Arts

  • God for Artists and Artists for God: Part 2

    I believe there are artists who are gifted and called by God. Just as pastors, technicians, educators, engineers, and athletes are called to contribute in their unique way to God's kingdom, so are artists. There are those who can taste, smell, see, hear, and feel things others of us can't. They have the insight and skill to clarify when things are confused, as well as the ambidexterity and courage to confuse things that seem clear.

    In the first part of this series on "God for Artists and Artists for God" I suggested that the nature and purpose of art and the vocation of the artist is one that is give...

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  • God for Artists and Artists for God

    Or, so it seems for much of society, and for much of the church. It seems that art is expression, but science is knowledge—expression is fun and all, and occasionally worthy of attention or mention, but knowledge is worthy of recognition and funding. Your mother smiles when you tell her you want to be a doctor; she asks questions when you tell her you want to be an poet.

    We don't prize artists like we prize scientists.

    Or, so it seems for much of society, and for much of the church. It seems that art is expression, but science is knowledge—expression is fun and all, and occasionally worthy of attention or mention, bu...

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  • A Little More Ration for Fashion

    Yet something is missing. Something fundamental.

    There is no dearth of reflection and response from the Christian community on film, music, or food. We have great organizations, institutions, magazines, programs, and conferences that address these issues. We are well attuned to the fact that we should be ...

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  • Small becomes all

    In addition to being able to say truthfully how much it influences influencers, he was clearly pleased by the significant dollar value of advertising revenue it generates each year. It's an understandable reflex. There is a tendency to associate "niche" publications positively as specialist, selective, coterie catering, or negatively as small, obscure, audience averse—a Royal Family philatelist semi-annual, for example, whose cover stories target the demographic excited by postage stamp images of the Queen with one eye half closed.

    Late last week I was chatting with the editor of a Canadian think tank publication who sounded apologetically proud of how well his magazine is doing.

    In addition to being able to say truthfully how much it influences influencers, he was clearly plea...

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  • Pick Up Your Brush

    While Richter doesn't have a single cohesive style—though he returns to certain techniques over and over—he does have a single force behind his work that fascinated me. From the very beginning of his work, Richter has always been dialoguing with the past. The second room in the exhibit is dedicated to work that Richter produced after seeing a touring show of French bad-boy artist Marcel Duchamp, he of the urinal titled Fountain.

    Last Thursday I was at the Tate Modern in London for the highly-lauded retrospective of the work of Gerhard Richter, the German painter. Born in 1932, Richter has been working for nearly five decades in a variety of mediums and styles—from colour grids to h...

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  • Heaven is Chesterton meeting Steve Jobs

    Apple's iPad is a small and easy thing. Apple's iBooks is a small and easy program. Put them together and you are able to get, as I discovered during Christmas, more than 7,000 pages of G.K. Chesterton for a mere $1.99. From Heretics to Orthodoxy, from the Crimes of England to the Innocence of Father Brown, The Club of Queer Trades and the magisterial essay on Dickens, it's all there and, of course, all good.

    Great progress is best measured, I think, in the splendour of small and easy things combining to make the good available to all.

    Apple's iPad is a small and easy thing. Apple's iBooks is a small and easy program. Put them together and you are able to...

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  • The Globalization of Graffiti

    The road from countercultural to mainstream is always pockmarked with ironic hypocrisies, but the high art brand and consumption of dissenting disempowerment must be one of the richest. And like many American past-times, it is a medium which is being reinvented and reinvigorated as it travels the face of the globe.

    It is as though Coca-Cola, as it spread across the globe, turned out to be a great nutritional drink." —Blake Gopnik, Foreign Policy

    The collapse of American graffiti, ...

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  • Against Squeezing

    The strange thing about reading a book for school when your schooling involves noticing the craft of writing is that you can't do that Mortimer Adler thing: reading for information. You're actually not reading for information, or at least that's not the main goal. You're reading for craft—reading to see how the sentences work, how the paragraphs fit together, how the themes braid themselves into the whole, how big abstract concepts become concrete examples.

