An Art Muse…


In truth I’m a lyricist long before I’m any sort of poet. On occasion
my prose becomes a lyric but I tend to write prose when not writing
song lyrics.

Long ago I enjoyed looking into various aspects of Greek Orthodox (and
other forms of eastern Christian faith) worship and when doing so of
course one can’t help but notice iconography.

Rightly understood, icons are -not- themselves objects of worship but
rather art upon which one meditates seeking Father, Son and Spirit.
The concept is that by such focus, the icon perhaps functions as a
“window” through which one apprehends God.

Sounds “spooky” and/or strange and perhaps plain weird to some
protestants, evangelicals and most fundamentalists… but believe me,
all of them (us!) have quirks, liturgies and approaches to preaching,
prayer and various worship styles that also seem strange/weird and not
all that “spiritual” to plenty of -other- Christians! A little
humility here!!

All too often what we each find comfortable and familiar seems
“sanctified” while all others are obviously (says who?!) not pleasing
to God. But I digress…

Anyhow, I liked the basic concept of icons so much I wrote a little
pamphlet of poetry many years ago and titled it “Interviewing Icons”.

I realized then (and now) that many Christ-followers think of icons as
sacrilegious or just “over the top” and actually thought about such a
definition when I chose the title. There was a sense in which I
figured most protestants would consider an icon a sort of “sacred
cow”, or on the other hand, if they really understood and recognized
benefit (to some if not themselves) from icons, then that also made
sense due to the subject matter of many of the poems.

Today was one of those getting-toward-autumn days in Chicago. No
leaves turning yet, but it was a pleasantly cool, sunny day. A day of
work but peaceful for me, and I’m feeling SO much better from a long
bout with a cold, I felt really blessed and thankful.

Project 12 (JPUSA’s discipleship/Bible school) is about to kick off
another year and we begin with spending a little over a week together
at Cornerstone Farm where we’ve held the annual Cornerstone Festival
for many years. It’s beautiful out there and the leaves will begin to
change color while we’re there.

I’ve been studying and putting together an Art & Creativity class for
the week, and have really enjoyed considering imagination, inspiration
and have found a load of great stuff on the web, quotes and such.
We’ll unpack some key Bible verses, bring a few surprises and include
some hands-on time for students to create. I want to encourage them to
think more deeply and holistically about blossoming in the arts as
they follow Jesus.

One point I’ll accent is that the entirety of creation- woods, waters,
sky, flying/creeping/crawling and bounding animals are all a sort of
icon through which one can both hear/see/encounter the Lord- but on
the other hand that our offerings of art can themselves be brought to
Him as a type of prayer.

In every generation and in most if not all churches are tensions about
artists and art. Nothing new under the sun!

And yet (for example) God COMMANDS “a new song”. This stretches not
only the congregation/audience… it stretches the artist.

Some songs of course, are for Him alone. Some are for us to learn to
write and arrange, or to learn where new chords or melodies are as
singers or with our various instruments. Some songs are actual
prayers. Some proclaim truths for those “with ears to hear”.

Most of our songs (or drawing, painting, dance, writing or other
artistic work whatever the mode) are at least partly a revelation of
what is in our own heart. Art very often reveals what’s hidden.

All of this is quite important to understand as we behold as well as create art.

Icons indeed!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

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