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.

Symphony No. 3, The Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs by Henryk Górecki

Classical music is rarely a popular success.  Like literature, there is typically a correlation between a work’s approachability and its mass appeal.  Simply put, many artists believe they must sacrifice complexity, subtly and depth if they want a lot of people to “get it.”  It is truly remarkable when no sacrifice of genius accompanies an overture to broad popularity.  Today’s masterpiece is one of the exceptions.  When Symphony No3 was released in 1976 “in a matter of weeks the recording climbed to the top of the classical music charts, and even landed on the pop music charts, eventually selling in excess of a million copies around the world—not usual numbers for a classical recording.”

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

The first movement of The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs opens with a barely perceptible bass melody that repeats slowly and insistently as it grows in volume, evoking a deep well of sadness and grief until, at about the thirteen-minute mark, three piano notes pierce through the growling bass melody almost like the sounding of a bell, and a solo vocalist enters. She sings the text of a fifteenth-century lament of the Virgin Mary over the death of her Son Jesus. The voice is sad and soaring, echoing the emotions Mary must have felt. After the vocal solo, the music slowly fades as the bass melody returns.

The second movement starts with a melody both mysterious and yearning, washing wavelike over the listener as a salve after the intensity of the first movement. But when the solo vocalist enters again, it becomes more passionate and insistent. The gentle, lulling beauty of the second movement is in sharp contrast to the subject of its lyrics, which give voice to a prayer invoking the protection of the Blessed Virgin that was found scrawled upon the wall of a Nazi prison cell, the probable last words of an eighteen-year-old girl. There is a great sobbing tenderness that enters into the music, and the solo vocalist sings her text in a way that is vulnerable, sorrowful, and yet resilient. It evokes a hard-won hopefulness in the midst of mourning as it crescendos and the strings come alongside to carry the weight of the grief.

The third and final movement is built around an orchestration of a traditional Polish folk song, and it once again presents a lament, this time that of a mother mourning her son, who has been killed in an uprising. There are bell-like tones in the midst of the soulfulness of the sound, and when the movement comes to an end quietly and somewhat inconclusively, it is perhaps a reminder that the pain and suffering of life are always with us, no matter how much hope we have to hang on to.

 

Which work of classical music speaks most directly to your heart?


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


Henryk Górecki

Henryk Górecki

GÓRECKI, HENRYK, in full Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, (born Dec. 6, 1933, Czernica, near Rybnik, Pol.—died Nov. 12, 2010, Katowice) Polish composer in the Western classical tradition whose sombre Symphony No. 3 (1976) enjoyed extraordinary international popularity in the late 20th century.

Górecki studied at the Music Academy of Katowice, Pol. The works of Anton Webern, Olivier Messiaen, and Karlheinz Stockhausen informed Górecki’s often atonal and violent early compositions. A change in his compositional style came in 1963 when, challenged to write simple tunes, he created Three Pieces in Old Style for orchestra. Folk songs, medieval music, and references to his Roman Catholic faith characterized his subsequent work, which frequently was based on tragic themes and cast in very slow tempi. “I want to express great sorrow,” Górecki said, as he contemplated various conflicts and hardships across the globe. “This sorrow, it burns inside me.”

Górecki was elected provost of his alma mater, the Music Academy in Katowice, in 1975, but he resigned in protest four years later when the government refused to let Pope John Paul II visit the city. He then traveled to Kraków to conduct his choral work Beatus Vir for the pope and composed new pieces for subsequent papal visits to Poland. Górecki’s Miserere, also a choral composition, was written in 1981 to honour a Solidarity (Polish labour union) leader beaten by the militia; however, because of turbulent political circumstances, it was not until 1987 that the piece was performed.
Until 1991 only one of Górecki’s works, Monologhi (1960), was available in the United States. By the end of 1993, however, some half dozen other compositions by Górecki had been recorded and distributed on a major international label. In part, the widespread interest in Górecki’s music may have been related to Poland’s emergence in 1989 from nearly five decades of communist rule. (Several of Górecki’s early works were indeed described as symbolic anticommunist protests.) In large measure, however, the composer’s rise in prominence was the result of the tremendously successful recording in 1992 of his Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs performed by soprano Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta, conducted by David Zinman. The album sold more than half a million copies worldwide at a time when the average classical album typically sold about 15,000 copies. Suddenly Górecki, who had seldom ventured beyond Katowice, became an international celebrity, traveling to London, Brussels, and New York City, holding press conferences, and appearing as the subject of a British television special.

Symphony No. 3 consists of three movements in slow lento and largo tempi and is played at low dynamic levels throughout. It is based on a modal canon that gradually builds upward from low strings to the soprano voice, which enters with pastoral melody, suggesting an element of light amid otherwise dark shadows. The texts are Polish lamentations: a 15th-century monastic song, a folk song, and a prayer scratched in a cell wall by a girl imprisoned by the Gestapo. The repeated orchestral lines recall, to some listeners, minimalist techniques (a compositional style employing extreme simplicity of form). Upshaw’s performance in particular was highly acclaimed by critics, although praise for the Symphony No. 3 was not universal. Some critics dismissed it as simplistic.

In the decade straddling the turn of the 21st century, Górecki composed or revised roughly 15 works, consisting mainly of vocal compositions and pieces for small ensemble. Górecki’s final work—The Song of Rodziny Katynskie, Opus 81, for unaccompanied chorus—was completed in 2004 and premiered by the Polish Radio Choir in Kraków in 2005.

Sources & Resources

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

Cary, Christopher W. Henryk Gorecki’s Spiritual Awakening and Its Socio-Political Context. Master’s thesis. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005.

Thomas, Adrien. Gorecki. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

London Sinfonietta. The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. DVD. Directed by Tony Palmer. Tyne & Wear, England: Voiceprint Records, 2007.

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

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.

Only Visiting This Planet by Larry Norman (1972)

“Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish wed all been ready
The children died, the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we’d all been ready.”


The Jesus Movement began on the West Coast of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and quickly spread across America and the world.  Members of the movement were called Jesus people, or Jesus freaks and its effect on evangelical Christianity was nothing short of revolutionary.  This movement included massive changes in the ways the gospel was communicated and how worship was expressed.  Larry Norman was one of the pioneers.

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

Only Visiting This Planet came crashing into a Christian subculture that was beginning to feel the effects of the Jesus Movement—a fast-growing revival among hippies, street people, and ex-druggies. The traditionalists, who sought to keep guitars, drums, and any kind of modern sounds out of the church, were fighting a losing battle against a younger generation who wanted to use the music they loved to sing about the God they loved. Norman was at the forefront of this movement, and his songs were an example of how music could be relevant and up-to-date while at the same time espousing a traditional evangelical theology. Clearly, Norman was less interested in inspiring and entertaining the faithful than in sharing the answers he had found with nonbelievers. Sadly, he was never fully embraced by either camp. He was too sacred for sinners and he made the saints squirm uncomfortably. So he forged his own artistic path.

Were you a part of the Jesus Movement?

How did it affect your 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


Larry Norman

Larry Norman

Larry Norman was born on April 8, 1947 in Corpus Christi, Texas. At the age of 3 he relocated to San Francisco, California with his family and in the mid-’50s became fascinated with the music of Elvis Presley. During this time he also frequently accompanied his father on Christian missions to prisons and hospitals. At the age of nine, Larry began writing and performing original rock and roll songs at school, experimenting and incorporating a spiritual message into his music. In 1959 he performed on Ted Mack’s syndicated television show The Original Amateur Hour on CBS. Upon moving to San Jose, California, he began recording for Capitol Records with his band People! in 1966 and for the next 3 years performed concerts supporting The Doors, The Who, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. People! scored a Billboard Chart hit in 1968 with a cover of The Zombies’ song “I Love You.” Norman left the band the day People!’s debut album was released. was one of the pioneers.

His solo albums recorded in the 1970s on his own independent label Solid Rock, and the albums of other artists he discovered and produced laid the foundation for what would eventually become the Christian rock music industry, a genre which largely shunned him and his music. According to Portland, Oregon news/radio station KXL, Norman’s early social positions caused a stir among many conservative Christians. His views against racism and poverty caused him to receive multiple death threats in the 1970s. A widespread ban on Norman’s music, which is largely still in effect today, existed in Christian stores. This ban was due not only to Norman’s social positions, but his preferred company as well. Said Norman in a separate interview, “The churches weren’t going to accept me looking like a street person with long hair and faded jeans. They did not like the music I was recording. And I had no desire to preach the gospel to the converted.”

Time Magazine once called Norman “the most significant artist in his field.” Over 300 cover versions of his songs have been recorded by artists such as Petula Clark, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Black, and Cliff Richard. His songs have also been recorded by contemporary Christian artists like DC Talk, Rebecca St. James, and Audio Adrenaline. He performed for The White House, twice – and in Moscow at the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium. He headlined venues like The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, The Palladium and London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, which he sold out six times, once filling it twice on the same day.

In 2001 Norman was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame alongside Elvis Presley. At the time of his death he was working on a concept album with Frank Black and Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse.

In a message he wrote on Saturday, Feb 23, the day before he passed away, Norman said:

“I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God’s hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home. I won’t be here much longer. I can’t do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help. My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. I’d like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be funeral information posted on my website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.”

“Goodbye, farewell, we’ll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.”

Sources & Resources

LarryNorman.com

Howard, Jay R., and John M. Streck. Apostles of Rock. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1999.

Stowe, David W. No Sympathy for the Devil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

———. “Only Visiting This Planet.” National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. 2013. http://www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb/registry/essays/only%20visiting.pdf.

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 Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor

“Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story-just like the typewriter was mine.”


Flannery O’Connor felt the weight of Jesus’ words as He taught us to pray “deliver us from evil.”  She called herself a “Christian realist” and understood doctrine to be far more than adornments to daily life.  She read Thomas Aquinas every evening before going to bed and fortified herself every morning.  For O’Connor, her work was “invading territory largely held by the devil,” and a weapon in the battle against the nihilism of our age.

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

If one expects religious fiction to be sentimental, inspirational, and encouraging, they will be surprised to discover that one of the finest Christian writers of the twentieth century penned unexpectedly dark tales about the murky places in the human heart and the violence that it sometimes takes to awaken it to the motions of grace. Flannery O’Connor was posthumously awarded the National Book Award for The Complete Stories in 1971, demonstrating that these strange and fascinating stories, mostly located in the South, resonated with readers and critics alike, whether they were people of faith or those who would never darken the doors of a church. Her stories are marked by unexpected twists and turns, unforeseen moments of violence, profound observation of human motivations, an unmasking of the multiplicity of ways in which we deceive ourselves about ourselves, an earthy and sardonic sense of humor, and a splendid grasp of the rhythms of speech and dialect, particularly those accents one might hear in the Deep South.

O’Connor’s stories usually center on the shock of a revelation—a violent and unexpected experience or calamity that causes her characters to have to reevaluate who they are, what they believe, and how they should live. Their vain, artificial sense of self is thoroughly dismantled when they are brought face-to-face with the darker aspects within their own souls. And since it is difficult to get through to the hardened human heart, it sometimes takes the appearance of grace in a violent form to get our attention.

Is the devil an individual, real being?


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


Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor

(born March 25, 1925, Savannah, Georgia, U.S.—died August 3, 1964, Milledgeville, Georgia) American novelist and short-story writer whose works, usually set in the rural American South and often treating of alienation, are concerned with the relationship between the individual and God.

O’Connor grew up in a prominent Roman Catholic family in her native Georgia. She lived in Savannah until her adolescence, but the worsening of her father’s lupus erythematosus forced the family to relocate in 1938 to the home in rural Milledgeville where her mother had been raised. After graduating from Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College & State University) in 1945, she studied creative writing at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Her first published work, a short story, appeared in the magazine Accent in 1946. Her first novel, Wise Blood (1952; film 1979), explored, in O’Connor’s own words, the “religious consciousness without a religion.” Wise Blood consists of a series of near-independent chapters—many of which originated in previously published short stories—that tell the tale of Hazel Motes, a man who returns home from military service and founds the Church Without Christ, which leads to a series of interactions with the grotesque inhabitants of his hometown. The work combines the keen ear for common speech, caustic religious imagination, and flair for the absurd that were to characterize her subsequent work. With the publication of further short stories, first collected in A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories (1955), she came to be regarded as a master of the form. The collection’s eponymous story has become possibly her best-known work. In it O’Connor creates an unexpected agent of salvation in the character of an escaped convict called The Misfit, who kills a quarreling family on vacation in the Deep South.

Her other works of fiction are a novel, The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and the short-story collection Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965). A collection of occasional prose pieces, Mystery and Manners, appeared in 1969. The Complete Stories, published posthumously in 1971, contained several stories that had not previously appeared in book form; it won a National Book Award in 1972.
Disabled for more than a decade by the lupus erythematosus she inherited from her father, which eventually proved fatal, O’Connor lived modestly, writing and raising peafowl on her mother’s farm at Milledgeville. The posthumous publication of The Habit of Being (1979), which was a book of her letters, The Presence of Grace, and Other Book Reviews (1983), which contained her book reviews and correspondence with local diocesan newspapers, and A Prayer Journal (2013), a book of private religious missives, provided valuable insight into the life and mind of a writer whose works defy conventional categorization. O’Connor’s corpus is notable for the seeming incongruity of a devout Catholic whose darkly comic works commonly feature startling acts of violence and unsympathetic, often depraved, characters. She explained the prevalence of brutality in her stories by noting that violence “is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.” It is this divine stripping of man’s comforts and hubris, along with the attendant degradation of the corporeal, that stands as the most salient feature of O’Connor’s work.

 

Sources & Resources

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

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

Gooch, Brad. Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor. New York: Little, Brown, 2009.

O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1971.

———. The Letters of Flannery O’Connor: The Habit of Being. Edited by Sally Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1979.

———. Mystery and Manners. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1962.

———. A Prayer Journal. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013.

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

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.

At Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash (1968)

 

“I hear the train a comin’ rollin’ round the bend
I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when
Well I’m stuck in Folsom Prison and time keeps dragging on
While a train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone”


Theodore Parker said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  This might well have been written to describe the life and artistic career of Johnny Cash who was certainly a man of paradoxes.  He built and cultivated an outlaw persona, but his compassion for the oppressed belied his sneer.  He eventually became known as “The Man in Black”, and his song by the same title spoke of his heart for the poor and the hungry, the prisoners, the recovering addicts, and the overlooked and neglected.  It was this compass that led him to Folsom Prison with a small group of musicians in 1968.

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

As Cash and his backing group arrived at Folsom, there was an almost funereal feeling among them as they heard the iron gates clank shut behind them. No one knew exactly what to expect, and they had been warned that the prison could not guarantee their safety.

Despite some initial technical problems with the sound system, the concert kicked off energetically with Carl Perkins and The Statler Brothers before Johnny Cash finally introduced himself, receiving a roar of approval as he jump-started his classic “Folsom Prison Blues” with a fast and fiery performance. He then sang almost every song he knew about crime and imprisonment. Highlights included a recklessly energetic version of “Cocaine Blues,” a tongue-in-cheek song about the anticipation of a hanging, “25 Minutes to Go,” and the sentimental ballad “Send a Picture of Mother.” June Carter (who would soon become Cash’s wife) then joined him on stage for a stomping, steaming rendition of their famous duet “Jackson.” The audience embraced Cash with all their raucous energy, sensing that here was a man who understood them.

How does genuineness come through in art?


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


Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

(born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is widely considered one of the most influential popular musicians of the 20th century and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. Although primarily remembered as a country music icon, his genre-spanning songs and sound embraced rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of multiple inductions in the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
Cash was known for his deep, calm bass-baritone voice, the distinctive sound of his Tennessee Three backing band, which is characterized by train-sound guitar rhythms; a rebelliousness coupled with an increasingly somber and humble demeanor, free prison concerts, and a trademark, all-black stage wardrobe, which earned him the nickname “The Man in Black.” He traditionally began his concerts by simply introducing himself, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” followed by his signature song “Folsom Prison Blues”.

Sources & Resources

 

Cash, Johnny. Man in Black. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975.

Hilburn, Robert. Johnny Cash: The Life. New York: Little, Brown, 2013.

Rather, Dan. The Gospel Music of Johnny Cash. DVD. Nashville: Spring House, 2007.

Streissguth, Michael. Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece. San Francisco: Da Capo, 2004.

Urbanski, Dave. The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash. Lake Mary, FL: Relevant Books, 2003.

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.

Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1967)

“If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that is why this has happened.”


As the old cliché reminds us “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”  Humans tend to take their blessings for granted.  We don’t wake up every morning thinking “How wonderful to have two strong legs” until accident or disease robs that blessing.  We likewise feel blissfully entitled to personal freedom until a government removes it.

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

The instruction often given to young writers is “write what you know.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did just that throughout his writing career, taking the events of a life filled with a struggle against political oppression and turning them into a series of books, both fiction and nonfiction, that dealt with universal human issues. Cancer Ward is one of his finest achievements, a semiautobiographical novel about a group of cancer patients in a Soviet hospital fighting for their lives and health against the backdrop of the political unrest that occurred after the death of Stalin.

The treatment center in Solzhenitsyn’s novel is a sort of representative microcosm of post-Stalin culture in the USSR, and he uses the lives and stories of the patients in the cancer ward to explore various political theories, the reality of human mortality in the face of disease, and how hope might be found in a seemingly hopeless environment. The various patients have different responses to their plight, and the clash of these ways of responding is reminiscent of the ways that people responded to the “cancer” of Stalinist oppression. As the main character, Oleg Kostoglotov (likely based on Solzhenitsyn himself), says at one point in the novel, “A man dies from a tumor, so how can a country survive with growths like labor camps and exiles?”

Has disease ever brought you clarity?


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


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Isayevich[a] Solzhenitsyn (/ˌsoʊlʒəˈniːtsɪn, ˌsɔːl-/;[2] Russian: Алекса́ндр Иса́евич Солжени́цын, pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ɪˈsaɪvʲɪtɕ səlʐɨˈnʲitsɨn]; 11 December 1918 – 3 August 2008)[3] (often Romanized to Alexandr or Alexander)[4][5] was a Russian novelist, historian, and short story writer. He was an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union and communism and helped to raise global awareness of its Gulag forced labor camp system. He was allowed to publish only one work in the Soviet Union, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), in the periodical Novy Mir. After this he had to publish in the West, most notably Cancer Ward (1968), August 1914 (1971), and The Gulag Archipelago (1973). Solzhenitsyn was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”.[6] Solzhenitsyn was afraid to go to Stockholm to receive his award for fear that he would not be allowed to reenter. He was eventually expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974, but returned to Russia in 1994 after the state’s dissolution.

Sources & Resources

Ericson, Edward E., Jr. Solzhenitsyn: The Moral Vision. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980.

Nielsen, Niels C., Jr. Solzhenitsyn’s Religion. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1975.

Scammell, Michael. Solzhenitsyn: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984.

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. Cancer Ward. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991.

———. The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947–2005. Edited by Edward Ericson Jr. and Daniel J. Mahoney. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2006.

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.

Andrei Rublev by Andrei Tarkovsky (1966)

Still from Andrei Rublev [The Kobal Collection/Art Resource, New York]
Earlier in the year, we discussed the icon painter Andrei Rublev.  Our masterpiece today is a film about his life.  More than a mere biographical movie, this stunning film by Andrei Tarkovsky is a work of art in itself.  Beyond its rich content is the miracle of protection the filmmaker must have received that allowed this gritty, unflinching commentary to be made in the USSR of 1966.

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

Andrei Rublev is truly an epic film, both in length and conception. Clocking in at almost three and a half hours in its original version, it has been trimmed by almost an hour in the version usually screened today. It is divided into eight sections, each one focused on a major event in the icon painter’s life. Though a deeply spiritual story, it is not presented with an air of piety but with gritty realism, captured beautifully in the highly contrasting textures of wide-screen black-and-white film.

During Rublev’s journeys through the course of the film, the young monk witnesses the inhumanity and cruelty of the human race, experiencing firsthand the ugliness of war, the horror of rape, and monstrous blasphemy. He experiences pain and poverty and the temptations of the flesh, and has a vision in which he witnesses the crucifixion of Christ reenacted on the top of a snowy Russian hill. At one point, in trying to defend a woman being tortured, Rublev even commits murder himself, which leads him to a vow of silence and the decision to forgo his vocation as a painter. That vow is only renounced late in the picture when he is reminded of the power inherent in the act of creativity and returns to his calling as an icon painter. This decision ushers in the final section of the film, the only portion not filmed in black and white but which gives us, in gloriously vivid color, a close-up look at the icons Rublev has created, a symbol of the ultimate triumph of the spiritual over the darkness of the material world.

Few films so effectively encapsulate a specific moment in history and render it in such stark and unblinking realism, while at the same time offering a deeper spiritual hope that lies beyond this dark and troubling world. This hope shines through in the creation of sacred art. Tarkovsky’s film, at its core, is about the spiritual importance of art and is itself a work of art of the highest.

Have you seen this movie?


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


Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky was born in Russia in 1932 and studied film at the Moscow State Film School. Even his earliest student films show the promise of his immense talent as a director. Upon graduation he began to make his own films, often struggling with the limitations set by Soviet censors but finding ways to present his vision regardless. While never a hugely popular filmmaker, as his films place great demands upon their audiences, he was lionized by the likes of Ingmar Bergman, who thought him the best of modern directors. When Tarkovsky found it impossible to continue making the films he wanted under the eyes of the Soviet censors, he chose to go into exile, living for a time in Italy, Germany, and Sweden (where he made his last film). When he was diagnosed with cancer, he moved to Paris for treatment, but died in 1986 at age fifty-four.

 

Sources & Resources

Bird, Robert. Andrei Rublev. London: British Film Institute, 2004.

Gianvito, John, ed. Andrei Tarkovsky: Interviews. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2006.

Martin, Sean. Andrei Tarkovsky. Harpenden, UK: Pocket Essentials, 2005.

Moroz, Vadim. Andrei Tarkovsky: About His Film Art. Petersburg, VA: Frost Publishing, 2008.

Robinson, Jeremy. Andrei Tarkovsky. Kent, UK: Crescent Moon, 2010.

Solonitsyn, Anatoliy, and Ivan Lapikov. Andrei Rublev. DVD. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. New York: Criterion Collection, 1999.

Tarkovsky, Andrei. The Diaries, 1970–1986. London: Verso, 1993.

———. Sculpting in Time. Austin: University of Texas, 1986.

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.

Au Hasard du Balthasar by Robert Bresson (1966)

Still from Au Hasard du Balthasar [The Kobal Collection/Art Resource, New York]
We understand fireworks.  When its time for the big finish, the grand finale or the maximized romantic moment, we all smile and appreciate those colorful explosions in the heavens.  We love it, but in truth, a fireworks show is no match for that which occurs at our deepest level.  For that, we require subtlety, reverence, and mystery.

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

With Au Hasard du Balthasar, Bresson investigates the spiritual impact on life through telling the story of a suffering and saintly donkey. He purposely chose a humble donkey as his lead character because of its resonance with biblical stories and because it was a beast of burden. Jean-Luc Godard once described this film as “the real world in an hour and a half,” and Bresson revealed it to be a world filled with pain, suffering, and injustice. Through the experiences of the gentle donkey we see the cruelty that humans inflict upon animals and upon each other in a heartbreaking story that reveals the depths of human sin while providing a few moments along the way where grace and redemption can be fleetingly glimpsed. Balthasar is a kind of Christ-figure, bearing the sins of man. He is innocent and holy. One woman in the film even speaks of him as “a saint.” And at the end of the film it is human selfishness and vice that cause his death. In the unforgettable closing moments, we see the wounded Balthasar stumble and fall in a mountain meadow, and as he brays out his pain he is surrounded by a flock of grazing sheep. We hear the gentle sound of the resonant bells around the necks of the sheep; a strangely moving moment that points to something mystical and sacred

How do animals help us understand deep spiritual mystery?


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


Robert Besson

Robert Bresson

Born September 25, 1901, Bromont-Lamonthe, Puy-de Dôme, France—died December 18, 1999, Droué-sur-Drouette) French writer-director who, despite his limited output, has been rightly celebrated as one of the cinema’s few authentic geniuses.

Details of Bresson’s early years are sketchy, though it is known that he began painting in high school, where he excelled in languages and philosophy; that he attended Paris’s Lycée Lakanal à Sceaux; and that he was married in 1926. He pursued a painting career until 1933, when he wrote his first screenplay. The following year he directed Affaires publiques, a satiric short subject. Unable to finance a follow-up film, he wrote scripts for other directors, including René Clair. Enlisting in the army at the outbreak of World War II, he was captured by the Germans in 1940 and held prisoner of war for more than a year. When he returned to Paris, the French film industry was in such disarray that he easily found work. In 1943 he directed his first feature, Les Anges du péché.

As his career progressed, he developed a spare, minimalist style that was neither traditional nor nouvelle vague. “For me, filmmaking is combining images and sounds of real things in an order that makes them effective,” he observed. “What I disapprove of is photographing with that extraordinary instrument—the camera—things that are not real. Sets and actors are not real.” Upon gaining full creative control over his work, he filmed entirely on location, using natural sounds rather than postproduction dubbing; his only concession to artifice was the occasional burst of classical music on the sound track. He also refused to work with professional actors, preferring amateurs whose faces or voices made them suitable for the roles they were playing. Though he painstakingly rehearsed his performers, orchestrating even the smallest gesture or speech inflection, what emerged was so fresh and spontaneous that it put many a Neorealist drama to shame.

His films were straightforwardly austere, with no fancy camera work, flashy crosscutting, or other attention-getting devices. In Un Condamme à mort s’est échappé (1956; A Man Escaped), based on the director’s own wartime experiences, his no-frills approach was articulated by the opening title: “This story actually happened. I have set it down without embellishments.” Emulating his literary idols, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Georges Bernanos—whose works inspired the director’s 1950 masterpiece, Le Journal d’un curé de campagne (The Diary of a Country Priest)—Bresson often fashioned his narratives in the form of a diary or case history. The stories were told exclusively from the viewpoint of the protagonist, revealing only what the central character was experiencing at the moment. One of the most successful examples of this first-person technique was Au hasard Balthasar (1968), in which the “person” was a donkey. Bresson’s own devout Catholicism was also woven into his works; several films, notably Pickpocket (1959) and Le Procès de Jeanne d’Arc (1962; The Trial of Joan of Arc), abruptly concluded with the leading character quietly and stoically accepting the inevitability of fate.

Never bothered by the lack of popular appeal in his films nor eager to outproduce his contemporaries, Bresson turned out a mere 13 features during his four-decade career. His films have earned dozens of industry and festival awards, and Bresson himself was a recipient of France’s Legion of Honour.

Sources & Resources

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

Bresson, Robert. Notes on the Cinematographer. Los Angeles: Green Integer, 1997.

Cunneen, Joseph. Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film. New York: Continuum, 2003.

Pipolo, Tony. Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Au Hasard du Balthasar. DVD. Directed by Robert Bresson. New York: Criterion Collection, 2005.

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.

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane (1964)

“God breathes through us so completely . . . so gently we hardly feel it . . . yet, it is our everything.”


Today, John Coltrane is remembered as one of the most influential figures in modern music.  He redefined the possibilities and range of the saxophone, and his arrangements are still understood to be benchmarks by which others are judged.  His seminal work was his A Love Supreme.

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

On December 9, 1964, Coltrane gathered his quartet in the studio to record a suite he had written to praise and honor God for the part he had played in his life. With Coltrane on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums, they knocked out one of the classic albums in the history of jazz in just a few magical hours. His most unified album to date, Coltrane called this suite of four movements A Love Supreme.

A famously reticent and humble man, Coltrane rarely gave interviews or offered an explanation of what he sought in his music. For this record, however, for the first and only time he penned liner notes and a poem upon which the final movement of the suite was based. These notes credit God’s supreme love as the cause of his praise, and our dependence upon him as the foundation for life. The album itself, wrote Coltrane, “is a humble offering to him,” a way of saying, “THANK YOU, GOD.” It balances a deep spiritual serenity with a moving emotional outpouring of pure passion.

Has your religious experience included jazz?  How so?


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


John Coltrane

John Coltrane

(1926–67). Unending restlessness marked the career of John Coltrane, the jazz tenor saxophonist who began by playing bebop and ended by playing free jazz. A passionate player, he aroused strong audience responses and became the most imitated of modern jazz musicians.
John William Coltrane was born on Sept. 23, 1926, in Hamlet, N.C. He grew up in a musical family in High Point, N.C., and began playing clarinet when he was 12 and alto saxophone a year later. After high school he studied at Philadelphia music schools and then played for two years in a United States Navy band. It was while touring with blues bands that he began playing tenor saxophone. He also played in jazz bands, including those of Dizzy Gillespie and Johnny Hodges, though he did not become famous as a soloist until he joined the Miles Davis Quintet in 1955.
With the 1957 Thelonious Monk quartet, Coltrane became a virtuoso player; his fast, many-noted phrases were called “sheets of sound.” He rejoined Miles Davis, with whom he began playing modal jazz. In 1959 he left Davis again, recorded his own masterpiece, Giant Steps, and then underwent extensive dental surgery. In 1960 he studied with Ornette Coleman and formed his own quartet, which included pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones.
Coltrane’s long, fervent solos in advanced harmonies quickly made his quartet controversial. He created works such as Alabama to reflect his support of the black civil rights movement. He also played music based on religious themes; most important was A Love Supreme.
Eventually he adopted the techniques of free jazz himself; his wife, Alice McLeod Coltrane, became his quartet’s pianist. After a strenuous schedule of touring and performing for many years, his health began to fail. He died of liver disease on July 17, 1967.

 

Sources & Resources

“Coltrane, John,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Bergerot, Frank, and Arnaud Merlin. The Story of Jazz: Bop and Beyond. New York: Abrams, 1991.

Kahn, Ashley. A Love Supreme. New York: Penguin, 2003

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 Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954-55)

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory.  I love only that which they defend.”


G.K. Chesterton said “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”  This is true on many levels.  A soldier will tell you that he is loyal to his country, but in the heat of battle, he’s fighting for his buddies.  When war is raging around you, peace is not an abstract concept.  Our county is not free because wise men wrote brilliant words on perishable paper.  We are free today because thousands of men and women have been willing to lay down their own lives for us.

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

The Lord of the Rings series is, in one sense, the ultimate road trip; the story of a journey through perilous lands in search of a ring of unimaginable power that must be destroyed in order to defeat the dark powers of evil and finally restore peace to Middle Earth (Tolkien’s name for his alternative world). Its pages are crammed with adventure, humor, moments of heart-stopping terror, and all the little fascinating details that bring the stories to life. As a tale of wonder and heroism, it stands without equal in its genre, and much of its charm comes from the nature of its protagonists. Frodo, and Bilbo before him, are not heroic by nature, but the root of their courage is their love of their friends, their loyalty to their home (the Shire), and their defense of a simple, ordinary life. Theirs is a heroism of mercy, for it is only due to Frodo’s compassion toward Gollum at so many junctures along the way that their quest is successful in the end.

The Lord of the Rings series is also a parable about the danger of the misuse of power, with its central object of desire being a ring that can be used to dominate others. Because Tolkien published the books in the postwar era, many readers have tried to connect the ring with the looming threat of atomic warfare. Though this creates an interesting reading, Tolkien himself dismissed such musings by saying that he just wanted to tell a good story. And he did.

 

Have you ever had to fight for something precious to you?


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


J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien

(1892–1973). His heroes are rather short, rather stout, and have very furry feet. English author J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastic tales of battles between good and evil, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, made hobbit a household word.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on Jan. 3, 1892, and moved at age 4 with his family to England, where he was educated at Exeter College, Oxford. He was a professor at Oxford from 1925 to 1959 and first gained recognition as a philologist, a person who studies the way language is used in literature. This work led him to help edit a version of the English fable Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that was published in 1925.

Tolkien not only studied fables; he created new ones of his own. He invented an imaginary land, Middle Earth, in meticulous detail: its language, its geography, and its exciting history. The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again, published in 1937, introduces readers to this special world as its inhabitants—elves, dwarfs, wizards, and the furry-footed hobbit Bilbo Baggins—fight and win against an evil dragon.

This story is continued in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (1954–55), consisting of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. These tales became immensely popular in the 1960s, especially among young adults. Another Tolkien book on Middle Earth, The Silmarillion, was published four years after his death in Bournemouth, England, on Sept. 2, 1973.

Sources & Resources

“Tolkien, J.R.R.,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1981.

———. Tolkien: The Authorized Biography. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1978.

Duriez, Colin. The J. R. R. Tolkien Handbook. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

Purtill, Richard. J. R. R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, and Religion. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984.

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 Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1950-56)

“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.”


Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” If that’s right, then it likely follows that C.S. Lewis was the greatest theological mind of his time.  The scholar who came to his faith with great resistance became one of its most powerful apologist.  This feat would have ben impressive on its own merit, but this same genius also crafted masterful tales for children that convey extraordinary depths of truth.

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

On initial examination, The Chronicles of Narnia may seem like simple children’s tales, with talking animals, witches, and young boys and girls discovering their inner strength and courage. They are that, but they are also much more. In the midst of these stories the reader is always aware that something magical, something supernatural, might just break through at any moment. One can feel the breath of the great lion Aslan rustling through these pages as the story of Lucy, Peter, Susan, and Edmund echoes that of the grand story of redemption.

In speaking of his Narnia tales, Lewis wondered if, by stripping the Christian doctrines of their stained glass and Sunday school associations, he could “steal past the watchful dragons” of religiosity and dogmatism. So the Narnia books are constructed to prepare children for understanding the meaning of the Christian story later, when they are old enough to embrace it, while at the same time resonating with the childlike heart in each of us.

Which fairy tale did you understand differently as an adult?


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


C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

(1893–1963), scholar and Christian apologist. Born in Belfast, he was educated mainly privately until he entered University College, Oxford, in 1917. He was Tutor and Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1954, when he was appointed Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature in the University of Cambridge. His critical works include The Allegory of Love (1936), A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), and English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (vol. 3 of the Oxford History of English Literature, 1954). At Magdalen Lewis underwent a gradual conversion experience described in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy (pub. 1955). He became widely known as a Christian apologist through a series of broadcast talks given between 1941 and 1944 and later published in book form, and through a number of other popular religious works which had a very wide circulation; these included The Problem of Pain (1940), The Screwtape Letters (1942; ostensibly from a senior devil to his nephew, a junior devil), and Miracles (1947). His clarity, wit, and skill as a communicator meant that he, like D. L. *Sayers and Charles *Williams, carried considerable weight; many Christians had their faith confirmed and a number of agnostics were brought closer to the Christian faith through reading his works. Lewis also published three science fiction novels with a strong Christian flavour: Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1943), and That Hideous Strength (1945). A series of seven ‘Narnia’ stories for children began in 1950 with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In 1956 he married Joy Gresham (née Davidman); A Grief Observed (originally pub. under a pseudonym in 1961) is a profound treatment of bereavement written after her death. A group of his friends, including Charles Williams, was known as ‘The Inklings’; they met regularly for many years in his rooms to talk and read aloud their works.

 

Sources & Resources

Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed., with a memoir, by W. H. Lewis [brother] (1966); They Stand Together: The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914–1963), ed. W. Hooper (1979). Collected Letters, ed. id. (2000 ff.). Lives by R. L. Green and W. Hooper (London, 1974; rev. edn., 2002), W. Griffin (San Francisco etc. [1986]), and A. N. Wilson (London, 1990). P. L. Holmer, C. S. Lewis: The Shape of his Faith and Thought (1976). H. Carpenter, The Inklings (1978). W. Hooper, C. S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide [1996]. J. A. W. Bennett in DNB, 1961–1970 (1981), pp. 651–3.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 981.

Glaspey, Terry. Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C. S. Lewis. Elkton, MD: Highland Books, 1996.

Jacobs, Alan. The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis. New York: HarperOne, 2005.

Lewis, C. S. Surprised by Joy. New York: Harcourt, 1955.

McGrath, Alister. C. S. Lewis: A Life. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2013.

Sayer, George. Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.

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.

I Will Move On Up A Little Higher by Mahalia Jackson (1947)

One of these mornings
One of these mornings
I’m gonna lay down my cross
Get me a crown
One of these evenings, oh Lord
Late one evening, my Lord
Late one evening
I’m going home to live on high
Starts as soon as my feet strike Zion
Lay down my heavy burdens
Put on my robe in Glory, Lord
Say Lord, tell a story
Above the hills and mountains, Lord
Up Christian fountain
All of God’s sons and daughters, Lord
Drinking that old healing water
Live on forever
Yes, we gonna live on forever
Yes, we gonna live on up in Glory after while
I’m goin’ out sight-seeing in Beulah, Lord
March all around God’s alter
Gonna walk, never tired
Oh, Lord, and never falter

Written by W. Herbert Brewster • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc


In her masterful book Housekeeping, Marilynn Robinson wrote “Families will not be broken. Curse and expel them, send their children wandering, drown them in floods and fires, and old women will make songs of all these sorrows and sit on the porch and sing them on mild evenings.”  She might well have been talking about the struggle of black Americans in the early twentieth century and their most resonant songstress Mahalia Jackson.

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

Jackson’s first attempt at recording for Decca Records was a failure. People who could afford to buy records didn’t normally buy gospel, and so the recordings flopped. Music executives tried to get her to record in a more popular genre, knowing that her vocal abilities could make her very successful singing jazz or blues. She refused, feeling it would be a betrayal of her calling. The result was seven years without doing any recording, instead focusing on meeting the growing demand for concerts.

