Welcome to the April 2009 Artists Work B.e.n.c.h. Webzine

Welcome to the e-magazine/blog for Artists' Work B.e.n.c.h., the Inland Empire's Christian fine arts organization! We hope you will find this to be a useful, enjoyable and worthwhile resource. Here are the newest items in the blog. Just click on the titles to go to the articles:

Master Class: Preparing for Excellence

April Happenings in the Inland Empire

Christian Songwriters' Showcase

Fine Arts Bible Study #6

Poetry Corner: "Unselfish Love" by Rev. J.A. Allen

Our Book Club Selection for the second quarter of 2009... featuring an Inland Empire celebrity!

Artist Profile: Dr. He Qi Gives a Different Perspective on Christian Art

Artists Look at the Empty Tomb

The Cafe for April

So, brew a cup of coffee, herbal tea, or whatever you like, and stay a while. This page will be updated monthly with new articles and interviews. Enjoy!
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So, what is Artists' Work B.e.n.c.h? This is a place for Christian artists in the Inland Empire of Southern California to mix, network, relax, share, and learn. What types of Christian artists?
1. Visual arts (sculpture, painting, glass blowing, etc.)
2. Dance (performing, choreography, etc. )
3. Music (playing, writing, learning, singing, etc.)
4. Creative writing (poetry, stories, etc.)
5. Drama/theater (acting, playwriting, directing, etc.)
6. ??????

Artists Work B.e.n.c.h. is for Christian artists: simply, people who are Christians and who are also artists. Some Christian artists make art exclusively for Christians, but many use their talents in secular ways as well (writing screenplays for television, jingles, playing in a philharmonic orchestra, acting in a community theater, displaying their paintings in a gallery, etc.) All are welcome here.

Christians follow the Creator of the Universe, and therefore should be the most creative people in the world. The church has historically been the patron of great artists. Hildegard, the writer of the very first opera, was a nun. Michelangelo, Donatello, Edward Hicks, and many others made art for church and used church subjects.

But, today, Christian art is not considered "forward" or "interesting" in many circles. This reputation is well-deserved in most cases. Christian art has become a punchline. In our own little way we hope to change some of that perception.


What does Artist's Work B.e.n.c.h. stand for?
B=BUILD new Christian artists, ministries, avenues.
E=ENCOURAGE Christian artists to use their talents.
N=NETWORK with Christian artists, churches.
C=COORDINATE opportunities for Christian artists to use/exhibit their talents.
H=HELP Christian artists and help churches utilize artists.


This group is for people who fit one or more of these categories:
1.) Just starting out
2.)Being used mightily for God
3.)Frustrated
4.)Seasoned professional
5.)Curious
6.) Talented amateur
7.)Wanting to learn/improve
8.)Not sure if God can use your talent
9.)Good enough to teach others
10.)Wondering if your talent (flower arranging, calligraphy, photography, etc.) even qualifies as art.

Christian artists--unite! Let's be creative, interesting, and forward thinking enough to lead the artistic world, while still making quality pieces that reflect our worldview.

Master Class: Preparing for Excellence


“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” - Abraham Lincoln


In addressing the idea of preparedness, President Lincoln couldn’t have put this better. It’s essential to have the proper tools in good working order before taking on any task, be it cutting down a tree, painting a portrait, writing a song, or giving a performance. It becomes even more important to prepare well when getting ready for ministry, whether it’s through artistic expression or some other means. Let’s look at some of the factors that go into becoming prepared for both art and ministry.


PRACTICE

Any artist worth his or her salt will tell you that regular practice is essential to growing and maintaining one’s skills. Depending on your discipline and skill level, the type and amount of practice you need may vary.

First, there is practice on the mechanics of your art form. This could be running scales for a musician, working on perspective for a painter, honing body shapes for a sculptor, or working the various sets of muscles for a dancer. When you get good at doing your art, this type of practice becomes more of a warm-up or study, but it’s not unimportant just because more seasoned artists spend less time doing it. They do it less because they have already done it enough, spending countless hours perfecting their skills. But they still need to review these skills at times, which is why they continue to warm up and run through studies. Veteran drummers who have spent their whole lives behind the kit will still work the “rudiments” of their art, practicing the most basic patterns that make up functional drumming. This is the kind of axe-sharpening that Lincoln talked about, getting your tools in tip-top shape for the job.

Working on the technicalities of one’s art is another form of practice. Besides getting to know the scales backward and forward, musicians might practice breathing techniques, fingering patterns, rhythmic exercises and other practices that help them get beyond the basics. Dancers will practice landing on the exact right spot, making the precise gesture or step that is required, and stretching their muscles enough to execute all the necessary flexes and jumps in their routine. Painters will move beyond considerations of line and color to work on texture, realism, and conveying emotion through visual form. All of this more intimate detail work pays off. After all, many people can tell trained singers vs. untrained singers just by where and how they breathe, and this makes a big difference in how their performances are judged.

One important element of practice that is often overlooked is improvisation. Whether it’s with a group or behind closed doors, improvising is the best way to develop one’s own personality as an artist. New techniques can be learned spontaneously this way; bad habits can be weeded out and good ones taken up in their place. Artists who just slap some color on a palette and start painting without any preconceived ideas of where they are headed can make some remarkable discoveries along the way. The point is to come out with something that is different from what you have come out with before. It might be “good” or “bad” depending on the context you work in, but either way this can be a really valuable practice to get into. In fact, when something turns out bad, it can be more valuable a learning tool than if everything comes out good. We can look at a bad result and say, “Wow, this is something I really need to work on and improve.”

The old axiom “practice makes perfect” isn’t really true. The real idea is “perfect practice makes perfect”, which means one should sometimes slow down as much as possible so that one can get every detail as right as possible. Jazz drummer Art Blakey once said that it was very easy to play fast; the hard part came at really slow tempos when it was more difficult to predict where the next beat would land. Blakey therefore practiced playing along with a metronome at the slowest tempos he could manage, to hone that part of his craft. It also makes it more dangerous to miss a note or beat because those gaffes stand out more at slower tempos. The same applies to dance, painting, and other art forms. Slow, deliberate pacing can reveal much about where one’s skills need work.

