So a while back I stumbled upon a quote from St. Francis of Asissi which really struck a chord.
"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."
Head. Hand. Heart. These three elements are central to the work of an artist. Yet are they not equally vital to other professions? Although I am partial to the arts, I would venture to say that in order to find fulfillment in any vocation there must be a combination of these essential ingredients.

Just Jump!

There comes a time in every young man's life...okay, maybe that is a little too cheesy...ah, what the heck!

There comes a time in every young man's life when he must throw caution to the wind and jump from the roof of a skyscraper hoping that his parachute will open an he will in fact not die. This skyscraper may be literal, but quite possibly it is a metaphor for something else. In my case it is a metaphor (as well as a daredevil dream of mine). An honestly the 'skyscraper' is a bit of an exaggeration. A more accurate comparison might be the roof of my old house on Williams Road. Which, I might add with pride, I jumped off of many times. It was only about ten feet off the ground, but it provided quite a rush nonetheless (ten feet to a 10 year old child is roughly equal to 34.56 meters to an adult). And although I may appear to have been insane, that formative experience has taught me many valuable life lessons. Take the following for example:

The Law of Gravity is non-negotiable

Jumping off tall things is fun!

Hitting the ground....not so much fun.

Life is full of risks. Sometimes you've just gotta jump.

Anyway, here I am today on another ledge. Though it may not be physical, it is literal. In order to really see if this art thing is ever going to happen, I've gotta jump. Sure, it is important to plan ahead to minimize the risk of 'injury', but in the end we are all left with a choice; jump or not. That choice makes all the difference.

So, what do I do? Do I peak over the ledge and slowly back away, rationalizing my way out with countless reasonable excuses? Or do I jump? There comes a time in every young man's life...now it is my time.

Autumn's Arrival

Autumn is almost here! She will be back in the States today!!!

This summer has been long and hot and I have been looking forward to this fall with great anticipation. Not only will the change of seasons bring with it crisp cool weather and nature's warm colors, but it signifies the return of my beloved. As we bade farewell at the beginning of the summer Autumn reminded me to look for the leaves to change colors, because she said, that is when I am coming back to you. Her words sustained me in the months of seperation, giving me something tangible upon which to place my hope. So earlier this week when I noticed the first yellow leaves scattered round the base of a sapling my mind went back to that moment and the thought of seeing her again filled my heart with joy.

Digital Decision

So here is the deal. I am about to make the first big investment in my art career. Well, let me clarify. I am about to make the first big monetary investment...Acutally that is wrong too.

What I am trying to say, is that I am about to buy a digital camera. And although I'll probably be spending around a grand for it, considering how much I've spent on my education, it really isn't that large of an investment. Kinda funny how money is such a relative concept, isn't it? I mean $1,000.00 is a ton of cash to a young person like myself, not to mention to how just that much would absolutely boggle the mind of a child. When I was 9 years old, a thousand bones would have bought everything my heart desired a million times over...albiet all my little heart desired was some candy (Twix or skittles were ideal).

And then on the other hand, when I am an adult...okay when I start thinking like an adult, 1000 bucks will seem insignificant compared to my annual bill payments. Then there is the whole circumstance thing to consider. Here in Chattanooga, that much cash won't do much, but in an impoverished village it would feed several families for quite some time. Which brings me to where I am right now.

As I sit here writing these words, the idea of spending money on a digital camera seems selfish and calloused. When I consider the people who actually need just a little bit of money to survive another day, any uncharitable use of my money makes me feel guilty. So I must ask myself some hard questions. And in the end my decision is obvious...I will buy the digital camera. Is this wrong? I think not. You may find fault in my logic, and I welcome any opinions or advice you may have. But here is my reasoning:

The Lord has given us all gifts and charged us to be good stewards of them. Those gifts take many forms not the least of which is money. I am called to be wise with all my gifts including the passions and abilities He has graciously bestowed. Since I am confident that I am supposed to be using my gifts to pursue a vocation as an artist, it is wise to pursue that goal while making the most of these gifts I've been given. I envision using art as a tool to communicate in ways the would otherwise be impossible.

The intangible ideas of hope, love, beauty, and the very message of the Gospel cannot be expressed with mere words. Nor can the be fully realized though art, but it is my hope to flesh out these incredible concepts in a deeper way. And then to share that with others. So using the gift of money, I intend to purchase a digital camera which would aid in the development of my career. More specifically I plan to use it to document my work and compile a portfolio. Which I can then use to get commissions and ultimately share my art with other people.

Therefore, although it may seem like an insignificant decision, buying a digital camera truly is the first big investment in my art career.
So, I just realized it has been an entire year since I last posted on here. Wow, a lot has happened since then! My life in some ways is relatively unchanged and in others vastly different.

As it happens, I am still in Chattanooga, but no longer at Covenant College. I am in the much hyped, ever dreaded, but surprisingly normal 'real world'. The biggest change I can see is in the amount of freedom and responsibility. In college, my whole day was chock full and though not always productive, my days were busy. My freedom was stifled by class schedules and assignment deadlines and my main responsibility was to follow instructions. Now, I have much more freedom with regards to my schedule. That carries with it however the added responsibility of determining what to do and when to do it. In some ways this is a good thing but it also could have some negative effects.

