Tag Archives: Faith

Congregation

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My response to the Daily Post promptcongregate.

karl-fredrickson-27504-unsplash

Congregation

To congregate in the narthex.
Pick up a bulletin.

To enter the sanctuary.
Sit in the last pew, next to the center aisle.

To praise God
With psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

To hear the Good News:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

To commune with the believers—
Bread and wine, body and blood.

To go in peace
To love and serve the Lord.

Amen.

Creative Juice #69

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Creative Juice #69

A dozen after-turkey articles to motivate you to create during this holiday weekend. (By the way, I’m thankful for all the people who read Creative Juice.)

  1. The Other Art Fair.
  2. What if life really is just the dress rehearsal? I never thought of eternity in quite this way before.
  3. Can you determine whether a poem was written by a human or a computer? (I missed two out of three.)
  4. Rituals and memories.
  5. Why a painting by Manet shocked his contemporary audience.
  6. Need some inexpensive gift ideas? Be sure to watch the video of the grown-up fidget spinner.
  7. Here’s an alternative advent calendar you create yourself.
  8. Christmas decorations you can make yourself with paper.
  9. Beautiful quilting. Be sure to click on each image for the enlargement.
  10. Why it’s good to try your hand at different arts.
  11. Marvelous photographs by Cig Harvey.
  12. Psychologist Dean Simonton writes: “On average, creative geniuses aren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers, they simply produce a greater volume of work which gives them more variation and a higher chance of originality.” Author Thomas Oppong says, “If you want to be prolific, stop judging yourself.” (I don’t totally believe that—you have to judge yourself somewhat if you want to put out excellent work. But this article gives creatives much to think about.)

 

From the Creator’s Heart #104

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Adam-hand“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT)

Review: The Story of With by Allen Arnold

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Review: The Story of With by Allen Arnold

In January, I attended a writers’ mini-conference given by Christian Writers of the West. The guest speaker was Allen Arnold, former fiction editor for Thomas Nelson. He spoke at length about inspiration and creativity and how the desire to create comes to us from God as an invitation to closer intimacy with Him.

Arnold’s presentation was so refreshing and invigorating and so full of ideas I wanted to explore further, that I bought two copies of his book, The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love, and Create. One was for myself, and the other for my friend Tom, who is struggling to finish writing a very important book. I gave it to him a few days later.the story of WITH

In the meantime, I began reading it.

A large part of The Story of With is an allegory, the story of Mia, a girl whose father disappeared long ago. I found the allegory kind of hokey.  Each chapter ended with an explanation of that part of the allegory, which was necessary—I wouldn’t have understood the allegory without the author’s commentary. Which made me wonder—why would Arnold devote so much time and energy to the allegory if it didn’t clarify his premise (and instead required him to interpret it for the reader)? I regretted giving Tom the book before reading it myself.

But before I finished the book, I saw Tom again, and he shared that he had read the book straight through, moved to tears because it affected him so deeply. When I mentioned my disappointment with the allegory, he said for him, it didn’t detract from the message.

These passages from The Story of With especially resonated with me:

  • [God’s] motive in giving you specific talents isn’t primarily so you’ll be productive…It is so your desires can find their fulfillment in Him…God doesn’t need your help as much as He wants your heart (page 120).

  • The door will find you when you are ready (page 205).

  • True success means you create with the Creator, in fellowship with others, as you engage with the community your creation serves. With. With. With (page 213).

  • Living like this ushers in an atmosphere of abundance and freedom. There’s no longer a need to try and control your Story. You know God has even bigger plans than you for what’s ahead. So you are content to ride with Him wherever the path may lead (page 243).

I recommend this book for creative people, but with two caveats. First, if you have no use for God, The Story of With will make no sense to you; it will just be jibberish. (But if you are searching for God, you can find Him here.) Second, if you are looking for the way to make lots of money or fame from your creations, that goal is not addressed here. But if you desire freedom, high quality of creative life, and intimacy with God, you must read this.

Have you already read The Story of With? What is your opinion of it? Share in the comments below. And if you read the book later, come back and let us know what you think.

 

From the Creator’s Heart #91

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From the Creator’s Heart #91

May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed (Psalm 20: 4 NLT).

Video of the Day: Best Christmas Pageant Ever

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Video of the Day: Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Skip This if you Don’t Want to Know my Thoughts on the Election

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Skip This if you Don’t Want to Know my Thoughts on the Election

ARHtistic License is about the arts and the creative process. But other things happen in the world that impact creative people.

Politics really doesn’t belong on this blog. However, there is something I need to say, or I’ll burst. You don’t have to read it, though.

I’ve posted it on my Religion and Politics page.

Divine Proportions

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Divine Proportions

I recently attended a lecture about the interface between science and faith. One of my fellow audience members, a woodworker named Ed Bond, mentioned The Golden Ratio. Specifically, he focused on the Golden Rectangle, which influences the dimensions of the tables he creates.

I am going to oversimplify this, because I just don’t know how to explain it clearly without using a lot of words. (My mathematician daughter would do a much better job. She gets this. She also has a Fibonacci spiral tattooed on her shoulder—more about that later.)

