Notes from Visual Faith

by kjbake01

Hi from Gurus in Louisville! Thanks for swinging by!

This is the first of what should be 3 posts about the books I’ve read recently.  In lieu of a great post with thoughtful synopses of these books that have been important to me, I would just just post the thoughts I underlined in the text and scribbled in the margins…  my apologies to the authors.  You have my greatest respect for having sorted out these topics so far in advance of me.

VISUAL FAITH: (William Dyrness)

p. 13: Protestant Christians in some ways never left the arena of the arts, but after the Reformation, the arts were no longer welcomed into the church.  For their part church leaders and architects worked with priorities that pointedly excluded visual artists.  The spaces they made for worship were not friendly to elaborate visual elements, for they were seen as distractions from true worship, which always focused on the Preached Word. Creative people, then understandably turned their imaginative energies into other directions– literature and music became special foci for protestant Christianity.

p. 20 :  Images are worth more than words!

Aesthetics are worth more than epistemology.

St. Augustine: “What you enjoy is more important than what you know.”

p.22 “the nature of deep aesthetic experiences is that they are ends in themselves.  Aesthetic experiences have replaced religious experiences in providing an integrative vision of life“(italics mine)

[people are] Drawn to God [through] Affliction, religious practice, and experience of beauty. (S. Weill)

If Religion divests itself of symbolism and imaginative depth… Art looks better.

p. 23 (from Steve Scott):  “Unless we are moving forward in seeking the genuine transformation of culture, then we are standing still and it is transforming us.”

p. 25:  discussions about the use of art [in the past]  were profoundly theological, and only marginally about art.

p. 32: “Images, no matter how discretely chosen, come freighted with conscious or subliminal memories; no matter how limited their projected use, they burn indelible outlines into the mind… Images not only express convictions, they alter feelings and end up justifying convictions.” [Matthews]

The eastern (orthodox) church turned to Iconography; the western (catholic) adapted their visual aesthetic from the surrounding culture. (and still does -kjb)

John of Damascus (eastern orhodox figurehead): Icons belonged not to the artists, but to the church fathers.

p. 38- Churches were to become a microcosm of the world at large. Inside the worshiper was drawn both forward adn upward toward the altar, placed at the central and raised position.  … even the space itself [was] shaped to give expression to the teachings of the church. ..

Pope Gregory the Great (for whom Gregorian Chant is named): “Pictures are the books of the uneducated” 500 A.D.

John Calvin: 1500 AD: … the prophets totally condemn the notion that images stand in the place of books.

p. 138:  Just as it would be foolish to ignore discoveries of science just because they were made by non-Christians, so we would be foolish to ignore cultural voices when it is clear that they speak honestly, and within context, truly.

p. 145: Culture and the world have taught us to see the world on its own terms, without reference to god or the supernatural… Christians forget how to connect their experience with God. They enjoy the world, but cannot see how God is a part of it.

we value meaning over form, but the Creation and incarnation should make this impossible

147:  Col. 2:33 Paul’s response to Christian rules “not what evil should I avoid, but what good should I pursue?”

160: “Most importantly we need the imaginative gifts of serious artists–those trained to blend harmonies, colors, even media in God-honoring ways. Great art will always be mediated through the consciousness of artists, it will not be conceived by committees or church leaders.”

Like it or hate it?  I think the last statement is a little too strong, but as an artist, I’d love to see the next generation of media churches being led by theologically informed artists rather than techies. (no offense, techies!)