The Last Supper by Sadao Watanabe (1981)

Terry Glaspey wrote “One day, while browsing the shelves in a Christian bookstore in Tokyo, Watanabe was struck by the fact that the covers of most of the books were decorated with European religious art. There seemed to be little art available that represented the Christian faith in the visual language of the Japanese, and he wanted to find a way to communicate the message of Christ to those in his own culture, for whom its stories and teachings were largely unfamiliar.”

In his 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know, Glaspey goes on to say

The menu for Sadao Watanabe’s version of The Last Supper is unlike any other in art history. Jesus is placed at the head of a low table among his kimono-clad disciples as they kneel on a tatami mat and prepare to partake of a traditional Japanese meal. The charming large-eyed fish at the center of the table is the sea bream, or tai, a much-prized delicacy that is normally served on ceremonial occasions. It is accompanied by plates of sushi rolls and stylized bottles of sake.

As with actors in the Japanese Noh theater tradition, the faces of the figures in this print are masklike and impassive, as is the case in all Watanabe’s pictures. The position of the hands of his figures gives more clues to their emotional state than their faces, which is one of the ways that Watanabe creates an aura of reserved quiet and dignity in his work. Following Western art traditions, Jesus, with a halo around his head, is slightly larger than the disciples in order to indicate his importance. The “beloved disciple,” John, leans upon Jesus with affection while others gesticulate or fold their hands in an attitude of prayer. Judas can be seen in the foreground, clutching a bag of money behind his back. In a playful commentary, Watanabe adorned Judas’s kimono with the symbol of the fox, a traditional Japanese symbol of bedevilment.

Watanabe suggests that this was the kind of meal that would be served to Jesus as an honored guest if he were to visit a Japanese home in our own time. With this fresh vision of the Last Supper he wedded the East and the West, just as he did in hundreds of other biblical prints he created during his life. He took the familiar stories and symbols of Christianity, sometimes even borrowing poses from medieval and Renaissance masters, and reimagined them as distinctly Japanese, using the traditional Japanese medium of printmaking.

How much of our understanding of the gospel is imposed by our cultural framework?


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

D I G  D E E P E R


Sadao Watanabe

Sadao Watanabe

Sadao Watanabe was born in Tokyo in 1913, the son of a Christian father and Buddhist mother. His father did not attend church with any regularity or speak directly of his faith, but his son would sometimes overhear him quietly singing a hymn as he walked in the family garden: “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins.” When his father died unexpectedly, the young Watanabe, only ten, was forced to drop out of school to help with the family finances and had to put his dreams of becoming an artist on hold.

A kindly woman from the neighborhood felt sorry for the quiet, artistic boy who had lost his father and invited Watanabe to come to church with her. At first he was not much attracted to Christianity, finding it to have “the smell of butter” (a Japanese expression for something foreign and unpleasant). He moved toward belief slowly, spending considerable time comparing Christian and Buddhist scriptures. It was not primarily this intellectual investigation, however, that ultimately brought him to faith in Christ but rather a miraculous recovery from tuberculosis—which had kept him bedridden for two years. Members of the church prayed for his healing, and following this answer to prayer he decided, at age seventeen, to be baptized. His formerly Buddhist mother was baptized shortly thereafter. In a culture where only about 1 percent of the population practiced Christianity, and where standing out in any way was frowned upon, his decision to publicly identify with Christ was evidence of the seriousness with which he embraced his new faith.

Sources & Resources

Bowden, Sandra et al. Beauty Given by Grace: The Biblical Prints of Sadao Watanabe. Baltimore: Square Halo Press, 2013.

Pyle, Anne. Printing the Word: The Art of Watanabe Sadao. New York: American Bible Society, 2000.

Ryan, Antonio. “The Art of Sadao Watanabe.” National Catholic Reporter. December 24, 2004.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

 

Terry Glaspey

Terry Glaspey

I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.

Let’s explore together!

Terry

Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE

Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.

He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know:  Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.

Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.

He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.

Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com

 

Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Order it HERE today.

