Turning Your Back

Turning Your Back, Jonah 1, cropped

I attended a new church with old friends today. Journey Church was just starting a new series focused on one of my favorite stories, Jonah. While I don’t believe all the details occurred exactly as we read the story, I am absolutely confident this was a real, historical event.

The message today focused on the attitude of Jonah. Jonah loved people, Jonah was a prophet of God. Jonah is charged with a mission of reaching the people of Nineveh, the sworn enemy of his home nation of Israel. Nineveh was a very brutal and cruel people, particularly to their enemies. Jonah took the weight of his calling very seriously, and rightly so!

Jonah found every excuse imaginable to avoid setting foot in the vicinity of Nineveh. Finally, Jonah found his escape. His opportunity appeared in the form of a boat, a fishing vessel from Joppa, headed out to sea and the land of Tarshish. By taking advantage of this way out, Jonah turns his back on his God – spiritually and physically. This is Jonah’s sin. Not being afraid. Not being insecure. Not getting on a boat. Not even looking for an easier way. He turned his back on his mission.

The Jewish observance of Yom Kippur surrounds the story of Jonah. During this holiest of celebrations, traditions lead participants to chant the phrase “I am Jonah”. This is a reminder of how often and how easily we turn our back on God. Our modern motives are vastly more selfish and futile than Jonah’s. We aren’t facing a mission to call out an entire culture who parades the severed heads of those who oppose them….. Our call is largely to stand our ground in the face of injustice; yet we still recoil into preserving our self-image rather than rocking the boat.

Rock the boat. Face your Nineveh.

We are are Nineveh and we are Jonah.


Today’s drawing is oil pastel on drawing paper. I applied the color, then used white as my blending tool. I created the accents of ripples on the water using a pocket knife to scrape off the oil pastels. I added a little orange to the back and shoulders of the figure, foreshadowing the scorching sunburn Jonah must have sustained in his coming days at sea.


Learning To Play The Rests

This is, quite possibly, the greatest thing I’ve ever read.

Adventures in Faith & Art

drummer-375364I remember, as a seventh grader playing in the symphonic band, being excited because our band director had just handed out the sheet music to “Oye Como Va.” I didn’t know it at the time, but this ground-breaking song, originally written by Tito Puente, propelled the iconic Carlos Santana to stardom and single-handedly defined an entire genre of rock music.

Now if you shudder at the concept of 12 and 13 year old boys and girls playing hard-driving latin rock with clarinets and trombones and flutes and trumpets, then you know what was to be inevitable. Our hapless band director would count out the tempo, then the entire band—driven by the hormonally-imbalanced adrenal glands of the drum section—would launch into the song about three times faster, five times louder, and sixty eight times sloppier. There was simply no way to stop the acceleration when we tried to play this song…

View original post 438 more words

The Crayon Effect

the very act of creativity is a life-giving act. That’s how God made us.

Adventures in Faith & Art

Colorful CrayonsOver the past couple of years, adult-oriented coloring books have become extremely popular, even to the point of becoming top sellers on Barnes and Noble and popping up on the New York Times Bestseller List. A casual review of best-selling adult coloring books on Amazon reveals everything from innocuous unicorns, flowers, cats, and fairies, to more PG and R-rated Game of Thrones-themed books and even an entire sub-genre focused entirely on swear words. And while some of these coloring books are simple titillations, many have spiritual significance as well. From Indian and Buddhist mandalas to native American dream catchers to Christian cathedral rosette windows, these books invite the colorer to focus, meditate, internalize, and relax.

Interestingly, the coloring book itself is of relatively contemporary origin. First published in the 1880’s, these simple books emerged as a result of the influence of the “democratization of art” movement in which art was seen…

View original post 398 more words

The Professional Artist and the Church

This is an excellent model for incorporating art and artists into the church body in a real way. I pray more congregations will become open to this.

Adventures in Faith & Art

Lyn Lasneski TriennialWhen I began this blog seven years ago, much of the discussion around faith and the arts had to do with the justifications and theology of the arts in the church. In a sense, artists were looking for validation and acceptance into the church, both for what they did and for who they were made to be. Indeed, the last few decades have been a period of reclaiming the arts within the church, and I count it fortunate to have been one of the voices in that dialogue.

Today however, I have noticed that the dialogue of faith and the arts has shifted from justification and theology to practices and methods. This includes those who practice within their churches, and also those who face the occupational challenges of artists of faith. And there are many.

Recently, a colleague of mine, Lyn Lasneski, who is an amazing artist, speaker, and teacher, 

View original post 1,463 more words