There is a difference between practice and rehearsal. Rehearsal means working on specific things for a specific task, i.e., running through next Sunday’s set of worship music, reading lines for an upcoming play performance, or practicing the steps for next week’s dance recital. It has clear, short-sighted goals in mind. Practice is more about working on one’s individual skills as an artist, be it in a group setting or all alone in the garage. Practice doesn’t have to be about getting one particular song right or painting the perfect tree; it’s more broadly aimed at learning what you can do now and what you can’t do yet but might want to do.

One good way to get better at your art is to teach it to someone else. Not only does this remind you of certain aspects of the art you may have forgotten or taken for granted, but it adds pressure to do a good job and convey expertise to others.


PEDANTICS

Consider this scenario: You walk into a tax preparation office with a boxful of receipts, W-2s and other odious tax-time paperwork, hoping to stave off the IRS for another year. You sit down at a desk in front of a nicely dressed, smiling young man who proceeds to talk with you about your financial history over the past year. The longer the conversation goes, the more you realize that this person isn’t really trained for his job. He doesn’t seem to know anything about the most recent tax-code updates, local regulations for small business owners, or much else beyond your own minimal understanding of tax law. When you finally ask him about it, he admits that he has never gone to school or even attended a seminar on tax preparation. But, he hastily adds, he is sure that everything will be fine because he’s got a real heart for the matter and is excited to just be at the desk. Besides, he’s heard about another tax preparer who has never had any training, either, but is wildly successful in the field.

Does this sound like one of those oddball Holiday Inn Express commercials? How about replacing the tax guy with an auto mechanic, an exercise coach, or a skydiving instructor? Would you accept the “real heart for the matter” excuse from one of these professionals if they had no real background in what they were supposed to do?

Why is it, then, that Christians are so willing to accept a lack of training in the people who serve in church arts ministries? Why do we have so many worship musicians and leaders who cannot read music and cannot even identify where most of the notes lie on their instruments? Why are there so many “artists” who consider knowledge of their field to be less important than tax preparers, mechanics and coaches do in their fields?

The word pedantic means minimally skilled, just getting by with the bare necessities to do one’s job. Pedantic performance lacks imagination, interest and real motivation; it is done simply for the purpose of doing it. Pedantic artistry is almost an oxymoron, since it can’t really be called “art” if it’s an unskilled hack job. Ironically, pedants tend to be very self-confident, especially if they are working in some sort of ministerial aspect. Mark Lowry tells a story about a singer who was commended on his performance. The singer replied, “Oh, it wasn’t me. It was God singing through me.” And Lowry thought to himself, “Brother, if that was God singing, it would’ve sounded a whole lot better than that!” But how many times have you heard similar things from Christian singers?

There seems to be some sort of mindset in Christendom that it’s okay to be untrained and aimless as long as one is doing it for God. And this is precisely the mindset that we should not find in places like worship ministries. We serve the Creator of the universe, and it doesn’t speak well of us if we don’t care enough to even learn how to perform for Him properly. Why should the audience at a Metallica concert hear a more polished, professional, and passionate song than God Himself and His people do in church? Christian music has become a joke in professional musical circles for just this reason.

It’s one thing to be a beginner, and quite another to still have the skills of a beginner when you have been at it for years. We have all probably known worship musicians who have played on their church teams for a decade or more and still have to rely on chord-chart books to figure out where to put their hands on their instruments. Some of them have probably voiced philosophies like, “Well, you know, all that music theory just gets in the way because it ties you down to a bunch of rules.” This is pedantry, and it doesn’t do anyone a great deal of good. Rules aren’t made to be broken, and they can only really be broken if you understand what they mean in the first place. God doesn’t need more pedants; he needs more professionals, unpaid or otherwise.

Another vital practice is widening your scope of experience so you don’t become a “one-trick pony”, only capable of doing certain things. For musicians, this might mean listening to and playing something besides contemporary worship music. For painters, it might be exploring pointillism or impressionism. For dancers, it might be extending into modern forms instead of sticking to ballet. Not only will this broaden your mind and intellect, enabling you to appreciate and understand more things, it will give you more tools that may be useful to you in the future.


PRAYER

This is probably the most essential element for a Christian artist to prepare with, because it reminds us why we are doing this in the first place. If our art is aimed to serve, glorify, and worship God, the intimate connection of prayer is vital before and during the exercise of our art.

We can pray for the people who will partake of our art by hearing or seeing it. We probably won’t even know their names for the most part, but God does, and we can pray that they will receive the message we are trying to convey in a proper manner.

We can pray for our own health and spiritual well-being, so that we can do the best job possible as God’s artistic servants.

We can pray for other people within our artistic discipline – other musicians, painters, dancers, etc. – since these are people that we interact with, learn from, and often teach ourselves.

We can pray for our spiritual leaders, whether it’s the head pastor, the worship leader or someone else in a position of authority. Since our art will often coexist with their ministries, it is important that there be no spiritual conflict or misunderstanding.




There’s an old story about a man whose town was flooding. As he stood on the front porch of his home, someone in a boat came by and offered to take him to safety. The man said, “No need, my friend. The Lord will provide.”

A while later the waters had risen more, and the man moved to the second-floor balcony. Another boat came by and a man told him to jump in. His reply was the same: “No need, my friend. The Lord will provide.”

A while later he had to move to the roof of his house as the water kept rising. A helicopter hovered overhead and dropped down a ladder to save the man. Still he said, “No need, my friend. The Lord will provide.”

It wasn’t long before the man drowned and found himself in Heaven. He asked God, “But Lord, I trusted you to save me and you didn’t.” The Lord replied, “Well, I sent you two boats and a helicopter. What more did you want?”

The moral of the story? Be sure to be receptive to what God is really trying to tell you through prayer and other means. Take advantage of the opportunities for growth and improvement that God sends your way. It will make you a more effective artist and a more effective minister.

Our past Master Class articles:

It Builds Character, March 2009

Labanotation, February 2009

Singability, January 2009

Avoiding Cliches, December 2008

April Happenings in the Inland Empire

For events that are happening in August 2009, click here.




Through April 26th- Theater: The Hiding Place at Lifehouse Theater, located at 1135 N. Church St., Redlands, CA 92374. For more information, call the box office at 909-335-3037 or visit them on the Web at http://www.lifehousetheater.com/.

April 16- Auditions for the production of Zorro at Lifehouse. Look on their website for details.








April 2-12 The Glory of Easter at the Crystal Cathedral, 12141 Lewis St., Garden Grove. Tickets are #35-33. For information and to purchase tickets, click here. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 1-877-54-GLORY.