When “I Will Move On Up a Little Higher” was made into a record, the expectations were modest, but it was discovered and played regularly by Chicago DJ Studs Terkel, who actively promoted the song. It sold fifty thousand copies in four weeks, and Apollo Records could not keep up with the orders. It eventually sold over a million copies and got national attention. White audiences discovered her sound and loved it, and as the word about this gospel singer with a voice of unearthly beauty spread, new opportunities began to come her way. She performed at Carnegie Hall (where she broke attendance records), toured the States and Europe, and appeared on the television shows of Dinah Shore and Ed Sullivan. Eventually she even had her own short-lived TV program, which despite its overall popularity was canceled due to the loud complaints of racist viewers.

Throughout her life Jackson struggled against racial prejudice. When she went for drives in her Cadillac she was often stopped by police officers who thought a black woman could not possibly own such a car. She was sometimes refused food and lodging in white-only restaurants and hotels. Someone even shot out her front window when she moved into a predominantly white neighborhood. And so, as the civil rights movement began to form around Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, she joined the fight, singing for free at civil rights events and raising money for the cause. She believed that the same God who had rescued the Israelites from captivity in Egypt would bring emancipation to African Americans. But she knew that emancipation would not come without a battle, and she did not hesitate to throw her influence behind the cause.

Which singer touches your heart with their voice?


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


Mahalia Jackson

 

Mahalia Jackson

(1911–72), U.S. gospel singer. With her booming, soulful voice, African American singer Mahalia Jackson belted out hymns and spirituals with an intensity and richness that made her famous around the world. Although she could have become a successful blues singer, Jackson decided at an early age to devote her talent to music with religious content and her energy to helping people live in peace and harmony.

Mahalia Jackson was born on Oct. 26, 1911, in New Orleans, La., to Johnny Jackson, a longshoreman, preacher, and barber, and his wife, Charity, a laundress and maid. A very poor family, the Jacksons were also extremely religious. Mahalia’s mother, who died when Mahalia was 5, was a devout Baptist, and Mahalia regularly sang hymns in the church choir. Growing up in New Orleans, Mahalia was also influenced by the diverse sounds and rhythms of the streets, as well as the songs of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. While the blues style was popular with blacks in the South, Mahalia’s family rejected blues songs as being decadent and discouraged her from singing them.

When she was 16, Jackson went to live with a relative in Chicago, where she hoped to attend nursing school. Armed with only an eighth-grade education, Jackson soon found herself earning money doing domestic work. Upon joining a local Baptist church, Jackson auditioned for the choir and was immediately invited to be a soloist. Word of her talent spread and soon she was performing at other churches and at funerals throughout the Chicago area. When Jackson’s grandfather had a stroke and lapsed into a coma, she promised that if he recovered she would never sing any songs of which he would disapprove. He recovered and she kept her vow, though she was later offered large sums of money to perform the blues in nightclubs.

Beginning in the late 1930s, Jackson spent five years touring the country with well-known composer Thomas A. Dorsey. They visited churches and gospel tents, where Jackson would sing traditional hymns. Having earned very little money in her years of touring, Jackson returned to Chicago and opened a beauty shop and a flower shop. One day Jackson was practicing in a recording studio in 1946 when a Decca record company representative overheard her singing and asked her to make a recording. “Move on up a Little Higher” (1946) became her breakthrough hit. The single eventually went platinum and thrust her into the national spotlight.

Suddenly famous, Jackson bought an automobile large enough to sleep in so that she would have a place to spend the night when she performed in segregated areas where motels refused rooms to blacks. She also carried her own food with her so that she would not have to patronize segregated restaurants. Jackson’s remarkable singing eventually attracted white audiences. Her popularity spread nationally and internationally. One of Jackson’s most famous concerts took place in Israel, where she performed for an audience of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

Jackson devoted a great deal of her time and energy to the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s. She participated in the Montgomery bus boycott that followed Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person. She sang the old inspirational “I Been ’Buked and I Been Scorned” to more than 200,000 people at the 1963 march on Washington, D.C., just before Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Jackson died from heart failure on Jan. 27, 1972, and was mourned by fans around the world. Her one unfulfilled ambition had been to build a nonsectarian, nondenominational church in Chicago. Mahalia Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Early Influences category in 1997.

 

Sources & Resources

“Jackson, Mahalia,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Jackson, Mahalia. Mahalia Jackson: The Power and the Glory. Directed by Jeff Scheftel. DVD. Santa Monica, CA: Xenon Pictures, 2003.

The Story of Gospel Music: The Power in the Voice. Directed by James Marsh and Andrew Dunne. DVD. London: BBC Warner, 1996.

Willman, Chris. “How Gospel Great Mahalia Jackson Gave Wing to MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech.”

Yahoo Music. January 18, 2015. https://www.yahoo.com/music/how-gospel-great-mahalia-jackson-gave-wing-to-108223937471.html.

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.

It’s A Wonderful Life by Frank Capra (1946)

Still from It’s a Wonderful Life [Wikimedia Commons, CC-PD-Mark]

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”


Art imitates life – or is it the other way around?  Some artistic expressions have become so tied to our common experience that our lives seem synonymous with their content.  This is not always complementary to the work.  Occasionally, over-familiarity can cause a work to seem two-dimensional and flat.  That which is generally understood to be a masterpiece can also be subject to the contempt of familiarity.  With art and with life, value is often misplaced.

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

Based on a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, Capra’s film tells the story of George Bailey, a kindly everyman unforgettably portrayed by Jimmy Stewart, who spends his life having to put his own dreams aside for the good of others. He wants to travel, to experience life fully, and ultimately to escape his small town of Bedford Falls. “I want to do something big, something important!” he tells his father.

But life continually throws obstacles in the path of George’s dreams, and he finds himself having to choose between the needs of others and what he really wants from life. He works hard, and settles into operating his father’s small-town building and loan business, following the dictates of his heart and investing in the lives of people who are trying to pull themselves up out of poverty, which means taking questionable financial risks on their behalf. His nemesis, the greedy banker Mr. Potter, uses George’s reckless goodwill to his own advantage and is finally able to drive him into ruin. When the crusty old man venomously spits out the words, “You are worth more dead than alive!” we see something in George Bailey’s eyes that reveals he may believe this to be true. George concludes that the world would have been a better place if he never existed.

George finds himself on a bridge, preparing to jump to his death in the icy waters, when he receives divine intervention in the form of a bumbling guardian angel named Clarence. By giving George glimpses of the dark alternative world that would have existed if he had never been born, Clarence helps him to see that his seemingly small and insignificant life was actually very significant—that the world would be a much poorer place if not for the actions he had taken during the course of his life. These actions sent ripples out for the good, like a stone dropped into a still pond.

Have you ever struggled with the significance of your 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


Frank Capra

Frank Capra

 

(1897–1991). American motion-picture director Frank Capra was noted for a series of highly popular films in the 1930s and ’40s that included such classics as It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

Born near Palermo, Sicily, on May 18, 1897, Capra moved with his family to Los Angeles, California, in 1903. After graduating in 1918 from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, he served in the U.S. Army as an engineering instructor, then embarked on a directing career in the 1920s. He joined Columbia Pictures in 1928 and scored box-office successes with That Certain Thing (1928) and Platinum Blonde (1931). Capra next released the comedy hit Lady for a Day (1933), followed by three comedies that brought him Academy Awards for best director: It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), and You Can’t Take It With You (1938). It Happened One Night and You Can’t Take It With You also won Academy Awards for best picture. These films were similar in their humorous presentation of a naïve and idealistic hero who triumphs over shrewder individuals.

Capra departed from his comedy style in the fantasy adventure Lost Horizon (1937) and the political drama Meet John Doe (1941). During World War II he directed a series of government-sponsored documentaries titled Why We Fight. Capra’s notable films of the postwar period included It’s a Wonderful Life, State of the Union (1948), and Pocketful of Miracles (1961), his last film. It’s a Wonderful Life, the story of a despairing man who is saved from suicide during the Christmas season by being shown how much his seemingly insignificant life has improved the lives of those around him, came to be viewed as Capra’s masterpiece. It ranked 11th on the American Film Institute’s 1999 list of the 100 greatest films of all time.

Capra’s autobiography, The Name Above the Title, appeared in 1971. He received a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1982. Capra died on September 3, 1991, in La Quinta, California.

 

Sources & Resources

“Capra, Frank,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Blake, Richard A. After Image: The Indelible Catholic Imagination of Six American Filmmakers. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2000.

Capra, Frank. The Name Above the Title. Boston: Da Capo Press, 1997.

de Las Carreras Kuntz, Maria Elena. “The Catholic Vision of Frank Capra.” Crisis Magazine. February 1, 2002. http://www.crisismagazine.com/2002/the-catholic-vision-of-frank-capra-2.

Schickel, Richard. Frank Capra: A Life in Film. New York: New World City, 2011.

Stewart, James, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. It’s a Wonderful Life. DVD. Directed by Frank Capra. Hollywood: Paramount Home Entertainment, 2007.

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.

Rome, Open City by Roberto Rossellini (1945)

The evening news has a reputation for blood thirst. “If it bleeds, it leads” they say.  This is almost universally considered bad taste, but the practice continues because it draws an audience, albeit for wrong reasons.  Artists, like filmmakers, for instance, have traditionally let some time pass before depicting horrors. The tragedy of September 11th’s attacks is a good example.  Some artists, like Roberto Rossellini, ignore the margins.

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

Rome, Open City is one of the great masterworks of the Italian neorealist movement in film, of which Roberto Rossellini is perhaps its most famous representative. The neorealists wanted to make movies that were different from normal cinematic fare, replacing Hollywood-style romanticism with the harsh realities of life as their subject. This could be accomplished by dispensing with many of the normal techniques of shooting a film, so they generally shot their films on location, used nonprofessional actors as much as possible, and avoided using cinematic effects to move the audience. They also avoided melodramatic emotion and sought a more impassive tone, trying to capture the way people really acted and spoke.

The title of the film refers to the status of the city of Rome just as WWII was winding down, which is when the film was made. Rome had not yet been liberated by the Allies and still lay tenuously in the hands of the Nazis; its population was demoralized and much of the city was in ruins. In this context, Rossellini tells the stories of some of the members of the resistance who fought against the Germans. Amid the bombed-out buildings, the struggle for daily survival, and all the moral compromises made by characters on both sides of the struggle, there is room for much heroism. One of these heroes is a priest, Don Pietro, who uses the freedom of movement he has as a clergyman to aid the resistance. He is eventually tortured and executed by the Germans when this complicity is discovered. The scene of the kindly priest being shot while neighboring children look on in horror, or of the pregnant Pina being gunned down in the street while running after the truck that is taking away her lover, pack immense emotional power because they feel so utterly real.

Italian filmgoers who had recently emerged into the postwar era recognized the truth that Rossellini was telling about the pain, suffering, privation, and difficult moral decisions that had to be navigated in those dark days. He did not want to allow his audience to avert their eyes but rather to look the grim realities full in the face. Through the character of his heroic priest, though, he offers a hope deeper than any sort of shallow optimism, a hope rooted in the belief that there are realities beyond this life that can be a reservoir for strength and courage.

How long should an artist wait after a tragedy to depict its pain?


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


Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini

(1906–77). Italian motion-picture director Roberto Rossellini directed the first film created in the Italian style of filmmaking called neorealism, Open City (1945). Neorealist films featured natural settings in which actors either were or looked like ordinary people involved in commonplace situations.

The son of a successful sculptor and architect, Rossellini was born on May 8, 1906, in Rome. In 1931 Italy’s Fascist government confiscated his father’s fortune. Three years later Rossellini began working at odd jobs in the film industry. He directed a full-length feature, White Ship (1941), but navy officials objected to its antiwar tone. His name was removed from the film, and it was released anonymously.

During World War II Rossellini directed propaganda films for the Italian government but also was affiliated with the underground film movement that secretly recorded the activities of the anti-Fascist Resistance. Open City, which incorporated this documentary footage shot during the war, set the style for postwar Italian films in its realistic portrayal of life in Italy during its occupation by Nazi Germany. It was acclaimed internationally as one of the most outstanding films of the postwar period. Paisan (1946), a series of six episodes of World War II in Italy, also won worldwide notice.

Rossellini’s realistic technique continued in Germany, Year Zero (1947) and India (1958). The Flowers of St. Francis (1950) presented a series of anecdotes about the Italian saint. Stromboli (1949) and The Lonely Woman (1953) were outstanding in a series of films exploring the meaning of freedom. These movies starred the actress Ingrid Bergman, whose love affair with Rossellini caused an international scandal. Their marriage in 1950, after both sought divorces from their first spouses, was annulled in 1958.

Rossellini then directed a series of films with patriotic themes, including General Della Rovere (1959) and The Betrayer (1961). During the 1950s and 1960s Rossellini also directed a number of works for the stage, and in 1956 he directed his first film for television. From 1964 he devoted himself to television films, including the biographical Socrate (1970). Rossellini died in Rome on June 3, 1977. His realistic style strongly influenced the development of important cinema talents, such as the director Federico Fellini, who came into prominence in the 1950s.

 

Sources & Resources

“Rossellini, Roberto,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Gallagher, Tag. The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini. San Francisco: Da Capo, 1998.

Morefield, Kenneth. “Roberto Rossellini and the Moral Point of View.” Christianity Today. May 13, 2013. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/may-web-only/roberto-rossellini-and-moral-point-of-view.html.

Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy. DVD. Directed by Roberto Rossellini. New York: Criterion Collection, 2009.

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 Man Born To Be King by Dorothy L. Sayers (1943)

 

“God was executed by people painfully like us, in a society very similar to our own—in the over-ripeness of the most splendid and sophisticated Empire the world has ever seen.”


Heretics were once tortured and executed.  We know that, of course, but who decides what heresy is?  Human judgment is always subjective and has ranged from doctrinal disputes to perceived blasphemy.  While the outcome isn’t necessarily capital punishment, it always involves the condemnation of one who is judged to have offended God.  This isn’t just ancient history.

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

It has become commonplace in our time for the story of Jesus to be staged as a play, a film, or even a television miniseries, but when Dorothy L. Sayers first wrote The Man Born to Be King, it was actually against the law in Britain to represent any person of the Holy Trinity on the stage. Technically, since her plays were radio productions rather than stage productions, Sayers was within the law. Nevertheless, she stirred up controversy when The Man Born to Be King was first performed. Today we wouldn’t think twice about the propriety of such an undertaking, and many have indeed tried to capture the drama and spiritual depth of the Gospels through various mediums. But few, if any, have told their story as successfully as Sayers.

With these radio plays, Sayers was attempting to help modern listeners better understand and identify with the biblical text through making the characters within it more relatable as real people who lived in the real world—not stained glass figures or Sunday school flannel graph cutouts. She believed these biblical stories had become so commonplace and riddled with clichés that people had become dulled to their message and impact. By making her characters more complex, fully rounded, and believable as real human beings, by having them speak in understandable modern language, and by placing them in truly dramatic situations, Sayers hoped to make them come alive in a fresh way. And she wanted to do so as artfully as possible, not creating mere religious propaganda but rather a vivid, dramatic presentation.

Sayers achieved her goal through a respectful reworking of the biblical texts by exploring the interior motivations of characters such as Judas and Lazarus and by adding her poetic touch.

What are the borders of liberty when dramatizing scripture?


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


Dorothy L. Sayers

 

Dorothy L. Sayers

(1893–1957), novelist, religious playwright and apologist. The daughter of an Anglican clergyman, she qualified for a first class honours degree in modern languages at Somerville College, Oxford, in 1915. For a number of years she worked as a copywriter in an advertising agency until the success of her detective novels, of which the last was published in 1937, gave her financial independence. She established her reputation as a religious writer with The Zeal of Thy House (1937) and The Devil to Pay (1939), plays written for the *Canterbury Festival; it was subsequently extended by her radio dramatization of the life of Christ, The Man Born to be King. This was broadcast at monthly intervals between 21 Dec. 1941 and 18 Oct. 1942, and caused widespread controversy by its representation of Christ by an actor and because the dialogue in which he took part was in modern English. From 1940 she published a number of volumes containing studies, lectures, and essays on theological topics. In these writings, as in her plays, she combined a high degree of professional competence with fresh and penetrating insights into the meaning of the Christian faith in the modern world. Her major work was an annotated English verse translation of *Dante’s Divine Commedy. Hell was published in 1949 and Purgatory in 1955, but at the time of her death she had only made a start on Heaven, which was completed by Barbara Reynolds and published in 1962.

 

Sources & Resources

Letters ed. B. Reynolds (4 vols.: vol. 1, London, vols. 2–4, Cambridge, 1995–2000). J. Hitchman, ‘Such a Strange Lady’: An Introduction to Dorothy L. Sayers (1975); R. E. Hone, Dorothy L. Sayers: A Literary Biography (Kent, Oh., 1979); J. Brabazon, Dorothy L. Sayers: The Life of a Courageous Woman (1981); C. Kenney, The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers (Kent, Oh., and London [1990]); B. Reynolds, Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul (1993; rev. edn., 1998). C. B. Gilbert, A Bibliography of the Works of Dorothy L. Sayers (Hamden, Conn., 1978; London, 1979); R. T. Youngberg, Dorothy L. Sayers: A Reference Guide (Boston [1982]).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1469–1470.

Durkin, Mary Brian. “Dorothy L. Sayers: A Christian Humanist for Today.” Religion Online. Accessed March 20, 2015. http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=1267.
Godfrey, Monica. “The Man Born to Be King: Contextualizing the Kingdom.” Inklings Forever vol. 7. 2010. http://library.taylor.edu/dotAsset/c95cbdf7-0d3e-497f-9d33-0dd3dde0c4ad.pdf.
Meilander, Gilbert. “The Greatest Drama Ever.” Touchstone. March/April 2013.
Reynolds, Barbara. Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993.
Sayers, Dorothy L. Letters to a Diminished Church. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004.
———. The Man Born to Be King. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990.

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.

Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

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“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”


RickPrayer is communication with God, but what does that mean?  Prayer emphasizes God’s mystery, inscrutability, and immanence—God is closer than our very breath. We get to know God not by the route of information, but by holding in abeyance what we think we know about God, or even ourselves, in order to let His love and fellowship flood our being in a place that resides beyond our senses.

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

Sometimes music can reflect ideas and feelings that words simply cannot express. And sometimes, when poetry reaches its highest level, it can function almost like music—moving the reader with a transcendent force beyond our comprehension. T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets borrows its title from a musical form, and it offers up poetry that expresses some of the deepest universal human realities with the musicality of poetic expression. These are poems filled with images drawn from deep wells of the remembered and the half-remembered, meditations on the nature of time and memory, and ruminations on human frailty, suffering, and the nature of a living faith. Many readers have found them to be not only resplendent poems but also aids to meditation and prayer, as they seem to find ways to almost say the unsayable and provide glimpses of universal spiritual experiences and moments of enlightenment.

Occasionally an ordinary experience—a sight or sound or smell—can trigger a sense of being swept into a timeless moment, a place where time stands still and the breath of eternity rustles through our hearts and minds. Eliot’s Four Quartets both records and arouses such mystical moments. These are meditative poems that wed the musicality of words with profound spiritual insight to awaken a connection with something—ultimately Someone—who transcends time.

Has poetry ever helped your prayers? How so?

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE 

Logo

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

D I G  D E E P E R


T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot

(1888–1965), poet and critic. Born in St Louis, Missouri, he was educated at the Smith Academy, St Louis, Harvard (1906–9 and again 1911–13), the *Sorbonne (1910–11), and Merton College, Oxford (1914–15). He taught for a short time in Highgate Grammar School, London, and worked for Lloyds Bank; from this period his main interests appear to have been literary. Assistant editor of The Egoist from 1917 to 1919 and a frequent contributor to The Athenaeum, in 1922 he became the first editor of The Criterion, which he made a leading organ of literary expression until it ceased in 1939. In 1925 he joined the board of Faber, the publisher. He received many honours, including the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize for literature (both in 1948).

Brought up in the American *Unitarian tradition, Eliot passed through a period of agnosticism reflected in his earlier poetry, e.g. Prufrock (1917) and Poems 1920 (1920). The expression of his sense of the emptiness of life reached its climax in The Waste Land (1922) and is also seen in The Hollow Men (1925). These early poems rejected the poetical tradition as it had developed in England since the 18th cent. and found inspiration in the 17th-cent. *Metaphysical poets and the 19th-cent. French symbolists. In 1927 Eliot was baptized in the parish church at Finstock, Oxon, and in 1928 he declared his viewpoint to be ‘classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and *anglo-catholic in religion’ (Preface to For Lancelot Andrewes). Henceforth much of his poetry, culminating in Four Quartets (1935–42), expressed his religious search, his struggle with faith and doubt, and his attempt to find fresh meaning in tradition; here he turned notably to *Dante, as well as to such mystics as St *John of the Cross and *Julian of Norwich. His influence as a poet was immense. His attempts at poetical drama were less successful, but also sought to communicate something of the dilemmas of faith, explicitly in Murder in the Cathedral (1935; written for the *Canterbury Festival of that year), but no less genuinely in his later plays, The Family Reunion (1939), The Cocktail Party (1950), The Confidential Clerk (1954), and The Elder Statesman (1959). He was also influential as a critic; many of his early essays were published in Selected Essays (1932; 3rd edn., enlarged, 1951), and his later essays collected in On Poetry and Poets (1957) and To Criticize the Critic (1965). He was deeply interested in the social implications of Christianity and discussed these in The Idea of a Christian Society (1939) and Notes towards a Definition of Culture (1948).

Sources & Resources

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 542–543.

Complete Poems and Plays (1969). A facsimile and transcript of the original drafts of The Waste Land, incl. the annotations of Ezra Pound, ed. by V. Eliot (widow) (1971). Letters, ed. id. (1988 ff.). Biographies by L. Gordon (2 vols., Oxford, 1977–88) and P. Ackroyd (London, 1984). The many symposia on Eliot and his work include those ed. by R. March and Tambimuttu (London, 1948), A. Tate (ibid., 1967), and J. Olney (Oxford, 1988). F. O. Matthiesen, The Achievement of T. S. Eliot: An Essay on the Nature of Poetry (1935; 3rd edn., 1958); H. [L.] Gardner, The Art of T. S. Eliot (1949); id., The Composition of Four Quartets (1978); G. [C.] Smith, T. S. Eliot’s Plays and Poetry: A Study in Sources and Meaning (Chicago 1956]); H. Kenner, The Invisible Poet (New York, 1959; London, 1960); C. H. Smith, T. S. Eliot’s Dramatic Thought and Practice (Princeton, NJ, and London, 1963); H. Howarth, Notes on Some Figures Behind T. S. Eliot (1965); E. M. Browne, The Making of T. S. Eliot’s Plays (Cambridge, 1969); M. Lojkine-Morelec, T. S. Eliot: Essai sur la génèse d’une écriture (Publications de la Sorbonne, 2nd ser. 17; 1985); C. Ricks, T. S. Eliot and Prejudice (1988); P. Murray [OP], T. S. Eliot and Mysticism: The Secret History of Four Quartets (1991). D. Gallup, T. S. Eliot: A Bibliography (2nd edn., 1969); B. Ricks, T. S. Eliot: A Bibliography of Secondary Works (1980). R. Ellmann in DNB, 1961–1970, pp. 325–9.

Ackroyd, Peter. T. S. Eliot: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984.
Booty, John. Meditating on Four Quartets. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1983.
Dale, Alzina Stone. T. S. Eliot: The Philosopher Poet. Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1988.
Eliot, T. S. Four Quartets. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1943.
———. Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1975.
Gordon, Lyndall. Eliot’s New Life. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1988.

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

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.

Quartet For The End Of Time by Olivier Messiaen (1941)

By now you have seen the apocalyptic images of Houston Texas with its entire infrastructure completely submerged in the floods of Hurricane Harvey.  As one of her lifelong residents, I assure you that no photograph captures its impact.  Tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people saw their homes swept away by the water.  Even as I write this, four days after landfall, people are still being rescued by watercraft over impassable roadways.  It’s hard to image Armageddon as much worse. It is fitting that our masterpiece today is a quartet written in the midst of epic disaster.

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

It was an unlikely time and place for the debut of a major composition by one of the twentieth century’s great composers. But in the middle of the Second World War, on a brutally cold January night in 1941, Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was performed for the first time in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp in Gorlitz, Germany. On that evening, frost covered the windows and the snow piled twenty inches high outside as an audience of several hundred prisoners and guards crowded into an unheated, makeshift performance hall—Barracks 27. They were there to hear a piece that Messiaen had written during his imprisonment in the camp, following his capture as a French soldier during the German invasion the previous year. As the unlikely audience sat transfixed, their cold breath rising in little puffs of steam and their bodies shivering against the cold, few would have guessed that they were being treated to the initial performance of one of the masterpieces of modern concert music.

That such a piece could even be written under these circumstances was partially due to the efforts of Karl-Albert Brull, a music-loving guard who was familiar with some of Messiaen’s prewar compositions and went to extraordinary efforts to provide the composer with pencils, erasers, and music paper. He also found a quiet place in an empty barracks where Messiaen could work undisturbed, even posting a guard outside to keep him from being bothered. After the performance, Brull helped forge the documents that made it possible for Messiaen to return to France.

To arrange this quartet—born in conditions of war, death, famine, and frost—Messiaen used the only instruments that were available in the camp: a cello with only three strings, a clarinet, a violin, and a dilapidated piano. It was an unusual combination, but around these instruments he fashioned something startling, strangely beautiful, and spiritually evocative.

The title refers to the proclamation of the “seventh angel” from Revelation 10, about the time when all will be made right in eternity—a time beyond time. Messiaen inscribed in his notes to the score, “In homage to the Angel of the Apocalypse, who lifts his hand toward heaven, saying, ‘There shall be time no longer.’ ” Surely it must have felt to many Europeans as though the apocalypse was at hand as Nazi aggressors stormed triumphantly across Europe, set on establishing their Third Reich. But Messiaen’s music is not a gloomy meditation on defeat and hardship; it is a musical expression of a hopeful expectation of the future God has promised.

Has God ever inspired beauty in the midst of disaster in your 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


Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen

(1908–92). One of the most original composers of the 20th century, Olivier Messiaen was the only major composer to also serve as church organist (for the Church of the Sainte-Trinité from 1931) since César Franck and Anton Bruckner. His students included two major figures of 20th-century music: Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez.

Olivier-Eugène-Prosper-Charles Messiaen was born in Avignon, France, on Dec. 10, 1908. He began to compose when he was 7 and entered the Paris Conservatoire at age 11. He began an intense investigation of both Western and Eastern rhythms, birdsong, and microtonal music. These elements and Roman Catholic mysticism are reflected in his compositions.

With three other composers Messiaen founded in 1936 La Jeune France to promote new French music, and he taught at the Schola Cantorum and the École Normale de Musique from that year until World War II. While a prisoner of war he wrote Quartet for the End of Time, performed at the prison camp in 1941. After the war he became professor of harmony and later of composition at the Conservatoire. His compositions include L’Ascension (1934), Turangalîla-Symphonie (1949), La Transfiguration (1969), and Des canyons aux étoiles (1974) for orchestra; an opera, St. Francis of Assisi (1986); numerous pieces of chamber music; vocal works; and organ pieces. He died in Clichy on April 27, 1992.

 

 

Sources & Resources

“Messiaen, Olivier,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Bannister, Peter. “Olivier Messiaen—‘Plain Old Propaganda’?” Thinking Faith (blog). December 10, 2008. http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20081210_1.htm.

Osborne, Steven. “Olivier Messiaen: Beyond Time and Space.” The Guardian. August 7, 2014.

Shenton, Andrew, ed. Messiaen the Theologian. London: Ashgate, 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.

The Power And The Glory by Graham Greene (1940)

“Oh,’ the priest said, ‘that’s another thing altogether – God is love. I don’t say the heart doesn’t feel a taste of it, but what a taste. The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water. We wouldn’t recognize that love. It might even look like hate. It would be enough to scare us – God’s love. It set fire to a bush in the desert, didn’t it, and smashed open graves and set the dead walking in the dark. Oh, a man like me would run a mile to get away if he felt that love around.”


Saints and martyrs are generally misunderstood. They are not sinless or perfect like Jesus.  They are ordinary people who rise to extraordinary levels by choosing to follow God through painful choices, in spite of their fears or shortcomings.  The gospel teaches us to love God with all that we are, and that includes facing the darkness of the world as well as the darkness within us.

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

Grace is a theological concept that everyone talks about but few understand in any depth. Perhaps no author did a better job of illustrating what grace involves than a man who knew himself to be in desperate need of such grace, Graham Greene. In The Power and the Glory, he tells the story of a priest who is hunted by the authorities during a time of intense religious persecution in Mexico. The priest is morally weak and struggles with alcoholism (Greene calls him the “whiskey priest”), but he is still committed to trying to fulfill his priestly duties for the believers who have had to go into hiding. His life is in grave danger as he is hunted by the authorities, who wish to kill him.

The policeman who tracks the priest through the course of his desperate wanderings is a committed and puritanical atheist, convinced of the rightness of his cause. While the priest is a moral failure, the policeman is an earnest, honest, and morally upright man. But that doesn’t mean the priest cannot be used by God in spite of his failings—he is, again and again, an imperfect instrument in the hands of a perfect God, an unexpected saint whose stumbling attempts to follow God produce greater results than he could ever have imagined.

Has your love for God ever cost you anything?


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


Graham Greene

Graham Greene

(1904–91). British author Graham Greene wrote so extensively that he forgot about a novel he wrote in 1944. Rediscovered in 1984, The Tenth Man was published a year later. Greene created a remarkable world of fiction from the tribulations, conflicts, and ideological battles of the 20th century.

Greene was born on Oct. 2, 1904, in Berkhamsted, England. After graduating from Oxford University he worked as a reporter for the Nottingham Journal and the London Times. After the publication of his first novel in 1929, he left the Times to be a writer and book and film critic. During World War II Greene worked for the foreign office. With the success of his books he settled on the French Riviera and divided his time between there and England.

Greene’s first three novels were not significant, but he gained a literary reputation with Stamboul Train (1932; published in the United States as Orient Express). This was the first of many of his novels made into motion pictures. Among his other popular novels were: This Gun for Hire (1936), The Confidential Agent (1939), The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), The Third Man (1949), The End of the Affair (1951), Our Man in Havana (1958), A Burnt-Out Case (1961), The Comedians (1966), The Honorary Consul (1973), and The Human Factor (1978). Greene also wrote short stories, plays, and some nonfiction books, including A Sort of Life (1971) and Ways of Escape (1980), his autobiographies. He died on April 3, 1991, in Vevey, Switzerland.

 

Sources & Resources

“Graham Greene ,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Evens, Jonathan. “Emil Nolde: Inner Religious Feeling.” Between (blog). March 7, 2012.

http://joninbetween.blogspot.com/2012/03/emil-nolde-inner-religious-feeling.html.

Juneau-Lafond, Jean-David. “Emile Nolde,” The Art Tribune. November 11, 2008.

Selz, Peter. Emil Nolde. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1963.

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.

Head Of Christ by Georges Rouault (1937)

Head of Christ by Georges Rouault, The Cleveland Museum of Art

ISAIAH 53:4-5

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.


RickThere are no images of Christ which are contemporary with his life with the possible exception of the Shroud of Turin.  That said, He has been depicted in art innumerably.  Each representation seeks to draw out inarticulable attributes, but His essence is uniformly only partially displayed.  How could it be otherwise?

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

Depictions of Christ’s face have been attempted again and again throughout the history of art. Many a painter has fixed his or her vision of Jesus on canvas, and most of the resulting paintings have tended toward the saccharine or the sentimental. Although such works may have their decorative or devotional purposes, few can be considered great works of art. Rouault’s Head of Christ is an exception. Its bright colors shine like panes of stained glass, luminous between the black outlines that separate them. It vibrates with tense energy but also radiates peace. The expression in the eyes of the Savior is particularly affecting. These are eyes that return the viewer’s gaze and penetrate into the deep interior of the soul; eyes that speak of love, of gentle compassion, and of forgiveness offered. This face is not the chiseled face of a remote divinity condescending to visit the human realm but rather the face of the God who has entered into our world and experienced firsthand all the pain and agony of the human condition.

Looking at this canvas, one feels understood by the One who looks back. Could anyone who hadn’t personally experienced the love of the suffering Savior have painted such a work?

How do you picture Jesus?


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


Georges Rouault

(1871–1958). The French painter Georges Rouault is widely considered the greatest religious painter of the 20th century. His paintings of corrupt officials, of a serene Christ, and of sorrowful clowns have a powerful beauty. They express with great intensity his concern with moral issues and suffering humanity. In style his paintings are reminiscent of the stained-glass windows of medieval churches. Thick black lines, like the leading of such windows, break up and outline his forms, and his colors have a gemlike glow.

Georges-Henri Rouault was born on May 27, 1871, in a cellar in Paris, France, during a bombardment of that city by government forces attempting to overthrow the revolutionary Commune of Paris. Rouault’s father was a cabinetmaker, and at 14 the boy was apprenticed to a maker of stained glass. At 20 he quit his apprenticeship to enroll at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he studied painting until 1895.

Rouault was deeply influenced by the Roman Catholic writer Léon Bloy, who saw sin and misery in modern life. Many of the painter’s early works bitterly depict human corruption. His later work is marked more by pity and sorrow. Typical are The Old King, originally painted in 1916 and reworked by Rouault in 1936, Christ Mocked by the Soldiers (1932), and The Three Judges (1937–38).

Rouault’s renown as a printmaker resulted from the numerous series of prints and illustrations he created for Ambroise Vollard, a book publisher and the agent for Rouault’s work between 1916 and 1939. The book of prints entitled Miserere, showing the effects of war on men, is the most famous. Rouault died in Paris on Feb. 13, 1958.

Sources & Resources

“Rouault, Georges,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Dyrness, William A. Rouault: A Vision of Suffering and Salvation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971.

Faerna, Jose Maria. Rouault. New York: Cameo-Abrams, 1997.

Flora, Holly, and Soo Yun Kang. Miserere et Guerre: The Anguished World of Shadows. New York: Museum of Biblical Art, 2006.

Maritain, Jacques. Rouault. New York: Abrams, 1954.

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 Passion Of Joan Of Arc by Carl Theodore Dreyer (1928)

I am not afraid; I was born to do this.


Few stories captivate the heart like that of Joan of Arc.  The incredulity of a young teenage maiden, leading the armies of France at the behest of God is epic by definition.  She has been portrayed in every art-form, but today we examine what is perhaps the ultimate example — a silent movie by Carl Theodore Dreyer.

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

One thing that sets this film apart from its contemporaries is the visual power of its design. Filmed on simple but evocative sets and consisting of carefully composed images, it is masterful in its creation of mood. Never before had a film so effectively exploited the emotional power of the extreme close-up. Dreyer pushed the camera deep into the personal space of his actors as he drew a contrast between the persecuted young woman and her angry, mocking persecutors. Because Dreyer did not allow the actors to wear makeup, we see every pore and imperfection in each face as the camera draws close enough to reveal the interior struggles of the characters, penetrating to the very depths of their souls.

We perceive the intense physical, psychological, and spiritual pain etched into Joan’s face as actress Renee Falconetti delivers one of the greatest performances in the history of film. Her large, round, unblinking eyes fill with tears and her lips tremble. Though the only words are those flashed on the screen on the title cards, we clearly understand what she is experiencing: fear, shame, indignation, and finally resignation. Contemporary accounts tell us that when Falconetti wept for the camera the eyes of the entire crew were filled with tears. Interestingly, this unforgettable feat of acting was both her first and last appearance in a film. But it was a performance that exhibited the possibilities of what film acting could be.

So inspiring and potent is this film that it was banned in occupied Europe during World War II. Nazi authorities feared the impact that this story of French heroism might have in inspiring the populace. Even today, The Passion of Joan of Arc is unequalled as a tale of heroic faith in the face of overwhelming odds.

Do you think God speaks audibly to people?


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


Carl Theodore Dreyer

Carl Theodore Dreyer

(3 February 1889 – 20 March 1968), commonly known as Carl Th. Dreyer, was a Danish film director. He is regarded by many critics and filmmakers as one of the greatest directors in cinema. His best known films include The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Vampyr (1932), Day of Wrath (1943), Ordet (1955), and Gertrud (1964).

Dreyer was born illegitimate in Copenhagen, Denmark. His birth mother was an unmarried Scanian maid named Josefine Bernhardine Nilsson, and he was put up for adoption by his birth father, Jens Christian Torp, a married Danish farmer living in Sweden who was his mother’s employer. He spent the first two years of his life in orphanages until his adoption by a typographer named Carl Theodor Dreyer, and his wife, Inger Marie (née Olsen). He was named after his adoptive father, but in accordance with Danish practice, there is no “Senior” or “Junior” added to their names to distinguish them from each other.

His adoptive parents were emotionally distant and his childhood was largely unhappy. He later recalled that his parents “constantly let me know that I should be grateful for the food I was given and that I strictly had no claim on anything, since my mother got out of paying by lying down to die.” But he was a highly intelligent school student, who left home and formal education at the age of sixteen. He dissociated himself from his adoptive family, but their teachings were to influence the themes of many of his films.

Dreyer was ideologically conservative. According to David Bordwell, “As a youth he belonged to the Social Liberal party, a conservative group radical only in their opposition to military expenditures…’Even when I was with Ekstrabladet,’ Dreyer recalled, ‘I was conservative…I don’t believe in revolutions. They have, as a rule, the tedious quality of pulling development back. I believe more in evolution, in the small advances.'”