The Second Coming by Walker Percy (1980)

“You can get all A’s and still flunk life.”


Only a master storyteller like Walker Percy can hold readers captive while guiding them through ruminations about the great existential questions of life. He did it through his rich, quirky characters with whom we quickly empathize.  Their plights become our own and we are drawn into their struggles to cheer them on – believing somehow that their redemption might lend hope to our own.

As Terry Glaspey explains in 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

In The Second Coming, Percy revisits the main character of his earlier novel, The Last Gentleman (1966), and finds him now rich and successful but no less alienated and dissatisfied with his life than when he was a poor, wandering nomad. Will Barrett is a middle-aged lawyer who has retired early, settling into a life of socializing, golf, and mourning his recently deceased wife. The first clue that something is seriously wrong with him occurs on the golf course, where he blacks out and has flashbacks about his childhood. He becomes increasingly ill at ease and grows obsessed with the realization that he is living in a spiritually dead culture. This realization jump-starts a half-crazy search for meaning that ultimately becomes a search for God.

Barrett is looking for some sort of sign. He cannot find answers in the usual places, as he finds believers and nonbelievers equally obnoxious; neither honest about the true state of their selves, their souls, or the culture in which they live. Insistent on finding answers to the questions that haunt him, he concocts a “foolproof” plan to determine once and for all if God is real or just an illusion. The answer he gets—his sign—and the way he gets that answer are not at all what he expected, but make for enlightening and entertaining reading.

For Barrett, finding an answer to his questions is connected with finding love in the form of Allie, a brilliant young woman who just can’t cope with existence. As Percy tells it, she “got all As and flunked life.” Allie has been placed in a mental hospital and subjected to bouts of shock therapy, which damage her memory and render her unfit to get along in the world. When she finally decides to escape from the hospital, armed with a notebook in which she has written notes to guide herself, Allie begins the long process of reintegration, a virtual blank slate trying to figure out how to navigate in this harsh and confusing world. The intersection of the lives of these two deeply alienated souls suggests that it is only in love—for God and for another person—that we find real meaning in life.

How do you live an authentic life?


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

D I G  D E E P E R


Walker Percy

Walker Percy

(1916–90). U.S. author Walker Percy sets many of his stories in the American South after it has been transformed by industry and technology into a modern society. The uncertainties of an ever-changing world lead his characters to experience despair and what Percy described as malaise, a kind of listless depression.
Percy was born on May 28, 1916, in Birmingham, Ala., and grew up in Mississippi. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina in 1937 and his medical degree from Columbia University in 1941. He became ill from tuberculosis while working at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and, while recovering in an upstate New York sanatorium, he decided to become a writer. During the 1950s he wrote articles for literary, philosophical, and psychiatric journals. The first of his fiction to be published was The Moviegoer (1961), which won a National Book Award. His other novels include The Last Gentleman (1966), Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time near the End of the World (1971), Lancelot (1977), The Second Coming (1980), and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987). He also wrote nonfiction, such as The Message in the Bottle (1975), a philosophical discussion of semantics. Percy died on May 10, 1990, in Covington, La.

 

Sources & Resources

“Percy, Walker,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Elie, Paul. The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003.

Percy, Walker. Signposts in a Strange Land. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991.

———. The Second Coming. New York: Picador, 1980.

Tolson, Jay. Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

Walker Percy: A Documentary Film. DVD. Directed by Win Riley. New Orleans: Winston Riley Productions, 2010.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

 

Terry Glaspey

Terry Glaspey

I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.

Let’s explore together!

Terry

Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE

Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.

He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know:  Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.

Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.

He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.

Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com

 

Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Order it HERE today.

Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaws by Bruce Cockburn (1979)

Of all the 75 masterpieces we are reviewing in this study, today’s genius might be the least known.  Bruce Cockburn is an award-winning artist, but he is primarily known in his native Canada.  One of the reasons for his lack of popular appeal is his resistance to classification.  He bends genre and stretches definitions without apology.  The best introduction to his catalog is certainly today’s masterpiece.