April 4- The Herb Henry Family Gospel Concert at Southwest Christian Church, 28030 Del Rio Rd., Temecula. For more information, call 951-308-1888. This concert is free and begins at 6:30 P.M.







April 4- Theater: Altar Boyz, a musical comedy about a fictional Christian boy band. This production won the New York Musical Theater Festival. This is not necessarily a Christian production, but it is family friendly. At the Lewis Family Playhouse, 12505 Cultural Center Dr. Rancho Cucamonga. Tickets $13.50-16.50. This show is at 3 P.M. and also 8 P.M. To purchase tickets, click here.







April 4- Riverside Philharmonic presents An Evening of the Unexpected season finale. The concert begins at 8 P.M. at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Inn Avenue Riverside. This concert includes the finale of Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4, and Vivaldi's Concerto for 3 Violins. You can purchase tickets by calling 1-877-PHIL-TIX.







April 10-11 24 Hour Dance-A-Thon to benefit the muscular distrophy association. 7 P.M. to 7 P.M. in Victorville. For more information and location information, call 909-268-0549.






April 12- Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman on the "Untitled Tour" perform at the McCallum Theater, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. Tickets are $45-95. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.






April 24- Point of Grace in concert. 7:00 P.M. at Cornerstone Community Church, 34570 Monte Vista Dr., Wildomar. This event is a benefit for Thessalonika Family Services and tickets are $15-25. Click here for more information.




April 25- Christian Songwriters' Showcase- free! Always the 4th Saturday of every month. GFE Coffee House in the Albertson's Plaza, corner of Baseline and Boulder in Highland. Come hear some great original music from some local songwriters. For more information, click here.





May 1- Third Day on their Revelation Tour with special guests Brandon Heath and Revive. 7 P.M. at Crossroads Church, 2331 Kellogg Ave., Corona. Tickets are $25-75. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here. For more information, call 1-877-840-0457.







May 23- Flipside Church in Rancho Cucamonga is conducting an art show which will be open to submissions in all visual arts categories. The theme is "In Response"; artists should meditate on God and His Word, then create a visual response to that meditation. There is a $10.00 submission fee to cover the cost of hors d'oeuvres and the display facades for the exhibit. The show will run from 6:00-10:00 PM on Sat., May 23rd. For submission guidelines and other information, contact Matt Maguinness. Flipside Church is located at 10912 Jersey Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga 91730.

Songwriters' Showcase



The March Songwriters' Showcase did not happen exactly as planned, but, as usually happens when we let go of our plans, God showed up in a big way!

Four artists were originally booked, but one had to pull out three weeks before, and two others simply didn't show up.

That left us with one act. But, oh, what an act it was!

Richard Andrew, the man with the big voice, played a very entertaining and thoughtful set with his bandmates Cate and Jimmy Gorski. Richard played for 30-45 minutes, and then had to leave for another gig, but the Gorski's stepped in to fill the open spot and entertained us with worshipful and beautiful original music from their project titled Mercy Road Music. They also played some familiar worship tunes to round out their "set by surprise."

The next Christian Songwriters Showcase will be on Saturday, April 25th at 4:30 PM. The Showcase is held at GFE Coffee in the Albertsons Plaza, corner of Baseline and Boulder in Highland. We are still putting together the artist roster for this month, but it should be another barn-burning night of good music. For directions and other info, contact Todd Jenkins at (909) 863-1000 or epistrophy@aol.com.

We are always looking for artists for upcoming monthly showcases, so please contact Todd if you are interested in performing. We will be happy sign you up to perform a half-hour set of all original music. Due to room and noise constraints, we prefer as small a setup as possible; one musician with an instrument is best, but we can accommodate three or four (no drum kits, only hand percussion).

Fine Arts Bible Study 6

The other day I learned of a high school senior, an outspoken Christian, who refused to read a book in his literature class. I’m not going to say the name of the particular book, although I am pretty sure it would surprise you. I will say the book is a recognized piece of literature that has been in the canon for over 100 years, and there is a high probability you read it and wrote a paper on it in high school or college.

The student refused to read the book because, as he said, it is against his religion.

This made me pause because I had read that particular book, and I had never found anything particularly offensive in that book although, like many classics, there have been several movies based on it, and many of those movies have mischaracterized the book entirely.

This episode reminded me of Philippians 4:8, below in the NIV version:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.





People often cite this verse as the reason they appreciate or do not appreciate a particular television show, and often it is the verse people quote to explain why they listen to only Christian radio. Many people say that we should judge the arts by this verse, and therefore it is important, as artists, to correctly understand this verse for our own consumption and production of art.

First, the idea this verse conveys is not unique to Philippians. Even back in the Old Testament Solomon said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7) And in Colossians 3:1, Paul says that we should seek the things above.

Before we dig into each of the attributes in Philippians 4:8, let’s look at the verb. The verse tells us to think about such things. Other versions translate think as “dwell on.”

Think!

So much of a Christian’s time in what he or she would call “spiritual pursuits” is about negativity. What are we protesting today? Is it homosexuality or abortion? What new law do we oppose so much that we sign a petition or write a letter to our congressman telling him so? If it’s not something political, then we’re protesting a movie or a book or a television show. Not that Christians should be wimps and not take action. But we have done this so much that, in the eyes of many, we have turned Christianity into a negative political or social agenda. Meanwhile, the truth and power of the Gospel get lost.

This verse is telling us Christians to think about or dwell on the positive aspects rather than the negative aspects of things. We do not live in a Pollyanna world where white unicorns chase rainbows. There are harsh realities and drudgeries all around. But God is telling us to think about the good things, not being blind to the bad, but in an intellectual and loving sort of way.

Think. Reason. Calculate. Estimate. Contemplate deliberately. Carefully reflect. Meditate. Consider. Not enough of those things are done in many Christian circles today.




As artists, we take up pursuits that many people consider fru-fru, and since artists tend to see the world a little differently than most other people, often artists are also considered flighty and unintellectual. In other circles artists are considered little prophets, and their work isn’t to be questioned or analyzed, but accepted and lauded no matter how uninteresting or offensive. In fact, in some circles, the more offensive a piece of art is, the better it must be.

Come on, Christian artists! Think! The verse is in the present imperative, and that means it is a call to continuous action, a call to spiritual discipline. Think now, and continue thinking, trying to find what is true, what is noble, what is right, etc.