The Golden Ratio is a phenomenon that occurs in nature and mathematics, and has been used by engineers and artists for millennia. Plato knew about it, and referred to it in his Timeas when describing three-dimensional geometric solids. It refers to the relationship between measurements a and b where a is to b as a + b is to a.

Golden ratio

The Golden Ratio is known by the Greek letter phi, and like another mathematical concept, pi, has an infinite, unrepeating sequence of numbers following its decimal point. Phi’s approximate value is 1.618. In the equation (a + b) / a = a / b, if a = 1, then (a + b) = 1.618…

Ed Bond says he likes to build tables whose sides are multiples of 1.5 x 2.5—for example, a 3-foot by 5-foot coffee table. The dimensions look good; they feel “right.” That ratio is 1:1.666…, approximating that magic number, phi. He says it’s no accident that the humble index card is 3 inches by 5 inches.

Golden Rectangle

Le Corbusier, a Swiss-French architect (1887-1965), claimed that the human form, subdivided at the navel, yields the Golden Ratio; and if you subdivide those sections further, at the knees and throat, they also fall into the same ratio. Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing Vitruvian Man is often used to illustrate this idea (though, actually, the math in the artwork doesn’t match).

Vitrutian Man

This drawing by Heinrich Agrippa (1486-1535) is a better representation:

Pentagram_and_human_body_(Agrippa)

Phi turns up frequently in geometry. In Salvador Dali’s The Sacrament of the Last Supper, the edges of the dodecahedron framework conform to the Golden Ratio.

Dali Last Supper

The Golden Ratio manifests again in the Fibonacci sequence, which is a sequence of numbers starting with 1 (or sometimes 0) and then you add the preceding two numbers to get the next number: (0,) 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc. Starting with 5, if you divide any number in the sequence by its preceding number, the result is close to phi. The sequence can be used to generate a spiral shape (don’t ask me how). This is the shape tattooed on my daughter’s shoulder. It suggests the inner pattern of the multi-chambered nautilus shell and the Snail Trail quilt block.

Fibonacci spiralnautilus-cutaway-shellsnail trail

Getting back to woodworking, Ed Bond wondered how long the Golden Ratio has been used in making furniture. One day, while reading the Bible, he found God’s directions to Moses for building some of the furnishings for the Tent of Meeting. For the Ark of the Covenant, God said, “Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high” (Ex. 25:10 NIV). “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide” (Ex. 25:17). There it is, God’s own design, executed before 1400 B.C., incorporating the Golden Ratio.

It was His idea. God determined the laws of mathematics and physics. God created all of nature. We discover the mysteries of the universe through science and math; we celebrate them through art.

If you would like a more thorough explanation of the Golden Ratio, read this article.

In your own creative work, does mathematics or science come into play? Share in the comments below.

 

The God of Paradox

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The God of Paradox

When I was thirteen, I turned my back on God. I couldn’t reconcile a world where evil existed with an all-powerful, all-loving God. If I were God, I would immediately eliminate evildoers. Certainly that would work better than letting them live another day, giving them another opportunity to hurt more people.

This dilemma in my psyche persisted through my teens and early adulthood until God drew me back to Him when I was thirty. Now in my sixties, I am still learning to trust God.

I find that God does not meet my expectations. He doesn’t answer my prayers in the way that I hope. He doesn’t provide Adam-handimmediate resolutions to my most urgent circumstances. His behavior contradicts my finest reasoning. How can I rely on Him when He doesn’t do what I think is best?

My purpose in writing this is to share my journey and my observations. God works in surprising, unexpected ways. He is a God of paradox.

Paradox is when two contradictory conditions co-exist. In God’s economy, surrender equals victory; empty equals full; ordinary equals extraordinary; good comes out of evil; and life comes out of death. How can that be?

I wish God had created us with an intellect that propelled us into doing only good things that would glorify Him and bless our fellow human beings. But He didn’t. He wanted us to learn to trust Him. He wanted us to obey Him joyfully, because we want to, not because we couldn’t do otherwise. Free will is a good gift of a loving God. It provides us the opportunity (and the responsibility) of shaping our own characters.

When I rely on God instead of coming to Him as a last resort, He will make sure my needs are met. Does that mean I have no responsibility to work for the things I need? Of course not. But there is danger in thinking that all the good things I have, all my successes, were earned entirely by my own effort. Certainly hard work yields results. But the Bible clearly tells us, “You may say to yourself, ‘my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV)

God’s people hold their possessions loosely, knowing they can be taken away in an instant. We can’t put our faith in our things; they will only disappoint. God, however, is worthy of our trust. We can empty ourselves and allow Him to fill us. God can do more than we ever thought possible.

The preceding words are excerpted from one of my works-in-progress, a long essay (or a short book) called The God of Paradox. When it grows up it might become a bible study guide. May I ask for your feedback? Does this sound like something you would enjoy reading? Do you have the same questions as I about the nature of God and the way He works? Please share in the comments below.