POEM 260 “I’m nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too? Then there ’s a pair of us—don’t tell! They ’d banish us, you know. How dreary to be somebody! How public, like a frog To tell your name the livelong day To an admiring bog!” We all have countless opportunities to nurture genius, but […]
“I have no doubt an inheritance of religious feeling, and for this I am glad, but I have also a decided and I hope an intelligent religious faith not due to inheritance but to my own convictions. I believe my religion. I have chosen the character of my art because it conveys my message and […]
Some conversions of faith are quiet events in the stillness of one’s heart. Others, however, are epiphanies of disquieting thunder. Such was the case with James Tissot. Already a successful painter whose playboy reputation was apparently well-earned, Tissot was changed by a vision he experienced during mass. This single event profoundly altered his course for […]
When I have a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion, then I go out and paint the stars. In many ways, it was just business. Van Gogh made his living by painting so he was sensitive to the market. He painted at least twenty-one versions of Starry Night because they seemed to sell well. […]
The straight line is the line of Man, the curve is the line of God Cathedrals are breath-taking by design. Their architects have always sought to portray religious grandeur (at least overtly) but detractors have likewise accused them of self-glorification. Today’s masterpiece is almost unrivaled in aspiration and it is still incomplete. As Terry Glaspey […]
Brothers, be not afraid of men’s sins. Love man even in his sin, for that already bears the semblance of divine love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light! Love the animals, love the […]
“I feel like I don’t fit at all.” “I wish there was greater understanding that we are not ‘strange.’” “What about us—are we valuable?” “I sometimes feel isolated, scrutinized, and ignored.” I heard statements like this over and over again as I interviewed people for my new book. The really dispiriting thing is, these people […]
SURPRISED BY JOY C.S. Lewis “Turning to the bookstall, I picked out an Everyman in a dirty jacket, Phantastes: A Faerie Romance, George MacDonald. Then the train came in. I can still remember the voice of the porter calling out the village names, Saxon and sweet as a nut—‘Bookham, Effingham, Horsley train.’ That evening I […]
COMMENTARY ON PSALM 104 John Calvin “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice,” and, therefore, we are “not only to be spectators in this beautiful theatre but to enjoy the vast bounty and variety of good things which are displayed […]
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Countless altar calls have been based on this simple message: Christ is knocking on the door of your heart, but you must […]
NATURE Ralph Waldo Emerson But if a man be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and vulgar things. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. […]
LIFE REFLECTIONS Felix Mendelssohn I know perfectly well that no musician can make his thoughts or talents different to what Heaven has made them; but I also know that if Heaven has given him good ones, he must also be able to develop them properly. Some people make it look easy. While many masterpieces are […]
I am not so weak as to submit to the demands of the age when they go against my convictions. I shall leave it to time to show what will come of it: a brilliant butterfly or a maggot. The Bible says that God has made himself known to all men at all times through […]
You will not be named by your shame.
First impressions are often disastrously wrong.
THE CREATION Franz Joseph Haydn Now heav’n in fullest glory shone; earth smiles in all her rich attire. The room of air with fowl is fill’d, the water swell’d by shoals of fish; by heavy beasts the ground is trod. But for all its glory, “the work was not complete.” There wanted yet that wond’rous […]
Is it possible that the God who created good also created evil?
“Jesus was not a theologian. He was God who told stories.”
Grace will lead me home.
And he shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah.
In reality, Bach was nothing less than a theologian who worked with a keyboard.
Someday, the Creator, who cast out His children from Paradise, will bring Paradise right back to them.
Many times our unresolved grief can lead to a crippling addiction.
John Calvin and his followers had limited congregational singing to the actual words of Scripture—and largely that meant the psalms. Watts saw no reason why Christian songs of praise should be limited in this way.
Though it was published in 1678, we still use phrases from the book, even if many of us don’t know that they originated in The Pilgrim’s Progress: “the slough of despond,” “vanity fair,” “muckraker,” and “worldly wise.”
Jesus faced down mobs all of His life, and as His followers we must do the same
Vincent van Gogh wrote,, “Rembrandt is so deeply mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language.”
The intense pleasure and pain she feels can only be expressed in ways that mirror one of the most ecstatic experiences most humans can identify with.
The wages of sin is death.
God is not absent from this world, and His hand is not stayed.
Herbert intended the verses he composed to be for God and for himself, as a way of meditating on the progress of his faith. We are fortunate enough to get to listen in.
Man alone, as the crown of creation, bears the image of the good Creator and thus has within himself the capacity and desire to create beautiful and meaningful things for their own sake.
Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast,
And each will wrestle for the mastery there.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from Faust
Spiritual truth is difficult for the rational mind to grasp. The Bible says the Holy Spirit will guide us to all truth and indeed, absent God’s intrusion our modern minds gravitate to only that which is reasonable – and reason is a hobbled teacher. We understand this most directly in matters of love, for as Pascal […]
Sometimes when a moment of revelation comes, it is a horrifying and violent one, and Caravaggio usually shows the instant just before the violence or its immediate aftermath.
Suicide violates the imago Dei, the image of God with which we are created, and that is simply idolatry.
El Greco was one of art history’s true originals, fusing a variety of influences into a passionate style that was uniquely his own.
Ask a man on his deathbed how he wants to use his final moments and he won’t ask to be shown his possessions one last time.
Perhaps Brueghel is asking us to ponder the fact that the most sacred moments can occur right under our noses.
The ultimate purpose of all Martin Luther’s music was in its message: to shine a fresh and unforgettable light upon the texts and teachings of Scripture, and to give a voice to the joy that the gospel brought to the human heart.
Many of his poems (he was an accomplished poet as well as an artist) show the struggle he experienced in trying to understand exactly how art and beauty fit into the spiritual life.
But once again, even in considering the possibility, I am trying to even the score.
“At the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done.”
― Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
No other artist was as effective at depicting the dark creatures that inhabit our nightmares.
Albrecht Dürer’s art is filled with a love for the rich and teeming wild world that God created as well as a longing for a better world to come.
A major target for Hitler’s acquisition in the Second World War, it spent much of that war hidden away in an Austrian salt mine, waiting for the day when Hitler hoped to make it a central exhibit in his planned postwar art museum.
According to legend, the first icon was created by the Gospel writer Luke, when he painted a likeness of Mary while she was still alive. (There is also a famous icon that shows Luke at an easel painting her.) In the fourth century Chrysostom wrote of having a portrait of the apostle Paul on his desk to inspire him as he penned his famous sermons. But the earliest surviving icons are from the sixth and seventh centuries, almost all of them preserved at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Syria.
Before Giotto, artists mostly worked from predetermined models and prototypes that had been handed down as part of the artistic tradition. These given rules and paradigms determined that artists would not stray far from the Byzantine heritage—art that was stiff, formal, and highly symbolic. But Giotto took another approach, and with it became the fountainhead of Western painting. When he approached a subject, he asked a simple question: What does it look like?
In a letter Dante wrote to a contemporary, he explained the purpose of his poem: “to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and to lead them to the state of bliss.”
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.