So what are we to think about? Philippians 4:8 lays out 8 tests in the way of 8 adjectives for how we should think about art and other things:

1. true
2. noble
3. right
4. pure
5. lovely
6. admirable
7. excellent
8. praiseworthy

True!

True is the Greek word alethes. It means something that conforms to reality. It is absolute, provable, and non-negotiable. If a man runs a personal ad and says he is 6’3” with dark hair and blue eyes, these items are either true or not true. If a woman answers that personal ad, her first thought when she finally sees him will probably be, “Let’s see if what he said about his looks is true.”

When we judge art or create it, we need to think about whether truth is conveyed in that art. In order to do that, of course, we have to know the truth, and as Christians we do know the ultimate Truth that is found in the Bible. One way to judge whether a piece of art is true is to think about whether it depicts something that compliments or contradicts the Truth found in the Bible. The point isn’t whether or not the story is true, but whether the central idea or theme is true. Remember, Jesus Himself told parables, at least some of which were probably fictional, but they conveyed a Truth.

The same word, alethes, is used 26 times in the New Testament. Based on the other times it is used, we can ascertain some points about things that are true.

-The truth isn’t always pretty. In Matthew 4:18, Jesus uses the word to affirm the story the Samaritan woman at the well told him about not having a husband. He said, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true (alethes)."

-Truth is true, even if some don’t believe it. Romans 3:3-4a says, “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true (alethes), and every man a liar.”

-Sometimes, even strong Christians don’t know or comprehend the truth. In Acts 12, James is killed by a sword, and Herod puts Peter in prison. Verses 8 and 9 say, “Then the angel said to [Peter], "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening (alethes); he thought he was seeing a vision.”

Question: Things that are true can sometimes be ugly, because sometimes truth is ugly. How should an artist display the ugly truth in art? Sometimes truth is beautiful. How should an artist display the beauty of truth in art?



Noble!

Noble is the Greek word semnos. It means worth respect or entitled to honor, and is sometimes translated “honorable.” It also has the connotation of “socially respectable”.


When we judge art, we should consider things that are esteemed in the culture. The church is often at war with the wider culture, especially in the West. Sometimes the culture seems to accept things as right and honorable that go against Biblical principles, and sometimes things that are good and right according to the Bible are reviled in culture. But, just as people are not all good or all bad, sometimes we should consider what is good and honorable in a piece of art that is esteemed, even when it has some unseemly aspects to it as well.


That’s why we can enjoy the imagery, phrasing, and sound in H.D.’s poetry, even if we find some of her lifestyle choices despicable. It’s why we can enjoy the genius of a musician such as Frank Zappa without approving of all his choices in subject matter. It’s also why, as artists, we need to educate ourselves on the abundant histories of our disciplines, studying the masters who have come before us, even if their theology wasn’t exactly perfect (or anywhere close). Figure out what it is that has brought that artist or piece widespread honor. Is it the brush strokes? Is it the unusual instrumental mix? Is it the athleticism the dancer shows in every performance? While you may not find everything pleasing when you look through the lens of truth, you can hopefully find something noble, respectable, and honorable about the work, and think on that thing!


It is interesting that the word semnos is used only 4 times in the New Testament: Philippians 4:8 above, and these three below. Notice that it never stands on its own. It’s always buried among a list of attributes, shaping it, defining it, and adding to it.


1 Timothy 3:8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity (semnos), not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,


1 Timothy 3:11 Women must likewise be dignified (semnos), not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.


Titus 2:2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified (semnos), sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.


Notice that all of these other times it is used, it is referring to characteristics of people.


Above: some artists who are considered noble or praiseworthy examples of artists. Not all of them were morally good, and not all of them were Christian believers. But, we can still learn from them when we consider what, exactly, was noble about their work.

Question- Should a Christian enjoy art that is well esteemed but has a message that is not on par with Biblical principles? What steps can a Christian take to protect himself or herself from being wrongly influenced by unchristian things?

Right!

Right is the Greek word dikaios, which means something that matches the perfect standard of God. It is translated in other passages as “innocent,” “just,” and “righteousness.”

While noble is an opinion, right is a fact. It is very close to truth, but truth is more about factual accuracy while right is based more upon a standard. By the accepted standards of mathematical theory, 2+2 is always equal to 4, and not ever equal to 7, 326, or a baseball bat. 4 is therefore the right answer.


The standard of moral and spiritual aspects of life has been set by God and revealed in the Bible. But, not all things that are right are actually in the Bible. For instance, there is a right time for my children to go to bed at night so they get good sleep and are well rested for school in the morning. There is also a right way to hang your flag, a right way to load the dishwasher, and so on. None are Biblical, but they are still right. The same applies to art and other aspects of life.

Artwork that depicts war, for instance, might be judged by the standard of right or wrong. There are some gray areas, of course (depending on which side of the war you are on), but it is not acceptable to kill civilians, nor is it permissible to rape, pillage, and set fire to villages during the course of the war. Art that shows these things in a negative light is right, and artwork that glorifies these things is wrong.


Here are some thoughts on things that are right:


-Things and actions that are right please God. In John 5:30, Jesus says, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just (dikaios), for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”


-Faith in God helps us to recognize what is right. Romans 1:17 says, “For in the gospel a righteousness (dikaios) from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’"


-God’s makes right decisions. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 says, “All this is evidence that God's judgment is right (dikaios), and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.”


God has a lot to say about right and wrong. This word appears a whopping 79 times in the New Testament!

Question: Can something be right and not be true? Why do you suppose both of those words appear in this list? What are the differences?

Pure!


Pure comes from the Greek word hagnos, and it means something that is not defiled, has no stain or mark, or will not contaminate other things.


One of the things you have to especially worry about when it comes to contamination is your mind. That is why some Christians choose to set larger boundaries for themselves than others. Some Christians have a more sensitive tempt-o-meter than others in one area or another, and those who do would be wise to make especially careful choices in that area.


However, everybody is not the same. God is a very creative God, and what makes one person get interested or excited will bore the next. What makes one person fall into sin will not even be a speed bump to another, who will pass by it without noticing it or falling. That is why some former alcoholics will not even permit one bottle of booze in their house for cooking, while another former alcoholic has lost all taste for alcohol and is no longer tempted.