Dreyer died of pneumonia in Copenhagen at age 79. The documentary Carl Th. Dreyer: My Metier contains reminiscences from those who knew him.

Saint Joan of Arc

(1412–31), called ‘La Pucelle’, the ‘Maid of Orléans’. The setting of her life was the Hundred Years War and the civil war within France between the great houses of Orléans and Burgundy. The daughter of a peasant, she was born and brought up in Domrémy, Champagne. A pious child, she experienced in 1425 the first of her supernatural visitations, which she described as a voice accompanied by a blaze of light.

Gradually her ‘voices’ increased and she was able to identify St *Michael, St *Catherine, St *Margaret, and others, who revealed to Joan her mission to save France. She was unsuccessful in a first attempt in 1428 to persuade the French commander at Vaucouleurs of the genuineness of her visions; but after a second attempt in 1429 she was sent to the as yet uncon-secrated King (Charles VII), who was convinced when she apparently recognized him in disguise. Joan then gave the King a secret sign, which she never revealed. After close examination of her case by a body of Charles’s theologians at Poitiers, it was decided to allow her to lead an expedition to Orléans. Clad in a suit of white armour and bearing a banner with a symbol of the Trinity and the words ‘Jesus, Maria’, she inspired Charles’s troops and the city was relieved. After a short campaign in the Loire valley, she persuaded Charles VII to proceed to *Reims for his coronation, which took place on 17 July 1429, with Joan at his side. The relief of Orléans and the crowning of the Dauphin were notable victories for the Valois cause. After six months of military inactivity fresh campaigns took place in the spring of 1430 in which she was less successful. She was taken prisoner by Burgundian troops near Compiègne on 24 May 1430, sold to the English by the Duke of Burgundy on 21 Nov. 1430, and appeared before the court of the Bp. of Beauvais (Pierre Cauchon) at Rouen on 21 Feb. 1431 on charges of witchcraft and heresy. After further examination in her cell, a summary of her statements was compiled. The judges of the *inquisitorial court declared her visions ‘false and diabolical’ and the summary was also denounced by the University of *Paris. After some form of recantation on 23 May, she resumed male attire, which she had agreed to abandon, and on 29 May was condemned as a relapsed heretic and on 30 May burnt at Rouen. Her death did not bring about the end of the Hundred Years War, and her personal heroism, rather than her political and military achievement, has been a source of inspiration to later generations. A revision of her trial by an appellate court appointed by Pope *Callistus III in 1456 declared her to have been unjustly condemned. Canonized on 9 May 1920 by *Benedict XV as a holy maiden, she is the second patron of France. Feast day, 30 May.

Sources & Resources

Carl Th. Dreyer: My Metier. DVD. Directed by Torben Skjødt Jensen. New York: Criterion Collection, 2001.

Dreyer, Carl Theodore. Jesus: A Great Filmmaker’s Final Masterwork. New York: Dell, 1971.

Falconetti, Renee. The Passion of Joan of Arc. DVD. Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. New York: Criterion Collection, 1999.

Garrett, Daniel. “The Evidence of Things Not Seen.” Cinetext. March 28, 2006.

http://cinetext.philo.at/magazine/garrett/joanofarc.html.

Hamaker, Christian. “The Spiritual Cinema of Carl Theodor Dreyer.” Crosswalk. December 5, 2001. http://www.crosswalk.com/1134400/.

J. Quicherat (ed.), Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d’Arc (Société de l’histoire de France; 5 vols., 1841–9); P. Champion (ed.), Procès de condamnation de Jeanne d’Arc (2 vols., 1920–1), with introd., Fr. tr., and notes; P. Tisset and Y. Lanhers (eds.), Procès de Jeanne d’Arc (Société de l’histoire de France; 3 vols., 1960–71); P. Duparc (ed.), Procès en nullité de la condamnation de Jeanne d’Arc (ibid. 5 vols., 1977–88). Eng. tr. of docs. of the trial by W. P. Barrett, The Trial of Joan of Arc (1931). P. Doncœur, SJ, and Y. Lanhers (eds.), Documents et recherches relatives à Jeanne la Pucelle (5 vols., 1952–61). Studies incl. those by A. Lang (London, 1908), G. Hanotaux (Paris, 1911), A. Fabre (ibid., 1912), V. Sackville-West (London, 1936), J. Calmette (Paris, 1946), R. Pernoud (ibid., 1954; Eng. tr., 1961), and other works of this author, [J.] E. [M.] Lucie-Smith (London, 1976), M. [S.] Warner (ibid., 1981), A. L. Barstow (Studies in Women and Religion, 17; Lewiston, NY, etc. [1986]), and R. Pernoud and M.-V. Clin (Paris, 1986; rev. Eng. tr., 2000).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 883–884.

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.

Death Comes For The Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927)

Melinda Padgett, Fine Bookbinding, Santa Cruz, California

“The more I visited in the Southwest,” she wrote in an essay about the novel, “the more I felt that the story of the Catholic Church in that country was the most interesting of its stories. The old mission churches, even those which were abandoned and in ruins, had a moving reality about them; the hand-carved beams and joists, the utterly unconventional frescoes, the countless fanciful figures of the saints, not two of them alike, seemed a deeper expression of some very real and lively human feeling.”


Willa Cather was an uncharacteristically quiet voice of the roaring twenties.  Unlike many of her contemporaries who delighted in inventions of wordplay, her prose was unadorned and straightforward.  The power of her stories was found in the lives of her characters who were unvarnished and transparent in their exposure to the reader.  Today’s masterpiece is a pristine example of her clean, powerful voice.

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

Death Comes for the Archbishop, like the landscape described in its pages, has a sparse, elegant simplicity. Its pace is languid; the story will not be rushed but rather unfolds quietly in the deserts of New Mexico as it records the life of Father Jean Marie Latour, who comes to these barren lands—a vast territory of red hills, towering mesas, and forbidding heat—to take his place as a missionary to the Mexicans and Native Americans who dwell there. Over a period of forty years, Latour spreads his faith with an inward passion and an outward gentleness, dealing with the harsh conditions, the spiritual confusions of his vast flock, openly rebellious and immoral priests, and his nagging loneliness and longing for his home in Ohio.

Throughout the novel Cather evokes the strange magnificence and wonder of the Southwest landscape with such precision that the reader can feel the oppressive sun beating down upon the long and dusty roads the archbishop must travel to minister to his widespread flock, yet still revel in the mystery and timelessness of the desolate landscape. Cather, and her archbishop, show great respect for the Native Americans who live on this land and the spiritual relationship they have with it. Though this is not a novel primarily concerned with the ethics of colonialism, the archbishop is aware of the injustices that have been perpetrated upon these people. Near the end of the book he says, “I have lived to see two great wrongs righted; I have seen the end of black slavery, and I have seen the Navajos restored to their land.

Does evangelism ever suffer from embellishment?  Is it possible to exaggerate the gospel?


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


Willa Cather

Willa Cather

(1873–1947). In such classic American novels as O Pioneers! Willa Cather wrote of people she had known as a girl in Nebraska. Her friends were native Americans as well as European immigrants and their children. She showed how these pioneers were able to adapt to the rugged prairie life in the western area of America. For her depictions of this valiant spirit, Willa Cather won wide acclaim as a novelist.

Willa Sibert Cather was born on Dec. 7, 1873, on a farm near the town of Winchester, Va. The Cather family had been living in Virginia for four generations. When Cather was 9 years old, her father bought a ranch that was located near Red Cloud, Neb. The child was excited by the change from a settled, eastern community to a semifrontier area where she was free to roam outdoors. Often she would ride her pony to a neighbor’s farm and listen to old immigrant women tell stories of their childhood experiences and adventures in Sweden or Bohemia.
There were no schools near the ranch, so she studied at home. A neighbor taught her Latin, and Cather read English classics aloud to her grandmother. When Cather was in her teens the family moved into the village. She attended Red Cloud High School and the University of Nebraska.

After graduation in 1895 she worked on a Pittsburgh newspaper for six years and then taught high school for a time. On vacations she traveled to Europe and the American Southwest.

Meanwhile, she contributed stories to McClure’s Magazine. She also accepted a post on the magazine, and in 1908 she became its managing editor. But editing left her little time for creative writing, and in 1912 she resigned to devote full time to writing her own stories.

Her first novel was unsuccessful, but when she turned to frontier themes she won a wide audience. O Pioneers!, published in 1913, was followed by Song of the Lark (1915) and My Ántonia (1918). One of Ours (1922), which won the Pulitzer prize, and A Lost Lady (1923) mourned the passing of the pioneer spirit in the Middle West. Also popular were Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), a study of Roman Catholic missionaries in New Mexico, and Shadows on the Rock (1931), a story of early Quebec. She described her clean, meticulous writing style as “démeuble” (unfurnished).

Cather never married. She lived quietly in New York City and traveled frequently in Europe, avoiding public appearances whenever possible. She remained loyal to childhood friends and visited them often. She died in New York City on April 24, 1947.

Sources & Resources

“Cather, Willa,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Birzer, Bradley J. “The Christian Humanism of Willa Cather.” The Imaginative Conservative (blog). August 27, 2013. http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2013/08/the-christian-humanism-of-willa-cather.html.

Brown, E. K. Willa Cather. New York: Avon Books, 1953.

Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop. New York: Vintage, 1990.

McInerny, Ralph. Some Catholic Writers. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2007.

Ryan, James Emmett. Faithful Passages: American Catholicism in Literary Culture, 1844–1931.

Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.

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 Ressurection At Cookham by Stanley Spencer (1926)

The Resurrection at Cookham by Stanley Spencer, Tate Gallery, London

“Quite suddenly I became aware that everything was full of special meaning, and this made everything holy. The instinct of Moses to take his shoes off when he saw the burning bush was very similar to my feelings. I saw many burning bushes in Cookham. I observed the sacred quality in the most unexpected quarters.”


We live in an age of special effects where live shows emphasize the dramatic with laser lights and fog machines, and where we expect computer generated images to compete for outrageousness.  This mentality has crept into our worship as well and today’s contemporary church service often resembles a Las Vegas stage show.  In counterpoint, our masterpiece today portrays the foretold resurrection of the dead in the setting of a quiet English countryside.  Rather than a thunderous extravaganza, we have leisurely repose.

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

The Resurrection at Cookham is a large painting—nine feet high and eighteen feet wide—and it is peopled not only with the Father and the Son but also with friends and family, the people he knew and loved. His first wife, Hilda, is the model for no less than three different figures. Numerous other friends also served as models. There is a flurry of activity as the dead rise out of their graves, but the tone of the picture remains serene. Some lounge about on top of the caskets they have just exited, some struggle out of their coffins or lift up the flowering sod to exit their earthen graves, and some intently study the writing on the tombstones in the churchyard. A group of “prophets”—Moses among them—stands along the wall of the church, rapt in thought, and Spencer painted himself in the bottom right corner, lying on two slabs of a broken tomb as though he is reclining in the pages of a great stone book. “Nobody is in a hurry in this painting,” said Spencer of this work. “Those men lying on top of the tombs I like very much, they gave me the feeling that the Resurrection is a peaceful occasion, and very positive. I like the happiness, that’s the main idea of the picture.”2 This is not a somber “Last Judgment” picture where the good and bad are being separated but an optimistic celebration of everlasting life. Christ sits under the church porch, surrounded by overhanging roses, holding three babies in his arms. The Father stands behind him, affectionately tousling his hair.

Has to the church gone too far in its use of stage effects during worship?


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


Stanley Spencer

Stanley Spencer

(30 June 1891 – 14 December 1959) was an English painter. Shortly after leaving the Slade School of Art, Spencer became well known for his paintings depicting Biblical scenes occurring as if in Cookham, the small village beside the River Thames where he was born and spent much of his life. Spencer referred to Cookham as “a village in Heaven” and in his biblical scenes, fellow-villagers are shown as their Gospel counterparts. Spencer was skilled at organising multi-figure compositions such as in his large paintings for the Sandham Memorial Chapel and the Shipbuilding on the Clyde series, the former being a World War One memorial while the latter was a commission for the War Artists’ Advisory Committee during World War Two. As his career progressed Spencer often produced landscapes for commercial necessity and the intensity of his early visionary years diminished somewhat while elements of eccentricity came more to the fore. Although his compositions became more claustrophobic and his use of colour less vivid he maintained an attention to detail in his paintings akin to that of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Spencer’s works often express his fervent if unconventional Christian faith. This is especially evident in the scenes that he based in Cookham which show the compassion that he felt for his fellow residents and also his romantic and sexual obsessions. Spencer’s works originally provoked great shock and controversy. Nowadays, they still seem stylistic and experimental, while the nude works depicting his futile relationship with Patricia Preece, such as the Leg of mutton nude, foreshadow some of the much later works of Lucian Freud. Spencer’s early work is regarded as a synthesis of French Post-Impressionism, exemplified for instance by Paul Gauguin, plus early Italian painting typified by Giotto. In later life Spencer remained an independent artist and did not join any of the artistic movements of the period, although he did show three works at the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition in 1912.

Sources & Resources

Cottrell, Stephen. Christ in the Wilderness. London: SPCK, 2012.

Harries, Richard. “Understanding Faith Through the Eyes of Stanley Spencer—The Rt Revd Lord Richard Harries.” Lecture at Gresham College, March 16, 2011. YouTube video. 1:00:05. Uploaded on August 26, 2011 by GreshamCollege. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhHRFyrEteE.

Hauser, Kitty. Stanley Spencer. London: Tate Publishing, 2001.

MacCarthy, Fiona. Stanley Spencer: An English Vision. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997.

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.

Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1918)

 

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs ‒
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Hear Malcolm Guite Read Today’s Poem


When we think of the grandeur of God, our first thoughts go to the magnificence of creation.  As St Paul wrote in the book of Romans, God’s ‘invisible attributes are clearly seen’.  Gerard Hopkins describes a world ‘charged’ and ‘flaming out’, but this is more than the appreciation of an eclipse.  Look close and see the essence of God in Gethsemane.

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

Who would ever have guessed that a quiet, bookish priest who never saw his poems published during his lifetime would be lauded today as one of the great innovators in the history of poetry? At his death in 1889, Gerard Manley Hopkins left behind a collection of poems that celebrate the glory of God in nature, ponder the darkness and confusion of life, and wrestle with his relationship to God. These faith-filled poems were so ahead of their time, their meter so odd and eccentric, that it took many years before his accomplishments were fully appreciated and embraced.

On first reading, many of Hopkins’s poems might strike the reader as obscure and obtuse, just a little too erudite for their own good. But when revisited, they reveal profound and universal spiritual insights communicated in a unique off-kilter style, which necessitate a bit of patience and contemplation for their fullness to be grasped. Hopkins unfailingly finds fresh and startling ways of expressing himself as, for example, in this hyphen-laden description of Jesus from one of his poems: “The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled / Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame, / Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder-throne!” Each rhythmic phrase reveals an important truth about Jesus, as they gather and rise in a trinitarian crescendo of praise.

How does crushing reveal essence?

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

D I G  D E E P E R


Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Hopkins, a 19th-century British Jesuit has influenced as many secular poets as he has religious ones.  His poems press against the borders of his forms; he wrings multiple meanings out of his language. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford.  In 1866 Hopkins joined the Roman Catholic Church, in 1868 he entered the Jesuit novitiate, and in 1877 he was ordained priest. In 1884 he was appointed professor of Greek at the Royal University, Dublin, a position which he held till his death. He was unknown as a poet during his life, except to two or three friends, who recognized his genius and loved him as themselves.

Sources & Resources

Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Mortal Beauty, God’s Grace: Major Poems and Spiritual Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins. New York: Vintage Books, 2003.
Lichtmann, Maria. Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poetry as Prayer. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2002.
Mariani, Paul. Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life. New York: Viking, 2008.
White, Norman. Hopkins: A Literary Biography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992.

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page

Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith

 

 

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).

 

The Life Of Christ by Emil Nolde (1912)

The Life of Christ (center panel) by Emil Nolde, the Nolde Foundation, Seebüll, Germany

“The imaginings of the boy I once was, who sat engrossed in the Bible on long winter evenings, were reawakened. When I read, I saw pictures: the richest Middle Eastern fantasies. They constantly flew around in my mind’s eye until much, much later the grown man and artist painted and painted them, as if inspired by a dream.”


RickArt has always been man’s effort to express the inexpressible.  Its roots are deep in the imago Dei with which man is created, and often surfaces only through anguish or longing.  Emil Nolde’s talent was evident in his earliest drawings, but his masterpieces seemed to have emerged from a time of great difficulty when he struggled not only with the grave illness of his wife but also a crisis of faith.

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

There are few religious paintings—and even fewer religious painters—among the modern artists who emerged as the center of the art world at the turn of the twentieth century, but paintings on spiritual themes were a central focus of Emil Nolde’s artistic life. Between 1909 and 1951 he devoted fifty-five paintings to sacred or biblical themes. Perhaps his masterpiece is his altarpiece, The Life of Christ, a work that makes use of very traditional imagery but depicts the sacred stories in a thoroughly modern manner.

Modeling his work on the famous altarpieces created by artists such as Jan van Eyck, Emil Nolde fashioned his own personal statement of faith with a collection of nine paintings referred to jointly as The Life of Christ. This altarpiece included eight scenes of the birth, preaching, betrayal, and resurrection of Jesus arranged around a larger central image of the crucifixion. One of his unmistakable influences was clearly the famous Isenheim Altarpiece by Mattais Gruenwald, which Nolde’s central painting so stirringly echoes.

Has a difficult time in your life ever resulted in an inexpressible manifestation of God?


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


Emil Nolde

(1867–1956). German Expressionist painter, printmaker, and watercolorist Emil Nolde was known for his violent religious works and his foreboding landscapes. He was also a prolific graphic artist especially noted for the stark black and white effect that he employed in crudely incised woodcuts.

Born as Emil Hansen to a peasant family on August 7, 1867, in Nolde, near Bocholt, Germany, the youthful Nolde made his living as a wood-carver. He was able to study art formally only when some of his early works were reproduced and sold as postcards. He started painting in a superficially Impressionistic style in Paris and then in 1906 was invited to join Die Brücke, an association of Dresden-based Expressionist artists who admired his “storm of color.” But Nolde, a solitary and intuitive painter, dissociated himself from that tightly knit group after a year and a half.

Fervently religious and racked by a sense of sin, Nolde created such works as Dance Around the Golden Calf (1910) and In the Port of Alexandria from the series depicting The Legend of St. Maria Aegyptica (1912), in which the erotic frenzy of the figures and the demonic, masklike faces are rendered with deliberately crude draftsmanship and dissonant colors. In the Doubting Thomas from the nine-part polyptych The Life of Christ (1911–12), the relief of Nolde’s own religious doubts may be seen in the quiet awe of St. Thomas as he is confronted with Jesus’ wounds. During 1913 and 1914Nolde was a member of an ethnological expedition that reached the East Indies. There he was impressed with the power of unsophisticated belief, as is evident in his lithograph Dancer (1913).

Back in Europe, Nolde led an increasingly reclusive life on the Baltic coast of Germany, where his harsh environment led to such brooding works as his Marsh Landscape (1916), in which the low horizon, dominated by dark clouds, creates a majestic sense of space. Landscapes done after 1916 were generally of a cooler tonality than his early works, but his masterful realizations of flowers retain the brilliant colors of his earlier works.

Although Nolde was an early advocate of Germany’s National Socialist Party, when the Nazis came to power, they declared his work “decadent” and forbade him to paint. After World War II he resumed painting but often merely reworked older themes. His last self-portrait (1947), although still vigorous, reveals the disillusioned withdrawal of the artist in his 80th year. Nolde died on April 15, 1956, in Seebüll, near Niebüll, West Germany.

Sources & Resources

“Nolde, Emil,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Evens, Jonathan. “Emil Nolde: Inner Religious Feeling.” Between (blog). March 7, 2012.

http://joninbetween.blogspot.com/2012/03/emil-nolde-inner-religious-feeling.html.

Juneau-Lafond, Jean-David. “Emile Nolde,” The Art Tribune. November 11, 2008.

Selz, Peter. Emil Nolde. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1963.

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 Innocence Of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

web-gk-chesterton-holding-book-pen-hector-murchison-public-domain-via-wikipedia

“Where does a wise man hide a leaf? In the forest. But what does he do if there is no forest? He grows a forest to hide it in.”


RickThe term “bigger than life” is now cliché but it is in no way ironic when applied to G.K. Chesterton.  It begins with his stature (6’4” and over 300 pounds), but even that great frame is dwarfed by his intellect and imagination.  His writings seem endless, and every sentence is packed with wit and nuance with a saturation that makes skimming impossible.  He was a master of nonfiction, but some of his most artful work was in the character of Father Brown.

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

In the 1840s, Edgar Allan Poe created a new literary genre with a handful of stories that each pose a seemingly insoluble mystery that is finally solved by the intellectual brilliance of his detective, C. Auguste Dupin. Some fifty years later, Arthur Conan Doyle brought the mystery genre to an even higher level with his novels and short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, an eccentric detective who used the science of deduction and his powers of observation to solve the crimes set before him. Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a great fan of the Holmes stories, and wrote highly entertaining essays about the mystery genre. He set down his thoughts about what made for a good “whodunit,” and put his theories to the test by writing some stories of his own.

Chesterton modeled his detective, the genial Father Brown, on his friend Father John O’Connor, a priest whose intellectual capacities and wit he much enjoyed. The first twelve short stories were first published in The Saturday Evening Post, and then collected in a book as The Innocence of Father Brown. By the time of his death, Chesterton had produced fifty-one stories about the mystery-solving clergyman. The stories were an immediate hit and became the most popular and successful of his many books. Their format is predictable, but the solutions to the crimes are not. As in any good mystery, a puzzle is set forth in each story that defies logic and seems impossible to untangle. But the quiet little priest, Father Brown, succeeds where everyone else fails because of the insight he has attained about the darker shades of human motivation from hearing confessions. Father Brown is an easy man to overlook—a short, stubby, unimposing figure, shabbily dressed and with a round, expressionless face that renders him almost invisible. The police investigating the crimes generally fail to pay him much attention until Father Brown gently and relentlessly unravels the hidden truth.

Have you read Chesterton? Which work is your favorite?


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


G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton

(1874–1936), poet and essayist. After beginning a course of training in art in 1891, he abandoned it for journalism. His defence of orthodoxy and conventionality in an individual and unconventional style soon established his literary reputation. Among those of his early works which were directly or indirectly concerned with religious topics, the best known are Heretics (1905) and Orthodoxy (1908). His poems include the hymn ‘O God of earth and altar’. In his novels there is less of religious interest, though his appreciation of the RC clergy appears in the ‘Father Brown’ stories. In 1922 he left the C of E for the RC Church; but the change of allegiance had little effect on his style or outlook. His Autobiography (1936) gives an illuminating picture of literary-religious circles from c. 1895 to his death.

 

The Mystery Deepens

With Father Brown, a sleuth who plumbed hearts, Chesterton redefined the “whodunit.”

Nearly everyone agrees that Chesterton achieved something extraordinary with his Father Brown stories. Yet after literally hundreds of commentators have had their say, there is still no consensus about what his achievement was or in what ways Father Brown is significant. Truly, these critics are so at odds with one another that often they do not seem to be discussing the same stories.
Part of the problem is that Chesterton’s stories resist analysis from the specialist’s point of view. For example, not many who are experts in the field of detective fiction understand Chesterton as a philosopher. These critics react to Chesterton’s moral and political ideas as if they were an intrusion of irrelevant propaganda.

Similarly, few students of Chesterton are mystery story enthusiasts, and fewer still are conversant with scholarship on the detective genre. They often fail to appreciate Chesterton’s work within the framework of this literary form.

The Father Brown stories follow a format developed in the nineteenth century for readers of the new mass-circulation magazines. The formula, invented by Edgar Allan Poe in the 1840s, boils down to this:
A mystifying crime is discovered, and a plausible explanation proves elusive. The mystery deepens until the eccentric but brainy sleuth (not a member of the official police) deduces the truth and reveals the surprising solution at the story’s conclusion. The sleuth then reappears in subsequent magazine stories to solve other puzzling crimes.

Arthur Conan Doyle perfected this approach with his tales of the peerless Sherlock Holmes, written for The Strand magazine in the 1890s. Conan Doyle aimed to compete against the serialized novel with a character whose fascinating personal appeal—rather than a continuing cliff-hanger plot—would keep readers coming back for more. It was the greatest success in magazine publishing history.

Conan Doyle’s triumph was not lost on The Strand’s competitors. A host of Holmes-like sleuths soon appeared, each with his own series of linked short stories. Unfortunately none of these had the Sherlock Holmes magic, and today the stories seem hopelessly artificial and contrived.

Chesterton said as much at the time. He was the first respected literary critic to write extensively on the genre and the first to formulate the rules that would come to govern the classic “whodunit.”
Chesterton’s ideas dominated the so-called Golden Age of the mystery story and remained unchallenged until American pulp-fiction writers introduced the street-wise and tough-as-nails private eye, of which Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade remains the archetype.

Rules of the game

Chesterton insisted that detective stories must focus on domestic crimes enacted in familiar settings, with the action restricted to a short span of time, a confined place, and a small cast of characters. He conceived of the stories as a kind of literary game and demanded that writers play fair by showing their readers all the clues known to the sleuth.

He also insisted that, however complex the mystery might be made to appear, its eventual solution had to be simple enough to explain in a single shout from the rooftops. His illustrative example was, “The Archdeacon is Bloody Bill!”

Chesterton deplored the focus on mere mechanics of crime and detection—the easy way out for writers trying to imitate Conan Doyle. Chesterton faulted a story if it turned on a trick of detail rather than the drama of human interaction.

He disliked learning at the end that a high wall had not been a barrier to the suspect because the man had once been a pole-vaulter, or discovering on the last page that the main confusion in a story had been caused by the presence of someone’s identical twin brother. Chesterton demanded an emphasis on the human aspects of the case—motives, emotions, and choices freely made.
In 1910 Chesterton’s critical theories were put to the test when his Father Brown stories began appearing in The Saturday Evening Post. The stories followed the Poe and Conan Doyle formula, but they also fulfilled Chesterton’s own rules and ideals. When the first 12 tales were collected and published as The Innocence of Father Brown, mystery specialist Ellery Queen called it “The Miracle Book of 1911.”

The Father Brown series eventually reached a total of 51 short stories, collected in five volumes. They are universally admired for their ingenious crimes and brilliant detection. No mystery writer has devised more inventive plots or so effectively paraded his clues before a perplexed readership.

The heretic hunter

Of equal significance for the future of the genre, Chesterton turned away from artificially tricky puzzles to an emphasis on character, following the example of the great Victorian novelists who had dabbled in the detective story form—Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Wilkie Collins.

The Father Brown stories achieve remarkable depth and richness in their intellectual themes. Chesterton, of course, was a man of ideas, and he was convinced that ideas influence behavior—bad ideas cause bad behavior. He therefore peopled his stories with villains and fools whose ignoble actions flow from their mistaken ideologies.

Thus Father Brown is actually more of a heretic hunter than he is an amateur policeman. As the priest explains to one of his detective friends, he has never had anything to do with “running down criminals.” Instead, he makes it his business to confront the same errors that Chesterton warred against in his journalism.

Each of the stories may be read as an analogue of one of Chesterton’s argumentative essays. Perhaps the most familiar example is “The Queer Feet,” in which Father Brown laments the sort of moral blindness that makes servants invisible to their masters. The priest’s view precisely echoes Chesterton, who commented at length on the subject in his Illustrated London News essay of September 9, 1911.
Father Brown captured the attention of the leading mystery writers of the day and set the tone and direction of detective fiction for a generation. E.C. Bentley dedicated his groundbreaking 1912 novel Trent’s Last Case to Chesterton and insisted that he had written the book with Chesterton’s principles in mind.

In 1929, when Anthony Berkeley founded London’s Detection Club, one of its avowed purposes was to promote the very ideals that Chesterton had articulated as a critic and had realized so successfully in his stories. The small and select group included such luminaries as Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Freeman Wills Crofts.

Chesterton, of course, was duly installed as the club’s first president, a position he held until his death in 1936.

Sources & Resources

John Peterson, “The Mystery Deepens,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 75: G.K. Chesterton: Prolific Writer & Apologist (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 2002).

Collected Works, ed. D. Dooley (San Francisco, 1986 ff.). Lives by M. Ward (London, 1944; with a further study, Return to Chesterton, 1952), D. Barker (London, 1973), A. S. Dale (Grand Rapids [1982]), and J. Pearce, Wisdom and Innocence (1996). C. Hollis, The Mind of Chesterton (1970). D. J. Conlon (ed.), G. K. Chesterton: A Half Century of Views (Oxford and New York, 1987). J. Sullivan, G. K. Chesterton: A Bibliography (1958; with suppl., 1968). M. Ward in DNB, 1931–1940, pp. 171–5.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 330.

Chesterton, G. K. The Penguin Complete Father Brown. New York: Penguin, 1981.

Coren, Michael. Gilbert: The Man Who Was G. K. Chesterton. New York: Paragon House, 1990.

Dale, Alzina Stone. The Outline of Sanity: A Life of G. K. Chesterton. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.

Peters, Thomas C. Battling for the Modern Mind: A Beginner’s Chesterton. St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1994.

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 Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson (1890)

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 we must be constantly looking for it in unexpected places.  Genius hides behind the shy eyes of a child, often too reclusive to leave her familiar surroundings.  In 1862 Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote a piece in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Letter to a Young Contributor”.  The response he received, written in a peculiar bird-scrawl began, “Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive?” It appeared to be unsigned until he discovered a small sub-envelope within that contained a card with the shyly penciled name “Emily Dickinson.” Enclosed also were four poems, and his curious and encouraging response led to a three-decade correspondence with Dickinson, she playing a coy “Scholar” and he bewildered and moved by the flights of her mind.

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

At nineteen, Emily Dickinson was a cheerful and optimistic young woman and an active participant in the polite, sometimes uptight, New England community in which she had been raised. She attended local dinners and dances, and traveled with her congressman father on trips to Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, and New York. But by the time of her death, this once rather conventional young lady had become an almost mythical recluse who dressed almost exclusively in white, rarely left her second-story bedroom, and spent much of her time at her desk, writing poetry and letters to friends.

What had caused the dramatic shift in her life? Some suggest that a devastating disappointment in a relationship drove her inward. Others postulate that she may have suffered from a psychological malady such as agoraphobia. Or perhaps she just discovered that the place where she really found joy was in the confines of her own creative mind and soul. We’ll likely never know for certain, for though her poems and letters might provide hints, they generally obscure as much as they reveal about this wonderful but puzzling poet.

Dickinson embraced her seclusion, finding in her solitude a place where she could be spiritually transported. How she saw the world and what she experienced in her inner life provided the subject matter for her poems. She was extremely prolific during her short life, penning over 1,700 poems and writing enough letters to fill three stout volumes. These letters and poems reveal the woman she had become: a careful observer of the world and of her own self, someone cynical about easy answers to life’s hard questions, a wrestler with God, and a poet who found her own entirely unique way of communicating about life and death, time and eternity, faith and doubt, the simple beauties she saw in nature, and the exquisite sufferings she felt within her innermost self.

Does seclusion enhance spiritual focus?


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


Emily Dickinson

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

(1830–1886). American poet. A shy recluse from Amherst, Massachusetts, Dickinson spent most of her life in her home and garden, yet the lines that she penned and stored there have made her one of America’s foremost poets. Dickinson published only seven poems during her lifetime, despite the fact that she carried on a twenty-two-year correspondence with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a poetry critic and her acknowledged “preceptor.” Nevertheless, after her death, over 1,500 of her poems were found, and the true poetic genius of Emily Dickinson came to light. Her poetry is characterized by a remarkable economy of style, an intensified use of language, an absence of titles and an experimental use of punctuation. In terms of thematic material, her intense interest in death, immortality and nature led to a rather pronounced treatment of religious themes. For example, she often pictured death as a lover or friend in order to eliminate its horror.

Emily Dickinson’s interest in religion was magnified by her admiration of the Reverend Charles Wadsworth. Their relationship is obscured and uncertain, but she probably loved him and he was at least a spiritual example to her. Nevertheless, despite her connection to Wadsworth and her concentration on religious themes in her poetry, Emily Dickinson spurned traditional Calvinism and the institutional church, and she resisted pressure to join the church. She clearly sets forth her attitude toward organized religion in lines that exalt the experience of nature over church observance. Thus, the eccentric recluse from Amherst, with her cryptic, lyrical lines, has become one of America’s most famous poets—one who wrote about religious matters yet rejected traditional religious institutions.

MODESTY

Goodness should not be invisible. It should not be colorless. On the other hand, it should not dazzle or overpower. It should compel, not impel; attract, not attack.

Modesty is the virtue that presents goodness in its proper color: one of elegance rather than affluence, of economy rather than extravagance, naturalness rather than ostentation. “What a power has white simplicity,” as Keats has aptly written. Modesty is the virtue that allows one to focus on what is good without being distracted by irrelevant superficialities.

Not for Public Consumption

The modest person is content with living well and performing good deeds without fanfare. For him, life is essential, rewards are superfluous. He believes that nature opens to a wider world, whereas ornamentation stifles. He is always averse to gilding the lily. He is confident without being demure, unpretentious without being self-defeating. He lets his actions and words speak for themselves.

Modesty seems out of step with the modern world. As a rule, people are most eager to impress others by recourse to no end of gimmicks. Those who work in the advertising or cosmetic industries regard modesty as a self-imposed handicap. If “nice guys finish last,” people of modesty do not even enter the race. Hollywood, or “Tinsel Town,” as it is appropriately called, is the glamour capital of the world, its chief export being the very antithesis of modesty. It champions style over substance, image over essence.
Despite the arrogance and the artificiality of the modern world, modesty retains an unmatched power. It remains a diamond in the midst of zircons. “In the modesty of fearful duty,” wrote Shakespeare, “I read as much as from the rattling tongue of saucy and audacious eloquence” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). When modesty speaks, its unvarnished eloquence presents that which is as true, dependable, and genuine. Modesty is concerned with honesty, not deceit.

Unwitting Celebrity

Emily Dickinson exemplifies the paradox that modesty, which is unconcerned about stature and reputation, can actually enlarge them. When she was thirty-two, she sent four of her poems to The Atlantic Monthly. The magazine’s rejection of them led her to believe that the public was not interested in her poetry. This belief remained with her throughout the rest of her life, and she never submitted any more of her works for publication. Although she wrote some 1,775 poems over the course of her life, only seven of them were published—all anonymously, and most of them surreptitiously by friends who wanted to see them in print.

“Fame is a fickle thing,” she wrote, “men eat of it and die.” As she stated in a letter to a literary critic whom she admired, “My Barefoot Rank is better.” Her own modest world was broad enough to fill her heart: “A modest lot … is plenty! Is enough.” It was her destiny: “I meant to have modest needs, such as content and heaven.” She did not require much to be transported from one realm to another. A book was sufficient—“How frugal is the chariot that bears the human soul.”

A contemporary American theologian of hers, by the name of Nathaniel Emmons, may have written the perfect summation of Dickinson’s triumphant modesty when he said: “Make no display of your talents or attainments; for everyone will clearly see, admire, and acknowledge them, so long as you cover them with the beautiful veil of modesty.”

One such admirer was the head of a Catholic religious order who confessed: “I bless God for Emily—some of her writings have had a more profound influence on my life than anything else that anyone has ever written.” The general consensus recognizes her as one of America’s greatest poets, and the greatest of America’s women poets. Moreover, she touched people who ordinarily do not care much for poetry. As one critic put it, she is supremely the poet of those who “never read poetry.”

Depth of Character

One of the most basic and vexing problems in moral education is how to make virtue more attractive than vice. In this regard, modesty plays a key role. Modesty is inherently attractive because it invites one to examine the quiet depth of what is there. Display is not as attractive as it is conspicuous. But what is merely conspicuous is often shallow. It is only natural for people to lift up the modest and be turned away by the proud.

The modesty of the following lines that encapsulate Emily Dickinson’s life provide a good illustration of the singularly attractive power of modesty:

This is my letter to the World,
That never wrote to Me—
The simple News that Nature told—
With tender Majesty.

Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see—
For love of Her—sweet countrymen—
Judge tenderly—of Me.

Sources & Resources

Donald DeMarco, The Many Faces of Virtue (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2000), 99–102.

T. Johnson, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1960, 1976);

J. Leyda, The Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson, 2 vols. (1960);

J. Pickard, Emily Dickinson, An Introduction and Interpretation (1967).

Daniel G. Reid, Robert Dean Linder, Bruce L. Shelley, et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).

Carpini, John Delli. Emily Dickinson: Poetry as Prayer. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2002.

Dickinson, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. New York: Little, Brown, 1976.

Doyle, Connie. “Experiment in Green: Emily Dickinson’s Search for Faith.” The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great. http://opcentral.org/resources/2015/01/21/connie-doyle-experiment-in-green-emily-dickinsons-search-for-faith/.

LeMay, Kristin. I Told My Soul to Sing: Finding God with Emily Dickinson. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2013.

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 Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

“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 tells what I want to tell my own generation and leave to the future.” ~Henry Ossawa Tanner


RickVery few biblical subjects surpass the Annunciation in popularity as a work of art.  Here we find God breaking through our darkness to join us in humanity.  Here we find the essence of faith, as a simple girl accepts the inexplicable on the basis of God’s word alone.  Here Henry Ossawa Tanner distinguished himself by expressing on canvas the brilliance of the Divine in intersection with His creation in a way that maximizes each without compromising the other.