    It might be self-aggrandizing, but, in the parlance of my generation, whatever: on Friday I wrote about two books about reading, which is a strange sort of down-the-rabbit-hole thing to do. It's espe...

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  • Free speech, taken for granted

    Alissa Wilkinson reflects on free speech.

    For days now, any time I talk to someone who's not from New York, they ask me about the Occupy Wall Street protests going on downtown. Truthfully, I have little to say. I ride the subway through the area, but that's underground, and otherwise everything I'v...

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  • Reading as next to prayer

    "I went to school with my sister. Together we formed a strange procession. People turned to stare as we went by. I kept my left hand on her right shoulder, and I held the book I was reading in my other hand. Like a blind man with his guide. I knew the way by heart, I'd travelled it for years; my sister was there just to keep me from getting hit by cyclists .

    In a book released this month, Quebec writer Dany Laferrière crafts a perfect image from his Haitian childhood to convey his relationship to books.

    "I went to school with my sister. Together we formed a strange procession. People turned to stare as w...

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  • A Brief Chat with Mako Fujimura on The Tree of Life

    The Tree of Life is more like what we often call "fine art"—painting, for instance, or orchestral compositions—than a traditional film that is driven by narrative, plot, character development, and dialogue (though these elements still exist). There is no passive viewing allowed when we're watching Malick's work: like fine art, it requires contemplation and a lot of investment of ourselves to understand it.

    Terrence Malick's highly anticipated and Palme d'Or-winning The Tree of Life (starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) was released earlier this summer to critical and popular buzz. Less a movie, m...

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  • Rules for Reviewing Books

    I'd like to think that the three essentials for reviewers were invented by Aristotle, preserved by his students, and handed down for thousands of years by oral tradition. After all, before the review was an important category of journalism, before physical books, even before printing, readers must have asked other readers to report on works they had not yet read from scrolls or tablets.

    Last week, critic and former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky wrote at Slate about two marvelous snarky (and ultimately wrongheaded) takedowns of John Keats by his contemporaries. Part of their problem, he sa...

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  • Peculiar to public libraries

    Libraries are undergoing a bit of an identity crisis these days. As Alan Jacobs notes in his recent book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (stay tuned for a full review in Comment!), we live in an age of cheap and plentiful books. Cheap and plentiful books mean that any institution, any individual can create a library; and the ubiquity of words on the web only exacerbates this.

    One of the great fringe benefits of having children is the amount of time it allows my wife and me to spend in the library. My wife and I order books online from the Ottawa Public Library on the recommendation of friends, or from the valuable book of book l...

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  • Treating Catholicism as worthy

    Denby is effusive in lauding the beauty and artistic daring of Malick's long-awaited new movie. What he cannot endure is Tree of Life's open Christianity. What makes him writhe is that everyone is openly talking about the film's open Christianity. Scattering bits of the Bible throughout a Hollywood script is one thing, though it can be made acceptable if limited to conventional scenes in which the characters are greasy hypocrites, grinningly insane, or about to turn into the devil and start vomiting.

    The New Yorker's film critic, David Denby, damns director Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life with loud praise as an "insufferable" mas...

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  • IMAGE, the Glen, and offering more than grumbling

    You'll either hear the cement mixer grind of accountancy minds grumbling on about declining ROI, plunging EBITDA and the urgent need to reduce FTEs to return to profitability by Q4 of Year Three of the Five Year Plan. Greg Wolfe, by contrast, talks about French philosopher and religious mystic Simone Weil. He talks about Simone Weil talking about the need for us to pay attention as a cultural act. More precisely, as an act of cultural renewal.

    Listen to almost any magazine publisher's public yawp these days and you'll hear one of two things.

