Saturday, July 18, 2009

Golden States of Grace

Acting as a voice for the voiceless often involves a camera. In "Golden States of Grace: Prayers of the Disinherited," Rick Nahmias gives image and voice to individuals and groups on the margins of society in California. He presents their worship as a means of refuge, redemption, and community. File it under sociology, art, or inter-religious dialogue—this is a multi-sensory exploration of what it means to be human.

Friday, January 02, 2009


Skimming through a list of top websites from 2008, I got lost on FFFFound!, an ever-changing catalog of fabulous images from a wide variety of sources on the web. These are not nature scenes, but human creations that will likely stimulate your own creativity. Enjoy!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I noticed one of my favorite live performances is back in Dallas next week: Rob Becker’s one-person show titled “Defending the Caveman.” The show promotes peace between the sexes as it teeters on the tightrope between acknowledging the differences between women and men while celebrating the diversity. Tim and I see the show every few years as a sure-fire 90 minutes of hold-your-ribs laughter.

Becker begins by establishing his performance space within the Sacred Circle of Dirty Underwear. He explores how a chip bowl gets refilled, what happens in a furniture store, and why a guy thinks with only one part of his body when in amorous pursuit. Becker helps both sexes see themselves as complementary to the other. No bashing or gnashing of teeth, but plenty of people in the audience elbowing the person next to them repeatedly. Yes, that IS you. What? You think that is ME?

Check out to find out when the show will be in a city near you or your travels in the future. Married or single, the show will leave you feeling hopeful as you navigate the oft-treacherous waters of relationships between the sexes.

Monday, January 07, 2008


The boxes stand about 10 feet tall. There are over 20 of them. Some act
square as others elongate into rectangular behavior. Their concrete construction means you will not sneak off with one in the night.

Donald Judd, a founder in the minimalist art movement, placed each box just precisely so in the middle of a cow pasture outside Marfa, Texas. Tall grass lives with mesquite and cottonwood trees and concrete boxes that look like dice rolled out on a large tabletop. You can imagine the local ranchers’ reactions to this tableau. Maybe the boxes could be used to store hay?

We talk about box-y life in LifeSpace. Box-iness that constricts and minimalizes life with God. Judd found a way through the boundaries. His boxes are windows into another horizon as they frame the possibility of what is beyond. I got in the boxes and stuck my whole body out the other side into the expanse. I appreciated Judd’s portals into air.

When I am in despair over our uninspired way of being church or the ungraciousness of Christians or one more “Real Men Love Jesus” bumper sticker, the boxes help me remember there is a way through. There is hope.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


You can use the brush of a Japanese monk
or a pencil stub from a race track.

As long as you draw the line a third
the way up from the bottom of the page
the effect is the same: the world
divided into its elemental realms.

A moment ago there was only a piece of paper.
Now there is earth and sky, sky and sea.

You were sitting alone in a small room.
Now you are walking into the heat of a vast desert
or standing on the ledge of a winter beach
watching the light on the water, light in the air.

Billy Collins

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Familiar Face

Julie and I were at Wheaton College in August, simultaneously rejoicing and fighting back tears while dropping off the first of our children to leave home for college. Taking a break from one of the many parent information meetings, I was surprised by a familiar face in the Billy Graham Center. Well, not actually surprised by the face. The exhibit was advertised all over campus. I was surprised by its size. Behind the crowd ropes, covering most of the back wall from floor to ceiling, was the image that had hung in an 18 inch frame over my grandmother's living room sofa. It was Warner Sallman's "Head of Christ"—much bigger than life-size version.

In American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, Stephen Prothero notes that this painting "would eventually be reproduced in almost every imaginable form—on prints, plaques, bookmarks, funeral cards, church bulletins, buttons, calendars, clocks, lamps, coffee mugs, stickers, billboards, and key chains. As it multiplied, among Christians and non-Christians alike, this picture helped to transform Jesus from a celebrity into a national icon. As of the turn of the twenty-first century, over 500 million copies had been produced, making Head of Christ the most common religious image in the world." Many thought the image made Jesus more accessible. Divorcing him from the Gospel narratives with a head and shoulders portrait in soft light, Sallman offered an image of Jesus that was warm, approachable, and—he thought—masculine.

Why did its popularity fade? Even in the sixties, critics derided it as too soft, too effeminate, and too transcendent. It made Jesus look kind, but not empathetic—a Jesus who sees our pain, but does not share it. Fortunately, the realities of life draw us to the real Jesus, of whom Bonhoeffer said, "Only the suffering God can help."


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Zambian Fabrics

The ten ladies we visited in Ndola gather several days each week to pray and work together. Sharing two sewing machines and some basic supplies, they did embroidery, produced tie dye and batik fabrics, and sustained one another through difficult times. Most are mothers or grandmothers. All are sisters and artists.