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

No matter what the artistic medium, it is always a challenge to portray a moment when the supernatural breaks into our world and make such a moment believable rather than kitschy or sentimental. Throughout art history, the annunciation—that instant when the angel appeared to the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Messiah—has been a popular theme in religious painting. Many of these paintings are beautiful, but also tend to be stiff and reverential rather than alive and convincing. Others are cloyingly sweet, flowing over with schmaltzy religiosity, and are not very believable in human terms. But Henry Ossawa Tanner’s The Annunciation manages to be both lovely and emotionally resonant and at the same time feel utterly convincing.

Mary is portrayed as a young Jewish peasant sitting on the edge of her bed amid crumpled bedclothes, wearing a striped costume that would have been common for a young woman of the poorer class. She has no halo, nor is there anything immediately recognizable as special about her. She is not, as is often the case, surrounded by symbols of her purity. Nor is there anything grandiose about the simple setting. The angel who has appeared to her is not the conventional celestial-winged messenger of religious art, but rather a burst of overpowering golden light that permeates the room with its warm glow. Mary seems a bit frightened, as any ordinary person might be if she had just been addressed by an angelic being.

By the sheer ordinariness of this depiction of the intersection between the divine and human, we are reminded that God communicates to perfectly ordinary human beings in perfectly ordinary circumstances. And the holiness that infuses the picture is less in the flood of golden light and more in the look on Mary’s face, captured in the moment when fear is beginning to give way to contemplation and then acceptance. Her hands are folded in her lap, her head tilted upward, and her eyes focused. There is receptivity in her body language, an openness to God’s will.

Because the angel is presented in such an abstract form, all the focus of the painting is upon Mary. She is a reflection of the light, and it is through her posture and attitude that we experience the calm, the peace, and the holiness that fills the room. She is our clue to how we are to read this moment of revelation. As in many of Tanner’s paintings, it is through his focus on the figure who is receiving the light of revelation that we begin to understand something supernatural is taking place before our eyes.

How do you envision the Annunciation?


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


Henry Ossawa Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner

(born June 21, 1859, Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S.—died May 25, 1937, Paris, France) American painter who gained international acclaim for his depiction of landscapes and biblical themes.

After a childhood spent largely in Philadelphia, Tanner began an art career in earnest in 1876, painting harbour scenes, landscapes, and animals from the Philadelphia Zoo. In 1880 Tanner began two years of formal study under Thomas Eakins at Philadelphia’s prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), where he was the only African American. In 1888 he moved to Atlanta to open a photography studio, but the venture failed. With the help of Joseph C. Hartzell, a bishop from Cincinnati, Ohio, Tanner secured a teaching position at Clark University in Atlanta. In 1890 Hartzell arranged an exhibition of Tanner’s works in Cincinnati and, when no paintings sold, Hartzell purchased the entire collection himself.

Through these earnings, Tanner traveled to Paris in 1891 to enroll at the Académie Julian. During this period he lightened his palette, favouring blues and blue-greens, and began to manipulate light and shadow for a dramatic and inspirational effect. He returned to the United States in 1893, in part to deliver a paper on African Americans and art at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. By 1894 his paintings were being exhibited at the annual Paris Salon, at which in 1896 he was awarded an honourable mention for Daniel in the Lions’ Den (1895; this version lost). The Raising of Lazarus (c. 1897), also biblical in theme, won a medal at the Paris Salon of 1897, a rare achievement for an American artist. Later that year the French government purchased the painting.

After touring the Holy Land in 1897–98, Tanner painted Nicodemus Visiting Jesus (c. 1898), which in 1900 won the PAFA’s Lippincott Prize. That same year he received a medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris. He remained an expatriate in France, routinely exhibiting in Paris as well as the United States, and winning several awards. Among his other works are The Annunciation (1898), Abraham’s Oak (1905), and The Two Disciples at the Tomb (c. 1905). During World War I he served with the American Red Cross in France. In 1923 the French government made Tanner a chevalier of the Legion of Honour, and in 1927 he became the first African American to be granted full membership in the National Academy of Design in New York.

After his death, Tanner’s artistic stature declined until 1969, when the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., exhibited several of his works. This was the first major solo exhibition of a black artist in the United States. In 1991 the Philadelphia Museum of Art mounted a touring retrospective of his works.

Preacher with a Paintbrush

In 1973, after more than a dozen years of turning down invitations to preach in racially segregated South Africa, Billy Graham finally held the first large-scale, mixed-race public event in the nation’s history. “Jesus was not a white man,” he declared to the 45,000 gathered in Durban. “He came from that part of the world that touches Africa, and Asia, and Europe, and he probably had brown skin.”

A lot of people still have trouble imagining a brown Jesus. In December 2013, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly riled media pundits by insisting that Jesus was white. The 2014 movie Son of God featured a decidedly white actor in the role of Jesus. In Exodus: Gods and Kings, director Ridley Scott used white actors to play key Egyptians and Hebrews; he claimed he couldn’t have financed the film had the principal characters looked too Middle Eastern.

The kerfuffle over Exodus got me thinking about the biblical paintings by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937). Tanner was the first African American painter to receive international acclaim and a pioneer in using Middle Eastern models for biblical figures. Tanner came from an illustrious family. His father was a leading bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and editor of the church’s paper, the most widely circulated African American publication at the time. Henry’s sister was the first woman (black or white) to practice medicine in Alabama, and Henry studied at both the prestigious Philadelphia Academy of Art and the Académie Julian in Paris. Many of his paintings were exhibited at the Paris Salon.

Though Tanner sometimes painted a dark (though not African) Jesus—and though he settled in France to escape American racism—he was not on a race mission. His mission was to universalize the biblical message: “My efforts have been to not only put the biblical incident in the original setting … but at the same time give the human touch ‘which makes the whole world kin’ and which ever remains the same.” Believing that Bible stories illuminate the universal human experience and offer an encounter with the living God, Tanner wanted to put us, the viewers, in the frame, for those stories are addressed to us and are about us.

The Annunciation, perhaps his most reproduced painting, does this remarkably well. His is not the standard double profile of an enormous angel with parrot wings confronting a pious Mary sitting in the garden of an Italian villa (think Fra Angelico). Instead, Tanner’s angel is a featureless, brilliant burst of light. Mary, on the other hand, sits in an unadorned bedroom in the middle of the night. The viewer’s eye is thus directed to the wonderstruck young woman. Because Mary is turned toward us, we share her reaction, listening with her for the divine Word as she receives the angel’s message and the Spirit’s overshadowing.

Tanner’s first painting of Jesus and Nicodemus is a similar contrast to standard practice. When James Tissot, the most popular illustrator of biblical scenes in the 1890s, painted The Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus, he gave us a profile of the two seated men, heads bent together intimately. But Tanner’s dark-faced Jesus faces us squarely. Tanner makes us, alongside Nicodemus, spiritual seekers.
In The Resurrection of Lazarus, Tanner again departs from the standard portrayal. When Jesus commands “Lazarus, come forth!” both Rembrandt and Tissot isolate him visually from the mourners. Tanner’s Christ, by contrast, stands with the mourners (among them a turbaned man of distinctly African appearance), not pointing upward but reaching out toward the awakening Lazarus, spreading his palms in a gesture of welcome. By standing with the mourners—we are all mourners—Tanner’s Jesus includes us in the story.

Similarly, The Two Disciples at the Tomb has none of the usual props—no angel, no folded grave clothes. Tanner shows us instead the faces of Peter and John, illuminated by a light from the tomb. Reflecting both their grief and their budding resurrection faith, their faces could be ours.
The son of a preacher man, Tanner used images, not words, to extend an invitation. “I will preach with my brush,” he said. He did so by putting us in the picture, allowing us to share Mary’s wonder, Nicodemus’s searching questions, the sorrow of Lazarus’s friends, and the disciples’ newborn faith.
May we have the eyes to see Tanner’s message.

Sources and Resources

David Neff, “Preacher with a Paintbrush,” Christianity Today (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today International, 2015), 30.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

Bruce, Marcus. Henry Ossawa Tanner: A Spiritual Biography. New York: Crossroad, 2002.
Marley, Anna O., ed. Henry Ossawa Tanner: Modern Spirit. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2012.

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

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 Life Of Our Lord Jesus Christ by James Tissot (1896)

Jesus Sits by the Seashore and Preaches, from The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ by James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York

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 the rest of his life.

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

Though extremely popular in his day, in our time James Tissot has been largely relegated to a footnote in nineteenth-century art history. But when his carefully researched collection of 350 watercolors depicting the life of Jesus was first published as a book in 1896, it found a large and enthusiastic audience. No one who had followed his previous career could have anticipated that this painter of urban life in Paris and London would undertake the project of painting virtually every event in the Gospels.

The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ project took nearly ten years to complete. When it was done, it chronicled the entire life of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament in a series of 350 watercolors. To research the project Tissot traveled to Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in 1886–87, and again in 1890. While in the Holy Land he closely observed the landscape, the vegetation, the architecture, and the manner of dress, and filled sketchbooks with what he saw. He talked with rabbis and studied Talmudic literature as well as theological and historical volumes. He believed that there was still a remaining “aura” in the places where the Gospel events took place, and he spoke of having mystical experiences that added to his careful research. What he wanted to create was something as close as possible to an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus.

Has your relationship with God included an epiphany?


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


James Tissot

James Tissot, self-portrait

(1836–1902), French Bible illustrator. He was a painter of fashionable women in Paris before he fled to England in 1871. Here he became known by his caricatures for Vanity Fair and as a portrait and genre painter. Later he returned to Paris, where his art underwent a complete change owing to an experience of conversion, and henceforth he devoted himself to the illustration of the Life of Christ, for which purpose he made comprehensive studies in Palestine. His Vie de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ (1896) is a series of some 350 watercolours, representing the scenes of the Gospel in a fresh and unconventional style which abandons the traditional types. It was followed by an unfinished sequence of illustrations to the OT which, however, are inferior in quality to the earlier work.

An edn. of the OT (Gen.-Job, with some additions) in Fr., incorporating Tissot’s illustrations, was pub., with preface by A. D. Sertillanges, 2 vols., Paris, 1904; with text in Eng., 2 vols., London, 1904. J. Laver, ‘Vulgar Society’: The Romantic Career of James Tissot, 1836–1902 (1936); M. Wentworth, James Tissot (Oxford, 1984); K. Matyjaszkiewicz (ed.), James Tissot (1984); C. Wood, The Life and Work of Jacques Joseph Tissot (1986); N. R. Marshall and M. Warner, James Tissot: Victorian Life/Modern Love (New Haven and London [1999]).

Sources and Resources

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1637.

Dolkart, Judith, ed. James Tissot: The Life of Jesus. New York: Brooklyn Museum/Merrill, 2009.
Muffs, Yochanan, and Gert Schiff. James Tissot: Biblical Paintings. New York: The Jewish Museum, 1982.
Warner, Malcolm. Tissot. London: Medici Society, 1982.

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.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, Museum of Modern Art, New York City

When I have a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion, then I go out and paint the stars.


RickIn 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.  That is not to say he was uninspired by his subject.  A deeply spiritual man, he found in the stars a great expression of the eternity in his heart, and it just happened to help him to earn a living.

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

Starry Night is one of those paintings so iconic—we’ve all seen it reproduced so many times—that it is difficult to really see. We have to step back and take a careful second look for it to begin to divulge all its wonder. This image of a small town seen from a vantage point on a hill is not so much concerned with the town as it is with the night sky overhead—a night sky that swirls and swells and spins above us. The painting itself feels strangely alive, as though it were itself an object in motion. The moon and the stars shine and shimmer in the midst of this pulsating vision of the sky, and one cannot help but wonder if, as he contemplated this scene, Vincent van Gogh experienced some sort of mystical vision of the eternal realities behind the earthly beauty. For van Gogh, a believing man deeply frustrated with religious institutions, it was in such visions that he discovered his connection with God. As he once wrote, “When I have a terrible need of—shall I say the word—religion, then I go out and paint the stars.”1 And that is precisely what he has done in this modern masterpiece.

The viewpoint in the painting from which the landscape is seen was the view from van Gogh’s bedroom window. He painted no less than twenty-one canvases of this particular landscape, though Starry Night is the most evocative of them all. The village seen in the painting is his invention, not something he could actually see from his window but rather added to the composition. When van Gogh sent several paintings to his brother so that he could try to sell them, he initially didn’t send Starry Night, evidently considering it less marketable than his others. In fact, he considered it a failure. Time, of course, has proven him wrong, as it has become one of his most popular works.

Is it prostituting art to earn a living from it?

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE 

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

D I G  D E E P E R


Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

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Vincent van Gogh

(1853–90). One of the four great Postimpressionists (along with Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and Paul Cézanne), Vincent van Gogh is generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt. His reputation is based largely on the works of the last three years of his short ten-year painting career, and he had a powerful influence on expressionism in modern art. He produced more than 800 oil paintings and 700 drawings, but he sold only one during his lifetime. His striking colors, coarse brushwork, and contoured forms display the anguish of the mental illness that drove him to suicide.

Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Zundert in the Brabant region of The Netherlands. He was the eldest son of a Protestant clergyman. At the age of 16 Van Gogh was apprenticed to art dealers in The Hague, and he worked for them there and in London and Paris until 1876.

Van Gogh disliked art dealing, and, rejected in love, he became increasingly solitary. He began to prepare for the ministry, but he failed the entrance examinations for seminary and became a lay preacher. In 1878 he went to the impoverished Borinage district in southwestern Belgium to do missionary work. He was dismissed in 1880 over a disagreement with his superiors. Penniless and with his faith broken, he sank into despair and began to draw. He soon realized the limitations of being self-taught and went to Brussels to study drawing. In 1881 he moved to The Hague to work with the Dutch landscape painter Anton Mauve, and the next summer Van Gogh began to experiment with oil paints. His urge to be “alone with nature” took him to Dutch villages, and his subjects—still life, landscape, and figure—all related to the peasants’ daily hardships and surroundings. In 1885 he produced his first masterpiece, ‘The Potato Eaters’.

Feeling too isolated, he left for Antwerp, Belgium, and enrolled in the academy there. He did not respond well to the school’s rigid discipline, but while in Antwerp he was inspired by the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens and discovered Japanese prints. He was soon off to Paris, where he met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin and discovered the impressionists Camille Pissarro, Seurat, and others. Van Gogh’s two years in Paris shaped his personal style of painting—more colorful, less traditional, with lighter tonalities and distinctive brushwork.

Tired of city life, Van Gogh left Paris in 1888 for Arles in the south of France. He rented and decorated a yellow house in which he hoped to found a community of “impressionists of the South.” Gauguin joined him in October, but their relations deteriorated, and in a quarrel on Christmas Eve Van Gogh cut off part of his own left ear. Gauguin left, and Van Gogh was hospitalized. Exhibiting repeated signs of mental disturbance, Van Gogh asked to be sent to an asylum at St-Rémy-de-Province. After a year of confinement he moved to the home of a physician-artist in Auvers-sur-Oise for two months. On July 27, 1890, Van Gogh shot himself; he died two days later.

Despite his deteriorating mental condition, Van Gogh’s time at Arles, in the asylum, and at Auvers proved to be his greatest productive periods. At Arles he painted with great energy the sun-drenched fields and flowers; at St-Rémy the colors of his paintings were more muted, but the lines were bolder and the whole more visionary; in the northern light of Auvers he adopted pale, fresh tonalities, a broader and more expressive brushwork, and a lyrical vision of nature. The sale of Van Gogh’s ‘Irises’ in 1987 brought the highest price ever paid for a work of art up to that time—53.9 million dollars.

Van Gogh’s Starry Religion

Given this brief background, we can understand why the Romantics still considered neo-Platonism a live option for buttressing a spiritualized view of nature. They were especially enamored by the concept of creation as emanation, with its metaphor of a radiating sun or an overflowing fountain. They even applied the same metaphors to the artist’s creativity. Art was a lamp radiating its own inner light onto the world, a fountain of overflowing emotions. Wordsworth defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” The next major movement after symbolism came to be called expressionism.
The expressionists rejected the Impressionist dictum that the artist should paint only what the eye sees. The expressionist painter Alexej von Jawlensky said, “The artist expresses only what he has within himself, not what he sees with his eyes.” Music historian Donald Grout summarizes the difference: Whereas impressionism “aimed to represent objects of the external world as perceived at a given moment,” expressionism “sought to represent inner experience.”

Gauguin’s Vision after the Sermon, featured below, is not intended to show a realistic scene—note the flat perspective, the red background, the lack of any visible light source. Instead it depicts the idea in the women’s minds as they pray. (They have just heard a sermon about Jacob wrestling with the angel.) As Rookmaaker explains, Gauguin wanted “to overcome the extreme naturalism of the impressionists,” finding ways “to include more than the eye can see.”

In Starry Night Van Gogh’s whirling stars and flame-like trees are likewise expressionistic. As a young man, Van Gogh wanted to become a preacher, but he was turned down by the theology school where he tried to enroll. Undaunted, he trained as a missionary and worked as an evangelist in a poor coal-mining district in southern Belgium. Determined to share the miners’ poverty, he gave away his belongings and slept on the floor. Unfortunately, the missionary school did not appreciate his passion, and he was dismissed. Finally Van Gogh realized that art too can be a means of serving God. His swirling stars and writhing landscape express “a vision that ultimately belongs more to the realm of religious revelation than to astronomical observations.”

At times, Van Gogh said, he would try to paint in a more realistic style. But soon he would feel “a terrible need of—shall I say the word?—religion. Then I go out at night and paint the stars.”

Sources and Resources

“Van Gogh, Vincent,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning (Nashville: B&H, 2010).

Bernard, Bruce, ed. Vincent by Himself: A Selection of His Paintings and Drawings Together with Extracts from His Letters. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004.
Bonafoux, Pascal. Van Gogh: The Passionate Eye. New York: Abrams, 1992.
Edwards, Cliff. Van Gogh and God. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1989.
Erickson, Kathleen Powers. At Eternity’s Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent van Gogh. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
Naifeh, Steven, and Gregory White Smith. Van Gogh: The Life. New York: Random House, 2011.
Thomson, Richard. Vincent van Gogh: The Starry Night. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2008.
Walther, Ingo F. Van Gogh. Köln: Taschen, 2000.

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.

La Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Antoni Gaudi (1882)


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 explains in 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

Towering over the city of Barcelona and still unfinished after over 130 years, La Sagrada Familia (“The Holy Family”) Cathedral is the jaw-dropping brainchild of one of the most eccentric architects of modern times, Antoni Gaudi. Though he was one of the most influential modern architects, Gaudi was also a diligent student of earlier styles—so much so that one of his fellow architects said that if Chartres Cathedral were to be completely destroyed, Gaudi could, from memory, rebuild it exactly as it had been.

The cathedral he designed himself, however, was very different from the Gothic cathedrals he knew so well. He avoided the usual straight lines and right angles of the Gothic style and created a cathedral that feels organic, more like something that grew up out of the earth rather than being constructed upon it. The building is like an eruption in stone, melting and dissolving into a fluidity of form that is not meant to achieve some abstract ideal of beauty but to reflect the lines and shapes found in nature. “The straight line is the line of Man, the curve is the line of God,” he once said. Gaudi found a way to reach the dizzying heights of the Gothic without the use of flying buttresses, which he felt were artificial. Instead, he designed arches that would carry the weight and still allow the multiple spires to soar.

Interior of La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona

Whereas much of the statuary on a traditional cathedral seems to be an accessory to the building, here the abundant carvings swarm over the whole structure in such a way that they seem to be the building. These designs are peopled with the usual saints and biblical stories but also with arcane symbolism and with the bounty of the natural world: seashells, birds, flowers, fruit, and foliage. Gaudi was attempting to condense the entirety of the Catholic doctrine he embraced in this one single project, and in doing so the building overflows with an overwhelming profusion of images.

Does ornate architecture inspire or detract from reverence?


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


Antoni Gaudi

 

Antoni Gaudi

(1852–1926). One of the first sites to be visited by tourists in Barcelona, Spain, is the Sagrada Família, or Church of the Holy Family. The building, as yet unfinished, was the lifework of architect Antoni Gaudí. Like most of his later works, the church was the creation of a remarkably imaginative—perhaps even eccentric—artist who designed buildings that seemed to be more like natural, organic growths than mere technological achievements. (see architecture; Barcelona.)

Antoni (Antonio in Spanish) Gaudí i Cornet was born on June 25, 1852, in the city of Reus in Catalonia, Spain. He always thought of himself as a Catalan, not a Spaniard. Much of his artistic achievement reflected a renaissance of Catalan art and a rebellion against the influences of Madrid and Castile. In the years 1870 to 1878 he studied architecture at the Provincial School of Architecture in Barcelona. In his early work he experimented with a variety of traditional styles. Among these were the Mudéjar, Spain’s traditional Christian-Muslim mixture; the Gothic; and the baroque (see architecture). The styles were traditional, but what Gaudí did with them was not. He developed a manner of composition by unprecedented juxtapositions of geometric masses, the surfaces of which were animated with patterned brick or stone, bright ceramic tiles, and floral or reptilian designs. Gaudí created his own version of Art Nouveau, a style that was sweeping Europe and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Examples of his Mudéjar style are the Casa Vicens, the Güell Estate, and the Palacio Güell, all located in Barcelona. Examples of his Gothic experiments are the Palacio Episcopal at Astorga and the Casa de los Botines in León. His baroque work is represented by the Casa Calvet in Barcelona.

Gaudí’s buildings after 1902 cannot neatly and easily be classified by any traditional terminology. Except for certain obvious symbols of nature or religion, they became essentially representations of their structure and materials. He arrived at a way of building that has been called equilibrated: structures were designed to stand on their own without internal bracing or external buttressing. They were meant, Gaudí said, to stand as trees stand.

Among the primary elements of his design were piers and columns that tilt to transmit diagonal thrusts and thin-shell, laminated tile vaults that exert very little thrust. Gaudí applied this system to two apartment buildings, the Casa Batlló and the Casa Milá. In the latter, the several floors are structured to resemble clusters of lily pads with steel-beam veins.

Gaudí was a major contributor to the Catalan Renaixensa, or artistic revival, that often was combined with sentiments of political independence from the rest of Spain. The religious symbol of this renaissance was the Church of the Holy Family. He was commissioned to build this church in 1883.

After 1910 he abandoned nearly all other efforts to concentrate on it. He even secluded himself on the site and lived in the workshop. The building, on first view, reminds one of Gothic cathedrals; but Gaudí has so transformed the style by his sidewalls, vaults, and piers that the spirit of Gothic is made to live in new surroundings.

Just before he turned 75, the architect was struck by a trolley car. He died from the injuries on June 10, 1926. Ignored by both art historians and laymen alike for some decades, Gaudí has come to be admired for his imagination and brilliance of design.

Sources and Resources

“Gaudí, Antoni,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

 Boada, Isidro Puig, and Seiji Miyaguchi. Antonio Gaudi. DVD. Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara. New York: Criterion Collection, 2008.
Crippa, Maria Antonietta. Gaudi. Köln: Taschen, 2007.
Ivereigh, Austen. “God’s Architect.” America. September 27, 2010.
Kuhl, Isabel. 50 Buildings You Should Know. Munich: Prestel, 2007.
van Hensbergen, Gijs. Gaudi: A Biography. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

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 Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1879)

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 plants, love everything. If you love everything you will perceive the divine mystery in things.


RickFyodor Dostoyevsky’s final novel is considered his masterpiece.  The Brothers Karamazov is the story of Fyodor Karamazov and his sons Alyosha, Dmitry, and Ivan. It is also a story of its author for it draws on many biographical similarities.  Dostoyevsky introduces a love-hate struggle with profound psychological and spiritual implications and a search for faith and more specifically, for God persists throughout the novel.

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

The Brothers Karamazov is a polyphonic novel, written so that the contrasting voices of the three Karamazov siblings are allowed to speak for themselves. These voices play off each other as their perspectives are tested against each other in a search for truths that often feel just out of reach. The effectiveness of such dialogues in the novel comes from their authenticity. It never feels as though the novel is a “set up” for pushing through Dostoyevsky’s own philosophy, and the arguments do not feel doctored so as to arrive at any tidy resolutions. Each major character is invested with the integrity of an individual voice, and their arguments are put forward with conviction. Dostoyevsky isn’t so much making a point as honestly portraying the reality of a world where questions about God and humanity are many and concrete answers seem few.

Each of the three brothers is a psychologically complex creation, and they represent three radically different approaches to life. Dimitri is a sensualist who lives mostly for pleasure—wine, women, and adventure. Like his father, whom he is accused of killing, he is seemingly unable to say no to his physical urges, even when he wants to. Ivan is an intellectual and a skeptic, a tense and unhappy man who lives in a state of mutiny against God. The horrible suffering he sees in the world—and specifically the torture of children—leads him to a conviction that the God he is rebelling against is a God who simply isn’t there. The famous “Grand Inquisitor” chapter in the novel is a story Ivan tells in an attempt to expose faith as a delusion. The youngest brother, Alyosha, is a gentle, spiritual man of great kindness and simple faith, whose closest companions are the monks of the local monastery. From his perspective, forgiveness and longsuffering love are the only hope for humanity.

Have you read The Brothers Karamazov?  If so, describe your feelings about the book.


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


Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

(1821–81), Russian novelist. He was the son of a retired military Russian surgeon of *Orthodox or *Uniat priestly ancestry, born at Moscow, where he was educated at a private boarding-school. From 1838 to 1843 he attended the Military Engineering College at St Petersburg, but resigned his commission after three years. In 1849 he was arrested for revolutionary activities and eight months later condemned to death. Although he was eventually reprieved, this imminence of death made a deep impression on him. During four years’ forced labour in Siberia, he gained an intimate knowledge and deep affection for the ordinary Russian people. In 1854 he was transferred as a private in an infantry battalion to Semipalatinsk, where he was able to resume his writing. In 1856 he formed an unhappy marriage terminated by the death of his wife in 1863. He returned to St Petersburg in 1859, and with his elder brother in 1861 founded the review Vremya (suppressed 1863), in which he defended Slavophil democratic ideas. Deeply in debt through gambling and general mismanagement, in 1867 he married his secretary, who later became his publisher. In 1873 he was invited by Prince Meshchersky to edit the newspaper Grazhdanin, to which he contributed his Author’s Diary (published separately, 1876).

Although known chiefly as a journalist in his lifetime, his more enduring works were the novels in which he penetrated the deep recesses of the human mind. They include (all written in Russian) Memoirs from the Underworld (1864), Crime and Punishment (1865–6), The Idiot (1869), The Possessed (1871), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

The centre of Dostoevsky’s religious experience is the consciousness of salvation as the free gift of God to the weak and miserable and the refusal to admit any cooperation between God and man. There is no way from man to God, only one from God to man, who is united to his fellows by the common bond of sin. The result is a complete absence from religion of reason and will, and the moral effort that flows from them. The heroes and heroines of Dostoevsky’s novels live entirely by their emotions, of which the foremost is boundless and irrational compassion. In the short story ‘The Grand Inquisitor’, incorporated in The Brothers Karamazov, the institutional Church is represented as the great tyrant and falsifier of Christ whom she would crucify again if He came back to earth. Dostoevsky’s writings have had a profound influence, not only among Russian Orthodox (esp. those who left Russia after the Revolution) but also on the *Dialectical Theology of K. *Barth.

DOSTOEVSKY AND THE FIERY WORD

Richard John Neuhaus

When I was young and under the compulsion to affect a deeper experience of life than I had, I was fond of quoting Whittier’s sage-sounding observation that the saddest words of tongue or pen are simply these, “It might have been.” They can be words of profound regret and even bitterness about the roads not taken, but they can also be spoken without sadness in grateful recognition of one’s creatureliness. Being a creature of time and limited possibilities, no matter how much I’ve done, what I’ve done is so pitiably small, but I choose to believe it was mine to do. Decisions were made; and I’ve never gotten over my first discovery that the word decision is derived from decidere, which means to cut off. In deciding for this and then for that, from which followed the other thing, I cut off what might have been. But it is only in moments of ungrateful rebellion against my creatureliness that I resent the fact that what might have been was not. Most of the time I think about what might have been not in resentment but in wonder.

Joseph Frank’s award-winning, five-volume Dostoevsky is widely recognized as the best biography of the writer in any language–and one of the greatest literary biographies of the past half-century.

I know for sure that I will never do the monumental thing done by Joseph Frank. I have published, quite literally, millions of words on subjects so various that many, if not most, of them escape recall. I am regularly asked by graduate students in search of something or someone to write about what I meant by one thing or another that I wrote ten or twenty or even thirty years ago. I wrote that, did I? What I wrote is usually not an embarrassment, although there is a touch of awkwardness in not remembering.

The same might have been the case with Joseph Frank. After all, he was a professor of comparative literature and understood himself to be a literary critic. He could very well have ended up giving papers at the Modern Language Association on transgressive gendering or other topics of felt academic urgency. But then—to our good fortune and, I trust, to his gratification—he got interested in Dostoevsky.

He started out to write a modest book on the novels, but then, as he rather understates the matter, “my initial intention would grow in size and scope.” Decades later, we have the fifth, final, and very big volume of a biography that will be a standard reference for as long as there are people interested in Dostoevsky, which I like to think will be until Our Lord returns in glory. It is titled Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871–1881 (Princeton University Press, 794 pp., $35). Frank is now professor emeritus and I cannot help but wonder, not without a smidgen of what I trust is unsinful envy, what must be the satisfaction of a writer’s life commandeered by one grand project.

Frank invested his life in exploring everything pertinent to understanding the life and work of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky: the language, the social and political changes, the literary rivalries, the loves, the illnesses, the frustrations. It seems there is almost nothing left unexplored. The fifth volume picks up at the point of Dostoevsky’s return to Russia from four thoroughly disquieting years in the West and includes the writing of A Raw Youth, The Diary of a Writer, and, by far the most important, The Brothers Karamazov. The last is, I dare say, the greatest novel ever written, and the only novel I have read and reread year after year, always with increased pleasure and admiration.

Frank writes:

No previous work gives the reader such an impression of controlled and measured grandeur, a grandeur that spontaneously evokes comparison with the greatest creations of Western literature. The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, King Lear, Faust—these are the titles that naturally come to mind as one tries to measure the stature of The Brothers Karamazov. For these too grapple with the never-ending and never-to-be-ended argument aroused by the “accursed questions” of mankind’s destiny.

A Definite Argument

I would not quibble with a word of that. And yet, in the very same passage Joseph Frank makes a claim that is repeated in various forms throughout his biography. With that claim I have not only a quibble but a very definite argument. In fact, I have the temerity to suggest that Frank is simply wrong when he writes that Karamazov is about “the great theme that had preoccupied [Dostoevsky] since Notes from Underground: the conflict between reason and Christian faith.” I am keenly aware that Joseph Frank probably knows as much about Dostoevsky as any person alive. For all his undoubted knowledge, however, I am persuaded that he misunderstands texts that are crucial to his claim that Dostoevsky’s lifelong obsession was with the presumed conflict between reason and what Frank persistently calls “irrational faith.” Since that claim is key to, in some ways the key to, his construal of Dostoevsky’s life and work, this is no little disagreement. But I will come back to that. First it is necessary and fitting to note, indeed to relish, other aspects of Frank’s achievement.

Underscoring the subtitle “The Mantle of the Prophet,” the fifth volume employs as its epigraph Pushkin’s “The Prophet.” Pushkin had died in 1837, and there is no doubt that Dostoevsky believed that he, Elisha-like, had inherited his mantle. On several notable occasions, he gave public recitations of the poem that were marked with such fervor of devotion that the audience sensed that one even greater than Pushkin was here. The poem speaks of a “six-winged seraph” who cuts open the author’s breast and presses into the wound “a glowing livid coal.”

There in the desert I lay dead,
And God called out to me and said:
“Rise, prophet, rise, and hear, and see,
And let my works be seen and heard
By all who turn aside from me,
And burn them with my fiery word.”

Dostoevsky evinced the conviction of having been divinely commissioned in a manner that was diffident, almost shy, and utterly devoid of braggadocio. He was anxious about falling short of the task bestowed. An admirer describes her meeting with Dostoevsky: “Most sharply of all remains in my memory the following trait, quite outstanding in Dostoevsky, his fear of ceasing to understand the young generation, of breaking with it.… There was not at all any fear of ceasing to be a beloved writer or of decreasing the number of his followers and readers: no, he obviously regarded a disagreement with the young generation as a human downfall, as a moral death. He boldly and honorably defends his intimate convictions; and at the same time somehow fears not fulfilling the mission entrusted to him, and inadvertently losing his way.”

Frank supplies a number of instances in which Dostoevsky seems almost to be pandering to the youth, so worried is he about not losing touch with the shifting currents of thought and yearnings for change. His is not, however, the embarrassing sixties-ish posturing of so many of the hoary-headed among today’s intellectuals. Dostoevsky’s wisdom embraced the creatureliness of his aging and mortality. His anxiety was not for himself but for the mission, for the prophecy that will be carried to fulfillment by the successor generation and their children. Frank is especially strong in depicting the churnings of avant-garde opinion, of political and social movements, from sundry socialisms of atheistic and engineering varieties to populist efforts by intellectuals to reconnect with the “simple faith” of the Russian peasantry.

For long stretches, Dostoevsky is as much social and political history as it is an examination of the man’s thought and writing. To which Frank would no doubt say, with justice, that the two are inseparable.
Dostoevsky understood himself to be the prophet of a new world in which historical possibility intersected with resurrection hope. I confess that I had always found the ending of Karamazov something of a letdown. There Alyosha Karamazov, the youngest of the three brothers, is surrounded by the boys remembering their poor and shabbily treated friend. Alyosha addresses them:

“Ah, children, ah, dear friends, do not be afraid of life! How good life is when you do something good and right!” …
“Karamazov, we love you!” a voice, which seemed to be Kartashov’s, exclaimed irrepressibly.…
“Hurrah for Karamazov!” Kolya proclaimed.
“And memory eternal for the dead boy!” Alyosha added again.
“Karamazov,” cried Kolya, “can it really be true, as religion says, that we shall all rise from the dead, and come to life, and see one another again, and everyone, and Ilyushechka?”
“Certainly we shall rise, certainly we shall see and gladly, joyfully tell one another all that has been,” Alyosha replied, half laughing, half in ecstasy.

And then they went off, hand in hand, to the meager funeral meal. As I say, the ending always seemed to me to be marred by an excess of sentimentality, leaving me with the hope that it might have been redeemed by the second volume of Karamazov, focusing on Alyosha, that Dostoevsky did not live to write. But Frank helped me to understand the fitness of the ending, charged as it is with the conviction that the love exemplified by Alyosha is a world-transforming force. At the same time, Frank’s treatment of Dostoevsky as prophet of a world-transforming word lacks a certain weightiness, and I think the reason is that he does not, for whatever reason, take seriously Alyosha’s, and Dostoevsky’s, eschatological hope. Perhaps it is because that hope is part of the faith that Frank calls, with puzzlement often indistinguishable from dismissiveness, “irrational.”

“From Them I Accepted Christ”

The socialists who took a populist turn in trying to utilize Christianity without Christ viewed Dostoevsky’s reverence for the faith of the Russian people as naive, romantic, and, yes, irrational. Dostoevsky responds that he is well aware of “the transgressions” of the Christ-loving people, but, referring to the years in Siberia, he also knows much more. “I lived with them for some years, shared meals with them, slept alongside them, and was myself ‘numbered among the transgressors’; I worked with them at real, backbreaking labor and at a time when others were playing at liberalism and snickering about the people. So don’t tell me that I don’t know the people! I know them; it was from them I accepted Christ into my soul again, Christ whom I had known while still a child in my parents’ home and whom I was about to lose when I, in my turn, transformed myself into a ‘European liberal.’ ” One can hardly exaggerate the disdain that attends Dostoevsky’s use of the words “European liberal.”

Dostoevsky’s animus toward European liberalism and Roman Catholicism—which to his mind were of a piece—is another thing that can hardly be exaggerated (see Rodney Delasanta’s “Dostoevsky Also Nods,” FT, January 2002). There are, Dostoevsky said, three ideas contending for mastery over the world. One is “the Catholic idea” embodied in France and at the heart of French socialism. “For French socialism is nothing other than the compulsory unity of humanity, an idea that derived from ancient Rome and that was subsequently preserved in Catholicism.” Rome is infinitely devious and resourceful. It is by no means the antithesis of socialism. “Having lost the kings as its allies,” said Dostoevsky, “it will surely rush to the demos.” Indeed, socialism is simply the secularized version of Catholicism with its claim to universal domination, and the Church is eager to re-sacralize it. Dostoevsky was on to something. There were and are Catholics who think that way. Today’s readers will recall the late and unlamented efforts of “liberation theology” to establish under Marxist auspices what would be, in effect, a new Christendom.

The second great force is “the Protestant idea” that, Dostoevsky said, goes back far before Luther but gained new strength with the unification of Germany in 1870. As Frank describes his thought, “Like the Slavophiles, Dostoevsky views Protestantism as fundamentally a protest against Latin Catholic civilization, hence containing nothing positive of its own and ultimately leading to atheism and nihilism.” And the third great force is, of course, “the Slavic idea” incarnated in Orthodoxy and the Russian faithful. Despite the eighteenth-century efforts of Peter the Great to introduce westernizing corruptions, Dostoevsky believed in the fundamental religious and social integrity of Holy Russia. Russia is, for Dostoevsky, the Redeemer Nation, and his fantastical claims for the moral, spiritual, and even intellectual superiority of the Russian people know no bounds. Frank deals with all this in detail, and is particularly deft in his treatment of what we today can only describe as Dostoevsky’s anti-Semitism. “Yiddism,” he believed, was a culture within a culture, a people within a people, and therefore a culture and people undermining the integrity and destiny of Orthodox Russia.