Artwork that is pure should not depict sin in a positive or tempting light. Of course, since what tempts me won’t necessarily tempt you, purity can sometimes become a judgment call rather than a hard and fast rule. There are some lines that should never be crossed. Hardcore pornography has one purpose and one purpose only: to tempt you to sin. It should be off limits. Period. But, Michaelangelo’s David, which is a statue of a naked, young, virile man can be a toss-up. It was not made with the purpose of tempting people to sin, but rather to depict a story (and a Biblical one at that). However, if a person is especially sensitive to temptation at the hint of a naked body, perhaps that person should err on the side of purity.


That’s not to say that Christians should erect false barriers just to impress others and look more spiritual. If you don’t watch T.V. because you are especially prone to temptation when you watch T.V., so be it. But if you are using your strict standards as a source of pride, advertising the fact that you finally got rid of your “evil” T.V. to anyone who will listen, then your own motives aren’t pure, and that defeats the purpose of purity, doesn’t it? Likewise, if you listen to only Christian music because you are especially tempted to sin through music, then fine. That’s honesty. But, if you listen to only Christian music because you are somehow convinced that songs that don’t use the name of Jesus at least once hurt your chances of getting raptured, then you need to rethink your motives. That’s pride or laziness, but certainly not purity.


In James 3:17, we learn that God’s wisdom is pure. It says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure (hagnos); then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” In 1 Peter 3:1-2, we learn that purity is something non-Christians look for when they consider whether or not Christians mean what they say: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity (hagnos) and reverence of your lives.”

Question: Can you name an artwork you have seen that you would define as “pure?” What does it take to make something pure? What temptations do you need to be careful about when it comes to your purity?

Lovely!


Lovely comes from the Greek word prosphile, which refers to behavior or conduct that is dear or important to a person. It is a compound word from pros, which means toward, and philes, which means friend. It is something that is pleasing in motive and actions. Note that it does not have to do with physical appearance in this Biblical context, but has taken on new meaning over time to include things that look or sound attractive.


In Song of Solomon 5:16, it says,
His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely (prosphile).
This is my lover, this my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.


This characterizes what something lovely really is. It is affirming and gentle. Truth can sometimes be harsh and difficult to digest. But something that is lovely is an easy pill to swallow.
In Acts 5, Ananias and his wife, Saphira, died instantly because they lied to the Holy Spirit. It is in the Bible, so it’s true. But, it’s not a lovely story. Going to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Museum of Tolerance) in Los Angeles is so true it is emotionally draining, but it is definitely not lovely. Christ’s passion is central to the Christian faith. It’s true, but is it lovely?


God knows how we tick so well that He understands that we sometimes need truth, and at other times, we need loveliness.


Thomas Kinkade paints pictures that have all sorts of quaint loveliness, but they aren’t real situations, and many of them don’t even particularly depict any deep thought or pensiveness. They are lovely, but not true.


There is a place for both in the Christian life. Isn’t that wonderful?!


God gave us a place in our minds where we could digest difficult and sometimes painful truths, but he also gave us a place where we could escape to loveliness.




Above: a church displays mosquito nets that are used to keep people from getting malaria. The fact that more than 1 million children die every year from malaria is a sobering fact and a call to action. It's not a lovely fact, but it's true. Often the truth is not lovely. It's fantastic, yet rare, when things are both lovely and true.

When considering art, perhaps it’s just the beautiful or exciting way the music goes together that we enjoy. Or maybe it’s the lithe movements of the dancers that transport us to our “happy place.” Perhaps it’s the vivid colors in a painting that makes us smile. God gives us permission to like something just because it’s lovely.

Question: "Lovely" has become a cultural word that is a judgment call. What someone else thinks is a lovely color for your bedroom paint you might not find so lovely yourself. What things do you find lovely in art? Does art always have to have a message, or can it just be lovely?


Admirable!


Admirable comes from the Greek word euphemos, a compound word made up of eu = well, good + pheme = rumor, fame. It is the same root from which we get the English word “euphemism”, meaning a phrase we use when the truth is difficult (such as “passed away” instead of “died”). Euphemos, or admirable, can also mean highly regarded, of good reputation, or wise.


In Acts 10:22, Cornelius is said to be admirable. “The men replied, ‘We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected (euphemos) by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.’”


In Colossians 4:5, we Christians are admonished to be admirable. It says, “Be wise (euphemos) in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”


Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended (euphemos) for.”


This good reputation, admiration, and wisdom should, of course, be based on Biblical principles and not worldly principles. There are plenty of politicians, for example, who have good reputations but are not admirable or wise from a Christian standpoint.


Many people like to say, “I’m the kind of person who has to make my own mistakes.” This is not Biblical wisdom at all! Proverbs 12:15 says, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise (euphemos) listen to others.” Life is way too short for you to make all the mistakes. Instead, let others make most of the mistakes and learn from them.


In this same way, when you plan to see a movie that has been out for a while, do you consult with some Christians who have already viewed that movie? When you go to a museum to see an exhibit, do you consult with people who went last weekend?


Now, that is not to say that we should limit our scope of experience to only the things that our pastors permit. After a while, this is controlling and even spiritually dangerous behavior. There comes a time when you have to think for yourself. That is why this verse gives us eight guidelines for our thinking, not just one. If a Christian you respect says, “Naw, that movie isn’t really good, and it depicts a lot of sin,” you could still see it and try to find some truth, nobility, loveliness, etc. within it. You can also then educate yourself about the movie’s content so that you can discuss it with others intelligently. But, this is the Bible’s way of saying “caveat emptor:” let the buyer beware! Perhaps, instead, you should direct your hard-earned cash in another direction.


Sometimes it comes down to your spiritual strength and your ability to process what is presented in art. In the 1950s many church leaders thought rock music was demonic because it allegedly had the same beats that African tribesmen used to conjure spirits. Today, many of the same church buildings where such sermons were preached 50 years ago now have rock-oriented worship bands. Was the church leader in the 1950s correct, or is the worship leader in the 21st century right? Both and neither. It is an example of how our culture has affected our ability to process the music. The modern worship leader commends what was once condemned because it has been adapted to more holy usage.


Artists, like most people, do not hatch wise. Wisdom, good reputation, and admirability come from time and experience. Some new artists have interesting pieces and a lot to say, but they haven’t gained a good reputation yet. Other artists may have a good reputation, but some of their earlier works are questionable. This guideline is something that should not only be earned, but something that we should strive for as Christian artists.

Question: Who are some of the admirable people in your artistic discipline? What do you know about them and their work? What do you have to learn in order to find out what is admirable about them?

Excellence!


