Tag Archives: Arts

Asceticism and the Christian Patron

flowers_of_the_fieldThe Christian Artist is faced with a dilemma when we consider a particular view of the church.  Some would say that the Christian life should be marked by a love for God and not of the things of this world.  Certainly that would mean that Christians shouldn’t waste their time and money on useless frills, decoration, and art.  Why should we bother with the things that will one day burn up.  It doesn’t matter.  “Don’t store up for yourselves treasure on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal.”

I don’t know about you but when I read the words of Jesus, I wonder as well, should I not store up treasures! The wonderful thing about the Christian journey is that seeming paradox and confusing issues can be worked out when we dig a bit deeper, consider other scripture and prayerfully consider the ideas in God’s word.

Certainly Jesus says, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasure.”  Why is he saying this?  Because our first love is to be found primarily in a relationship with God our Father, through Jesus and evidenced by the Holy Spirit.  How can we as lovers of Beauty, Art, Music, Dance, Literature not be storing up treasures!

The person who believes that to be a follower of Christ means that he or she avoid the things in this life, in order to be more holy, is what the apostle Paul called an Ascetic.  Asceticism is defined as “severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.”

Paul says in I Timothy 4:1-5 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

Here we see clearly that God has created many things for our enjoyment and to reject them is to forget that God himself is the source of all good things!  God himself spoke the world in to begin and said it was “Good.”   To avoid certain gifts of God then should not be done because we consider doing so a measure of our religiousness.  Instead we are called to worship as we see all of creation clearly cared for by God’s common grace.  The flowers bloom and sunsets glow and we through them are drawn to the glory of God.

So in the context of being a patron and lover of the Arts we have a great opportunity to enjoy God as we enjoy his creation.  To love a great meal, to smell fresh baked bread, to see the laughter of a child, to look at the leaves from the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains, to look with wonder at a painting, photograph or film, to listen to instruments and voices, melodies, harmonies and rhythm all are an opportunity to appreciate and “receive with thanksgiving” the gifts of God.

When I love the good things in this world as a gift of God, I have placed them in their correct context.  So today we have the opportunity to look around and be amazed at the wonder of God and his creation and also consider the amazing work of humanity.

So how do you find a balance between loving God and not finding yourself “storing up treasures.”

God is a Patron: 5 Ways to Support the Arts!

patron (n.)“a lord-master, a protector,” c.1300, from Old French patron “patron, protector, patron saint” (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin patronus “patron saint, bestower of a benefice, lord, master, model, pattern,” from Latin patronus “defender, protector, former master (of a freed slave); advocate,” from pater (genitivepatris) “father” (see father (n.)). Meaning “one who advances the cause” (of an artist, institution, etc.), usually by the person’s wealth and power, is attested from late 14c.; first recorded c.1600. Patron saint (1717) originally was simply patron (late 14c.).

Did you know the God is an Patron?

Last night Luann Jennings of the Church and Art Network presented a lecture on the subject “God is an Art Patron.” The word Patron connects with some pretty great qualities of God!

Luann brought to mind five qualities that make God a great patron.

Life, Love, Guidance, Provision and Protection

God my Patron has given me not only Life but Eternal Life.  Jesus says, in John 17:3  “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

God my Patron has given me Love. 1 John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

God my Patron has given me Guidance – Psalm 25:5 “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

God my Patron has provided for me – Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

God my Patron protects me – Psalm 121:7-8   “The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

We should consider how we can encourage one another and be Patrons as God is a Patron. How might we encourage artists as a patron?

1. We give life to the artists work by allowing them to show their work or perform their work for us.  For a musician” it is only practicing till you have an audience.”

2. When we love people we accept them for who they are. We treat the artist with love seeing who God has created them to be. They have value as a creation of God.

3. We give them input and wise counsel. Helping them see where they can grow. Input allows the artist to consider how to improve or change to be a better artist. If the artist doesn’t take your guidance then fall back to love!

4. When we buy, attend, or support an artist we give them the means to continue to grow and be what God has called them to be.

5. When an arts patron cares about something deeply he/she should be willing to protect it and care for it.  This means taking time to connect to organizations, schools, or groups that make decisions that benefit our culture.  Arts programs that are doing great work can use people who believe in them and provide protection.

What do you think? What other ways do you see an opportunity to be an Arts Patron!

The New Normal

Art TalkAs I was finishing up my notes for Saturday’s workshop, a new pope was announced. Many of my Catholic friends rejoiced on Facebook at his choice of Pope Francis I as his papal name, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his life of poverty, his love for creation, and his commitment to reconciliation and service. My friends shared their hopes that this name would both reflect and urge a new era for the Catholic church.

It made me think about just how much the values of simplicity and service are being called for in our society, in response to excesses and errors of the past. And sometimes simplicity involves greater sacrifice than excess, at least at first.

My other big passion in life – after Jesus and the arts – is sustainable farming. I know, that’s a weird one for a New Yorker. But I wasn’t always a New Yorker, and I probably won’t always be one; and there are plenty of us here with this passion anyway. My husband lives in fear that I’ll come home one day and announced that I’ve “bought the farm,” literally. Until then I plant my non-GMO tomato seeds in compostable paper cups in my Queens apartment, to eventually be planted in a small plot in a community garden.

I’m also a regular at the Union Square Greenmarket (a farmer’s market you’ve seen if you watch much Food Network). Although it’s pricier than a grocery store, I buy as much of my produce there as I can afford, because I believe in what those farmers are doing and I want to support them. I believe that my financial sacrifice will, in some small part, reap benefits for the environment, for society, and for my own heath. If enough people are able and willing to make those kinds of sacrifices, then the excesses of the past will be absorbed, and healthy, sustainable food production will become “the new normal.”

Not only do I sacrifice to help reverse my society’s excesses, but I also sacrifice to examine my own excesses. If I pay $4 for a single tomato, I eat it simply and observe it carefully. I don’t take it for granted, and I remember it then next time I’m tempted to pay the same $4 for a Big Mac, super-sized-fries, and jumbo Coke. I might be more engorged by the Extra Value Meal, but am I enriched by it?

I see something similar happening in the arts. We’re in the midst of a sea change in how the arts are being made and sold, and we don’t know yet what “the new normal” is going to look like. But it will definitely involve sacrifice, by many, to usher a new, more productive state into being. And I believe – very strongly – that the artists of the church have a lot to teach to the mainstream arts world about what sacrifice, service, and simplicity can look like.

The season of Lent is also about voluntary simplicity, in preparation to honor the sacrifice that took away the sins of the world. Would that all of our sacrifices had such power.

The arts world needs us right now. More than ever. And that’s exciting.

We’ll talk more about it Saturday.