A Poor Prophet

Critics, one notes in passing, have been exceedingly harsh in their treatment of Dostoevsky’s nationalism. It is said with derision that, in view of the overthrow of the Tsar, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, and the subsequent history of the Soviet Union, Dostoevsky was a lamentably poor prophet. To which the response is that his prophetic office did not consist in predictive powers but in bearing witness to a truth and possibility that, tragically, were shattered by the facticity of history. As Richard Pipes and other historians have underscored, there was nothing inevitable about the Bolshevik takeover. One can readily conjure other and credible scenarios in which Tsardom and Orthodoxy might have cooperated in the realization of something approximating Dostoevsky’s hopes.

Even with respect to predictive powers, the magnificent Legend of the Grand Inquisitor, related by Ivan Karamazov, was eerily prescient in its understanding of the dynamics that would become twentieth-century totalitarianism. Frank observes in a footnote that “Dostoevsky’s nightmare vision of the surrender of inner freedom for untroubled security was also a predecessor of the literary genre of dystopia, represented by such works as Eugene Zamiatin’s We, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s 1984. The motif of deception—the Grand Inquisitor’s pretense to speak in the name of the true Christ—is closer to the Communist model.”

Dostoevsky is harshly criticized also for his support of the Russian effort to recapture Constantinople as the capital of Orthodoxy. That effort is commonly derided as an exercise in unbridled jingoism, but it is by no means evident today that France and, more particularly, England (“perfidious Albion”) were on the side of the angels in opposing Russia’s effort. The “what if” arguments of history are interminable, but a believable case can be made that today’s “clash of civilizations” and the attendant war against terrorism might be less threatening, or have been avoided altogether, had Christian Russia succeeded in turning back, at least in part, the Muslim conquest. One might even push the question a bit further and speculate that, on the basis of what he foresaw then, Dostoevsky would not have been surprised by what many view as today’s unfolding conquest-by-immigration as Islam relentlessly presses upon a spiritually and demographically dying Europe. Dostoevsky’s eye was ever attentive to the larger patterns of history.
A key to understanding Dostoevsky is “fantastic realism,” a phrase he himself used to describe his work.

Frank explains it nicely:

He is always striving to apply to the present the mode of apprehension that he sees as a psychological datum in relation to the past. He looks for the essence of the passing and contemporary by projecting it into the future and imagining its completion (which makes it “fantastic”), but then, with an unflinching moral-social and psychological realism, dramatizing all the consequences of this future, as if it had already occurred or was coming into being.

This fantastic realism is closely tied to Dostoevsky’s appreciation of original sin, although he is not comfortable with that terminology snatched from the Augustinian vocabulary of the West. The ever so progressive spreaders of the “European” disease deny the reality of human guilt and freedom, contending that fault and destiny lie with social and economic arrangements. Dostoevsky rejects this in no uncertain terms:

It is clear and intelligible to the point of obviousness that evil lies deeper in human beings than our socialist-physicians suppose; that no social structure will eliminate evil; that the human soul will remain as it has always been; that abnormality and sin arise from that soul itself; and, finally, that the laws of the human soul are still so little known, so obscure to science, so undefined, and so mysterious, that there are not and cannot be either physicians or final judges.

The Question Is Freedom

There it is, and it will not go away: the question of the soul. It brings us back to the aforementioned disagreement with Joseph Frank, a disagreement which, I regret to say, is inescapable and basic. I regret to say it because it seems almost a sin against gratitude for the enormous gift that is his Dostoevsky. But it must be said: the driving motif around which Dostoevsky’s life and work cohere is not the conflict between “reason and irrational faith.” It is, rather, the conflict between freedom and the enemies of freedom, however variously disguised. It is between the affirmation and the denial of the reality of the human soul.

The simple Russian people knew they had souls. Dostoevsky fiercely defended popular Christian piety, even when it appeared to be superstitious and fantastical. In response to a critic he writes, “They need sacred objects by their side, visible, as reflections of Godliness. One must believe, aspire to the invisible God, but revere Him on earth with simple customs that are related to Him. You can tell me that such belief is blind and naive, and I will reply that faith should be that way. We can’t all be theologians.” And, we might add, a good thing too. The people are not theologians, but, as we shall see, Dostoevsky, although an artist and not a theologian in any academic sense, is given to careful theological reflection.

Joseph Frank is inclined to disparage this at almost every turn. He describes Dostoevsky’s Weltanschauung as one of “apocalyptic intuitions of impending cosmic chaos, religious irrationalism, and mystical nationalism”—and they are all of a piece. At several points, Frank even compares Dostoevsky with Kierkegaard in what he calls his intuition of the “total irrationality and subjectivity” of faith.

Yet he also quotes, without attempting to explain, Dostoevsky’s emphatic rejection of the claim that faith is irrational. The real irrationality, Dostoevsky insists, is represented by forms of Enlightenment, and often atheistic, rationalism that he sometimes terms “Euclidian.” “Infinite wisdom,” says Dostoevsky, “crushes the mind of man, but he seeks it. Existence must be unquestionably and in every instance superior to the mind of man. The doctrine that the mind of man is the final limit of the universe is as stupid as stupid can be, and even stupider, infinitely stupider, than a game of checkers between two shopkeepers.” That may be described as an affirmation of the suprarational, but it is not, as Frank claims, “irrational.” It is, rather, a conclusion to which Dostoevsky is compelled by reason.

A critic writes Dostoevsky in what Frank describes as a “tone of lofty professorial self-assurance”—a tone which, I am sorry to say, Frank too often assumes—about the infantile and irrational nature of religious faith. To which Dostoevsky responds, “You could regard me from a scientific point of view, but not so arrogantly when it concerns philosophy, although philosophy is not my specialty.… It is not like a child that I believe in Christ and profess faith in him, but rather my hosanna has come through the great crucible of doubt, as the devil says in that same novel of mine” (Karamazov). As for science, Dostoevsky is all for it, but what is called science is unscientific and irrational, or just plain “stupid,” when it refuses to take seriously faith and that to which faith points. “The tremendous fact of the appearance on earth of Jesus, and all that came after that, in my opinion demand scientific elaboration. But at the same time, science cannot reject the meaning that religion does have for humanity, if only as a historical fact that is staggering in its continuity and tenacity. The conviction that humanity has about coming in contact with another world is also very significant and cannot be resolved [by dismissing it as ‘infantile’].”

Again, his point is that Euclidian rationalism is not rational enough, and dogmatically atheistic science is unscientific. It is not with Kierkegaard but with Pascal that Dostoevsky should be compared. The heart has its reasons, and as with Pascal and, earlier, with Augustine—although there is no evidence that Dostoevsky was conscious of borrowing from either on this score—there is the awareness of love as a way of knowing. In Karamazov, the chattering Mme. Khokhlakova has picked up bits of fashionable atheism and responds to the saintly Father Zosima’s statement of faith, “But how is one to prove it?” It is surely Dostoevsky who speaks through Zosima when he says that no “proof’ is possible but one knows “by the experience of active love. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will believe without doubts and no doubt can possibly enter your soul.”

Irrational Rationalism

Frank says that the rationalist Ivan Karamazov “refuses to make the leap of faith” that would allow him to believe in Christ and his world-transforming power. But it is not a Kierkegaardian leap of faith that is at issue. In the very same passage he quotes Ivan saying that “even if at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity … even then, though all that may come to pass, I won’t accept it.” Then Frank himself comments, “Ivan now finds himself in the same position as those unbelievers mentioned earlier who would not accept miracles even if they were accomplished before their very eyes.” Precisely. But Frank fails to recognize the import of what he has just said. The problem with Ivan is not that he “refuses to make the leap of faith” but that he is blinded to reality by his irrational rationalism.

Frank is similarly confusing the reader, I believe, when he speaks of Dostoevsky’s “visionary beliefs” that the promise of Christ and the possibility of world-transforming love will be realized. Of his Christian faith Dostoevsky writes, “If I believe that the truth is here, in those very things in which I put my faith, then what does it matter to me if the whole world rejects my faith, mocks me, and travels a different road?” To which Frank comments, “Here speaks the voice of his ‘ridiculous man,’ whose dream of the ideal cannot be shaken by the skepticism and incredulity of those who laugh at his preachments. The value of such an ideal, he says, cannot ‘be measured in terms of immediate benefit, but is directed toward the future, toward eternal ends and absolute joy.’ This is the vision that Dostoevsky upholds as the Russian answer to Western ‘enlightenment.’ ”

That is not a peculiarly Russian answer, however, but simply the Christian answer, which, of course, Dostoevsky believed the Russian soul was uniquely capable of making. Jesus told his disciples that they would be rejected, mocked, and persecuted. Dostoevsky’s words are those of all faithful disciples who, as Jesus said, “continue in the truth.” They are the words of the martyrs, martyrdom being the frequent fate of prophets. For Dostoevsky, faith is required by the reason that it complements and completes. I hesitate to go so far as James Scanlan in his recent book, Dostoevsky the Thinker, in almost making of Dostoevsky a systematic theologian, but there is no denying that Joseph Frank is simply tone-deaf to the philosophical and religious coherence of Dostoevsky’s thought. It is a remarkable and in some ways an admirable thing that Frank could discipline himself to devote decades of his life to, and write thousands of pages on, a figure who most critically defined himself by reference to a Christian faith for which Frank has little sympathy and, it would appear, even less curiosity.

Frank writes, “For Dostoevsky, it was a moral-psychological necessity of the human personality to experience itself as free.” It is necessary to say also that his hard fought conviction, on the far side of his battle with doubts to the contrary, is that the human soul is free, and is that by virtue of Christ. The inescapably Christian logic that permeates his work, and especially Karamazov, is discovered in the two sayings of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” and “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” Man is free to choose good and evil. That, too, is part of the dignity of being human. Thus Dostoevsky writes that, if criminals are not punished, “you only plant cynicism in their hearts, you leave them with a seductive question and with contempt for you yourself.” Frank criticizes that as a “sanctimonious plea” for punishment in order to uphold “age-old inherited pieties of the Russian people.” I think not. What Dostoevsky insists upon upholding is the moral agency of the human person.

Frank applies his master template of “reason versus irrational faith” in his interpretation of Father Zosima’s critique of rationalistic socialism. He says Zosima is criticizing those who “rely on reason alone,” but he is in fact criticizing the irrationality of their view of reason. “They have,” says Zosima, “more fantastic dreams than we. They aim at justice but, denying Christ, they will end flooding the earth with blood.” Indeed, “were it not for Christ’s covenant, they would slaughter one another down to the last two men on earth,” and then the last two would kill one another in their fantastic effort to establish the rule of reason apart from the truth of Christ. In our awareness of the consequences of communism’s “scientific” doctrine of history in terms of “dialectical materialism” and other rationalist fancies, Dostoevsky, speaking through Fr. Zosima, seems startlingly prescient.

Frank writes that Karamazov is about “the moral-psychological struggle of each of the main characters to heed the voice of his or her own conscience, a struggle that will always remain humanly valid and artistically persuasive whether or not one accepts the theological premises without which, as Dostoevsky believed, moral conscience would simply cease to exist.” Frank is right about conscience as a witness to human freedom in Dostoevsky’s thought, but I expect Dostoevsky would be exceedingly impatient with Frank’s essentially aesthetic treatment of conscience apart from the truth to which conscience testifies. Similarly, in the haunting account of Ivan’s dialogue with the devil—whether in his fevered imagination or at some other level of reality—the devil taunts Ivan with the fact that his Euclidian rationality cannot account for his determination to help his brother Dimitry. “You are going to perform an act of heroic virtue and you don’t believe in virtue; that’s what tortures you and makes you angry, that’s why you are so vindictive.” And that’s why, Dostoevsky would have us understand, Ivan’s version of reason is so irrational.

The Majestic Legend

And then there is the majesty of the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor. I have sometimes said, only half jokingly, that, if there is one piece of literature that might be added to the biblical canon, it is the Legend. Of course it reflects Dostoevsky’s animus toward Catholicism, but it depicts the temptation to which religion, and all forms of Christian religion, not just Catholicism, are susceptible. Many books have been written on the Legend, and many more no doubt will be. Suffice it to say that the Legend is emphatically not about “the conflict between reason and faith.” It is about the inextricable relationship between freedom and truth. The Grand Inquisitor, with a perversely heroic virtue for which he is prepared to be damned, spends the night explaining to the silent Jesus why he was wrong about truth and freedom. Mankind cannot bear the truth, and is eager to surrender freedom in exchange for the security of lies. The Church has corrected Jesus’ disastrous mistake, the Inquisitor explains, and Jesus has no right to return at this late date to threaten the Church’s necessary and, yes, noble work. Jesus—the way, the truth, and the life—says nothing in response. “The old man longed for him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But he suddenly approached the old man in silence and softly kissed him on his bloodless, aged lips.” The Inquisitor shudders and, reversing his earlier sentence of death, opens the cell door. “ ‘Go,’ he says, ‘and come no more—come not at all, never, never.’ And he let him out into the dark squares of the town.”

There is so much that is missed in Dostoevsky, and in Karamazov especially, when one imposes upon his writing the interpretative template of “the conflict between reason and faith.” Christian faith is the necessary template. Consider the question of theodicy posed to Alyosha by Ivan in an argument painfully concentrated on the undeserved suffering of children. It is the ever vexing question of the Holy Innocents. Alyosha has no neat catechism answer for his brother, and Dostoevsky acknowledges in a letter about Karamazov that Ivan’s argument is nearly “irrefutable.” But then there is the suffering, and then the death, of innocent Ilyusha. Is he or Alyosha the “Christ-figure” here, or are they both that? What has happened with Ilyusha participates in the mystery of redemptive suffering. I quoted earlier Alyosha’s words on resurrection. Immediately prior to that, he addresses the boys:

Let us make a compact here at Ilyusha’s stone that we will never forget him, or each other. And whatever happens to us later in life, let us always remember how we buried the poor boy at whom we once threw stones. Let us always remember how good it was when we were together, united by a good and kind feeling which, for the time we were loving that poor boy, made us perhaps better than we are.… If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may be the means of saving us. Perhaps we may even grow wicked later on, but however bad we may become, yet when we recall how we buried Ilyusha, how we loved him in his last days, and how we have been talking like friends all together, at this stone, the cruelest and most mocking of us will not dare to laugh inwardly at having been kind and good at this moment.

In the ending of Karamazov, at Ilyusha’s stone, they who are free to choose otherwise know freedom in having chosen love. The knowledge of that possibility “may be the means of saving us.” It is, Dostoevsky proposed, also a possibility for the transformation of society. Only months before his death he wrote about how the European rationalist rejects that possibility, claiming that “if the Christians take over, they will immediately begin to massacre the non-Christians.” Dostoevsky responds, “On the contrary, complete freedom of faith and freedom of conscience is the soul of true Christianity. Believe freely—that is our formula. The Lord did not step down from the cross to inculcate belief by force of external miracle, but precisely wished for freedom of conscience. That is the soul of our people and of Christianity.”

To which Joseph Frank remarks, “Nothing better than such a passage illustrates the baffling mixture in Dostoevsky of an advocacy of the most reactionary social structures in the name of the most liberal principles.” The use of “reactionary” and “liberal” in this context reflects secular liberalism’s habit of mind, precisely the habit of mind that Dostoevsky identifies as “European.” I suggest that Frank finds the passage “baffling” because he fails to see that Dostoevsky is proposing a way to more firmly ground freedom, including political freedom. Freedom must be grounded in the truth, which is ultimately the truth of love, of redemptive suffering, revealed in Christ. One may fault Dostoevsky’s idea of social transformation as implausible or naive or impracticable on any number of scores, but it is hardly reactionary. It is visionary. Or, as Dostoevsky would undoubtedly say, it is prophetic.

Return to the scene where Ivan is challenging Alyosha’s faith most relentlessly, demanding an answer to his story of the general who unleashes his dogs on the peasant boy, and to the catalogue of other cruelties against the innocents that he has related. Alyosha is taken aback, allowing that it would be intolerable to accept happiness on the foundation of the unexpiated blood of even one innocent child.

Ivan demands to know whether there is “in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive” such injustice. Then Alyosha remembers, and bursts out, “But there is a Being and He can forgive everything, all and for all, because He gave His innocent blood for all and everything. You have forgotten Him, and on Him is built the edifice, and it is to Him they cry aloud, ‘Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed!’ ”

It is not true that Joseph Frank’s Dostoevsky has forgotten Him, but the crucified and risen Christ is safely contained in the category of the irrational. By having Dostoevsky’s story told in conventionally liberal terms of the conflict between reason and faith, the reader is spared the demand for decision about the truth that, Dostoevsky insists, will make us free. For the student of Dostoevsky, it is not necessary to share his faith in order to try to understand his faith. An account of Dostoevsky that does not invite a decision about what was most decisive for Dostoevsky—without which he says he could not understand himself, and without which he cannot be understood—is sadly flawed.

And God called out to me and said:
“Rise, prophet, rise, and hear, and see,
And let my works be seen and heard
By all who turn aside from me,
And burn them with my fiery word.”

I come away from Joseph Frank’s biography thinking, “It might have been.” The sadness is in knowing that many readers, rightly admiring his monumental labors, and having much enjoyed an interesting story nicely told, will close the fifth and final volume with a sense of quiet satisfaction. Unburned. Not even singed.

Sources and Resources

Richard John Neuhaus, “A Continuing Survey of Religion and Public Life,” First Things, no. 131 (2003): 74–81.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

The standard Eng. tr. of Dostoevsky’s novels is that by C. Garnett (12 vols., 1912–20). The principal works have also been tr. by D. Magarshack in Penguin Classics. There is a very extensive literature, mainly in Russ. More important studies available in Eng. include works by E. H. Carr (London, 1931), E. J. Simmons (New York, 1940), K. Mochulsky (in Russ., Paris, 1947; Eng. tr., 1967), R. Wellek (ed.) (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1962), E. Wasiolek (Cambridge, Mass., 1964), A. Steinberg (London, 1966), J. Frank (2 vols., Princeton, NJ, 1976–2002; London, 1977–2002), and J. Catteau (Paris, 1978; Eng. tr., Cambridge, 1989). G. Steiner, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in Contrast (New York, 1959; London, 1960). J. Coulson, Dostoevsky: A Self Portrait (1962), incl. Eng. tr. of extensive extracts of letters. P. Evdokimov, Dostoïevsky et le problème du mal (Lyons, 1942). A. B. Gibson, The Religion of Dostoevsky (1973); S. Hackel, ‘The Religious Dimension: Vision or Evasion? Zosima’s discourse in The Brothers Karamazov’, in M. V. Jones and G. M. Terry (eds.), New Essays on Dostoyevsky (Cambridge, 1983), pp. 139–68. P. T. Kroeker and B. K. Ward, Remembering the End: Dostoevsky as Prophet to Modernity (Boulder, Colo., 2001; London, 2002). W. J. Leatherbarrow, Fedor Dostoevsky: A Reference Guide (Boston, Mass. [1990] [bibl. 1846–1988]).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 506–507.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, Fritz Eichenberg, and Hutterian Brethren. The Gospel in Dostoyevsky. Farmington, PA: Plough Publications, 1988.
Frank, Joseph. Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009.
Gunn, Judith. Dostoevsky: Dreamer and Prophet. Oxford: Lion, 1990.
Mochulsky, Konstantin. Dostoevsky: His Life and Work. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971.

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.

Fairy Tales by George MacDonald (1871)

The Cloud Tellers by by Josephine R. Unglaub

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 began to read my new book.”…“It is as if I were carried sleeping across the frontier, or as if I had died in the old country and could never remember how I came alive in the new … It was Holiness. It was as though the voice which had called to me from the world’s end were now speaking at my side.”…“It was with me in the room, or in my own body, or behind me. If it had once eluded me by its distance, it now eluded me by proximity—something too near to see, too plain to be understood, on this side of knowledge.”


It is difficult to overstate the influence of George MacDonald.  In his own day he was hailed as a visionary, befriended by the likes of Mark Twain and sought after by royalty.  Queen Victoria gave MacDonald’s novels to her grandchildren and granted him a Civil Pension in 1877.  The impact of his work grew stronger after his death, notably contributing to the conversion of C.S. Lewis.  He was a master of story-craft and his complex imagination yielded literature textured with layer upon layer of meaning in the fabric of simplicity.

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

We should, however, be careful about working too hard at any exact interpretation of these stories. MacDonald himself resisted giving any explanations, and when asked what one of them meant, he tersely replied, “So long as I think my dog can bark, I will not sit up and bark for him.”1 He left the stories to speak for themselves. And they do not speak to us as allegories or intellectual puzzles aimed at the mind but rather as mythic tales aimed at the heart. They are meant to show us truths that do not easily reduce to rational explanations and provoke a more intuitive response from the reader. There are layers of meanings at work here, all of them valid: physical, spiritual, mythical, and psychological. Each of these layers interpenetrate and illuminate each other, which is why these stories are not so much meant to illustrate theological truths as to help us find our way into a different way of experiencing these truths.

MacDonald projected his own inner life into his stories to make them feel universal, a reflection of our own personal stories. His words arouse our dormant longings for truth and goodness as we journey with his young protagonists on their paths through danger and discovery and miracle. Alongside these young heroes and heroines we meet supernatural beings and find familiarity and friendship with these residents of a realm beyond our own. MacDonald’s tales are not unlike dreams, mixing all their disparate elements together into something that creates an impression and a feeling rather than simply communicating an idea.

Has your life been shaped by fairy tales?


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


George MacDonald

George MacDonald

(1824–1905), Scottish novelist and poet. Educated at the University of Aberdeen and at Highbury College, London, he became a *Congregational minister, but in 1853 left the ministry to devote himself to literature. His writings, largely based on the life and customs of NE Scotland, include the novels David Elginbrod (1863), Alec Forbes of Howglen (1865), Malcolm (1875), and Donal Grant (3 vols., 1883). MacDonald’s books, which were highly valued by C. S. *Lewis, reveal firm religious faith, moral enthusiasm, and Christian optimism. He was also the author of several religious works, including Unspoken Sermons (1867, 1885, 1889) and The Miracles of our Lord (1886).

Unraveling Phantastes

Ever since C. S. Lewis penned his autobiography, there have been readers—even Lewis scholars—mystified by Phantastes. Compelled to read the book that Lewis said “most shaped my philosophy of life,” and “baptized my imagination,” they pick it up, get bogged down within pages, and put it down. Permanently.

Some find that if they begin with MacDonald’s children’s books, read a few fairy tales, then try a novel along the lines of Sir Gibbie or Alec Forbes, by the time they return to Phantastes they are much better equipped. But perhaps the best key is understanding the historical context: the relationship between a reader and a text has changed considerably since the early Victorian period.

Few early Victorians were privileged enough to own many books, and a book was not simply read once and set aside. It was read and reread, the reader engaging with the text ever more deeply, each reading revealing new connections and presenting yet another journey. It was only during the lifetime of MacDonald, with the advent of penny novels and lending libraries and the popularity of magazines and serializations, that this approach to reading significantly changed. Phantastes, like all books before it, expects a long-term relationship with the reader.

It is helpful when reading Phantastes to follow one theme that is noticeable early on in the tale … what it means to “die to oneself,” for instance. As this unfolds, other interwoven themes become evident, providing the next thread for the next read. The more one reads MacDonald, the more familiar one becomes with his primary themes, and the easier it is to follow their relations to each other, as well as to the books alluded to in the tale.

MacDonald points to these books not only to introduce them—he is also inviting the reader into a deeper conversation. As one reads the other books mentioned and then returns to MacDonald, suddenly one is part of a conversation that has been going on since God’s first story. MacDonald is responding to Tennyson responding to Blake responding to Dante, who in turn is responding to John responding to Christ, who is reminding us of the words of Isaiah, or the Psalms, or Moses. This conversation between texts is part of the Christian heritage, part of understanding who we are and who God is.

The episodic nature of Phantastes is sometimes off-putting to contemporary readers, and yet this structure is part of MacDonald’s effort to help the reader understand just how important that tradition of literary conversation can be. The 21-year-old protagonist Anodos is drawn into the realm of stories, Fairy Land, so that he may discover his own true identity. His education thus far has inspired “nobleness of thought, [but] not of deed,” and his understanding of love is selfishly immature. Each separate episode he enters is a story that slowly shapes and changes him.

Anodos learns not only from acting in these stories but also from reading them—his new education begins with books of “Fairy Land, and olden times, and the knights of King Arthur’s table.” As his journey continues he is drawn into drama, poetry, songs, dreams, dance, pictures, memories. And in these, he realizes, he is “the chief actor therein … for I took the place of the character who was most like myself, and his story was mine.” As the stories conclude and he awakes “to the consciousness” of his present life, he realizes that he has changed as a result—that he was, in fact, vicariously “buried and risen again in these old books.”

When Phantastes ends, a matured Anodos returns to his family and home “somewhat instructed, I hoped, by the adventures that had befallen me in Fairy Land. Could I translate the experience of my travels there, into common life? This was the question.” Not only the question for Anodos, but the one MacDonald places firmly before his readers.

C. S. Lewis wrote that a first read reveals the plot and characters; it is in the experience of rereading that we find wisdom and strength. But be forewarned; rereading Phantastes did change his life.

Sources and Resources

P. H. Brazier, C. S. Lewis—Revelation, Conversion, and Apologetics, vol. 1, C. S. Lewis: Revelation and the Christ (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2012), 33–34.

Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson, “Sacred Story,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 86: George MacDonald: Writer Who Inspired C.S. Lewis (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 2005).

The Poetical Works of George MacDonald (2 vols., 1893). His romance, Lilith (1895), was ed. by G. MacDonald (son) (1924), with introd., pp. ix–xx. Letters, ed. G. E. Sadler (Grand Rapids, Mich. [1994]). C. S. Lewis (ed.), George MacDonald: An Anthology (1946). G. MacDonald (son), George MacDonald and his Wife (1924). R. L. Wolff, The Golden Key: A Study in the Fiction of George MacDonald (New Haven, Conn., 1961). K. Triggs, The Stars and the Stillness: A Portrait of George MacDonald (Cambridge, 1986). D. S. Robb, George MacDonald (Scottish Writers, 11; Edinburgh, 1987). W. Raeper, George MacDonald (Tring, Herts [1987]); E. Sainsbury, George MacDonald: A Short Life (Edinburgh, 1987). W. Raeper (ed.), The Golden Thread: Essays on George MacDonald (ibid., 1990). R. B. Shaberman, George MacDonald: A Bibliographical Study (Winchester, 1990). A. Matheson in DNB, 1901–1911, pp. 513–15.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1023.

Hein, Roland. The Harmony Within: The Spiritual Vision of George MacDonald. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.
MacDonald, George. The Complete Fairy Tales. London: Penguin, 1999.
Manlove, C. N. “George MacDonald’s Fairy Tales: Their Roots in MacDonald’s Thought,” Studies in Scottish Literature 8:2. January 10, 1970. http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/ssl/vol8/iss2/12.
Phillips, Michael. George MacDonald. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1987.

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).

Josephine R. Unglaub

Josephine R. Unglaub

Art: The Cloud Tellers

Josephine Unglaub is a German-based artist and photographer with a passion for surrealism. Her work can be found here: https://lemanshots.wordpress.com

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 Heart Of The Andes by Frederic Edwin Church (1859)

Frederic Edwin Church
The Heart of the Andes by Frederic Church, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

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 to us in it.”


RickImpressionists, like Monet with his Water Lilies, sought to depict the glory of nature through techniques which could best be appreciated by standing back, away from the painting.  In dramatic contrast, Frederic Edwin Church handed out opera glasses so viewers could examine the details.  From its massive canvas over five feet high and ten feet wide, The Heart of the Andes seemed to bring the actual vista to its viewers.

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

There was a time when a major new painting could attract the kind of interest and publicity that a new film does today, drawing large and enthusiastic crowds to pay to see a single work of art. One such painting was Frederic Church’s The Heart of the Andes, which he had created following an extensive trip to South America, where he trekked through jungles and up mountain peaks in search of exotic beauty. Traveling where few North Americans had ever gone, he experienced a journey through Colombia and Ecuador that was filled with much hardship and several brushes with danger, but it produced one of his most awe-inspiring canvases.

The Heart of the Andes is not a literal representation of any one particular viewpoint that one might see hiking the heights of these legendary mountains but rather an idealized view composed from various sketches he made during his journey—the natural world rearranged for maximum dramatic effect. It is a huge painting, without any one central focus, which must be taken in slowly and leisurely, letting the eye wander over the gorgeous expanse that includes a snowcapped mountain range in the far distance, verdant mountains in the middle ground, and a waterfall with lush tropical vegetation in the foreground. Light rakes across the painting, illuminating the plunging waterfall and its surrounding trees and throwing a spotlight upon a solitary cross in the middle left of the canvas. The cross, for Church, is perhaps the true heart of the Andes, a reminder of the God who created these mountains. In his painting Church sought not only to capture the beauty he had seen but also to impart the same sort of spiritual elevation he had felt when his eyes originally scanned the unfolding splendor. The resulting picture is a grand and sublime vista, infused with Church’s vision of the mystery and majesty of creation.

Has the live viewing of a work of art ever filled you with awe?


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


Frederic Edwin Church

Frederic Edwin Church

(1826–1900). U.S. landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church was active throughout much of the 19th century. He was one of the most prominent members of the Hudson River School, though the exotically dramatic landscapes he painted frequently had little to do with the typical U.S. vistas that were the hallmark of the Hudson River artists. He is famous for his huge and majestic landscapes that portray his deep understanding of nature.

Church was born on May 4, 1826, in Hartford, Conn. He studied with the painter Thomas Cole at his home in Catskill, N.Y., from 1844 to 1847. After moving to New York City he traveled throughout the New England states to sketch landscapes which he would then use as inspiration for his paintings. Developing unusual technical dexterity, Church from the beginning chose for his subjects such marvels of nature as Niagara Falls, volcanoes in eruption, and icebergs. He was greatly influenced by the writings of German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, and in 1853, while he was in Ecuador, he stayed in the house where Humboldt had lived. He portrayed the beauties of the Andes Mountains and tropical forests with great skill. In the management of light and color and the depiction of natural phenomena such as rainbows, mist, and sunsets, his renderings were realistic and emotionally affecting. In their time, these exotic paintings were greatly admired and sold for high prices.

In 1845Church held his first exhibit at the National Academy of Design, and in 1849 he was made a member of the organization. Among his major works are Andes of Ecuador (1855), Niagara (1857), and Cotopaxi (1862). Church traveled widely in Europe and the Middle East, but after 1877 he was forced to abandon painting because of crippling rheumatism in his hands. He spent most of his later years at Olana, his Persian-style house on the Hudson River, which later became a museum. Church died on April 7, 1900, near New York City. Enthusiasm for Church’s works was rekindled in the late 20th century, when he began to be considered one of the foremost U.S. landscape painters. Church’s long-lost masterpiece, Icebergs (1861), was rediscovered in 1979.

HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL

Hudson River school was a large group of American landscape painters of several generations who worked between about 1825 and 1870. The name, applied retrospectively, refers to a similarity of intent rather than to a geographic location, though many of the older members of the group drew inspiration from the picturesque Catskill region north of New York City, through which the Hudson River flows. An outgrowth of the Romantic movement, the Hudson River school was the first native school of painting in the United States; it was strongly nationalistic both in its proud celebration of the natural beauty of the American landscape and in the desire of its artists to become independent of European schools of painting.

The early leaders of the Hudson River school were Thomas Doughty, Asher Durand, and Thomas Cole, all of whom worked in the open and painted reverential, carefully observed pictures of untouched wilderness in the Hudson River valley and nearby locations in New England. Although these painters and most of the others who followed their example studied in Europe at some point, all had first achieved a measure of success at home and had established the common theme of the remoteness and splendour of the American interior. Doughty concentrated on serene, lyrical, contemplative scenes of the valley itself. Durand, also lyrical, was more intimate and particularly made use of delicate lighting in woodland scenes. Cole, the most romantic of the early group, favoured the stormy and monumental aspects of nature. Other painters who concentrated on depicting the landscape of the northeastern United States were Alvan Fisher, Henry Inman, and Samuel F.B. Morse and, later, John Kensett, John Casilear, Worthington Whittredge, and Jasper F. Cropsey. Frederic Edwin Church is considered a member of the Hudson River school, although the exotically dramatic landscapes he painted frequently had little to do with typical American vistas. The more individual landscape painter George Inness also began as a Hudson River painter.

For some painters whose theme was untouched landscape, the northeast was less alluring than the more primitive and dramatic landscapes of the west. John Banvard and Henry Lewis painted huge panoramas of empty stretches of the Mississippi River. Among the first artists to explore the Far West were the enormously successful Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt, who painted grandiose scenes of the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite Valley. The Hudson River school remained the dominant school of American landscape painting throughout most of the 19th century.

Sources and Resources

THE KNIGHTS OF THE BRUSH: THE HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL AND THE MORAL LANDSCAPE. By JAMES F. COOPER. Hudson Hills. 107 pp. $35.

Very handsomely illustrated with fifty-eight color plates of the works of nineteenth-century artists Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and others, The Knights of the Brush is cultural criticism of a high order. It is also a poignant and persuasive appeal for the recovery of art in the service of transcendent beauty, which is inseparable, James Cooper contends in agreement with all who have understood civilization, from the good and the true.

Timothy George, “Evangelicals and the Rule of Faith. Review of The Knights of the Brush: The Hudson River School and the Moral Landscape by James F. Cooper,” First Things, no. 106 (2000): 78.

“Church, Frederic Edwin,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Baigell, Matthew. Thomas Cole. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1985.

Cooper, James F. Knights of the Brush: The Hudson River School of Painting and the Moral Landscape. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1999.

Kelly, Franklin. Frederic Edwin Church. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1989.

Millhouse, Barbara Babcock. American Wilderness: The Story of the Hudson River School of Painting. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978.

Ryan, James Anthony. Frederic Church’s Olana. New York: Black Dome Press, 2001.

Veith, Gene Edward. Painters of Faith: The Spiritual Landscape in Nineteenth Century America. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2001.

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 Light of the World by William Holman Hunt (1854)

The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt, Keble College, Oxford

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 open it and let Him in.  The masterpiece of our discussion today by William Holman Hunt depicts the scene and has become so ubiquitous as to be synonymous with the Bible verse.  This was exactly what Hunt intended.

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

The painting depicts Christ, the Light of the World, knocking upon a wooden door. The setting is a dark night, and the mood is just a little forbidding. Hunt painted most of this work in his studio during the late-night hours so that he could mimic the effect of an environment lit by a lamp. That lamp, which Christ carries in his hand, provides the main source of light for the scene. Christ wears clothing that combines kingly dress and priestly dress, representing his two roles, and he has two crowns upon his head, which is illuminated by a halo, the only other source of light in the picture. One of these two crowns is the crown of thorns, reminding us of his sacrifice.

Christ is portrayed as a strong, sturdy figure, which was one of Hunt’s intentions. “In England,” he wrote, “spiritual figures are painted as if in a vapor. I had a further reason for making the figure more solid than I should have otherwise done,” as “it is Christ alive for ever more.”2 In other words, this is not a depiction of the earthly man, Jesus, but the risen Christ. There are clumps of weeds at his feet, partly obstructing the door, which represent the temptations and distractions of life that keep us locked away inside ourselves and can separate us from God. The door itself is shut tight, illustrating that our hearts and minds are closed to him. And the door has no latch, no doorknob, and no keyhole. This is a door that can only be opened from the inside. To add to the urgency of the message, Hunt shows the feet of Jesus turned sideways, as if he is preparing to leave because entry has been denied him.

The Light of the World was a special painting to its creator, who directly attributed it to an inspiration from God: “I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by divine command, and not simply as a good subject.” Because it has been so widely disseminated, some version of this iconic image is what often settles into our minds when we encounter the Scripture verse about the One who stands at the door and knocks.

How does one open the door of his heart?


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


William Holman Hunt

William Holman Hunt

(born April 2, 1827, London, Eng.—died Sept. 7, 1910, London) British artist and prominent member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His style is characterized by clear, hard colour, brilliant lighting, and careful delineation of detail.

In 1843 Hunt entered the Royal Academy schools where he met his lifelong friend, the painter John Everett Millais. Public opinion was at first hostile toward Hunt; but, in 1854 “The Light of the World” (Keble College, Oxford), an allegory of Christ knocking at the door of the human soul, was championed by John Ruskin and brought Hunt his first public success. In 1854 Hunt began a two-year visit to Syria and Palestine, where he completed in 1855 “The Scapegoat,” a painting depicting an outcast animal on the shores of the Dead Sea. Among the most important of his later paintings are “The Triumph of the Innocents” (two versions: 1884, Tate Gallery, London; 1885, Liverpool), “May Morning on Magdalen Tower” (1889; Lady Lever Art Gallery), and “The Miracle of the Sacred Fire” (1898), finished just before his sight began to fail.