    You'll either hear the cement mixer grind of accountancy minds grumbling on about declining ROI, plunging EBITDA and the urgent need to reduce FTEs to...

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  • Fit your story with others'

    It's not a play, exactly. It's based on Macbeth, and presupposes that the audience has a passing familiarity with its source material (though those who had never somehow encountered the play could still enjoy themselves). But the tale of treachery and blood has been updated to a sort of 1940s noir.

    Last Wednesday night, along with my husband and two friends, I went to Sleep No More, a production that's hard to describe.

    It's not a play, exactly. It's based on Macbeth, and presupposes tha...

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  • Charity with Attitude - flames painted on the side and all that

        Robert Egger spoke at NetChange week at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto recently. You can watch the 45 minute video—skip the first 4:45 if you want to get to the core. I liked his attitude around charity suffering from a weak and passive public and self image problem. There is a lot going on that needs to be considered again. He suggested that his charity approach is different.   There is so much work, so much good, done everyday by charities that goes mostly unnoticed. The funding structures that perpetuate dependence from both the charity side and for those that are sometimes served by charities, must be reconsidered. Charitable work in Canada and the US is massively important along many lines—social, economic, cultural, religious, and nearly any other social or economic vector we care to pursue.

    Reposted from the Cardus After Hours blog (RIP).

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  • Distinctive Cadences

    The influence of the King James Bible is so great that the list of idioms from it that have slipped into everyday speech, taking such deep root that we use them all the time without any awareness of their biblical origin, is practically endless: sour grapes; fatted calf; salt of the earth; drop in a bucket; skin of one's teeth; apple of one's eye; girded loins; feet of clay; whited sepulchers; filthy lucre; pearls before swine; fly in the ointment; fight the good fight; eat, drink and be merry.

    If you haven't been living under a rock for the last year, you know this month is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Celebrations and media coverage proliferate, some of it quite thoughtful. The New York Times ...

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  • Deep-Earth Diving

        I just learned of this yesterday and have to write something about it. At the Bonne Terre Mine near St. Louis, there is a massive lead mine that has been abandoned since the 1960s. It's filled with a massive amount of natural water and has been the site of a commercial dive site for some years now. An enterprising couple who ran a dive shop 250 miles for a good open water dive site came across this unlikely source of diving inspiration that was a couple of hundred feet beneath them.   A 1989 People magazine article (an oft-quoted source for Cardus). YouTube video of a mine dive.

    Reposted from the Cardus After Hours blog (RIP).

      ...

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  • God's Trailer

    I considered this question recently while attending a worship service in a pre-engineered metal building with a retractable basketball goal hanging over the apse (or what would have been the apse), and plastic sheeting bulging between the metal slats that held the building's insulation near the roof.

    Archeologists rooting around in the remains of 20th-century North American civilization are likely to be stumped by this question: Why, in the world's richest society, was the design of churches so uniformly bad?

    I considered this...

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  • Seven reasons to reconsider Sin City

    Cirque du Soleil. Seven worlds, one city. (Mystere, Ka and O are your best picks.) The Bellagio fountains. Every fifteen minutes, with the toll of the clock, spectacular dancing waters come to life on an 8-acre lake. Best seen at dusk. Green Valley Ranch. A short drive from the strip, this beautiful hotel boasts a lovely shopping district (complete with Anthropologie and a Whole Foods) and an unmatched poolside complete with quiet shaded cabanas, waterfalls and a sand beach. The architecture. Take a camera-ready ride through the city. Not to be missed: the nearly completed Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Serendipity 3. For the New York-inclined sweet tooth. BGFA. From now until January 2011, presenting Figuratively Speaking: A Survey of the Human Form, featuring works by Renoir, Hockney, Picasso, and Lichtenstein. The shows. From David Copperfield and Jerry Seinfield, to The Lion King and Cher, the city's line-up is second-to-none.  

     

    I unexpectedly found myself (a...

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