Making church buildings beautiful again

Version 2 Church buildings used to be made so that they would be beautiful.  This was true not only of Gothic cathedrals but also of small Protestant churches, whose simplicity and lack of adornment had a classic, elegant aesthetic impact of their own.

This is not so true of churches built over the last 50 years or so.  They tend to be utilitarian, plain, drab, unsymmetrical, and often, well, ugly.  But this appears to be changing.

I discuss what happened after the jump.  I also tell about this striking example of contemporary church architecture that we saw in Finland, which reflects the history, struggles, and victories of confessional Lutheranism in Scandinavia. [Read more…]

An actor speaks of faith & calling

Whether or not Selma is fair to LBJ, it’s supposed to be a powerful movie.  (I haven’t seen it yet.  Can anyone comment on that?)  And I’m told that the actor playing Dr. King, the Nigerian/British actor David Oyelowo turns in an amazingly good performance.  It turns out, Mr. Oyelowo is a zealous, committed Christian who is not afraid to talk about his faith.

After the jump, I have an excerpt and a link to an interview with Mr. Oyelowo that first appeared on Patheos and was picked up by Time (which also has a link to our discussion of the LBJ controversy).  I don’t vouch for the theology–for example, that God spoke to him directly–but he is also talking about vocation (a.k.a. “calling”), and we hear a perspective that is kind of refreshing coming from Hollywood. [Read more…]

Mary, Did You Know?

As I’ve said before, the great challenge for an artist–whether an author, musician, painter, or whatever–in depicting Jesus Christ is how to portray Him as both God and Man.  In Christmas art, some work portrays Him in His humanness as a cute little baby.  Other work, such as the classic icons, show the Child as transcendent God.  Both are fine, conveying profound truths about who Christ is.  But the very best art about Christ somehow evokes BOTH His divinity and His humanity.

I have a candidate, a contemporary Christmas song, that pulls this off:  Mary, Did You Know? by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene.  Here are the lyrics.  After the jump, a video of my favorite performance of the song, the haunting version by Kathy Mattea. [Read more…]

Cranach’s “Christ Blessing the Children”

One of my favorite Cranach paintings is “Christ Blessing the Children.”  See a discussion after the break.

Lucas_Cranach_the_Elder_Christ_blessing_the_Children,_Frankfurt_am_Main,_Städel_Museum

 

HT:  Rev. Anthony R. Voltattorni, Young Children Saying The Same Thing As Christ | Alien Righteousness.  (Read this post for a modern-day application.)

[Read more…]

Source for Christian Art & Design

Some Christian artists, of the confessional Lutheran variety, tired of schlocky and doctrinally vapid Christian cards and gifts, have put together a website that offers an alternative:  Ad Crucem ☩ Christian Art & Design with Discernment ☩ To The Cross with Art & Word!. [Read more…]

Matisse’s conversion

Henri Matisse was one of the great artists of the 20th century.  What most people do not know, however–and what exhibitions and art critics tend to ignore–is that Matisse underwent a dramatic and life-changing conversion to Christianity. [Read more…]