The Stable, Door, and Garden

Three key biblical images are invoked by C.S. Lewis throughout the Narniad: the stable, the door, and the garden. The stable comes from the Nativity of Jesus, though it is used initially, in The Last Battle, in the context of housing the anti-Christ! However, despite its use it becomes the door/gateway to eternity for the redeemed but also the door/gateway to hell for the damned as—with the eschatological destruction of Narnia—the stable mutates into a “doorway” for all of Narnia to pass through to face Aslan’s judgment.

Lewis uses the door, not only here, but in several of his other writings, as a symbol for the reality we have always longed for and for which Lewis, as we have seen, longed all his life. We long to be inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside … to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honor beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache. Someday … pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendor which she fitfully reflects. And in there, in beyond Nature, we shall eat of the tree of life.33

In The Last Battle—in response to puzzlement by her peers commenting on how the stable seems bigger inside than outside, and how the stable as a gateway appears different when seen from inside than when contemplated from outside—Lucy notes, with reference to the nativity of the Christ, “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

Such a door/gateway—often merely three timbers (two posts and a cross-beam)—initiated by Aslan, forms the means of access between the worlds. In The Silver Chair Jill and Eustace pass through an ordinary door in a garden wall and find themselves in Aslan’s country.35 It is used for the return of the Pevensie children from Narnia back to England (Prince Caspian).36 In The Magician’s Nephew, Digory and Polly secretly and inadvertently enter Uncle Andrew’s study and laboratory, and therefore into danger and other worlds, through a disused attic door.37 In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy initially enters Narnia through the wardrobe door.38 Sammons notes how Lewis’s imagery is biblically grounded: “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). In The Last Battle, when the redeemed pass through the eschatological door/gateway that was formerly the stable they do find themselves in rich pastures, being beckoned to come further up and further in.39 As they do, Lewis uses the garden motif, reminiscent of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1–3) for the rich verdant land. The garden image is used often in the Narniad—in The Magician’s Nephew, the tree from which Digory takes a silver apple,40 and in places of rest amidst a challenging journey in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,41 also, in The Horse and his Boy, as staging posts on a perilous escape from Calormen.42 The door/gateway is a profound symbol, evoking a passing through, a change of state, an enabling of redemption. It also exemplifies a holding-out, the human propensity to keep God at bay. Jesus seeks entry, he knocks on the door, but we can refuse to open-up: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Rev. 3:20). This verse formed the basis of William Holman Hunt’s (1827–1910) famous painting, “The Light of the World,” of Jesus standing in an overgrown garden, knocking on the door, seeking entry. Hunt wrote, “I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by divine command, and not simply as a good subject. The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing ‘the obstinately shut mind.’ ”44 Jesus, the eternal Christ, holds in his hand a lantern giving the only light to the world.45 Millions of reproductions graced the homes of Lewis’s parents’ generation as the original hung in Keble College Chapel, in Lewis’s Oxford (with painted copies in St Paul’s Cathedral and numerous galleries and museums).

Sources and Resources

P. H. Brazier, C. S. Lewis—On the Christ of a Religious Economy: I. Creation and Sub-Creation, vol. 3.1, C. S. Lewis: Revelation and the Christ (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013), 179–181.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

Adams, Steven. The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites. London: Quintet, 1988.

des Cars, Laurence. The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism. New York: Abrams, 2000.

Lochnan, Katharine, and Carol Jacobi, eds. Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision. Ontario, Canada: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2008.

Robinson, Michael. The Pre-Raphaelites: Their Lives and Works in 500 Images. Leistershire, UK: Lorenz Books, 2012.

[F. G. Stephens,] William Holman Hunt and his Works (1860); A. *Meynell and F. W. *Farrar, William Holman Hunt: His Life and Work (1893). Lives by A. C. Gissing (London, 1936) and A. C. Amor (ibid., 1989). William Holman Hunt: An Exhibition arranged by the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, March–April 1969; Victoria and Albert Museum, May–June 1969 (Liverpool, 1969), with introd. by M. Bennett. G. P. Landow, William Holman Hunt and Typological Symbolism (New Haven, Conn., and London, 1979); id., ‘Shadows Cast by The Light of the World: William Holman Hunt’s Religious Paintings, 1893–1905’, Art Bulletin: A Quarterly published by the College Art Association of America, 65 (1983), pp. 471–84. J. Maas, Holman Hunt and The Light of the World (1984). W. Armstrong in DNB, 1901–1911, 2, pp. 323–8.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 810.

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 Voyage of Life by Thomas Cole (1842)

The Voyage of Life: Youth by Thomas Cole

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. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.


Modern-day Americans take for granted the sentiment that their land is beautiful because, as Katharine Lee Bates wrote, “God shed His grace on thee.”  The majesty of nature also inspired Thomas Cole to found the Hudson River School which, along with the writings of Emerson and Thoreau gave birth to the American Preservation Movement.  Cole saw in nature not only the glory of God but more so, metaphors of life which he depicted in his series The Voyage of Life.

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

Sometimes Cole let nature speak for itself, but at other times he wed his depictions of the natural world with allegorical ruminations about human nature and destiny, as in his four-painting series, The Voyage of Life. The Voyage of Life is an allegory for the four stages of human life, filled with both warning and promise about what lies ahead for each of us as we journey through our lives. The same elements are repeated in each of the four paintings: a voyager, an angel, a river, a boat in which the voyager travels, and the landscape, which transforms throughout the series from sublime to forbidding and then back to sublime as it points to the world beyond this one.

Cole was the founding father of a school of like-minded American landscape painters, who flourished between about 1825 and 1880, called the Hudson River School because its founders lived and painted in the Hudson River valley in upstate New York. These painters celebrated the unspoiled and undeveloped landscape of the young nation, seeing it as the “new Eden.” They were concerned about the high cost of progress and the advance of civilization, and the corrupting influence this had on the country, and were also concerned that the wilderness was slowly being destroyed to make way for humans. For them, nature was a refuge from a materialistic culture that was even then in the ascendency. Cole’s The Course of Empire (1836) is an extended meditation on how human civilizations rise and decline, but nature will eventually reassert herself. It offers a caution against the prevalent nineteenth-century belief in ever-expanding human progress—and also against materialism, commercialism, and the destruction of nature, calling viewers to a remembrance of our proper place of humility in the order of things.

Describe a time when nature made you feel close to God.


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


Thomas Cole

 

Thomas Cole, self-portrait

(1801–48). U.S. artist Thomas Cole was known chiefly for his landscapes of the state of New York and of New England. He was one of the founders of the Hudson River School, whose members celebrated the natural beauty of the American landscape.

Cole was born on Feb. 1, 1801, in Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, Eng., but his family immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Steubenville, Ohio. Cole was trained by a traveling portrait painter named Stein and then spent two years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1825 some of Cole’s landscapes in a New York shop window attracted the attention of painters John Trumbull and Asher B. Durand. They bought his works and found him patrons, assuring his future success.

In 1826 Cole made his home in the village of Catskill, N.Y., on the western bank of the Hudson River. From there he frequently journeyed through the Northeast, primarily on foot, making pencil studies of the landscape. He used these sketches to compose pictures in his studio during the winter. One of his most effective landscape paintings, The Oxbow (1836), was the result of pencil studies that he made in Massachusetts. His scenes of the Hudson River valley echoed the loneliness and mystery of the North American forests. He could paint direct and factual landscapes recorded in careful detail, but he was also capable of producing dramatic imaginary vistas using bold effects of light and shadow. When the human figure appears in his works, it is always subordinate to the majesty of the surrounding landscape.

Cole spent the years 1829–32 and 1841–42 abroad and for part of the time lived in Florence with the American sculptor Horatio Greenough. When he returned to the United States, he painted five huge canvases for a series entitled The Course of Empire (1836). These paintings are allegories on the progress of mankind based on the Count de Volney’s Ruines, ou méditations sur les révolutions des empires (1791). A second series, called The Voyage of Life (begun 1839), depicts a symbolic journey from infancy to old age in four scenes. Shortly before he died Cole began still another series, The Cross of the World, which was of a religious nature.

Cole died on Feb. 11, 1848, in Catskill, N.Y. Durand’s well-known painting Kindred Spirits (1849), painted in Cole’s memory the year after his death, paid tribute to Cole’s close friendship with the poet William Cullen Bryant.

HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL

Hudson River school was a large group of American landscape painters of several generations who worked between about 1825 and 1870. The name, applied retrospectively, refers to a similarity of intent rather than to a geographic location, though many of the older members of the group drew inspiration from the picturesque Catskill region north of New York City, through which the Hudson River flows. An outgrowth of the Romantic movement, the Hudson River school was the first native school of painting in the United States; it was strongly nationalistic both in its proud celebration of the natural beauty of the American landscape and in the desire of its artists to become independent of European schools of painting.

The early leaders of the Hudson River school were Thomas Doughty, Asher Durand, and Thomas Cole, all of whom worked in the open and painted reverential, carefully observed pictures of untouched wilderness in the Hudson River valley and nearby locations in New England. Although these painters and most of the others who followed their example studied in Europe at some point, all had first achieved a measure of success at home and had established the common theme of the remoteness and splendour of the American interior. Doughty concentrated on serene, lyrical, contemplative scenes of the valley itself. Durand, also lyrical, was more intimate and particularly made use of delicate lighting in woodland scenes. Cole, the most romantic of the early group, favoured the stormy and monumental aspects of nature. Other painters who concentrated on depicting the landscape of the northeastern United States were Alvan Fisher, Henry Inman, and Samuel F.B. Morse and, later, John Kensett, John Casilear, Worthington Whittredge, and Jasper F. Cropsey. Frederic Edwin Church is considered a member of the Hudson River school, although the exotically dramatic landscapes he painted frequently had little to do with typical American vistas. The more individual landscape painter George Inness also began as a Hudson River painter.

For some painters whose theme was untouched landscape, the northeast was less alluring than the more primitive and dramatic landscapes of the west. John Banvard and Henry Lewis painted huge panoramas of empty stretches of the Mississippi River. Among the first artists to explore the Far West were the enormously successful Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt, who painted grandiose scenes of the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite Valley. The Hudson River school remained the dominant school of American landscape painting throughout most of the 19th century.

Sources and Resources

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

“Cole, Thomas,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Baigell, Matthew. Thomas Cole. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1985.

Cooper, James F. Knights of the Brush: The Hudson River School of Painting and the Moral Landscape. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1999.

Kelly, Franklin. Frederic Edwin Church. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1989.

Millhouse, Barbara Babcock. American Wilderness: The Story of the Hudson River School of Painting. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978.

Ryan, James Anthony. Frederic Church’s Olana. New York: Black Dome Press, 2001.

Veith, Gene Edward. Painters of Faith: The Spiritual Landscape in Nineteenth Century America. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2001.

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.

Symphony No.5, The Reformation by Felix Mendelssohn (1830)

Watercolor by Felix Mendelssohn

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 the result of the painful toil of an anguished artist, there are others seem to produce greatness with little invested suffering.  Felix Mendelssohn was such a man.

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

When one considers musical prodigies, one cannot but think of Mozart, who is always celebrated for his youthful gifts, but Mendelssohn’s compositions at age sixteen show even more musical maturity than those of Mozart at a similar age. The string octet he composed at that young age is considered one of the masterpieces of chamber music. And his stirring Overture to a Midsummer Night’s Dream (1826), written just a year later, is a piece that still brings a smile to audiences who hear it performed, a veritable bubbling cauldron of joyousness.

Among Mendelssohn’s gifts as a composer was his ability to bring a youthful exuberance to almost every piece he wrote, works filled with energy, invention, and lovely melodies. He was a student of the great composers who had preceded him—Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, and especially Bach. He was responsible for a great revival of interest in Bach’s music after he arranged and conducted a performance of St. Matthew’s Passion, a work that had not been performed in public since Bach’s death in 1750. Mendelssohn knew the piece so well that when he mounted the podium to conduct and found that the wrong music had been placed there, he was able to conduct the entire piece from memory, turning the pages of the incorrect score so as not to raise concern among his musicians! But along with his knowledge and devotion to the classical heritage, he also felt the influence of the budding Romantic movement and injected its lush sensibility into the classic forms forged by his heroes, which makes him a sort of bridge between the two musical eras.

There is a lightness, sweetness, and joy to Mendelssohn’s work that reflects the pleasure and serenity he found in his life. This has caused many to wonder if he would have produced even greater music if his life had involved more struggles. But isn’t there a place in music for the expression of happiness and contentment.

Does the production of great art require struggle?


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


Felix Mendelssohn

 

Felix Mendelssohn

(1809–47). The composer, pianist, and conductor Felix Mendelssohn was a pivotal figure of 19th-century romanticism. He was also a major force in the revival of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was born in Hamburg, Germany, on Feb. 3, 1809, a grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. During his boyhood young Mendelssohn wrote many compositions, and he appeared as a pianist in 1818. By 1827 he had composed an overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his first mature work.

Mendelssohn conducted Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Berlin in 1829, an event that marked a revival in the performance of Bach’s vocal music. That year he was in London, where he conducted his Symphony in C Minor, and a visit to Scotland inspired the Hebrides Overture. This was the first of ten trips to Great Britain, where he established his main reputation and became a favorite of Queen Victoria.

In 1833 Mendelssohn became music director in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he introduced the masses of Beethoven and Cherubini and the cantatas of Bach. Two years later he was appointed conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, soon making it the most prestigious symphonic organization in Germany. In 1843 he founded the Leipzig Conservatory, where he and Robert Schumann taught composition. After the sudden death of his sister Fanny in May 1847, Mendelssohn’s health rapidly deteriorated, and he died in Leipzig on November 4.

Mendelssohn’s output was considerable, especially considering his short lifetime. Works include the Scottish, Italian, and Reformation symphonies; two piano concerti and one for violin; the oratorios St. Paul and Elijah (Hymn of Praise is considered a symphony-cantata); chamber music; piano music, including 48 Songs Without Words; many songs; and organ pieces.

Sources and Resources

“Mendelssohn, Felix,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Lagomarsino, Tom. “Felix Mendelssohn.” Christian Reformed Ink Archives (blog). March 15, 2011.

https://christianreformedink.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/felix-mendelssohn/.

Wenborn, Neil. Mendelssohn: His Life and Music. New York: Naxos Books, 2008.

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 Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich

The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich, Künsthalle, Hamburg

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 the voice of His creation.  The glorious sunrise and the complexity of DNA speak to God’s existence.  This is known as General Revelation, and it is a wonderful gift, but with it comes danger.  The book of Romans says that man turned from God, worshiping the created instead of the Creator.  This tipping point which exists in each of us is represented beautifully by our masterpiece today.

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

Friedrich’s landscapes were not so much intended to be beautiful as they were to be sublime. That which is sublime is awe-inspiring rather than just pretty. Friedrich’s landscapes tend toward the dramatic, capturing the wild and untamed aspect of nature, and sometimes its forbidding gloom. They create a mood: melancholy, reverence, longing, or some combination of these. His best work captures the overwhelming immensity of the created world, and, by comparison, the smallness of the human being who experiences it. And the generally small human figures we find in his work are not saints, as in older religious art, but just ordinary people experiencing the extraordinary mystery of the natural world and the God who created it.

Friedrich’s canvases are intended to promote a meditative state, arising out of the vision and spirit of the artist and communicated to the viewer as an object for contemplation. “The artist,” he wrote, “should not only paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees within him.” Thus he gave these directions to would-be artists, “Close your bodily eye so that you see your picture first with your spiritual eye. Then bring what you saw in the dark into the light, so that it may have an effect on others, shining inwards from outside.

How do you experience God when you encounter the glory of creation?


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


Caspar David Friedrich

(1774–1840). The vast, mysterious landscapes and seascapes of 19th-century German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich proclaimed man’s helplessness against the forces of nature. Friedrich helped establish the idea of the sublime as a central concern of the Romantic movement.

Friedrich was born on Sept. 5, 1774, in Greifswald, Pomerania (now Germany). He studied from 1794 to 1798 at the academy at Copenhagen but was largely self-taught. Settling at Dresden, he became a member of an artistic and literary circle that included the painter Philipp Otto Runge and the writers Ludwig Tieck and Novalis. His drawings in sepia, executed in his neat early style, won the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s approval and a prize from the Weimar Art Society in 1805.

Friedrich’s first important oil painting, The Cross in the Mountains (c. 1807), established his mature style. This painting was characterized by an overwhelming sense of isolation and was an attempt to replace the traditional symbols of religious painting with those drawn from nature. Other symbolic landscapes, such as Shipwreck in the Ice (1822), reveal a fatalism and obsession with death. Though based on close observation of nature, his works were colored by his imaginative response to the atmosphere of the Baltic coast and the Harz Mountains, which he found both awesome and ominous. In 1824 he was made professor of the Dresden academy. By the time of his death on May 7, 1840, in Dresden, his work was largely forgotten. His reputation grew, however, as 20th-century artists recognized the existential isolation in his work.

Romantic art

The Romantic sensibility in art explored the sublimity and ferocity of nature and the sensitivity and horror of the human spirit. The most iconic image of Romantic art is Caspar David Friedrich’s (1774–1840) The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818, Figure 6.6). With this brooding mountainscape Friedrich evokes the mystical religious intensity of nature. His figure is not hiking or travelling but wandering, an unsystematic pursuit outside modern society’s controlling constraints and drive for productivity, implying a certain abandonment to the forces of nature. As the wanderer contemplates the dreamlike fog and the stark, upwardly thrusting rocks of this sublime landscape, the composition of the canvas invites the viewer to experience for ourselves the same communion with nature. The sublime is one of the legacies of the Romantic sensibility to the West. A sublime experience overflows the neat systematising of the rational mind, evoking both pleasure and fright as it overwhelms both intellectual or perceptual faculties. In Immanuel Kant’s influential account of the sublime in his Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), it seems ‘to contravene the ends of our power of judgment, and to be ill-adapted to our faculty of presentation, and to be as it were an outrage on the imagination’.

For the Romantic ethos it was not only the natural world that harboured dark and menacing forces. The human imagination was also haunted by powers that disrupted the systematised world of the Enlightenment. The unconscious mind was portrayed as an inaccessible place exempt from the rule of reason, a place of dreams, visions and reveries like those found in medieval romance. In Francesco Goya’s (1746–1828) powerful and haunting etchings in Los Caprichos (The Fancies, 1799) and Los Disparates (The Nonsense, 1815–1823), the unconscious was privileged both as a potential site for dark forces and as a locus for the bursting forth of their destructive power. In The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Caprichos 43, Figure 6.7), the sleeping subject is assailed by unnamed and uncontrollable elemental forces.

Sources and Resources

“Friedrich, Caspar David,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Christopher Watkin, From Plato to Postmodernism: The Story of Western Culture through Philosophy, Literature and Art (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2011), 138–139.

Rewald, Sabine. The Romantic Vision of Caspar David Friedrich. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1990.

Russo, Raffaella. Friedrich. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1999.

Vaughan, William. Friedrich. New York: Phaidon, 2004.

Wolf, Norbert. Friedrich. Köln: Taschen, 2003.

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

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.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Jane Austen

“How despicably I have acted!” she cried. “I, who have prided myself on my discernment! . . . How humiliating is this discovery! . . . I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away. . . . Till this moment I never knew myself.”


Rick WilcoxWhen I visited the picturesque town of Winchester where Jane Austen is buried, my first impression was “how charming!”  Jane would have smiled at that, but would also have discounted my compliment.  Her faith was quiet, but her depth of character, which is evident in her writing, was based on what she called “constancy.”  That’s a far cry from charm.

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

To be constant is to be grounded and rooted in values that persist beyond the present moment—lasting values. To constancy Austen contrasts that highly valued trait, charm. Charm is the ability to attract the attention of others without necessarily having the qualities one appears to possess. The charming person can simulate the virtues of good character by mere outward polish. Being charming is all about social acceptance rather than actually possessing admirable traits. It is concerned with how things look on the outside—how they seem, rather than what they truly are.

So often in Austen’s novels we discover that the person who has great charm is a person we later learn has poor or deficient character. And sometimes the person who may win few “style points” is eventually revealed to be a person of strong personality and depth of character, as is Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. But you would never mistake one of Austen’s books for a moral tract, for she never preaches. She observes, and she lets us draw our own conclusions. Along the way to making such discoveries, we are treated to a novel that is amusing, insightful, and well stocked with fascinating and flawed characters. She entertains us with her close observation of the human personality and she leaves us with greater wisdom about our own selves.

When were your first impressions wrong about someone?


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


PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

Jane Austen

Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen, pencil and watercolor, circa 1810

(1775–1817). Through her portrayals of ordinary people in everyday life Jane Austen gave the genre of the novel its modern character. She began writing at an early age. At 15 she was writing plays and sketches for the amusement of her family, and by the time she was 21 she had begun to write novels that are among the finest in English literature.

Jane Austen was born on Dec. 16, 1775, in the parsonage of Steventon, a village in Hampshire, England. She had six brothers and one sister. Her father, the Reverend George Austen, was a rector of the village. Although she and her sister briefly attended several different schools, Jane was educated mainly by her father, who taught his own children and several pupils who boarded with the family.

Her father retired when Jane was 25. By that time her brothers, two of whom later became admirals, had careers and families of their own. Jane, her sister Cassandra, and their parents went to live in Bath. After the father’s death in 1805, the family lived temporarily in Southampton before finally settling in Chawton.

All of Jane Austen’s novels are love stories. However, neither Jane nor her sister ever married. There are hints of two or three romances in Jane’s life, but little is known about them, for Cassandra destroyed all letters of a personal nature after Jane’s death. The brothers had large families, and Jane was a favorite with her nephews and nieces.

Jane Austen wrote two novels before she was 22. These she later revised and published as Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813). She completed her third novel, Northanger Abbey, when she was 27 or 28, but it did not appear in print until after her death. She wrote three more novels in her late 30s: Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816), and Persuasion (published together with Northanger Abbey in 1818).

She wrote of the world she knew. Her novels portray the lives of the gentry and clergy of rural England, and they take place in the country villages and neighborhoods, with an occasional visit to Bath and London. Her world was small, but she saw it clearly and portrayed it with wit and detachment. She described her writing as “the little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush, as produces little effect after much labor.”

She died on July 18, 1817, after a long illness. She spent the last weeks of her life in Winchester, near her physician, and is buried in the cathedral there.

I Learned Everything I Needed to Know About Marriage From Pride and Prejudice

Karen Swallow Prior

When I teach Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I take great pains to un-sully it from students’ film-adaptation-induced misconceptions that it’s a “romantic” novel. As a satirist, even if a gentle one, Austen offers rather unromantic corrections to vices and foibles, many of which range far beyond the surface themes of love and marriage. Indeed, like most early novels, Austen’s contend with the seismic social shifts birthed by modernity, particularly the rise of the individual. In Pride and Prejudice, as in Austen’s other works, the private angst surrounding the choice of a marriage partner really reflects the larger, public anxieties swirling around a disintegrating class structure, a new social mobility, and increasing personal autonomy.

Nevertheless, the truth is that I still learned everything I needed to know about marriage from Pride and Prejudice.

Marriages are foremost in Austen’s world, and, its place in literary theory and history aside, Pride and Prejudice enchants me again and again with its hairpin sharp insights into matrimonial matters. Here are nine lessons Pride and Prejudice taught me about marriage—and surely, there are many more.

Mutual Respect Is Essential to a Happy Marriage

The first marriage we encounter in Pride and Prejudice is Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s. These two illustrate magnificently by negative example just how crucial respect for one another is to marital bliss. Mr. Bennet treats Mrs. Bennet like the fool she assuredly is, and Mrs. Bennet, in return, exerts the only authority she has: nagging. As readers, we may laugh with Mr. Bennet (and the narrator) at Mrs. Bennet, but we don’t side with him entirely. Even Elizabeth, as much as she loves her father and as much as he respects her, admits she “could not have formed a very pleasing opinion of conjugal felicity or domestic comfort” based on her parents’ marriage.

We can’t help but wonder along with Elizabeth, who “had never been blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour as a husband,” if Mrs. Bennet might have grown into a better partner and woman with more active loving-kindness from him. Instead, Mrs. Bennet fits the description of what one marriage expert—Pat Ennis of the marriage-enrichment program The Third Option—calls the “Critical Nag,” one who is never happy with how others do things. Mr. Bennet, meanwhile, is the “Ridiculer-Name Caller,” the person who constantly puts others down. Ennis says that respect is the bedrock of lasting love, wisdom the never-married Austen recognized long before psychology, life coaches, and marriage retreats were invented.

First Impressions Can Be Misleading

As fans of Pride and Prejudice know, “First Impressions” was Austen’s original title for the work. The first half of the novel is an accumulation of false impressions, particularly Elizabeth’s misperceptions (leading to the titular prejudice) about the seemingly, titularly, proud Darcy. Ironically, Elizabeth’s confident assessment of Mr. Darcy as proud stems greatly from her own pride in her keen, but not infallible, perceptiveness. The rest of the story consists of the correction of those misreadings—and of the prejudice and pride that foster such misunderstandings.

Like Elizabeth, but for different reasons, I’m fortunate that my first impressions of the man who would become my husband were wrong, too. When as a Lydia Bennet-esque college freshman, I first spotted the man, marriage was far from my mind—and he appeared to be someone who might regard it the same way. He didn’t. Then I didn’t. We never looked back (as I have written about here).

You Can Judge a Man by the Size of His Library

In Austen’s world, size matters. The size of one’s book collection, that is.

While stuck at Netherfield because her sister has fallen ill there, the hospitable Mr. Bingley offers Elizabeth access to his books, to “all that his library afforded.” Elizabeth assures him she is content with what she has. He admits, “I wish my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow, and though I have not many, I have more than I ever looked into.”

Then coy Miss Bingley attempts to converse with Darcy while he is engaged in reading. “When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library,” Miss Bingley proclaims. “I am astonished that my father should have left so small a collection of books. What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!”

“It ought to be good,” he replies. “It has been the work of many generations.”

“And then you have added so much to it yourself, you are always buying books,” Miss Bingley says flirtatiously.

Later, after Elizabeth has shed her initial false impressions about Darcy, she recollects the evolution of her feelings toward him. She explains that her love for Darcy “has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” Indeed.

In the provincial world of Austen’s novels, small-mindedness is among the greatest of personal and social follies, for which an expansive library serves as a counterbalance. Darcy’s fetching library serves as metaphor for a variety of qualities in a marriage partner today which might counteract contemporary excesses and limitations: broad-mindedness in an age of identity politics and narrow partisanship, integrity in an era of brutal pragmatism, strong work ethic in a culture of shortcuts, steadiness in a swirl of passing fancies. While countless other qualities might substitute for those represented by Darcy’s library, these attracted me to my husband and have deepened my love for him more over the years. Not to mention the fact that he built me my own library, and its shelves are overflowing.

Romance Is Not Enough

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet married, we learn later, out of youthful imprudence and passion. This same error is repeated by their daughter Lydia (who is all romance, no prudence) when she elopes with the conniving Wickham (who is all prudence with no romance). It doesn’t take long for the honeymoon luster to fade, and upon hearing of her sister Elizabeth’s impending marriage to Darcy, Lydia is reduced to begging the couple for a court appointment for her husband, confessing, “I do not think we shall have quite money enough to live upon without some help.” Such dire straits are not in keeping with Lydia’s former romanticism.

Austen would not likely be surprised at recent findings reported here at The Atlantic that for the middle class today (which is approximately the class of the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice) the difference between a happy marriage and a miserable one is something decidedly unromantic: chores.

You Really Do Marry a Family, Not Just a Person

A survey in the November issue of Glamour found that the majority of men polled by the magazine said that they judge a woman by her family. This truth universally acknowledged forms one of the great obstacles between Elizabeth and Darcy, a point revealed in the explanatory letter Darcy writes to Elizabeth following her refusal of one of the most infamous marriage proposals in all of literature. Darcy’s objections to the marriage between his friend Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane, he explains in the letter, owed “to that total want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformly betrayed by [Mrs. Bennet], by your three younger sisters, and occasionally even by your father. Pardon me. It pains me to offend you.” It does offend Elizabeth—at first. But once her pride subsides, she recognizes the truth and the validity of Darcy’s concerns.

These familial objections are, of course, overcome in time for the happily ever after. But Darcy has recognized, wisely, that he is marrying into a family and he does so with open eyes and readiness—as much as that is possible—to accept that fact of life.  Indeed, my own “happily ever after” has, after many years, come to mean a household that includes my aging parents. Anyone who doesn’t believe that you marry a family should talk to a man in my husband’s situation.

Missed Communication Is Miscommunication 

In other words, silence is the voice of complacency. The lovely match between Elizabeth Bennet’s eldest sister Jane and Mr. Bingley nearly doesn’t happen, in large part because neither makes their feelings clearly known to the other. Natural reserve isn’t a character flaw (see: Darcy), but it’s a trait that must be overcome when reticence means letting something—or someone—important slip away.

Experts even have a name for this tendency we have to think our communication is stronger and clearer than it actually is: signal amplification bias. Motivational psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson writes that this general assumption that we have said more than we actually have is the “most common source of miscommunication in any relationship” because “people routinely fail to realize how little they are actually communicating.” I don’t think my marriage is unusual in consisting of one overcommunicative partner (guess who that is!) and one partner whose signal amplification bias is, shall we say, strong. Jane and Bingley’s relationship and the misunderstandings that surround it offer a textbook’s worth of insight for navigating real-life communication problems.

In Marriage, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

This is one of the more nuanced and difficult—but no less important—lessons from Pride and Prejudice, as Noah Berlatsky argued earlier this year. When Elizabeth’s best friend Charlotte Lucas marries Mr. Collins, that fawning prig whom Elizabeth had easily turned down earlier, Elizabeth is understandably disappointed in her friend’s choice. But of course, “choice” plays little part in the matter since the primary social problem in the world of the novel is that its women have so few choices. Marriage is, the novel explains, “the only provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.” This “preservative,” Elizabeth comes to realize, Charlotte obtains in her marriage to Mr. Collins. “And at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she [Charlotte] felt all the good luck of it.” When Elizabeth visits the newlywed pair later, she observes that Charlotte has made peace with her choice. Charlotte’s new home has “really an air of great comfort throughout,” and Elizabeth can see Charlotte’s “contentment” and her “evident enjoyment of it.”

Jane and Bingley’s relationship and the misunderstandings that surround it offer a textbook’s worth of insight for navigating real-life communication problems.

Elizabeth would not—and did not—settle for the same choice. (She’d not have been our heroine if she had!) But despite their being the best of friends, Charlotte and Elizabeth are not the same. Likewise, no two marriages are the same. Nor need they be: Trying to force a one-size-fits-all formula on individual marriages invites disaster. A couple I know who are part of a conservative religious community, for example, tried for the first decade of their marriage to conform to roles they thought were expected by their community and failed miserably. Finally, she went to work full-time and he stayed home with the children—and they’ve never been happier or more stable.

The Best Marriages Balance Prudence and Passion

Have you ever known a couple whose love is rooted in pure passion, defying all reason (or any need for a good résumé or health insurance)? Or a couple on the opposite end of the spectrum, for whom love means never saying the mortgage is late? I think we’ve all seen, or even experienced, relationships in which either passion or reason reigns like a tyrant over the other.

In Pride and Prejudice,  Lydia marries out of pure passion and Charlotte marries out of sheer prudence: “Marriage had always been her object,” despite not “thinking highly either of men or of matrimony.” But the novel extols the best marriages as those that balance prudence and passion, sense and sensibility. Jane and Bingley’s marriage fits this description, even though both their wit and passion are more subdued than those of Elizabeth and Darcy.

It is, of course, Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage which the novel holds up as exemplary. Theirs is a match crowned by the twin laurels of romance and reason. Both the heart and the head assent that this is a match made in Austen’s heaven—and that of many readers as well.

A Good Marriage Challenges Both Partners to Grow

Despite being well-matched in both intellect and passion for each other, Elizabeth and Darcy have to undergo painful chastening, admit their errors, enlarge their perspectives, and see matters through the eyes of the other before they can love each other. And although the novel ends, as all classical comedies do, with their felicitous union, we know enough of their strong minds and robust personalities to perceive that challenges will lie ahead. But we are certain that Elizabeth and Darcy are, like iron that sharpens iron, equally matched. Their marriage provides the best marriage lesson of all: Marry someone whose love will develop you into a better person.

And to borrow a line from another novel, “Reader, I married him.”

This article originally appeared in The Atlantic

Sources and Resources

“Austen, Jane,” Compton’s Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Compton’s Encyclopedia, 2015).

Collins, Irene. Jane Austen: The Parson’s Daughter. London: Continuum, 1998.

Giffin, Michael. Jane Austen’s Religious Imagination: A Balance of Reason and Feeling. Kindle edition. Amazon Digital Services, 2013.

Glaspey, Terry, ed. The Prayers of Jane Austen. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2015.

Leithart, Peter J. Jane Austen. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009.

Stovel, Bruce. “A Nation Improving in Religion.” Persuasions no. 16. Jane Austen Society of North America, 1994. http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/printed/number16/stovel.htm.

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).

Karen Swallow Prior

Karen Swallow Prior

Karen Swallow Prior is Professor of English at Liberty University and an award-winning teacher. She is a contributing writer for The Atlantic.com and for Christianity Today, where she blogs frequently at Her.meneutics. Her writing has appeared in Relevant, Think Christian, and Salvo. She is a Research Fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a member of INK: A Creative Collective, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States.

Terry Glaspey

Terry Glaspey

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 Creation by Franz Joseph Haydn (1798)

Distant Echo by Josephine R. Unglaub

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 being,
that grateful should God’s pow’r admire,
with heart and voice his goodness praise.


Man is the pinnacle of creation because he alone is made in the image of God. This is sufficient to establish his worth, whether his esteem agrees or not.  There are many bright souls whose gifts are apparent and on display, and we reward these people with praise.  This works well as long as conditions are right, but unlike God, ours is a conditional love.  We are harsh and judgmental, beating each other down to a form where God’s image is barely recognizable.

This is where miracles occur.  The image of God is inextinguishable.  As John Steinbeck wrote in The Grapes of Wrath

For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments. This you may say of man — when theories change and crash, when schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national, religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This you may say and know it and know it.

Franz Joseph Haydn was such a man

Terry Glaspey explains in 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know :

Writing music never came as easily for Haydn as it did for his contemporary, Mozart, from whom great music seemed to pour effortlessly. Ever industrious, Haydn had to work hard throughout his life, disciplining himself to keep regular hours for composing every day. When inspiration failed to come, he would pray for God’s help.

The result of his hard work and his prayers is an almost bewilderingly large number of pieces of various kinds, which sustain a very high level of consistency in their quality. Haydn was one of the most productive composers in history because he was one of the hardest working. His output includes 104 symphonies, more than sixty-eight string quartets (these two forms he brought to a perfection never heard before), more than one hundred piano pieces, a dozen masses, and two dozen operas. His renown grew to the point where he was in demand throughout Europe, and he even spent a number of very productive years in England, where some of his most accomplished symphonies were written.

Those who knew Haydn were always struck by his geniality and kind nature, joyous embrace of life, and love of good food, good music, and good company. He loved to joke and play pranks on his friends, and this mischievousness shows itself in many of his compositions. He seemed to enjoy making audiences smile, and surprising them with the playfulness that he worked into the pieces. For his famous Surprise symphony (no. 94, 1791), he inserted a jarring chord meant to awaken any listeners who had been lulled to sleep. His Clock symphony (no. 101, 1793–94) has the stately beat of a pendulum clock, and La Poule (no. 83, 1785) imitates the sound of a clucking hen. When some church leaders criticized his music for not being serious enough, he replied, “God gave me a cheerful heart, so he will surely forgive me if I serve him cheerfully.”2 Mozart, with whom he shared a deep and lasting friendship, referred to him as “Papa Haydn,” and the name caught on with his admirers. When the younger Mozart died, Haydn grieved the loss deeply and spoke with unstinting praise of his talent. Theirs was a relationship of respect and admiration rather than competition.

His cheerfulness was not the result of his circumstances, for Haydn did not have an easy life. He experienced extreme poverty while trying to establish his musical career, he was married for forty years to a woman who showed no interest or appreciation for his music and was even known to roll up his written musical scores in order to use them to curl her hair, and he sometimes worked for patrons who treated him more like a slave than a man of genius. But through it all, the music he composed was a reflection of his personality: beautiful and orderly but also cheerful, joyous, and with a good bit of wit and humor.

How has the image of God emerged through your 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


The Creation

Franz Joseph Haydn

 

 

Franz Joseph Haydn

(1732–1809) Austrian composer; luminary of Western music of the classical era

In early life Haydn was a choirboy at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He subsequently studied the theoretical works of Fux and Matthesohn and studied composition under Porpora. After having as patrons Baron K. J. Furnberg and Count F. M. Morzin, Haydn began service in the house of Prince Esterhazy, where he became first kapellmeister (chapelmaster) by 1766. Although Haydn had become wealthy, internationally known, and virtually independent by 1790, he remained in the service of the Esterhazys until his retirement in 1801. His contribution as composer of opera, symphonic, and chamber music is of the highest caliber, approaching that of Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Mozart.

Haydn’s music for the church spans nearly his whole career. He wrote fourteen masses, a Stabat Mater, two Te Deums, two major oratorios: The Creation (1798), his most popular choral work, and the secular The Seasons (1801). He also composed offertories, cantatas, and The Seven Last Words-originally seven instrumental sonatas written for the cathedral of Cadiz, later rescored as String Quartets, Op. 51 and as an oratorio with soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Among his best-known masses are the “Great Organ Mass” (Mass in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1766), the St. Cecilia Mass (1770), the Mass in Time of War (1796), the “Lord Nelson Mass” (Missa in Angustiis, 1798), and the Harmony Mass (1802).

