

The good wine

I was struck by something in the Epiphany scripture reading a few Sundays ago, about Christ’s first miracle, turning the water into wine.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroomand said to him, Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:9-10).

So there is “poor wine” and “good wine,” a difference in quality.  (Also we see that those to imbibe “freely” become less able to tell the difference.)  [Read more...]


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