Excellence is translated from the Greek word arete, and it can be defined as merit of any kind (moral, intellectual, military). It also means the fulfillment of a thing, the very best example of something, or something that fulfills its purpose. Arete does not refer to thoughts, dreams, or motives. Instead, it comes from action and demonstration. The root for the word in English is excel, which means to be better than the rest, or at least better than average.


1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful (arete) light.” Surely God’s salvation, His light that Christians live in, is excellent. The things that are not excellent become obvious when put in that light.


2 Peter 1:3-9 calls us to excellence, characterized as godliness and goodness. It says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (arete) through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness (arete); and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”



Notice the grammatical shift in these last two attributes in Philippians 4:8. It’s as if the Bible is saying, “Look for things that are true, or right, or pure, or lovely, or admirable. See if you can find any excellence or anything praiseworthy at all. Then, think about those good aspects.” I believe the word “or” is appropriate, not the word “and.” God is the only thing that is all of those things put together. It is important to spend time daily with God, reading His Word, meditating on it, and learning from it. But, unless you are a monk hidden away in some cloister high in the hills, you also have work, a car, possibly children, dirty dishes to wash, and a birthday party to go to, and God knows this. In fact, He wants us to be in the world living as examples and evangelists. Jesus Himself, in addition to being God in the flesh and our Savior, is also our excellent example of how to live life with excellence. He showed us how to find value in things and people that others find worthless. He taught us that the idea of standing up for yourself is misguided, and instead, you should seek out opportunities to go the extra mile, give your cloak and tunic too, and consider the plank in your own eye before going after someone else’s problem. Also, He valued His time alone with God, and He valued the Holy Scriptures. But, He also spent time traveling, cooking and eating, sleeping, and many other things.

So, there you are at a museum or a concert and you don’t particularly like what you see or hear. It’s not inherently evil, but not exactly your style. What do you do? Of course you have a right to your own opinion! But, while you’re there, you should consider the good before you dwell on the bad: “I don’t like his music, but he’s a great guitar player,” or “I think my five-year-old could paint a better picture, but this artist’s choice of colors is interesting.” Find the excellent and praiseworthy things and think about them.

It is also a call to action for Christian artists. You’ve been on the worship team for how long? And you still don’t know how to read music or know where all the notes are on your instrument? Where is the excellence? You know if your boss asked you to learn this, you would take the time to go to a seminar or take a class and really learn in rather than hacking your way through it every week. Why don’t you reach for excellence when it’s God calling you to do something?

You’ve been cast in a play, but you can’t be bothered to learn your lines well? You’re still stumbling through the dress rehearsal because you didn’t take the time to figure out your part? Where is the excellence?


Question: How have you pursued excellence lately in your art? How could you continue to pursue excellence?


Praiseworthy!


Praiseworthy is translated from the Greek compound word epainos from epí = upon + aínos = praise. It literally means “praise upon” and it means something that is good enough that it can be praised or get official approval. It can also mean applause, and speaks of public recognition.


In the Bible, praise can come from God to men, such as in Romans 2:29 where it says, “No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise (epainos) is not from men, but from God.” This verse is a play on words because the title Jew actually means “praise” or “the praised one.” It’s saying, basically, that we should seek praise from God, not from our titles or our vanity.


Praise can come from men to God, such as in Psalm 22:3 where it says, “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise (epainos) of Israel.”


Praise can also come from men to other men, such as in Romans 13:3 where it says, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend (epainos) you.”
Things artists do that might be praiseworthy are: tackling a difficult subject, improving in their skills and craft, glorifying God, winning an award, and so on.

Question: Of course we seek to praise God, but is it O.K. to seek praise from men? Who is one artist in your discipline that you don’t know much about, who is praised by men? Why is that artist being praised? Find out!



Read the whole verse, Philippians 4:8, again. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”



This verse is not a weapon, and it’s not just a good suggestion. It’s telling us how to judge people, objects, and art as God wants us to. Learn what this verse is saying and use its tenets to become a better consumer and producer of art.


To read Fine Arts Bible Study #1 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #2 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #3 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #4 click here.

To read Fine Arts Bible Study #5, click here .

Poetry Corner--Unselfish Love

Poetry Corner:

2009 seems to be the year for weddings, at least amongst our friends and family. So, we thought we’d put a love poem in our April Poetry Corner.

Unselfish Love
Love, like verdant spring,
Bright, beautiful thing,
Steps forth from the winter of self;
Yet, like the fair dawn
On the poor man's lawn,
Is too rich
to be purchased by pelf.

Pure love, like the root,
Exists for the fruit,
Content to lie hid from our view,
Beneath the cold sod:
The image of God,
Who, pervading all things through and through,

Works ever the same,
Unheeding of blame
Or praise--like the stillness of night--
In the untrodden waste,
And provinces vast
And peopled concealed from all sight.

Pure love is the flower
That laughs when clouds lower,
Expecting the soft vernal rains
To ripen the seed,
But takes little heed
Of the ills her own beauty sustains:

Or like the fair star,
That shineth from far,
When all things are buried in night;
But when the bright day,
With worthier ray,
Robes nature in vesture of light,

So gently retires,
Till darkness requires
Her aid, when she noiselessly steals,
Once more to her post
Of duty, and lost
To all selfish interest, feels

The pure joy of love;
But soon as, above
The sky verge, orbed Luna is seen,
She leaves night so fair,
As best, to her care,
And retires to the blue depths serene.


by Reverend J. A. Allen
from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Comments? Write your impressions below.

Do you have a poem you want considered for an upcoming Poetry Corner on Artists Work B.e.n.c.h? Send inquiries to epistrophy@aol.com.

April-June 2009 Bookclub Selection

Quick quiz:

Name the famous artist I am thinking of, who grew up in the Inland Empire. How many hints do you need before figuring out who I am thinking of?



Hint 1: This artist is female.

Hint 2: She attended Pacific High School in San Bernardino, and Pomona College

Hint 3: Her parents owned a drive-in theater on the corner of Acacia and Foothill
(between
Riverside Ave. and Pepper) in Rialto.


Do you know it yet? Let’s get into her career. Why is she famous?



Hint 4: She is famous as a choreographer and has her own dance company (I can’t tell you what the company is called, because it uses her name, and that would give it away).

Hint 5: She choreographed a program for Mikhail Baryshnikov called Cutting Up, which
toured internationally.