His techniques are of great historical importance. His uses of fugue, for example, often are symphonic in technique, while operatic influences come into many of his arias. Choral pieces are often written in sonata style, involving the contrasts and developments/recapitulations of instrumental music. His instrumental scorings are very interesting and colorful, particularly in uses of wind instruments.

The Creation

Fortunately, shortly before his composing days were over, Haydn was given a religious text that lent itself perfectly to his greatest gifts as a composer. While in England, inspired by Handel’s oratorios, he began to think of composing an oratorio. He asked his friend and colleague François Hippolyte Barthelemon for advice concerning a subject for an oratorio. Barthelemon picked up a Bible and said, “There, take that, and begin at the beginning” (Landon 4, p. 117). As it turned out, that is what Haydn did—quite coincidentally. Just before he left England, he received a libretto on the subject of the Creation written by an unknown English author who had probably intended it for Handel. We do not know why Handel did nothing with it—or even if he received it. It probably came to Haydn via Salomon. Haydn took the libretto with him back to Vienna. Baron van Swieten, who had first introduced Haydn to Handel’s oratorios back in the ’80s, was as enthusiastic as Haydn about the project. Swieten translated the original English libretto into German, and then, after Haydn had composed the music to the German text, he adapted the original English text to fit the music. The score was published in 1800 with both the German and English texts set to the music.

The Creation is divided into three parts. (See the Appendix for an outline of the entire oratorio.) Part I tells of the first four days of Creation, Part II of days five and six, and Part III of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The core text of Parts I and II comes from the Creation story in Genesis 1 and 2:7. Each day begins with a secco recitative in which one of the three soloists (each representing an angel) tells, directly from Genesis, what God did that day. Their proclamation of God’s creative act is followed by two types of response: first, amazed and delighted description (accompanied recitative or aria); then, grateful praise (chorus). Books VII and VIII of Milton’s Paradise Lost were the source of inspiration for some of the response texts, and nos. 12, 13, and 27 are from the Psalms. Although each day includes all three components—proclamation, description, and praise—the musical structure of each day varies considerably. Only the second and fourth days follow the “typical” structure of secco recitative (proclamation), accompanied recitative or aria (description), and chorus (praise).

Part I

Part I begins with one of Haydn’s greatest challenges—an instrumental depiction of chaos—which resulted in one of his greatest achievements. Just as the disordered elements in the dark void struggled for form before God spoke, so do the empty C octave at the beginning and the disordered musical elements that follow struggle for sonata form and the “light” of C major tonality. Both the cosmic and the musical struggle are futile until God speaks a creative word: “Let there be light.” The blazing C major chord on “light” is the greatest surprise in all of Haydn’s music, just as light devouring darkness at God’s word was the greatest surprise in the creation story.

The telling of God’s act on Day One is followed by an aria with chorus in which description and praise are combined. The tune the choir sings on the words “A new created world” is one of Haydn’s simplest, and yet most profound. Like Donald Tovey “I am proud to ally myself with the company of persons who are as completely bowled over by it as by anything in Bach’s B minor Mass.”

Day Two illustrates the “typical” structure, and Day Three follows with what might be called a double version of the typical structure: act—description/act—description—praise. The double structure is due to the two parts of God’s act on that day—the creation of bodies of water and dry land. In addition Day Three has a recitative that introduces the chorus of praise. Day Four follows, again with the typical structure. Although Haydn gave it no special structure, he did underscore its special position as the end of Part I by framing it with two of the highlights of the oratorio—the orchestral depiction of the sunrise at the beginning, and at the end, the splendid and ever-popular chorus celebrating cosmic order, “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” The chorus not only concludes Day Four; it is also the climax of praise that marks the end of the creation of inanimate things.

Part II

Both of the days in Part II have variants of the double structure. Day Five has the creation of fish and birds, but there is a different reason for its double structure. God’s words on this day include the command, “Be fruitful.” So Haydn omitted description of the fish. Instead he composed an arioso for God’s words (uniquely scored for violas I and II, cellos I and II, and string basses). That is followed by an introduction to a trio in which the angel soloists contemplate God’s work prior to the angelic chorus of praise.

The sixth day—the creation of animals and humans—has the most elaborate structure of all for two reasons: it includes the creation of humans, and it meditates on the whole of God’s “glorious work.” So after the description of animals (no. 21) there is another aria (no. 22) that briefly summarizes the whole and introduces the creation of Adam.

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 being,
that grateful should God’s pow’r admire,
with heart and voice his goodness praise.

After this introduction, the creation of Adam is presented in the normal pattern of proclamation (no. 23) and description (no. 24), but the third component, praise, is enlarged considerably. First, it is preceded by an introductory recitative (no. 25), which turns our attention back to the whole with the words from Genesis 1:31—“And God saw ev’ry thing that he had made; and behold, it was very good,” and an allusion to Job 38:7—“and the heav’nly choir, in song divine, clos’d the sixth day.” This is followed by the expected chorus of praise. But there is more. After the chorus, the three angels meditate on God’s power and mercy in the words of Psalm 104:27–30. Then the angel chorus returns with the previous chorus’s words and music (“Achieved is the glorious work”). But soon the chorus goes on to a glorious climax with new words (“Glory to his name forever”) and new music (a mighty fugue).

Part III

The story from Genesis 1 finished, the librettist turned to Books IV and V of Paradise Lost for the picture of Adam and Eve in Eden in Part III. With just six numbers, it is by far the shortest of the three parts. It has a double structure like the fifth and sixth days, but God’s glorious work has already been completed, so the first component of the pattern, God’s act, is missing. Instead it begins with an accompanied recitative whose function is both descriptive and introductory. As usual in Haydn’s descriptive recitatives, the orchestra depicts the words instrumentally before they are sung. Here a ravishingly beautiful flute trio accompanied by pizzicato strings depicts the “rosy mantle” of “morning young and fair” and the “pure harmony” that descends “from the celestial vaults” upon the newly created earth. Then the recitative (sung by Uriel) turns our attention to the “blissful pair” who will utter “a louder praise of God,” and invites all the angels to join them: “Then let our voices ring, united with their song!” Indeed they do! Adam and Eve, the angel choir, and all creation join in singing what Tovey called the greatest movement that Haydn ever wrote!

After this one cannot help but think the rest can only be anti-climactic and superfluous. It may be anti-climactic, but it is not superfluous. The human creature is unique in all creation. Genesis points out that uniqueness by telling us not only that Adam was created out of the dust of the earth on the same day as the animals, but also that God breathed into him the breath of life and made him in God’s own image. For want of better terminology, we can say that human nature has a “high” and a “low” aspect, provided we do not denigrate the “low.” Like everything else, God pronounced it good. So the next two numbers complete the picture of the human creature by showing its “low” aspect. Adam and Eve now sing by themselves to each other, not, as in their previous duet, to God with the angels. Their music is correspondingly “lower”—more earthy and folksy—without any suggestion that “lower” somehow falls outside of that which God pronounced good.

Theologian Helmut Thielicke wrote that Genesis “recognizes our earthy, beastly side.” If The Creation ended with the great duet and chorus (no. 30), it would have presented a one-sided view of humans as (in Thielicke’s words) “a spiritual being who somehow hovers above all that is creaturely.” But by going on to nos. 31 and 32, it affirms the biblical view that “the whales, the sparrows, and Homo sapiens are all created together on the same sixth day of creation and thus included in a whole.” Therefore the “struggle of nature also determines our human life, that we too are controlled by instincts and urges, needs and desires, just as are the birds and the beasts of the field.” Haydn said and believed that “an infinite God would surely have mercy on his finite creature, pardoning dust for being dust.” And he added, “These thoughts cheer me,” just as Thielicke said he was cheered “beyond all measure” that “the Lord’s Prayer does not pretend that we are only religious people, but that we have the urge to eat—again like the animals—that we must have our daily ration of bread.”

The picture of humanity completed, a final chorus of praise is in order. But first a small recitative precedes it—not to introduce it, but to give listeners a warning, a much-needed warning at a time when there was much “enlightened” optimism about human nature.

O happy pair, and always happy yet,
if not misled by false conceit,
ye strive at more, as granted is,
and more to know, as know ye should.

Sources and Resources

D.S. Cushman, “Haydn, Franz Joseph,” ed. J.D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort, Who’s Who in Christian History (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992), 305–306.

Calvin R. Stapert, Playing Before the Lord: The Life and Work of Joseph Haydn (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014), 237–241.

Greenburg, Robert. Haydn: His Life and Music. DVD. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company, 2000.
Hogwood, Christopher, Emma Kirby, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, and Michael George. Haydn—The Creation: Orchestra of the Academy of Ancient Music. DVD. Directed by Chris Hunt. London: Decca Classics, 2007.
Stapert, Calvin R. Playing Before the Lord: The Life and Work of Joseph Haydn. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.

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).

 

Josephine R. Unglaub

 

Josephine R. Unglaub
Josephine R. Unglaub

Art: Distant Echo

Josephine Unglaub is a German-based artist and photographer with a passion for surrealism. Her work can be found here: https://lemanshots.wordpress.com

 

 

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.

Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake (1789-94)

THE LAMB
William Blake

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.


Theology is not tidy.  Anyone who says otherwise, whether conservative or liberal is either arrogant or uninformed.  Though many brilliant thinkers have written helpful systematic theologies, God simply can’t be summarized.  As a wise man once said “God cannot be thought, He can only be loved.”  The childlike heart of a true believer embraces God for all that He might be, simply because He is.  This was William Blake.

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

Blake’s theology was a concoction of his own making, a mixture of traditional Christian belief with some elements freely cribbed from various less traditional sources and a large dollop of his own unique and idiosyncratic mystical insights. The details and symbolism in his more complex poems are so arcane that few can honestly claim to grasp the entire system and its attendant mythology. How literally he took all his own imaginative musings about divinity and humanity is probably an open question. He did not believe that the Bible should be read literally, and one cannot help but wonder what he would have thought of those who try to read his own religious musings too literally. But he did have a central concern with pointing readers away from traditional religious conceptions and toward a faith emphasizing freedom and the primacy of the heart. Rejecting the idea of original sin, Blake embraced what might be called “original innocence.” He saw in children a natural goodness and purity of heart that was usually lost by the time most people reached adulthood.

In Blake’s system of thought, religion itself is one of the culprits in our loss of original innocence, for religion has too often focused on rules, regulations, and restrictions. It is often more about the attempt to prevent or suppress certain kinds of behaviors through conventional morality rather than celebrating the earthly (and sometimes earthy) joys of human life.

Have your beliefs about God changed over the years?


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


William Blake

 

William Blake

(1757–1827), poet, artist, and visionary. Apprenticed to an engraver from 1771 to 1778, he became, through frequent work in *Westminster Abbey, imbued with the spirit of Gothic art which remained his guiding ideal throughout his life. In 1789 he finished his Songs of Innocence, a collection of poems of childlike simplicity which included ‘The Divine Image’, where God and His image, man, are hymned as ‘Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love’. The book was engraved by hand and illustrated by coloured drawings, a technique adopted in most of his subsequent works. It was followed by The Book of Thel (1789) and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793), allegorical poems full of obscure though often beautiful imagery, which Blake used to express his religious convictions. The Songs of Experience (1794) are a kind of complement to the Songs of Innocence, though on a sterner note and penetrated by a deep sense of the darker side of life, e.g. in the famous ‘Tyger’. His later poetical works, written in something like free verse, are increasingly given over to theosophical speculations and unintelligible allegories. At the same time his compositions gained in artistic maturity. About 1795 he produced a series of large colour prints of much imaginative power, including the magnificent ‘The Elohim creating Adam’, and in 1797 his illustrations of Edward Young’s Night Thoughts. In 1804 he published his poem Milton, the proem of which consists of the famous lines ‘Jerusalem’, much used (with the music of Hubert Parry) as a national hymn. In the following years he produced engravings for Robert Blair’s Grave of high visionary qualities, but, like most of his drawings, not without flaws in technique. From 1808 to 1818 he was occupied with writing and illustrating his great allegorical poem Jerusalem, in which St *Teresa and Mme *Guyon figure among ‘the gentle souls who guide the great winepress of Love’. His unconventional religious beliefs found fresh expression in an unfinished poem, The Everlasting Gospel, which rejects the traditional picture of a meek and humble Christ. His greatest work, the Illustrations to the Book of Job, completed in the last years of his life (1821–1825, pub. 1826), consists of 21 engravings showing the dealings of God with Job from the peaceful contentment of the opening scene, through the despair of the tormented Job accusing his Creator, to the rapturous bliss of his final restoration. The figures, often of elemental strength and beauty, move in the atmosphere of crude black and white contrasts which invests Blake’s works with their characteristic impression of haunting unreality.

Blake’s art, which spurns reason as well as nature and lives solely in the realm of imagination, was inseparable from his religion, which was itself a religion of art. Opposed to both dogma and asceticism, it flowed from a boundless sympathy with all living things which Blake identified with the forgiveness of sins proclaimed by the Gospel. Though he was little understood by his contemporaries, his visionary genius, both as a poet and an artist, has been increasingly admired since its discovery by A. C. Swinburne and interpretation by W. B. Yeats. His insistence on the supremacy of the spiritual world, though unbalanced by reason and a sound sense of reality, has acted as a powerful antidote to 19th cent. materialism.

 

Art, literature and the unconscious

The idea that the unconscious is the ultimate explanation for human behaviour is echoed in the artistic and literary movements that take inspiration in part from Freud. The use of Western rationality and technology in the service of the industrial slaughter of the First World War, coupled with the dehumanising bureaucracy of modern life portrayed so vividly by Kafka, led early twentieth-century avant-garde movements in Europe to turn away from reason in favour of emotion, the a-rational, the shocking and the violent.

The disruption of rational and aesthetic norms also plays an important part in the self-theorising of the Surrealist movement. Founded by André Breton (1896–1966) in 1924, Surrealism is notorious for a series of high-profile spats between its leading lights, including Breton himself, Louis Aragon (1897–1982), Antonin Artaud (1896–1948), Georges Bataille (1897–1962) and Salvador Dalí (1904–1989). When Dalí agreed to create Surrealist window displays in New York department stores and endorsed themed ashtrays and playing cards, Breton was so incensed that he anagrammatically renamed the treacherous Dalí ‘Avida Dollars’.

Breton, who came to his understanding of Surrealism from his work as a psychiatrist involved with soldiers traumatised by the First World War, defined Surrealism in the following way:

SURREALISM, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which it is intended to express, verbally, in writing, or by other means, the real process of thought. Thought’s dictation, in the absence of all control exercised by the reason and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations.

As with William Blake a century previously, reason for Breton is an iron cage that stifles human freedom, the bars of which must be broken. Surrealism is a revolt against all forms of realism, against rationality itself, in an attempt to liberate unconscious creativity.

The Surrealists sought acceptance from Freud, but he was never as well disposed towards them as they were to him. They share Freud’s interest in dreams, but for the Surrealists the unconscious is in more of a dialectic relationship with the rational mind than it is for Freud. Striking a rather Hegelian pose, Breton declares, ‘I believe in the future resolution of those two apparently contradictory states, dream and reality, in a kind of absolute reality, of surreality.’ This overcoming of contradiction as a means to a new, broader understanding can also be seen in the strange juxtapositions that the Surrealists were fond of making, juxtapositions that Breton described as ‘beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella!’ There is both an acknowledgment and a parodic rejection of the Hegelian dialectic in the way that such a juxtaposition of opposites produces a startling new effect, yet without being part of any overarching rational progress, either of the Spirit in history (as for Hegel) or of the overthrow of capitalism for the classless society (as for Marx).

Surrealist aesthetics sought to bypass the stifling control of the rational mind. The Surrealists practised ‘automatic writing’, the production of text in a state of trance or loss of rational control, as a way of achieving Breton’s ‘pure psychic automatism’. Another means to bypass the censorship of the rational mind was chance. The story is told of how a group of Surrealists would gather at 54 Rue du Château, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris and play parlour games, the most famous of which was named ‘the exquisite corpse’, known to many children as the game of ‘consequences’. Each participant in turn would write one phrase of a sentence, fold over the paper, and pass it to the next contributor, not knowing what the others had written before. Apparently, the first time the game was played the final sentence read ‘Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau’ (‘The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine’), and the name stuck. For Breton, ‘with the Exquisite Corpse we had at our command an infallible way of holding the critical intellect in abeyance, and of fully liberating the mind’s metaphorical activity’.

Sources and Resources

Christopher Watkin, From Plato to Postmodernism: The Story of Western Culture through Philosophy, Literature and Art (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2011), 176–179.

The best edns. of his writings are those by G. [L.] Keynes (3 vols., London, 1925, repr., with additional material, 1966) and G. E. Bentley, Jun. (2 vols., Oxford, 1978). Id., Blake Records (ibid., 1969).

M. Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake (2 vols., New Haven, Conn., and London, 1981). Life by A. Gilchrist (2 vols., London, 1863), repr. in Everyman’s Library (1942).

Modern studies by M. Wilson (London, 1927; 3rd edn. by G. [L.] Keynes, 1971), T. Wright (2 vols., Olney, Bucks, 1929), K. [J.] Raine (London, 1970), J. King (ibid., 1991), and P. Ackroyd (ibid., 1995).

G. [L.] Keynes, Blake Studies (1949; 2nd edn., Oxford, 1971);

G. W. Digby, Symbol and Image in William Blake (ibid., 1957); G. M. Harper, The Neoplatonism of William Blake (Chapel Hill, NC, and London, 1961);

M. D. Paley and M. Phillips (eds.), William Blake: Essays in Honour of Sir Geoffrey Keynes (Oxford, 1973).

P. Berger, William Blake: Mysticisme et poésie (1906; Eng. tr., 1914); J. G. Davies, The Theology of William Blake (1948).

D. Bindman, Blake as an Artist (Oxford, 1977). R. N. Essick, William Blake Printmaker (Princeton, NJ, 1980); id., The Separate Plates of William Blake: A Catalogue (ibid., 1983).

M. Eaves, William Blake’s Theory of Art (ibid., 1982). S. F. Damon, A Blake Dictionary (Providence, RI, 1965).

G. [L.] Keynes, A Bibliography of William Blake (New York, 1921);

G. E. Bentley, Jun., and M. K. Nurmi, A Blake Bibliography (Minneapolis, 1964; rev. as Blake Books, Oxford, 1977; Suppl., ibid. 1995).

Blake Newsletter, 1–10 (Berkeley, Calif., 1967–77); Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, 11 ff. (ibid., 1977 ff.).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 215.

Blake, William. William Blake: A Selection of Poems and Letters. New York: Penguin, 1958.

Langridge, Irene. William Blake: A Study of His Life and Art Work. London: Chiswick Press, 1904.

Muggeridge, Malcolm. A Third Testament. New York: Little, Brown, 1976.

Sagar, Keith. “William Blake: Songs of Innocence and Experience.”

http://www.keithsagar.co.uk/Blake/index.html.

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.

Amazing Grace by John Newton (1779)

Blue Veil by Tom Darin Liskey

AMAZING GRACE
John Newton

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.


Rick WilcoxDid Newton inspire the writers of Europe’s Romantic movement? Various critics have seen him as anticipating Blake’s prophetic vision, or as a source for Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or for episodes in Wordsworth’s “Prelude.”  One thing is certain: Amazing Grace is the best known hymn of all time, and its words are carved into the heart of millions.

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

“Amazing Grace” debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s collection Olney Hymns, along with 347 other hymns that one or the other of them had penned. At the time, “Amazing Grace” did not distinguish itself as more significant than any of the others, and for a time it lapsed into obscurity. It was only in the United States, during the Second Great Awakening (c. 1780–1840), that the song was rediscovered and used extensively among the revivalists, who saw it as an effective way to communicate their emphasis upon human sinfulness and the necessity of reaching out for God’s grace. It fit with their passionate preaching and calls for a personal experience of salvation through repentance and an embrace of God’s grace.

It is not clear what melody was used when the hymn debuted, and it has been associated with more than twenty tunes over the years. But in 1835, when it was joined to a traditional tune by William Walker called “New Britain,” it had found its perfect pairing. This is the version of “Amazing Grace” by which it is most commonly known today, arguably the most popular and famous of all hymns. One Newton biographer estimates that it is performed about ten million times worldwide each year.

Is the song Amazing Grace part of a special memory in your 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


Amazing Grace

John Newton

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

 

John Newton

(1725–1807), *Evangelical divine. The son of a shipmaster, he was impressed into naval service, in the course of which he was converted on 10 Mar. (NS 21) 1748, though for some years he continued to be a slavetrader, From 1755 to 1764 he was Tide Surveyor at Liverpool. At this time he came under the influence of G. *Whitefeld, and also began studying Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and Syriac. He considered entering the Dissenting ministry, but on being offered the curacy of Olney, he was ordained by the Bp. of Lincoln in 1764. Here he collaborated with W. *Cowper in the production of the Olney Hymns (1779). In 1780 he was appointed rector of St Mary Woolnoth, London, and held this post until his death. Among the better-known of his hymns, which are remarkable for their directness and simplicity, are ‘Glorious things of Thee are spoken’ and ‘How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds’. He was also the author of several prose works, including letters and sermons. In theology he was a moderate *Calvinist and much influenced many leaders in the *Evangelical Revival, among them T. *Scott, W. *Wilberforce (whom he also aided in his campaign against slavery), C. *Simeon and Hannah *More.

The Life and Times of John Newton 1725–1807

1725 Newton is born in London to John & Elizabeth Newton.

1732 Elizabeth Newton dies.

1744 Newton is impressed on board H.M.S. Harwich.

1745 Newton attempts desertion and is whipped and degraded to rank of seaman.

1748 Near-shipwreck of Greyhound provokes spiritual crisis.

February 1750 Newton marries Mary Catlett, daughter of George & Elizabeth.

May 1754 Newton meets fellow believer, Captain Andrew Clunie.

November 1754 Epileptic seizure convinces Newton to leave the slave trade.

June 1755 Newton listens to George Whitefield preach in London.

August 1755 Newton begins his work as tide surveyor in Liverpool.

June 1764 Lord Dartmouth achieves ordination for Newton in the Church of England; Newton accepts curacy at Olney.

August 1764 Publication of Authentic Narrative makes public Newton’s life story.

1767 William Cowper arrives at Olney.

January 1773 Newton preaches on 1 Chronicles 17:16, 17, and writes Amazing Grace to accompany the sermon.

1774 Publication of “The Omicron Letters” offers some of Newton’s finest teachings on the spiritual life.

1779 Publication of Olney Hymns establishes Newton’s reputation as a hymn-writer.

December 1779 Church of England inducts Newton as rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, London.

1780 Publication of Cardiphonia makes Newton’s extensive correspondence available to the public.

January 1783 Newton calls the first meeting of the Eclectic Society.

December 1785 William Wilberforce visits Newton’s home.

1788 William Pitt calls Newton before the Privy Council on the subject of the slave trade.

December 1807 Newton dies in London.

1726 Jonathan Swift publishes Gulliver’s Travels.

May 1735 George Whitefield comes to a “full assurance of faith.”

May 1738 John Wesley feels his heart “strangely warmed.”

1742 George Frederick Handel composes Messiah.

1756–1763 France and England vie for American possessions during the Seven Years’ War.

1770 Captain James Cook explores Botany Bay on the shoreline of Australia.

1776–1783 American colonies revolt and form independent nation.

1782 Charles Simeon appointed as curate-in-charge of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge.

1783 King George III appoints William Pitt as prime minister of Britain.

1787 Freed slaves found the British colony of Sierra Leone in West Africa.

1788 English convicts found British colony in Sydney, Australia.

1789 French mob storms the Bastille and begins a revolution.

1797 Prominent evangelicals found the Church Missionary Society.

1807 Britain abolishes the slave trade in her colonies.

1834 Parliament passes the Abolition of Slavery Act.

Sources and Resources

“The Life and Times of John Newton 1725–1807,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 81: John Newton: Author of “Amazing Grace” (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 2004).

Coll. edn. of his Works by R. Cecil (6 vols., London, 1808). Newton pub. much of his religious correspondence anonymously in Omicron (1774), Cardiphonia (2 vols., 1781), Letters to a Wife (2 vols., 1793), and Letters to the Rev. W. Bull (posthumous, 1847). Journal of a Slave Trader (John Newton) 1750–1754 ed. B. [D.] Martin and M. Spurrell (1962) F. J. Hamilton (ed.), ‘Out of the Depths’, being the Autobiography of the Rev. John Newton (1916). Memoir by R. Cecil (London, 1808). Other Lives by J. Bull (ibid., c. 1868), B. [D.] Martin (ibid., 1950), and J. [C.] Pollock, Amazing Grace (ibid., 1981). D. E. Demaray, The Innovation of John Newton (1725–1807): Synergism of Word and Music in Eighteenth Century Evangelism (Texts and Studies in Religion, 36; Lewiston, NY, etc. [1988]), D. B. Hindmarsh, John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition (Oxford, 1996). M. L. Loane, Oxford and the Evangelical Succession (1950), pp. 81–132.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1150–1151.

Bond, Douglas. The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts. Crawfordsville, IN: Reformation Trust, 2013.
Cook, Faith. Our Hymn Writers and Their Hymns. Faverdale North, UK: Evangelical Press, 2005.
Houghton, Elsie. Classic Christian Hymn Writers. Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publishing, 1982.
Ryden, Ernest Edwin. The Story of Our Hymns. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1930.
Smith, Jane Stuart, and Betty Carlson. Great Christian Hymn Writers. Wheaton: Crossway, 1997.
Turner, Steve. Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Song. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
Watts, Isaac. A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody, 1707.

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).

Tom Darin Liskey

 

Tom Darin Liskey

Art: Blue Veil

Tom Darin Liskey is an author, poet and photo-journalist.  More than twenty years of international journalism and business experience gives Tom a unique perspective. That experience abroad has given him a keen eye to appreciate different cultures and locations. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has been published in literary magazines, both in the US and abroad including two published books.

This article appeared originally in  Change Seven literary magazine.

https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/

All images © Tom Darin Liskey

 

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.

Messiah by Georg Frideric Handel

And he shall reign forever and ever
King of kings forever and ever
and lord of lords hallelujah hallelujah
And he shall reign forever and ever
King of kings and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords
And he shall reign forever and ever
Forever and ever and ever and ever
(King of kings and lord of lords)
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah


If you have attended a performance of Handel’s Messiah, you have noticed that the audience rises during the famous Hallelujah chorus.  No one is exactly sure how this tradition began, but the popular legend is that King George II, attending the London premiere in March of 1743, was so moved by the “Hallelujah’’ that he stood up – and if the king stands, everybody stands.  True or not, the majesty of the chorus itself continues to inspire audiences to a sense of an entrance to the presence of God.

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

For twenty-four days he rarely left the house, all his attention focused on the completion of the work at hand. When his servant brought him a tray of food, he would often find the previous meal untouched. Handel, a man known for his insatiable appetite, was so caught up in composing this music that he sometimes neglected to feed himself. The work came to him, he later testified, almost miraculously, and was fueled by the intense spiritual experience of writing it.

There was something unique for Handel about this particular piece. A friend who visited him during the throes of composition found him sobbing with intense emotion. All his heart, his faith, and his passion were being poured into the creative process. At times he could barely stand the pathos he felt, the overwhelming sense of human limitation in trying to express what he wanted to say through his music. At other moments he was overcome with exhilaration and wonder at God’s majesty. To his servant, who found him alone and weeping after completing the transcendent “Hallelujah” chorus, he could only murmur, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself.”

Which song most inspires you to a sense of God’s presence?


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


Messiah

Georg Frideric Handel

 

And he shall reign forever and ever
King of kings forever and ever
and lord of lords hallelujah hallelujah
And he shall reign forever and ever
King of kings and lord of lords
King of kings and lord of lords
And he shall reign forever and ever
Forever and ever and ever and ever
(King of kings and lord of lords)
Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

Georg Frideric Handel

Handel, George Frideric (1685–1759), musical composer. The original form of his name was Händel. He was born in Halle, Saxony, and spent the early years of his career in Hamburg and in Italy. In 1710 he visited London, which he made his home from 1712, becoming a naturalized British subject in 1727. He remained a *Lutheran, but worshipped regularly at his parish church, St George’s, Hanover Square. He is rightly regarded as the originator of the English *oratorio, with its prominent role for the chorus. As Handel was essentially a man of the theatre, his oratorios are generally highly dramatic in style; they include Esther (1732), Saul (1738), Israel in Egypt (1738), Judas Maccabeus (1746), and Solomon (1748). For the most part they were originally performed in the theatre, but without scenery or theatrical dress. The most famous of all, Messiah (1741, first performed in 1742) is atypical in being non-dramatic. It has always enjoyed immense popularity. Handel himself inaugurated annual performances of it for the benefit of the Foundling Hospital, and over the years it has helped keep many an amateur choral society solvent. His other religious music includes ‘Dixit Dominus’ (1707), the set of extended anthems for the Duke of Chandos (1717–18), and four anthems for the coronation of George II (1727), of which ‘Zadok the priest’ has been sung at every subsequent coronation. Handel’s genius may be said to lie in his ability to create the sublimest of effects with the simplest of means. He gave up composing after going blind in 1752, although he continued to play and direct performances of his works to the end of his life.

Collected Works ed. by [K. F. F. Chrysander for] the Händel-Gesellschaft (97 vols., pt. 49 never pub., Leipzig, 1858–1902); new edn. (‘Hallische Händel-Ausgabe’) by M. Schneider and others (Kassel, 1955 ff.). W. and M. Eisen (eds.), Handel-Handbuch (Gleichzeitig Supplement zu Hallische Händel-Ausgabe, 1978 ff.; incl. thematic catalogue and docs.). O. E. Deutsch, Handel: A Documentary Biography (1955). J. Mainwaring, Memoirs of the Life of the late George Frederic Handel (1760). P. H. Lange, George Frideric Handel (New York, 1966; London, 1967). C. Hogwood, Handel (London [1984]). D. [J.] Burrows, Handel (Oxford, 1994). H. Swanston, Handel (Outstanding Christian Thinkers, 1990). W. Dean, Handel’s Dramatic Oratorios and Masques (1959). D. [J.] Burrows, Handel and the English Chapel Royal (lecture [1985]). Id. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Handel (1997). K. Sasse, Händel Bibliographie (Leipzig [1963]; 2nd edn., 1967); M. A. Parker-Hale, G. F. Handel: A Guide to Research (New York and London, 1988). A. Hicks in S. Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd edn.), 10 (2001), pp. 747–813, s.v.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 738.

Messiah in Literature

“Messiah” is a transliteration of Heb. mashiaḥ, an adjective which means “anointed,” and so can refer to anyone with a divinely appointed mission—kings (e.g., 1 Sam. 24:6; Lam. 4:20), high priests (Lev. 4:3, 5, 16; 6:22), priests (Exod. 28:41; Lev. 10:7; Num. 3:3), and even the Gentile king Cyrus (Isa. 54:1). The term mashiaḥ is not, in fact, ever used in the OT as a reference to Messiah. The KJV twice mentions “the Messiah” in the OT, but it is now recognized that “the anointed one” is a more apt translation, since KJV’s “the Messiah the Prince” (Dan. 9:25, “the anointed prince”) probably refers to Cyrus (see Isa. 45:1), and “the Messiah” (KJV Dan. 9:26, “anointed one”) to Onias III.

The OT does, of course, give voice to messianic longings and expectation. Gen. 49:10 is a very early messianic prophecy: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Moses promised that “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet … like unto me” (Deut. 18:15). Often such prophecies look forward to a time when Israel would again be united as it had been in the time of David: “Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head” (Hos. 1:11), and at this time “shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king” (Hos. 3:5; see also Amos 9:11–15). This leader, this new David, will be a scourge to the foes of Israel, such a one as had been prophesied in Num. 24:17: “there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.” For the Psalmist this all-powerful, all-conquering king of Israel is “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (110:4), a spiritual leader, then, as well as political—and eternal in his rule.

Sometimes this idea of the messianic reunification of Israel is expanded to envision all the peoples of the world coming to Zion. Isaiah gives the most powerful and the most extended expression to such hopes: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains … and all nations shall flow into it … and they shall beat their swords into plowshares” (Isa. 2:2–4; Mic. 4:1–4); and for a ruler “there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isa. 11:1–2; Isaiah is recalling the anointing of David, son of Jesse [1 Sam. 16:1–13]). Another image is provided by the “suffering servant” of Isa. 40–55, who has “no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2), one who labors for a time in vain, who suffers at the hands of the wicked, and who dies for his people, a “Redeemer of Israel” (Isa. 49:7). Yet this Redeemer will also be “a light to the Gentiles” and “salvation unto the end of the earth.” He will “say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves” (Isa. 49:1–9):

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. … He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … and we esteemed him not. … But he was wounded for our transgressions … and with his stripes we are healed. … he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter. … his soul an offering for sin. (Isa. 53:1–10; see also 35:4; 40:10; 42:1–9; 52:13–15; 59:20)

For Daniel the mysterious and awesome figure associated with the triumph of the elect is at once human and divine: “behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days” (7:13–14).

In the NT, where Jewish hopes for a Messiah are seen as fulfilled in Jesus, the evangelists portray Jesus drawing all these—and other—strands together into a single thread of prophecy: “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life up as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). In this one passage, Jesus casts himself as “the Son of man” of Dan. 7:13, as the “servant” of Isa. 49:3, and as the suffering Redeemer of Isa. 53:4–9. Jesus makes explicit his messianic role in John 4:25–26: the Samaritan woman “saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ. … Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” And in John 1:41 Andrew says, “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ”; indeed, since Christ was the Greek equivalent of Heb. mashiaḥ, “the anointed one,” every reference in the NT to Jesus as “the Christ” is a reference to Jesus as “the messiah” (see, e.g., Matt. 16:16; Mark 8:29; Luke 2:11; John 10:24; Acts 18:5).

Ps. 110 was given a messianic interpretation at least as early as the time of Jesus, and so was the most widely quoted Psalm in the NT: “Jesus saith unto him … Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64; there is also a reference here to Dan. 7:13; for other NT references to Ps. 110, see, e.g., Matt. 22:41–46; Acts 2:34–35; 5:31; 7:55; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:13; 5:6, 10; 8:1; 10:12–13; Rev. 3:21).

For patristic writers, of course, there was no question that many passages in the OT referred directly to Christ. St. Ambrose, e.g., writes that Gen. 49:8–12 only “appears” to refer to Judah, while “indeed … that later Juda is meant”—Christ (FC 65.251). Ambrose goes on to gloss Isa. 11:1: “The root is the household of the Jews, the rod is Mary, the flower of Mary is Christ” (65.252); this interpretation originated with Tertullian, De carne Christi, 251.5). St. Augustine understands Ps. 1:3 as referring to Christ: “That ‘tree’ then, that is, our Lord, from ‘the running streams of water,’ that is from the sinful people’s drawing them by the way into the roots of discipline, will ‘bring forth fruit,’ that is, after He hath been glorified” (Enarr. in Ps. [NPNF 8.1]). The Vg sometimes even translates OT “anointed one” with Christus (e.g., Ps. 2:2; Dan. 9:25–26). Indeed, this christological reading of the OT encouraged the Fathers to find references to Christ in a very wide range of OT events; Eve’s issuing from a wound in the side of Adam, e.g., was seen as a type for the blood issuing from the side of Christ (St. John Chrysostom, ACW 31.62).

The assumption of such passages is that God so arranged the events of history that they would be meaningful, functioning as a broad and detailed prophecy of the Messiah and his mission. History leads up to and is granted retrospective significance in terms of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Subsequent history likewise is adequated to the predicted eschaton: Christian historiography in the Middle Ages is charged with messianic expectation, and numerous attempts were made to correlate proximate historical events to biblical prophecy so as to arrive at a probable date for what Christians anticipated as the Second Coming of Christ. Favored dates (in their various periods) were A.D. 1000, 1233, 1260, 1300, 1333, 1360, and 1400. But Jewish speculation on the coming of the Messiah and the corresponding millennial reign was comparable: the year 1358 was the favorite Jewish date in the 14th cent., though the De Jure Belli of Giovanni da Legnano, written in 1360, refers to 1365 as a likely date (ed. T. E. Holland [1917], 77-78).

The first advent of the Messiah, in a Christian perspective, and expectation of his final coming and judgment, determine the structuring (or restructuring) of biblical narrative in numerous works of medieval English literature. In the 14th cent., e.g., one typically finds in the cycle plays not only a Prophets’ Play, wherein the coming of the Messiah is explicitly foretold, but also such detailed prefigurations as the child-lamb being born to Gil in “The Second Shepherds’ Play.” In bk. 1 of The Faerie Queene one finds not only the messianic structure, with the dragon-devil waiting to be defeated at the coming of the Christ-like Redcrosse Knight, but also such typological details as the child playing with the dragon-serpent (FQ 1.12.11) in fulfillment of Isa. 11:8, “And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den” (see J. C. Nohrnberg, The Analogy of the Faerie Queene).