As Terry Glaspey explains in 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws announced a noticeable shift in Cockburn’s work. Up to this time he worked solidly within the folk genre, but this record combined a number of styles to create a sound that was upbeat, joyous, and celebratory. A largely acoustic outing, the album showcased his sparkling guitar work and some of his most poetic and imaginative songwriting. The lyrics show the influence of Charles Williams, whom Cockburn was reading at the time. Williams was a close friend of C. S. Lewis and wrote supernatural thrillers filled with strange and mystically charged moments when the spiritual world burst unexpectedly into an ordinary life. This vision of the interpenetration between this world and the next fueled Cockburn’s imagination and resulted in some of his most vivid songwriting. Cockburn described the theme of the album as “being joyful in the face of everything.”

Are you familiar with Bruce Cockburn?

If so, what is your favorite work?


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

D I G  D E E P E R


Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn was born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1945, and spent his earliest years on the family farm, where he got his first taste for the beauty of the natural world. The young Cockburn discovered a guitar in his grandmother’s attic, which he dusted off and adorned with golden stars, and used to play along with his favorite music on the radio. His father would only allow him to take guitar lessons if he promised not to buy a leather jacket, something the elder Cockburn clearly saw as an emblem of rebelliousness. The young Cockburn enthusiastically agreed, but his rebel spirit could not be contained for long. He became a devotee of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and other Beat writers. Although he attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, he only lasted about three semesters, as he was more interested in what he was learning about music outside classes than inside them, absorbing the music scene and participating in a succession of bands where he honed his skills with the guitar and with songwriting

Sources & Resources

Bruce Cockburn: Pacing the Cage. DVD. Directed by Joel Goldberg. Burlington, Canada: True North, 2013.

Cockburn, Bruce. Rumours of Glory. New York: HarperOne, 2014.

Heald, James. World of Wonders. Missing Link Records (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform), 2012.

Middleton, J. Richard, and Brian J. Walsh. “Theology at the Rim of the Broken Wheel,” Grail no. 9. June 1993.

My Beat: The Life and Times of Bruce Cockburn. DVD. Directed by Nadine Pequeneza. Toronto: Title House, 2001.

Walsh, Brian. Kicking at the Darkness. Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2011.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

 

Terry Glaspey

Terry Glaspey

I’m really looking forward to discussing my book, “75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know,” with the members of Literary Life Book Club. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and perspectives on some of the art, music, and literature you’ll discover in the book. I’m interested in how it speaks to you in your life and the ways it inspires, challenges, or maybe even annoys you! I’ll try to share some “deleted scenes” stuff I had to leave out and will tell a few stories about what I experienced while doing the writing and research. Hope that many of you can join us as we look at he stories behind some truly wonderful art.

Let’s explore together!

Terry

Join the discussion with Terry on Facebook HERE

Terry Glaspey is a writer, an editor, a creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art—painting, films, novels, poetry, and music—to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God.

He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!), as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies.

He has written over a dozen books, including 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know:  Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art, Music, Literature, and Film, Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others.

Terry enjoys writing and speaking about a variety of topics including creativity and spirituality, the artistic heritage of the Christian faith, the writing of C.S. Lewis, and creative approaches to apologetics.

He serves on the board of directors of the Society to Explore and Record Church History and is listed in Who’s Who in America Terry has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a distinguished alumni award and the Advanced Speakers and Writers Editor of the Year award.

Terry has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dig Deeper at TerryGlaspey.com

 

Some of the greatest painters, musicians, architects, writers, filmmakers, and poets have taken their inspiration from their faith and impacted millions of people with their stunning creations. Now readers can discover the stories behind seventy-five of these masterpieces and the artists who created them. From the art of the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt to Makoto Fujimura; from Gregorian Chant to Bach to U2; from John Bunyan and John Donne to Flannery O’Connor and Frederick Buechner; this book unveils the rich and varied artistic heritage left by believers who were masters at their craft.

Terry Glaspey, 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and Film (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2015).

Order it HERE today.