Hint 6: She choreographed a staging of Singing in the Rain in 1985 that played at the
Gershwin for 367 performances.

Hint 7: She choreographed Billy Joel’s musical Movin’ Out on Broadway, and created a show
called The Times They Are a-Changin’ to the music of Bob Dylan, which had a run in San Diego.

Hint 8: She choreographed the movies Hair, Ragtime, Amadeus, White Nights, and I’ll Do Anything.


Did you figure it out? (How many of you did an internet search to find the answer?)

The answer is: Twyla Tharp

And, Twyla Tharp now has

one more distinction.

Her book is the Artists Work

b.e.n.c.h. bookclub selection

for the second quarter of

2009 (April-June).

Introducing The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp.





Details: Published by Simon & Schuster, December 2005
Trade Paperback, 256 pages

NPR has an interview with Twyla by Tavis Smiley on their website about this book here.


At Amazon.com, new copies cost $10.88 and the book is eligible for the super savers free shipping if your order is over $25.

At BarnesandNoble.com, the book is priced at $12.80 and is also eligible for “Fast and Free” shipping for orders over $25.

The book can also be ordered through regular book outlets, and some bookstores may have it in stock.

*Note: Artists Work B.e.n.c.h. is not affiliated with any of these booksellers, this publisher, or the author. We are not making any profit whatsoever off the sale of this book.

Dr. He Qi Gives a Different Perspective




Dr. He Qi (pronounced “huh chee”) is a professor of philosophy at China’s Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, and one of his nation’s most acclaimed Christian artists. One of his passions in his work is encouraging the creation of modern Chinese Christian art to help change the foreign image that Christianity has in China. He said, "Many people in China and around the world equate Christian art with European Art, which is obviously a wrong way of looking at things… If we call ourselves a ‘Three Self’ church (the translated name of China’s state Christian church) and are trying to change people's wrong ideas that Christianity is only a Western religion, then why are we still trying to package Christianity and present it to people using only Western religious imagery?"

He Qi has an interesting perspective on how Christian art can be used to create new disciples. His own testimony comes from art. During the Cultural Revolution, everyone wanted to hang portraits of Chairman Mao in their homes. At the age of sixteen he began helping to meet the demand by painting and selling portraits of Mao. One day, as he was flipping through a magazine, he came across a photo of Raphael's Madonna and Child. In his own words, he describes how he felt:

“I was extremely moved by this painting. At the time of the Cultural Revolution the atmosphere was one of struggle, of hatred, of criticism. All around you could only see images of struggle and criticism. It was hard to find any images of peace. So you can imagine how I felt when I saw this picture, with the Madonna smiling and the little baby Jesus also smiling out at me. I was deeply moved and touched, and felt a great sense of peace."



Dr. He Qi, The Finding of Moses

He Qi would paint portraits of Chairman Mao by day, and late at night, he would paint copies of Raphael's picture. His growing curiosity led him to research and learn more about the Christian faith, and eventually he could no longer ignore that empty tomb. He became a Christian. Very quickly he saw some disparities in the perception of art within the global Christian community.

"One very interesting observation is that, while many older Chinese pastors believe only Western Christian art has any validity, Western Christians, on the other hand, are very interested in our Chinese indigenous Christian artwork. Although we find it hard to gain acceptance for our works within Mainland China, we find they are very well received in places such as Hong Kong, other parts of Asia and around the world. So, maybe when Mainland Chinese pastors see Western Christians accepting and appreciating indigenous Chinese Christian art then it might help the Chinese pastors themselves to get over the barrier they have toward this art form."



Dr. He Qi, Jonah and the Whale

In his own art, He Qi uses not only Cubist and modernist styles in vibrant colors, but also unmistakably Chinese techniques and design elements while depicting Biblical scenes. In much the same way that European Renaissance painters would depict Jesus or Moses in clothing that was contemporary to the painters’ time, He Qi might depict Solomon as an imposing figure in the robes and makeup of classical Chinese jingju opera. He Qi feels that such cultural nods help Chinese relate more to the Biblical saga and its associated faith.

He points out that Christian art in China can be dated back to the Nestorian movement beginning in 635 AD, with later revivals during the Ming and Qing Dynasties under the guidance of missionaries like Matteo Ricci. Then, too, the Biblical figures depicted resembled everyday Chinese more than the European look most familiar in Western art. After the 19th-century Opium Wars, and again following the return of Christian churches to China in the 1980s, missionaries also took pains to syncretize Chinese culture with Christian imagery and ideas. He Qi’s work is a contemporary extension of that kind of cultural outreach, and has made him one of China’s most sought-after Christian artists.



Dr. He Qi, David and Jonathan

He Qi graduated from Nanjing Normal University’s Fine Arts Department in 1979, and then spent three years copying frescoes and wall art at Tibetan Buddhist temples. The experience taught him about the importance of preserving religious art in all its forms and varieties, Christian or otherwise. “During the Cultural Revolution, many religious art works were destroyed. After our time in Tibet, we went to Beijing to display our copies of the Buddhist wall paintings in an exhibition. I came to understand the importance of preserving and promoting religious art at that time. During the late 70s and early 80s there were so few artists in China who were interested in religious art. I was able to do research during my time in Tibet, enabling me to make some comparisons between Buddhist art and Christian art and look into the nature of religious art in general.”



Dr. He Qi, Losing Paradise

Since then Dr. He Qi has studied the full history of Christian art, particularly of the Medieval era, becoming one of the first mainland Chinese to gain a doctorate in the subject. His works have been exhibited across the globe, and the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, U.K. granted He Qi the 20th Century Award for Achievement in the field of Religious Art Theory and Christian Art Creation. He is a council member of the Asian Christian Art Association and the Chinese Artists’ Association, and is currently an artist-in-residence at Yale University.

He has set some lofty goals for himself as an artist, all with the intention of glorifying God through his talents. Part of his presentYale commission is the “Bible Song” series of paintings which will depict scenes from every book of the Bible. He is also hoping to create a massively illustrated Bible in English, Spanish and Mandarin to continue his cross-cultural outreach. Given that one-sixth of the world’s people reside in China, the imaginative ministry of Christians like Dr. He Qi could have a profound impact on the future growth of the church.