Eighteenth-cent. interest in the Eclogues of Virgil and the Sibylline prophecies, thought then to be parallel in many respects to OT prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, encouraged imaginative treatment of some of the chief “messianic” portions of Isaiah. Alexander Pope freely blends elements from Virgil’s Pollio eclogue (Eclogues, 4, esp. 6-46) and Isaiah (7:14; 11:1; 40:1–4; 45:8, etc.) to create his “Messiah,” first published in the Spectator (1712). Pope’s stirring phrases reveal, however, a dominance of scriptural idiom:

The SAVIOR comes! by ancient Bards foretold:
Hear him ye Deaf, and all ye Blind behold!
He from thick Films shall purge the visual Ray,
And on the sightless Eye-ball pour the Day.
’Tis he th’obstructed Paths of Sound shall clear,
And bid new Musick charm th’unfolding Ear.
The Dumb shall sing, the Lame his Crutch foregoe,
And leap exulting like the bounding Roe. (37-44)

Pope’s triumphant concluding lines are consistent with the whole poem in their indebtedness to Isaiah (esp. 51:6; 54:10; 60:19–20):

One Tyde of Glory, one unclouded Blaze,
O’erflow thy Courts: The LIGHT HIMSELF shall shine
Reveal’d; and God’s eternal Day be thine!
The Seas shall waste; the Skies in Smoke decay;
Rocks fall to Dust, and Mountains melt away;
But fix’d His Word, His saving Pow’r remains:
Thy Realm for ever lasts! thy own Messiah reigns!

The most celebrated Messiah of the 18th cent. is undoubtedly that of G. F. Handel (1742). The oratorio is atypical in Handel’s canon in that it tells no story; rather, it sets forth a series of scriptural texts arranged as a litany of meditations on redemption, commencing with a series of OT prophecies (notably centering on Isaiah again) and moving through the ministry of Jesus to the Cross and Resurrection. It was a peculiar accomplishment of Handel’s composition that, as William Cowper put it ironically, thousands of auditors with no interest in the Messiah (or, he implies, in redemption) thus heard a fair précis of scriptural salvation history for the sake of Handel’s great music. In Cowper’s wry reflection:

Man praises man. Desert in arts or arms
Wins public honour; and ten thousand sit
Patiently present at a sacred song,
Commemoration-mad; content to hear
(Oh wonderful effect of music’s pow’r!)
Messiah’s eulogy for Handel’s sake! (The Task, 6.632-37)

Cowper’s priest, fellow hymn writer (Olney Hymns), and mentor at Olney, John Newton, having later become rector at St. Mary Woolnoth in London, was happy to take advantage of an extremely successful rerun of Handel’s Messiah at Westminster Abbey during 1784-85 to preach a remarkable series of fifty sermons. These were published with considerable success as Messiah: Or, the Scriptural Passages which Form the Subject of the Celebrated Oratorio of Handel (1786). Handel thus has come to figure largely in English allusions, literary and otherwise, to “the Messiah.” Interestingly parallel, however, is Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock’s religious epic Messias, inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost. After appearing in Germany in 1748 and 1773 it became well known also in England and America.

A contrasting deemphasis of the subject, or redefinition of it, becomes apparent in later literature. For Blake, who in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell wants to exalt the Subconscious (or hell) at the expense of Good and Reason, the Messiah becomes simply Desire: “the Messiah fell, & formed a heaven of what he stole from the abyss” (Complete Writings [1966], 149, pl. 5). In a related vein, Coleridge sees the integrated consciousness or “whole one Self” as “the Messiah’s destined victory!” (“Religious Musings”). The American poet Robert Lowell, in “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket,” asks his readers to see in the killing of a sperm whale a reenactment of the Crucifixion and so calls the whale “Jonas Messiah”—with a typological pun on Jonah (see also Lowell’s “No Messiah” and “Once to Every Man and Nation”). Gore Vidal’s Messiah (1954) is a parodic “fifth gospel,” recounting the life and cult of John Cave, an unlikely savior and founder of Caveway, a new religion promising solace through death.

The term Messiah or “new Messiah” occasionally occurs in literature either as a term of derogation or in a purely secularizing sense. Dryden, e.g., disparages the motives of the refugee French Huguenots coming to England, suggesting in his Catholic poem The Hind and the Panther (1687) that since their motives are really materialist, it is British affluence which is their “new Messiah by the star” (3.173-78). Similarly, there are references to other “Christs,” such as Oscar Wilde’s “These Christs that die upon the barricades” (“Sonnet to Liberty”). A. M. Klein’s acerbic “Ballad of the Days of the Messiah,” from the section “A Voice was Heard in Ramah,” in his Collected Poems (1944), bitterly heralds “Messiah in an armour-metalled tank,” the liberation soldier arrived too late to redeem six million Jews. Klein’s World War II poetry has many such references to the failure of Messiah to appear in the darkest hours:

Where is the trumpeted Messiah? Where
The wine long-soured into vinegar?
Have cobwebs stifled his mighty shofar? (“Reb Levi Yitschok talks to God”)

This poem, a troubled rabbi’s series of unanswered Job-like questions, complains of a protracted historical silence of God and with it of the emptying out of meaning in messianic promises. Representative of a fair portion of Jewish poetry written through and after the Holocaust, both poems are at a far remove from Klein’s early (ashkenaz) alphabetic “Messiah” (1927), a joyous, whimsical children’s song about the golden messianic age which might have been written in the age of Maimonides.

Bibliography

Ames, C. R. “False Advertising: The Influence of Virgil and Isaiah on Pope’s Messiah.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 28 (1988), 401-26; Axelrod, S. G. Robert Lowell: Life and Art (1978), 54-64; Brown, R. E. The Birth of the Messiah (1977); Greenstone, J. H. The Messianic Idea in Jewish History (1906), 21-80; Scholem, G. The Messianic Idea in Judaism (1971); Werblowsky, R. J. Z. “Messianism in Jewish History.” Journal of World History 11 (1968), 30-445.

David L. Jeffrey, A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992).

Keates, Jonathan. Handel: The Man and His Music. New York: Random House, 2009.
Slover, Tim. Messiah: The Little-Known Story of Handel’s Beloved Oratorio. Chicago: Silver Leaf Press, 2007.

 

Terry Glaspey

Terry Glaspey

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.

St. Matthew’s Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach (1727)

Last measures of movement 1 and start of movement 2 in Bach’s autograph score

Come, daughters, help me lament,
behold! – Whom? – the Bridegroom!
Behold him! – how? – As a Lamb.
Behold! – what? – behold the patience,
look! – where? – at our guilt.
See him, out of love and graciousness
bear the wood for the Cross Himself.
  O innocent Lamb of God,
  slaughtered on the trunk of the Cross,
  patient at all times,
  however you were scorned.
  you have borne all sins,
  otherwise we would have to despair.
  Have mercy on us, o Jesus.


RickLeonardo da Vinci’s famous painting Last Supper captures the moment immediately after Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray him.  John 13:22 tells us they were stunned to silence at such a statement.  In her wonderful book Saving Leonardo, Nancy Pearcey writes that it is “that dramatic moment of confrontation when the disciples asked, “Is it I, Lord?” And as Bach says in his St. Matthew’s Passion, for each person the answer must be, Yes, it is I and my sins that put Jesus on the cross. It is I who should have suffered what he is about to suffer out of love for me.”

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

Like so much of Bach’s work, St. Matthew’s Passion was written to be performed at the church for which he regularly contributed new compositions to use in the weekly worship services. It was not written as a piece for the concert hall but for the Sunday service. Over the course of his life, he wrote music for every season of the church year but it was in this composition for Holy Week that he particularly outdid himself. St. Matthew’s Passion was first performed on Good Friday, 1727, though it underwent numerous revisions as it was performed again and again throughout Bach’s life. What an experience it must have been for members of his congregation to spend a portion of Good Friday in such a manner, meditating on this majestic combination of words and music. And its power to move the listener to the deepest spiritual contemplation remains just as great today.

Marshaling all his compositional skills, and putting them at the service of not one but two orchestras and choirs, Bach was able to fashion a piece of great musical complexity and spiritual depth, one that went far beyond the standard Baroque passion settings with which the audiences of his day would have been familiar. The text was created by Christian Henrici, who wrote under the pen name Picander. Like Bach, he lived in Leipzig, and there is little doubt that the two men collaborated on this sublime combination of the actual text from the latter chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, already extant hymns and chorales (which would have been familiar to their audience), and original poetry of great beauty and emotional weight.
The passion opens with a chorus that sets the tone for the entire piece: “Come you daughters, share my mourning.” What follows is a sustained meditation on the atoning death of Christ. Unlike the more celebratory Messiah by Handel, the concentration of Bach’s work is upon Christ’s agony, suffering, abandonment, and death. In fact, the resurrection is only mentioned in passing. The emphasis is upon the pain and anguish that Jesus took upon himself in our stead: scourged, mocked, beaten, spat upon, tortured, then crucified. Hence there is a stately, elevated, brooding sadness that marks both the words and the music, and the listener is left to contemplate the great exchange—the innocent Lamb of God dying for the guilty.

To listen intently to this masterpiece is to be reminded of the immensity of what Jesus Christ accomplished as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Bach does not allow us to simply contemplate this sacrifice as a theological abstraction. Instead, we feel it. The deeply emotive music lets us experience again the redemptive sacrifice that arises from the boundless depths of God’s grace and mercy. Bach reminds us that our salvation comes at a very high price. Therefore, our proper response is not only wonder at what God has wrought on the cross but also heartfelt introspection and repentance.

Is the crucifixion beautiful?

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

 

D I G  D E E P E R


ST. MATTHEW’S PASSION

Johann Sebastian Bach

 

Death Set to Music: Masterworks by Bach, Brahms, Penderecki, and Bernstein, by Paul S. Minear. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1987. Pp. 144. $14.95.

Throughout the twentieth century theologians have appreciated and explored the theological significance of musical composers. Most notably, Albert Schweitzer, Karl Barth, and Jaroslav Pelikan have written musicological analyses and theological interpretations of Bach. And shorter essays and religious reviews have dealt with the theological significance of works ranging from the ebullient melodies of Mozart to the stark dissonance of Ives. Yet little has been written about theological themes or issues shared by great musicians.

In Death Set to Music Paul Minear, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Theology at Yale Divinity School, begins to correct this deficiency as he analyzes the ways in which four composers deal with the complexities of death: J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, Johannes Brahms’s Requiem, Krzysztof Penderecki’s St. Luke’s Passion, and Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. Minear does not attempt to explicate each composer’s theology or “world-view” (in this case, perhaps, “world-sound”); instead, he focuses on the ways in which the works interpret familiar biblical texts and contemporary poetry about death itself and the human recognition of mortality.

In addition to chapters devoted to analyses of each of the musical compositions, Minear introduces his book with a summary of the biblical theologies of death, wherein he notes that biblical concerns with death are not confined to medical death: “Only in relatively few instances do the [biblical] nouns and verbs for dying bear the medical definition as their primary denotation” (p. 8). Biblical concerns with death extend to emotional and religious deaths—fears and sins—that persons experience throughout life. In this line of reasoning Minear emphasizes the Pauline maxims of “death in sin” (the fallen state of human beings) and “death to sin” (the salvation achieved through commitment to God).

With this general background Minear comments upon the four compositions because of their common biblical concerns with death—“their extensive use of Scripture and their abilities to express in musical language the biblical perceptions of mortality” (p. 146); but he does not intend primarily to compare the musical perspectives on death. For the composers span four centuries, four cultures, four religious traditions (“orthodox” Lutheran, liberal Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish), and even more musical styles. Just as the biblical texts throughout different periods and perceptions treat the subject of death in a variety of illuminating ways, so too these composers treat the subject of death in equally variant, reflective, and revelatory ways.

Minear’s primary purpose is to provide an exegesis of the texts about death that the composers have adopted and adapted. As such, almost half of the book is devoted to a reproduction (and translation) of the librettos from the musical works. Basically, he applies the methodologies of form criticism and redaction criticism to the literary texts of the compositions. He remarks on the collaboration of Bach with Picander to make the Matthean passion story a contemporaneous event. He muses about Brahms’s choice of Hebrew scriptural texts for the Requiem, noting that the choice of non-exclusively Christian texts extends the universality of Brahms’s perceptions of death. Minear also comments on the insertion of numerous excerpts from the gospel of John into Penderecki’s rendering of the Luke passion story, and he notes Bernstein’s weaving of texts from the mass with modern verse by Stephen Schwartz to interpret the political and public mourning of John F. Kennedy. By their formulation of texts, he contends, the composers disclose new insights into the human condition in terms of its anticipation of death and its reflections on mortality.

Minear avers that these new insights reveal an emotional intensity (“the rich subtleties experienced in suffering and joy” [p.18]) often lacking in academic interpretations, but he does not dwell on the distinctive visions or perspectives that the compositions finally offer. Nor does he fully elaborate the theological significance of sound and musical style, a process which he adequately begins. For instance, he notes that musicologists have often remarked on Bach’s use of the sostenuto violins accompanying the recitatives of Jesus, thus creating a kind of “halo effect” around his words. Just as the presence of the violins suggests the transcendence of Jesus’s words, however, so too their absence is significant in the occasions of Jesus’ abject refusal to answer Pilate and in his agonistic words on the cross. Yet Minear could have gone further in his analysis of the theological significance of the musical score. Equally as impressive as the violin sostenuto underlying Jesus’ transcendent words is the fact that the voice of Jesus is that of a deep baritone. With that choice of tessitura, Bach identifies the “transcendent” voice of Jesus not with that which supervenes, but that which underlies. Transcendence is not carried by the high voice of a tenor (which Bach assigns to the literarily transcendent perspective of the Evangelist), but the voice resonating with that which comes from the depth of all creation, from “the Ground of Being,” to use one of Tillich’s appellations for Transcendence.

Although Minear does not provide a final overview of the volume or a thorough analysis of the theological contributions and innovations of the various interpretations of death in the compositions, he does offer a practically oriented conclusion in his “Postlude,” which is directed to theological exegetes, musicologists, and musicians and suggests how they might improve their appreciation, understanding, and performance of the works.

Despite these shortcomings Minear makes a significant new contribution to biblical interpreters, theologians of culture, and sacred musicians by establishing a context in which they inform each other about the experience and understanding of the potential pathos and power of death. As both a theologian and a musician who has performed three of the four works, I attest to the provocative and enlightening character of Minear’s work. Consistently illuminating and stimulating, the book is theologically accessible to church musicians and concert masters and musicologically accessible to theologians and pastors. It is highly recommended for all library collections in religious studies and sacred music.

Joseph L. Price, “Review of Death Set to Music: Masterworks by Bach, Brahms, Penderecki, and Bernstein by Paul S. Minear,” Critical Review of Books in Religion (1989): 124–126.

Greenburg, Robert. Bach and the High Baroque. DVD. Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company, 1995.
Koopman, Ton, and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir. Bach: Matthäus Passion. DVD. Amersfoort, Netherlands: Challenge Classics, 2006.
Marschall, Rick. Johann Sebastian Bach. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Pelikan, Jaraslov. Bach among the Theologians. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986.

 

Terry Glaspey

Terry Glaspey

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.

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts (1707)

lightstock_207070_full_rick_wilcox

 

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.


Rick WilcoxIsaac Watts was the master of hymn writers.  He not only wrote the masterpiece of our discussion today, he also wrote hundreds of others, including Joy To The World which is perhaps the best known song of Christmas.  He was an exceptional pastor and poet who understood deeply the extraordinary power of carving truth into a tune.

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

Charles Wesley, himself one of the greatest of hymn writers, reportedly said that he would give up all the hymns he had penned if he could have written “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” The man who did compose it, Isaac Watts, is widely considered to be the first great English hymn writer, and the headwaters from which the whole tradition of English hymns has flowed. This hymn has had many musical settings throughout the years, but the most widely embraced today is that of Lowell Mason, who in 1824 composed the haunting and stately tune by which is it commonly known today. It has become a staple of hymnbooks from every tradition of the Christian church, combining sensually passionate language with a powerful theological statement.

With imagery that is beautiful yet horrific, Isaac Watts invites us to join him at the foot of the cross and witness the pain and shock of Jesus’s death while meditating on what it has accomplished for those who embrace the meaning of his sacrifice. Watts does not spare our mind’s eye from the horror of the event, as we are made witness to the blood and the tears of Christ streaming from his crucified body: “See from His head, His hands, His feet, / Sorrow and love flow mingled down.” We can imagine the ringing of the hammer on the spikes, the taunting of the crowd, and the wailing cries of those who loved him.

Yet this is not only a moment of sadness but also of glorious victory: “Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, / Or thorns compose so rich a crown?” In light of this atoning death, Watts reminds us that all our earthly attainments are empty and vain, nothing in comparison to what Jesus attained for us on the cross: “I sacrifice them to His blood.” This crucial moment in human history changed everything. Christ’s sacrifice reorients what we see as valuable and provides a new perspective on the world and everything in it, calling us to make a sacrifice of our own: giving up our lives for the Savior.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Originally published in Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707–09), this hymn was placed within the section of the hymnal called, “Prepared for the Holy Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper,” which lets us know that Watts’s intention is for us to meditate on the sacrificial death of Christ as we partake of his body and blood in the Eucharist. Watts moves our emotions without becoming mawkish, sentimental, or overly subjective about the gracious gift that changes .

 

Are there any contemporary worship songs that congregations will be singing hundreds of years from now?

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John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

 

D I G  D E E P E R


When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

 

(1674–1748)
Isaac Watts was the first Englishman to succeed in overcoming the prejudices that opposed the introduction of hymns into English public worship. Today it is difficult to realize that such a prejudice ever existed. The objection to singing usually was not an objection to the singing of the Psalms, but an objection to the singing of hymns that had been composed in modern time.

In 1707 Watts published a book of hymns, some of which were of such enduring worth that scarcely any hymnal in modern times omits them: “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Joy to the World,” “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun,” “Lord of the Worlds Above,” and “Give Me the Wings of Faith to Rise.” They were by no means the first English hymns, but they were the first considerable collection. It is not surprising that Independent Congregations sang no other songs for seventy years or so, or that Watts’s hymns have retained their popularity after generations of hymn writers.

As a result of Watts’s writings, the need of the human heart to express its religious feelings found vent in a new and more expressive direction. The lyric impulse that again and again had manifested itself in sacred hymns, despite the shackles of the Calvinistic devotion to the Psalms, found its expression first in these freer and more spontaneous versions by Watts. These new versions of the Psalms had a freedom and spiritual fervency unknown before. This gives place to a more spontaneous and emotional expression of the general thought of the Psalms. The tunes to which these new hymns were to be sung were emotional, spontaneous, and popular. This “new wine” burst the old bottles of rigid psalmody and created a new church music of its own.

When Isaac Watts’s hymns began to find their way into favor, many conservative religious people disdainfully called them “Watts’s whims.” While Martin Luther’s hymns were being sung widely in Germany, Watts’s hymns were still fighting their way into some churches, sometimes as much as thirty to forty years later.

Watts wrote over five hundred hymns; however, not all were the best quality. He said that Charles Wesley’s hymn “Wrestling Jacob” was worth all that he (Watts) had ever written. Despite his modesty, his output was very significant to English hymnody.

In 1719, Watts introduced Psalm paraphrases written with greater freedom than those that had been in use. He managed to express faithfully the sentiment of the Psalms and enriched them for Christian people by references to New Testament thought.

Isaac Watts’s Hymns and Psalms of David Imitates was also well known in the United States colonies in the eighteenth century. He kept in touch with the colonies, carrying on regular correspondence with different religious leaders such as Cotton Mather. Benjamin Franklin published Watts’s Psalms in 1729. By 1740 it was clear that it strongly caught the interest of the American colonists. One of the earliest American books for children was Divine and Moral Songs, published by Isaac Watts in 1720.

Sources and Resources

G.A. Comfort, “Watts, Isaac,” ed. J.D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort, Who’s Who in Christian History (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992), 705–706.

Bond, Douglas. The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts. Crawfordsville, IN: Reformation Trust, 2013.
Cook, Faith. Our Hymn Writers and Their Hymns. Faverdale North, UK: Evangelical Press, 2005.
Houghton, Elsie. Classic Christian Hymn Writers. Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publishing, 1982.
Ryden, Ernest Edwin. The Story of Our Hymns. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1930.
Smith, Jane Stuart, and Betty Carlson. Great Christian Hymn Writers. Wheaton: Crossway, 1997.
Turner, Steve. Amazing Grace: The Story of America’s Most Beloved Song. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
Watts, Isaac. A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody, 1707.

 

 

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 Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)

Christian’s route through a landscape along the winding path from “The City of Destruction” to the “Celestial City” via the “Slough of Despond”, the “Wicket Gate” which bears a sign, “Knock and it shall be opened unto you”, “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”, “Vanity Fair” and so on, and encounters with “Mr Worldly-wiseman”, “The Three Shining Ones”, “Giant Despair” at “Doubting Castle” and others. 1813 Hand-coloured etching


The Pilgrim’s Progress is the world’s best-selling book (other than the Bible).  It has never been out of print since it was published in 1678.  The book’s success is quite remarkable given the modest background and little formal education of its author.  The journey motif seems to have always resonated with audiences.  From the Odyssey, to Don Quixote’s quest and The Pilgrim’s Progress, we quickly identify with characters whose lives are allegorical to our own.  Each of these stories are the journey of Everyman and in them we gain perspective if not vicarious education.

In his book 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know, Terry Glaspey wrote:

The Pilgrim’s Progress tells the story of a man named Christian who awakens to his own sense of sinfulness and guilt before God. He undertakes a dangerous journey through many trials, temptations, and distractions of all sorts as he makes his way toward the Celestial City, his final destination, where God dwells and salvation can be experienced in full. The characters he meets along the way reflect the vices and virtues that they represent, such as Obstinate, Mr. Legality, Mr. Great-Heart, Faithful, Little-Faith, and Ignorance.

Bunyan’s book is not primarily a story to teach readers about the way to find salvation, for Christian’s encounter with the cross, where his burden of sin rolls away, occurs fairly early in the book. Instead, it is a tale about the spiritual journey, the inner and outer struggles and temptations a believer in Jesus will face as they walk the path of life. When the backpack of sin falls from Pilgrim’s shoulders, his journey has just begun. He must make his way past many dangers and distractions and challenges, struggling mightily all the way but empowered by God’s grace, until he finally arrives at his ultimate home, the Celestial City. There are many truths to be revealed along the way. For example, in one scene Christian and his companion Hopeful are imprisoned in the bowels of Doubting Castle, until Christian awakens to an important revelation. “What a fool, am I, thus to lie in a stinking dungeon, when I may as well walk at liberty. I have a key in my bosom, called promise, that will open any lock in Doubting Castle.” This revelation allows Christian and Hopeful to walk out of the prison and leave despair behind them.

For centuries this book has been cherished by readers as a guide for navigating the challenges of the Christian life. Its topics remain relevant for today’s reader: the danger of lusting after riches, the hazards of pride and religious hypocrisy, the struggle with overwhelming despair and depression, the battle with doubt and uncertainty, and the importance of making the right choices in even the smallest of matters. It reminds the reader of how essential it is to listen to wise counselors, and points toward the Bible as the greatest source of wisdom for living. Much of the book’s success comes from the fact that readers see themselves and their own internal struggles in the story. For many, The Pilgrim’s Progress is a mirror in which they can examine their own soul and be instructed in how they can change, which is exactly what Bunyan intended.

 

If you were writing The Pilgrim’s Progress about your own life, what characters would you feature?

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Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

 

D I G  D E E P E R


The Pilgrim’s Progress

John Bunyan

John Bunyan by Thomas Sadler, oil on canvas, 1684
John Bunyan
by Thomas Sadler, oil on canvas, 1684

(1628–88), author of The *Pilgrim’s Progress. Of the external details of his life comparatively little is known. Born at Elstow in Bedfordshire, he was the son of poor parents (his father was a brazier, a trade he himself followed—hence the loose description of him as a ‘tinker’), and probably acquired his knowledge and mastery of the English language from reading the Bible. He took part in the Civil War on the Parliamentary side (1644–6).

About 1649 he married a woman of piety who introduced him to A. Dent’s Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven and Bp. L. Bayly’s Practice of Piety; and these, together with the Bible, the BCP, and J. *Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, seem to have been his sole reading. In 1653 he was received into an *Independent Congregation at Bedford, and after being formally recognized as a preacher in 1657, he soon became well known in that capacity.

He suffered much from the repressive measures of the royalists after the Restoration of 1660, and spent most of the years 1660–72 in Bedford gaol. During and after his imprisonment he wrote extensively, including some verse compositions. Of his prose works, the chief and most famous are his autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666); The Pilgrim’s Progress (q.v.; 1678 and 1684); and The Holy War (1682).

For the rest of his life after his release in 1672, he worked among the Independents at Bedford, and took part in evangelistic work in other parts of the country. One of his last writings was a treatise, Antichrist and his Ruin (1692, posthumously pub. among his collected works), against the Church of Rome, whose influence in England under James II he much feared. If history and biography furnish little aid in understanding the personality of Bunyan, his chief writings demonstrate that to him the world was exclusively the scene of a spiritual warfare and that nothing mattered save the salvation of the soul.

In CW, feast day, 30 Aug.The First Part of the masterpiece of J. *Bunyan (q.v.), written either during his long imprisonment in Bedford gaol (1660–72) or during a second six months’ imprisonment in 1676–7, was published in February 1678 (NS); a fresh edition, with many additions, appeared later in the same year; while the Second Part, depicting ‘the manner of setting out of Christian’s wife and children’, did not appear until 1684. Attempts to identify an underlying medieval or Renaissance model have failed. Bunyan had but the most meagre historical knowledge and interests; and it is far more probable that the work owes everything to his own originality.

Its unrivalled place in the world’s religious literature rests on its artless directness, its imaginative power, the homeliness and rusticity of its method and its plainness of style, which give it its universal appeal, even to the most simple-minded. The persons and incidents encountered by Christian on his journey from the ‘City of Destruction’ to the ‘Heavenly City’—‘Evangelist’, ‘Mr Worldly-Wiseman’, ‘Mr Legality’ and his son ‘Civility’, Mr ‘Talkative, the son of one Saywell, who dwelt in Prating Row’, ‘Mr Facing-both-ways’, and ‘Greatheart’, and, of places, the ‘Slough of Despond’, the ‘Hill Difficulty’, the ‘House Beautiful’ (supposed to have been modelled on an actual house in Houghton Park), the ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’, and ‘Vanity Fair’—have become part and parcel of the language of religion in England.

The book, which circulated at first mainly in uneducated circles and whose supreme qualities were only gradually recognized, has appeared in a vast number of editions, and been translated into well over 100 languages. It has also been the subject of many adaptations (issued under similar titles), for the most part wholly without independent merit. The well-known hymn, ‘He who would valiant be’, is a modification of some lines sung by the pilgrims on the way to the ‘Enchanted Ground’.

 

 

Sources and Resources

First edn. of collected Works, vol. 1 (all pr.), London, 1692. Later edns. by G. Offer (3 vols., Edinburgh, 1852–3) and H. Stebbing (4 vols., London, 1859–60). Crit. edns. of Miscellaneous Works under the general editorship of R. Sharrock (13 vols., Oxford, 1976–94), of Grace Abounding by id. (ibid., 1962), The Holy War by id. and J. F. Forrest (ibid., 1980), and of The Life and Death of Mr. Badman by idd. (ibid., 1988). Lives by R. *Southey (London, 1830), J. A. Froude (‘English Men of Letters’, 1880), R. Sharrock (HUL, 1954), and G. [S.] Wakefield (London, 1992). [J. E.] C. Hill, A Turbulent, Seditious and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church (Oxford, 1988). R. L. Greaves, John Bunyan (Courtenay Studies in Reformation Theology, 2; Appleford, Berks [1969]). N. H. Keeble, The Literary Culture of Nonconformity in Later Seventeenth-Century England (Leicester, 1987), passim; id. (ed.), John Bunyan, Conventicle and Parnassus: Tercentenary Essays (Oxford, 1988). A. Laurence and others (eds.), John Bunyan and his England, 1628–88 (1990). M. A. Mullet, John Bunyan in Context (Keele, 1996). J. F. Forrest and R. L. Greaves, John Bunyan: A reference guide (Boston [1982]).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 253.

The Miscellaneous Works of John Bunyan New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Thirteen volumes projected.

Offor, G. The Works of John Bunyan, 3 vols. Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1858–59.

Sharrock, Roger, ed. Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners and The Pilgrims Progress. London: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Beal, Rebecca. “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners: John Bunyan’s Pauline Epistle” Studies in English Literature 21 (1981), pp. 148–60.

Brown, John. John Bunyan, His Life, Times and Works. Ed. Frank Mott Harrison. London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1964.
Greaves, Robert L. John Bunyan. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969.
Harrison, G.B. John Bunyan, A Study in Personality. London: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1928.
Kaufman, U. Milo. The Pilgrim’s Progress and Traditions in Puritan Meditations. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1966.
Kelman, John. The Road, A Study of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. 2 vols. Port Washington, N.Y: Kennikat Press, 1970.
Knott, John R., Jr. “Bunyan’s Gospel Day: A Reading of the Pilgrim’s Progress,” English Literary Renaissance, 3 (1973), pp. 443–61.
———. “Bunyan and the Holy Community,” Studies in Philology, LXXX, no. 2 (Spring, 1983), pp. 200–25.
Sadler, Lynn Veach. John Bunyan. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979.

Sharrock, Roger. John Bunyan. London: Hutchinson House, 1954.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt van Rijn (c.1669)

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

I came to see it as, somehow, my personal painting, the painting that contained not only the heart of the story that God wants to tell me, but also the heart of the story that I want to tell to God and God’s people. All of the Gospel is there. All of my life is there. All of the lives of my friends is there. The painting has become a mysterious window through which I can step into the Kingdom of God

~Henri Nouwen,  from The Return of the Prodigal Son


It’s not for sale, but Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son is valued at over $300 million.  There are about 350 certified paintings of his in existence and only about 14 are in private hands.  If one comes on the market you can expect to pay around $50 million for it.  All of that would be staggering to the painter who spend much of his life in financial hardship.  He was also a man deeply appreciative of the true treasure of God’s grace.

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

Created near the end of his life, during a time of mourning, personal and artistic disappointment, and ongoing financial struggles, Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son is a testament to his security in the love and mercy of God in the face of all these trials. Throughout his artistic career, Rembrandt had revisited scenes from this story several times in drawings, etchings, and paintings. He was clearly moved by Jesus’s parable of God’s unconditional love, and in this late canvas he made his culminating statement. It is a painting of great tenderness, capturing the moment when the wayward son returns to his father to beg for forgiveness. The hands of the father rest gently on his kneeling son’s shoulders as he leans forward with an expression of absolute acceptance and love. No matter what paths the son has trod, no matter what mistakes and betrayals he has committed, no matter how much he has hurt and disgraced his family, his father has been awaiting his return and welcomes him home.

The emotion in Rembrandt’s famous painting is palpable, and made even more emotionally resonant by its quiet dignity. It is obvious to the viewer that something important and life changing is taking place among this cluster of family members. But there is clearly more going on here than a simple family reunion. In the face of this loving and merciful father, we glimpse the very face of God.

What’s the difference between worth and value?


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


Rembrandt van Rijn

 

Portrait of the Artist Bare-Headed, oil on wood by Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt (1606–69) (Rembrandt Harmensz or Harmenszoon van Rijn), Dutch painter. The son of a wealthy miller of *Leiden, he showed an early inclination for his art and, at the age of 25, was one of the most famous portrait painters of his country. In 1631 he moved to Amsterdam, where he lived till his death. In 1634 he married the beautiful Saskia, who during the rest of her life was the inspiration of his art. His pictures on scriptural subjects in these years, which treat mostly of vivid scenes such as the story of *Samson, are full of vigour and imagination though they have not reached the spirituality of his later period. With the death of Saskia, in 1642, sorrow entered his life, and his troubles were increased by financial difficulties ending in bankruptcy and, in 1654, the scandal of having a child by his servant, Hendrickje, which brought him into conflict with the Reformed Church at Amsterdam. These sufferings, which threw him more and more into solitude, helped further to deepen and spiritualize his art and to give him an understanding of the Passion—a theme treated in about 90 paintings and etchings—such as few artists have possessed. Characteristic was his treatment of light and shade out of which his human figures appear to grow, thereby producing the impression of a happening beyond space and time. The supernatural atmosphere of the Last Supper and the Disciples at Emmaus, and the union of Divine majesty and redeeming love in the face of his Christ blessing the children or healing the sick, are unsurpassed in Christian art. Among his last great works is his famous Return of the Prodigal Son (Leningrad, c. 1668), a painted confession of faith in the goodness of God expressed in the face and hands of the father, who receives the kneeling beggar with infinite love. Rembrandt has rightly been termed the painter of the soul.

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1390–1391.

 

Sorrows of an Artist

At age 14, Rembrandt, the son of a wealthy miller, left the University of Leyden to study painting under an inconsequential painter of hell scenes. Three years later, however, he left the town he had lived in since birth to study art in Amsterdam, where he would live for the rest of his life.

In Amsterdam he developed both his affinity for depicting dramatic personal reactions and for chiaroscuro (painting in light and dark). In most of his paintings, light emerges from darkness, creating a timeless, emotional movement that draws the viewer into the scene.

By the late 1620s, he was already a renowned artist. “The Leyden miller’s son is much praised, but before his time,” wrote one critic, and a year later, the secretary of the Prince of Orange wrote an enthusiastic report commending Rembrandt’s “penetration” into the essence of his subjects.

In 1634 Rembrandt married the wealthy and beautiful Saskia van Uylenburgh, who during the rest of her life was his inspiration. It was a time of professional triumph, as portrait commissions poured in and his paintings were highly praised. But though Rembrandt and Saskia’s marriage was a happy one, it was also full of sorrow. Three children were born and died before a son, Titus, survived infancy. But the pregnancy was too difficult for Saskia, and she died the following year.

Rembrandt was also plagued by financial difficulties. He had a penchant for extravagant living, and when he purchased an expensive house in 1639, it placed him deep in debt.

Rembrandt acknowledged this extravagance by painting himself as the Prodigal Son, squandering money in the taverns with his wife, whom he depicted as a prostitute. In fact, Rembrandt often featured himself in his Bible paintings. In The Raising of the Cross, he even kept himself in his modern clothes to emphasize his personal involvement in the crucifixion. He believed the personalities in the Bible were like those of his Amsterdam acquaintances, so he painted these characters as he would his friends, with “the greatest and most natural emotion.”

Then, on top of sorrow and a growing debt, came scandal. Rembrandt’s servant, Hendrickje Stoffels, was summoned to appear before the Reformed church council. The official transcripts record that there, visibly pregnant, she “confesses to fornication with Rembrandt the painter, is gravely punished for it, admonished to penitence, and excluded from the Lord’s Supper.” Rembrandt himself was not censured, but his commissions, for which he could still command a good price, had dwindled in number.

In 1656 Rembrandt was forced to file for bankruptcy. He lost his house, his art collection, and soon after, his pride. He was forbidden from selling his own works and had to work for a firm set up by his servant Hendrickje and his son Titus. In 1663 Hendrickje died, and in 1668 Rembrandt’s son Titus died.
The following year, Rembrandt died, leaving behind only one daughter, 650 paintings, 280 etchings, and 1,400 drawings. Among his last works is his one of his most famous, The Return of the Prodigal Son, which depicts the opulent and sinful sinner returning home to the presence of his father.

Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, “Introduction,” 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 107–108.

 

RESOURCES

Reproductions of his Paintings incl. edn. by A. Bredius (Utrecht, 1935; Eng. edn., 1937, rev. by H. Gerson, 1969); of his Drawings, ed. O. Benesch (6 vols., London, 1954–7; rev. by E. Benesch, 1973); of his Etchings, ed. L. Münz (2 vols., London, 1952), and K. G. Boon (ibid., 1963). The very extensive lit. incl. general studies by A. M. Hind (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1930–1; London, 1932), J. Rosenberg (2 vols., Cambridge, Mass., 1948; rev. edn., London, 1964), B. Haak (Amsterdam, 1968; Eng. tr., 1969), C. [J.] White (London, 1984), S. Partsch (ibid., 1991), and E. van Wetering (Amsterdam, 1997). K. Clark, Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance (1966), and other works by this author. C. [J.] White, Rembrandt as Etcher (2 vols., 1969). Id. and K. G. Boon, Rembrandt’s Etchings: An Illustrated Critical Catalogue (2 vols., Amsterdam and New York [1970]). A. Bruyn and others, A Corpus of Rembrandt’s Paintings (The Hague, Boston, and London, 1982 ff. [challenging the attribution of many paintings traditionally ascribed to Rembrandt]); cf. S. Alpers, Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market (1988).

Depaulis, Julien, ed. Rembrandt (Sirrocco/Confidential Concepts, 2003).

Muhlberger, Richard. What Makes a Rembrandt a Rembrandt? (Viking Juvenile, 2002).

Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Rembrandt’s Late Religious Portraits (The University of Chicago Press, 2005).

http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/rembrandt_van_rijn.html

http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rembrandt_self_portraits.htm

Joe Garland, Cindy Garland, and Jim Eichenberger, God’s Word on Canvas, Through Artists’ Eyes: An Exploration of Bible-Inspired Art, 6 Studies (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 2010), 35–40.

Bockemühl, Michael. Rembrandt. Köln: Taschen, 2000.
Bonafoux, Pascal. Rembrandt: Master of the Portrait. New York: Abrams, 1992.
Dewitt, Lloyd, ed. Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2011.
Durham, John I. The Biblical Rembrandt. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2004.
Housden, Roger. How Rembrandt Reveals Your Beautiful, Imperfect Self. New York: Harmony Books, 2005.
Rosenberg, Jakob. Rembrandt: Life and Work. New York: Phaidon, 1964.

 

Terry Glaspey