All posts in Art

  • The Sign That Saves The World


    The Sign That Saves The World
    Brian Zahnd

    Look to me and be saved,
    All you ends of the earth!
    –Isaiah 45:22

    Peri and I are on our way to speak at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem and we’re spending a few days in Florence, Italy exploring the cradle of the Renaissance. Visiting the museums and art galleries, I’ve seen hundreds of crucifixion paintings, and I’ve tried to view each one with a reverent eye. I never look at depictions of Christ crucified with a jaundiced eye. Their religious nature and ubiquitous presence may illicit a yawn from the secular cynic, but not from me — I’m an incorrigible Christian. I believe the cross is where Christ saves the world. Looking at the cross with the right eye, the reverent eye of humble faith, is the locus of salvation. The cross is the sign that saves the world.

    Ten years ago when I first began to connect Fyodor Dostoevsky’s enigmatic phrase “beauty will save the world” with the cross — it is at Golgotha that the ugliness of human sin is overcome by the beauty of divine love — the image of the cross as saving beauty that I most often referred to was Fra Angelico’s fresco. Today when we visited the San Marco Monastery I was able to see this fresco painted by the monk-artist Beato Angelico in 1441. As I lingered in contemplation of Fra Angelico’s Crucifixion, it prompted me to once again ask — what does this mean? Take a moment and ponder this question with me.
    Read more

  • Achilles or Immanuel?


    Achilles or Immanuel?
    Brian Zahnd

    I just returned from seeing An Iliad at The Kansas City Repertory Theatre — a one act telling of Homer’s Iliad — and I can’t rest until I share a few thoughts…

    The eighth century BC gave the world two great poets — the Greek Homer and the Hebrew Isaiah. These two poets offer competing visions of the heroic. Homer’s epic poem The Iliad opens with these lines.

    Rage — Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles
    murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
    hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
    great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion,
    feasts for the dogs and birds.
    (Iliad 1–5)

    But the poet Isaiah sings a different song.

    The boots of the warrior
    And the uniforms bloodstained by war
    Will all be burned
    For unto us a Child is born
    Unto a Son is given
    And he shall be called…
    The Prince of peace
    His government and its peace
    Will never end
    (Isaiah 9:6–7)

    Read more

  • Walter Brueggemann | Schooled In Denial

    Hey everybody!

    Walter Brueggemann
    will be our guest speaker at Faith & Culture 2013!

    (November 4-6, 2013 | Word of Life Church | St. Joseph, Missouri)

    Here’s a taste of Brueggemann’s inimitable genius…


    Go HERE for more information and to register for Faith & Culture 2013.

    Do it today!



    Here’s some of the highlights from the Brueggemann video…

    The wounded in our society are everywhere, but we are schooled in denial.

    Art both ministers to people at the point of their pain, but may also be a way of penetrating the denial to have a conversation about it in the first place.

    The pressure for certitude and absolutism is a kind of anxious, frightened response to the reality of pain. We think we cannot bear it, so we protect ourselves from it by imagining that we don’t know about our own pain.

    But what we always discover is that if we can get access to our pain in a community that we trust [the church], our pain is almost always is bearable, because the trustworthiness of our brothers and sisters will hold and is reliable and will not let us fall through.

    What good artistry has to do is help us to see or hear that our certitudes are mainly phony, that life does not conform to our certitudes.

    God in the whirlwind speeches [in Job] is also something of an artist; he moves in big images and questions and invites a fresh think about things.

    The church is historically and instrically an artistic operation.

    If people are caught in dogmatism or in moralism they tend not to notice how incredibly artistic it all is.

  • A Long Way from Mona Lisa’s Smile


    A Long Way from Mona Lisa’s Smile
    by Brian Zahnd

    Yesterday Edvard Munch’s modern masterpiece, The Scream, sold at Sotheby’s auction house in New York for a record $120 million, making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. To which I say three things:

    1. I like Edvard Munch. I saw an exhibit of his paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009.

    2. $120 million is a lot of money for a painting.

    3. We’re a long way from Mona Lisa’s smile.

    What do I mean by that? Well, if Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with her enigmatic smile is the iconic image of the Renaissance, then Munch’s Scream may be the leading contender for the iconic image of modern man. And this is worth pondering. How has a mysterious smile been replaced by a horrified scream? What has happened to us? What is it about Munch’s disturbing masterpiece that speaks to us so deeply? Read more