Dr. He Qi: http://www.heqigallery.com
Asian Christian Art Association: http://www.asianchristianart.org


To view past profiles on Artists Work B.e.n.c.h, click below:

Sandra Bowden
Laura Kramer (Psalm 23 Jewelry)
Chris Schlarb John Newton
Vincent van Gogh

The Empty Tomb

The empty tomb is the pivotal point of Christianity. I am always good for a debate, and when a person tells me that Christianity is false or illogical, I always say, "You have a point about your doubts, and I might agree with you except for one issue; the tomb was empty that first Easter morning."


That very fact is something the disciples were willing to die horrible deaths for, and it is something that Rome and the Jewish leaders despised. If the tomb wasn't empty, why did the disciples become martyrs for a lie? If the body was stolen as a plot, why couldn't the Jewish leaders or the Roman leaders produce the body to squash the newfound boldness of Jesus' followers? If the tomb weren't empty, why did people in Jerusalem come to Christianity by the thousands? It seems like the fact of the empty tomb, if false, would have been easy to disprove so soon after Jesus' death in the very city in which the events of the passion occurred. I can only come to one logical conclusion, and that is that the tomb was indeed empty that first Easter morning, and NOBODY knew (at first) what had happened to Jesus' body.


The truth is there, but it has been depicted so many times, how in the world can an artist find a fresh vantage point on this event? First, it is worthwhile to look at what other artists have done with this subject matter. Below is a trip through time and across continents to see how different visual artists have depicted the empty tomb in their work.






Above: Holy Women at the Tomb of Christ by Annibale Carracci, 1585.



Above: Unknown artist
Ottonian, Mainz or Fulda, about 1025 - 1050
Tempera colors and gold on parchment




Above: painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-1311.



Above: painting by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1882.



Above: The Angel Is Opening Christ's Tomb by Benjamin Cuyp, c. 1640
Oil on wood, 72 x 89,6 cm
currently in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest



Above: The Two Disciples at the Tomb by Henry Ossawa Tanner, c 1906. Oil on Canvas



Above: Anonymous French painter c 1970's painted this scene for the Jesus Mafa project in North Camaroon.



Above: The Empty Tomb by Bertrand Bahuet, France




Above: painting by Hanna Cheriyan Varghese, Malaysia



Above: Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene in the Garden stained glass window by Edward Burne Jones, located in Trinity Church in Saugerties, NY.




Above: Women at the Empty Tomb detali from Passion of Christ stained glass window in Chartres Cathedral, c. 1150


Above: The Empty Tomb stained glass window in Grace Lutheran Saint Petersburg, Florida


Above: stained glass window in St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ridgeway, North Carolina

To learn more about the art of stained glass, click here.



Above: relief in Munster Cathedral, Germany


Above: The Empty Tomb Dr. He Qi, China.
To learn more about Dr. He Qi, click here.




Above: Asma Menon Medium-Acrylic on Canvas(with simple wooden frame)
Dimension -35 x 27 inches from Chennai, India

This piece is a depiction of the empty tomb, but it is not painted by a Christian. The artist, Asma Menon claims to be a Muslim, and her husband is a Hindu. However, the depiction is interesting enough to include in this article, giving a different perspective than simply the European Renaissance idea of what the empty tomb scene must have looked like.

And last but not least, we present pictures of an empty tomb sculpture in Resthaven Cemetery in Lubbock, TX. The sculptor is Terrell O’Brien from nearby Lamesa, TX, and it was completed in 1993. This sculpture was envisioned by its owner, who was an outspoken Christian, in order to solve the problem of what to do with the excess dirt from the graves. Every year, on Good Friday, a worker rolls the stone in front of the tomb's opening, and then on Easter morning, a worker rolls the stone away.




The Cafe for April

In a rut? Out of creative ideas? Look in the cafe for ideas and links to help you find your creative self once again.

April's birthstone: diamond
April's flower: Daisy









______________________________________________________________
April 1- April Fool's Day

"The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."
-Mark Twain


______________________________________________________________




April 2- Hans Christian Anderson's birthday, and Children's Book day
Here is a short biography and links to many of his stories. Above is a picture of the little mermaid fountain in Solvand, CA.






April 3- Find a Rainbow day. If you can't maybe you can make one...this one is delicious! Click here for the recipe.

April 7th- No Housework Day! Ways to celebrate:

-Take the kids to the park, beach, or somewhere else and spend some quality and quantity time with them.

-Eat out (let someone else cook and do your dishes)

-Use paper plates and plastic forks that don't have to be washed

-If you don't usually do housework anyway, give the person in your house who does all the work the day off, and actually do all the housework today.

-Have a movie marathon day, or, if your budget allows, go out to the movies. Catch a matinee and an evening show.

-Get a manicure (and then don't worry about chipping your polish because you aren't doing any housework today)

-Send all your friends a card a few days before to warn them not to do housework today.




April 8th- Passover begins. Below is a video that parallels Jesus and some of the customs of the Passover.



April 10th- Encourage aYoung Writer Day, Click here to see a website for ideas about encouraging young writers.



April 12- Easter! He is Risen!
Click here to find a website with many creative Easter stories.



April 14th Titanic struck an iceberg. Although a major motion picture has been made, there are plenty of angles an artist or writer could take with this tragedy. To learn more, click here.



April 16th National Eggs Benedict Day. Although eggs benedict is one of my favorite foods, I could not find an acceptable picture of the dish that I could use for this page. Instead, however, I found an interesting site about photographing food. Click here to read tips and tricks to photographing food.



April 18th- Great San Francisco Earthquake in 1906

Amid all the death and destruction, Julia Morgan, California's first woman architect, used the circumstances created by the 1906 earthquake to rise in her profession. She had opened her own architectural firm just two years before the quake, and after the quake and subsequent fire leveled many buildings in San Francisco, there was plenty of work for an architect. Later, she would be hired by William Randolph Hearst to design and build Hearst's Castle in San Simeon. Morgan has an Inland Empire connection. She designed the YWCA building in Riverside. Today, that building, located down the street from the Mission Inn, houses the Riverside Art Museum. Learn more about Julia Morgan here.

See some of the buildings she designed here.



April 22- Secretary's Day (Administrative Professional's Day)



April 23- National Sing Out Day. Click here for information.



April 23- Take our daughters and sons to work day



April 24- Arbor Day-- Plant a tree today. Or, if you can't plant one, try painting one. Below is a tutorial on painting trees with oils.




April 27th- Tell a Story Day. Click here for more inspiration on telling stories.



April 30th- National Honesty Day (we need a day for that?.

And, to round things out a bit, here are some interesting videos you might like: