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Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty”  (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 2

Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty” (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 2

This is the second part of Benjamin Self’s reflection on beauty. Check out part one here.

“Is it true, prince, that you once declared that ‘beauty would save the world’? Great Heaven! The prince says that beauty saves the world! And I declare that he only has such playful ideas because he’s in love! Gentlemen, the prince is in love. I guessed it the moment he came in. Don’t blush, prince; you make me sorry for you. What beauty saves the world?”

— Ippolit, in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot

I.

As I attempt to expand a little further on this whole theory that…

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Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty”  (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 1

Our Grieving Hearts and the “Great Impertinence of Beauty” (Or, Can Beauty Save the World?), Pt 1

This fascinating piece comes to us from Benjamin Self. This is the first in a two-part reflection.

My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
my heart is sick…
For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?

— Jeremiah 8: 18, 21-22

Painting by Gerald Cassidy

I.

The Sunday evening after this summer’s June 12th shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, several members of my church and I joined a few thousand other people from Louisville and Jeffersonville on the Big Four Bridge over the…

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Love Imputed: Grace in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program

Love Imputed: Grace in Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program

This one comes to us from our friend Lindsey Hepler.

At a conference in Philadelphia two weeks ago, I heard Jane Golden, the Founder and Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, speak about her work in the city for the past three decades. Established in 1984 as a city-funded anti-graffiti project under the leadership of Philadelphia’s first black mayor, the organization is now the largest public art program in the U.S, with a collection of over 4,000 murals. Their programs address many of the city’s “intractable problems” through civic engagement, art education, restorative justice, and mental health services….

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In the Valley of the Blind

In the Valley of the Blind

This post comes to us from Bobby Goodrich. 

A general in the Athenian navy, Sophocles had seen the empire at its height, and he’d also seen it falter. He’d seen the dream that was Athens crumble under it’s own hubris as one Greek city-state, and then another, chafed under Athenian despotism and broke ranks. He watched as her people suffered under Spartan blockade and plague ravaged the city–and it was in the midst of this decline that he penned Oedipus Rex, a play that is actually not primarily about incest (Freud’s interest notwithstanding) but about human ignorance.

See, the real tragedy of Oedipus…

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Beyoncé, Lemonade, and the Things We Inherit

Beyoncé, Lemonade, and the Things We Inherit

This one comes to us from Heather Strong Moore.

What happens when one of the most successful and influential artists of our time experiences a deep and fairly public heartbreak? She takes those lemons and makes them into Lemonade. Beyoncé’s “visual album” was released on April 23rd and already it’s made history with every track appearing on the Top 100 charts. In her hour-long film that accompanies the majority of the tracks, she tells the story of a broken relationship and the process one goes through when one’s life falls apart.

This story appears to be about her 8-year marriage to Jay-Z and a…

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Wes Anderson and the Catastrophe of Redemption – David Zahl

To tide you over until Mockingbird in NYC, here’s another talk from our conference in Tyler, TX. David Zahl speaks about the Gospel according to Wes Anderson.

Wes Anderson and the Catastrophe of Redemption – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

An Artful Hell: Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa

An Artful Hell: Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa

Hope for forgiveness and the Kingdom of Heaven beyond our human moral bankruptcy has been replaced by progressive Utopian visions where well-adjusted inhabitants are provided for in an earthly paradise. But the knowledge of who we really are and the true state of our predicament surfaces regularly in our cultural history, if we are paying attention. The visual arts especially will occasionally provide a map of the darkness we travel through. It hardly matters where or when we look, but the dark side of 19th century Romanticism is a good place to start, since a current runs from there through…

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Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment:  A Tragifarce in Two Acts

Mikhail Bulgakov’s Apartment: A Tragifarce in Two Acts

This review comes from Gilbert Colon.

Mikhail Bulgakov, grandson of two Russian Orthodox priests, is experiencing a minor resurgence. The Soviet-era author’s short story collection, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, finished a two-season run in 2014 as an Ovation cable series starring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. Russian television turned his novel The Master and Margarita, about Satan coming to Stalin’s Moscow, into a 2005 miniseries. And finally this year saw, thanks to Manhattan’s The Storm Theatre (at St. Mary’s Church, 440 Grand Street), the American premiere of the Bulgakov bioplay Collaborators, first staged at London’s National Theatre in 2011…

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From The Archives: A Lenten Reflection on the Isenheim Altarpiece

From The Archives: A Lenten Reflection on the Isenheim Altarpiece

Matthias Grunewald’s Crucifixion, one of the panels of the Isenheim Altarpiece, was commissioned for the church hospital of St. Anthony in Colmar, France, which specialized in comforting those dying with skin diseases.

Grunewald kept the background of this powerful piece of religious art intentionally dark to highlight the horrific scene: especially Christ’s smashed feet, his contorted arms, and twisted hands. The cross is bowed to demonstrate Jesus bearing the sins of the world. The most shocking part of the piece, however, is that Jesus also has a skin disease, and his loincloth is the same as the wrappings worn by the…

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Taken As We Are

Taken As We Are

This lovely reflection on rejection, resurrection, and Vincent Van Gogh comes to us from our friend Elsa Wilson.

Anchorage, Alaska isn’t a fine arts hub by any stretch of the imagination. Most winter outings here mean skiing, hiking in crampons, or participating in the annual “Polar Plunge.” But every once and a while, the Anchorage Museum tempts Alaskans inside for a deeper perspective on our wild and rugged selves.

October 9th – Jan 10th, the Anchorage Museum offered an exhibit called Van Gogh Alive – the Experience. No physical art pieces were shown. Digital copies of paintings, drawings, letters, journal excerpts, and…

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The Cursed Tree and the High Priest: The Christ Imagery of The Revenant

The Cursed Tree and the High Priest: The Christ Imagery of The Revenant

A brilliant look at The Revenant, from our friend Caleb Stallings.

Being a native of Georgia, I’ve always been oddly proud of our pine trees. Up until the recent film industry boom in Atlanta, I felt like the Peach State had few cultural icons to offer, the pine tree being a (less than) obvious exception. Whether Ray Charles was glimpsing that romantic moonlight between them, or Johnny Cash was reveling in their incomparable heights, the Georgia pine has long stood as a symbol of strength, power, and even transcendence. In Alejandro Iñárritu’s most recent film, The Revenant, the pine in particular,…

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The Gospel According to Hamilton

The Gospel According to Hamilton

This one comes to us from our new friend Cort Gatliff.

My life can be divided into two distinct eras: Before Hamilton and After Hamilton. On October 1, 2015, after months of following the online hysteria and critical acclaim, the former era came to an end when I finally set aside time to listen to the Broadway cast recording of composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s latest, unconventional project: a hip hop musical about the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Moments after hitting play, this work of art captured my imagination in a way no other cultural phenomenon in recent memory has. So…

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