Basically, I am learning to be more conscious of how I use my time. Knowing that I must determine my own schedule, I've had to figure out where I am going in this world and how I plan to get there. Not being one to plan out even one week in advance, I find this task to be rather daunting. It is an exciting place to be nonetheless. The past few months have been a crucial time for me as I attempt to make the transition into "grown-up" territory. I've been seeking a clearer vision for my career and have found a lot of encouragement and support from many different people. One of the most unexpected connections came through my friend Sarah Lester. She has been working at CreateHere since graduating from Covenant and she introduced me to their SpringBoard program which encourages and equips entrepranuers to pursue thier dreams. It was through this program that my passion for art and community seems to have found an outlet.

I am currently finishing up my business plan to open a working artists studio. I don't know how things will turn out, but I am hopeful that the Lord will continue to refine my vision. I am both nervous and excited to see where He is leading and I am glad to have such a supportive crew on this voyage. The Lord truly has surrounded me with some awesome people and it is really cool to be a part of something larger than yourself.

"Grace" by U2

Grace, she takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

Grace, it's the name for a girl
It's also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she's got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She's got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

Worldviews in Pop Culture

The Departed, Blades of Glory, and Blood Diamond...what do these very different movies all have in common?

In my opinion, not much at all.

Besides all three being movies that I recently watched, the only similarity they shared was that they all express a worldview. Obviously any form of art is created from a certain perspective. And after watching these movies I began to notice the stark contrast between their respective worldviews. What motivated the artist to create the film? What message does it convey? Each of these movies seem to be representative of certain trends in hollywood.

To begin with, The Departed is part of the depressing genre of movies that are rooted in an equally depressing worldview. These movies attempt to portray the harsh 'reality' of a broken world spirialing downward in an endless path of destruction. The basic worldview in these movies can be summed up in the latin quote used in the first line of the movie: "Non Serviam". This line has a long history in literature, most notably it was Lucifer's response to God when he rejected Him as Lord. The idea is that it is better to reign in hell than submit in heaven. This worldview is shared by several of the main characters in The Departed, especially Jack Nicholson's character.

Blades of Glory on the other hand caters to a much different crowd. Rather than addressing any of life's serious issues, this movie is purely entertainment. Its purpose is to distract the viewer from reality by making fun of everything, and hopefully to provide a moment of lighthearted fun. While this genre of film can be hilarious I often feel disatisfied with the lack of substance when I reflect on the experience.

Third and finally, there are movies like Blood Diamond. While these movies are often rooted in real life, their view is very different than movies like The Departed. Although they both depict the grim tragedy of reality, their response is much different. The example of Leonardo diCaprio's character is illustrative of the difference in worldviews. In The Departed his character is hard and cynical about life, his only goal is to make a difference in his world. Sadly, this hope fades throughout the movie as he becomes convinced of the pointlessness of life. In Blood Diamond his character is almost identical. He is a jaded man with no real hope, as is evident when he says, "Sometimes I wonder... will God ever forgive us for what we've done to each other? Then I look around and I realize... God left this place a long time ago." Yet through the influence of several characters he begins to see a little bit of goodness and hope in the dark world.

I wonder why respond to certain movies the way I do. What is it that makes me feel happy after some movies and sad after other? Why do I enjoy watching movies like Blood Diamond despite the sickening injustice depicted? And why do I feel dissatisfied by others? I've thought a lot about this, and I think I might have a inkling. To me, it is all about hope. In fact, hope is a really important theme in everything I see and hear. My world revolves around hope and when I see evidence of hope in the world I am attracted to it. To me, hope is vital. Because honestly, the world is a pretty messed up place. In the midst of all this tragedy a little ray of hope is powerful. Hope is a frail thing, a precious thing, it is the one thing that makes life worth living.

Kierkegaard's Last Written Words

I have nothing more to add. But let me merely say this, which in a way is my life, is to me the content of my life, its fullness, its bliss, its peace and satisfaction. Let me express this, a view of life which comprehends the idea of humanity and human equality: Christianity implies, unconditionally, that every man, every single individual is equally close to God...How close and equally close? Because Loved by Him. Consequently, there is equality, the equality of infinity, between man and man. If there is any distinction, it is that one person bears in mind that he is loved, perhaps day after day, perhaps day after day for seventy years, perhaps with one longing, a longing for eternity so that he can really grasp this thought and go through life with it, concerning himself with the blessed occupation of meditating on how he is loved - and not alas because of his virtue. Another person perhaps does not remember that he is loved, perhaps goes on year after year, day after day, and does not think of his being loved; or perhaps he is glad and grateful to be loved by his wife, by his children, by his friends, by his contemporaries, but he does not think of his being loved by God. Or perhaps he laments not being loved by anyone and does not think of his being loved by God. Infinite divine love; it makes no distinction! But what of human ingratitude? If there is any equality among us men in which we completely resemble each other; it is that not one of us truly thinks about being loved!

- Kierkegaard

Let the Lord Love You

I cringe every time you cut yourself down,
You hide your pain like it doesn't count.
So when I hear you laugh, are you crying deep inside?
'Cause you fall below the standards in your mind.
Though you'd never deny our God's a loving God,
You feel He turns away when you make mistakes.
But our heavenly Father nurtures his own.
To Him you matter more than you'll ever know

So let the Lord love you
Let His voice be heard above the rest
Hold on o what you know is true
And let the Lord love you.

We may search for truth, but we listen more to lies
Play them over and over in our minds
Till we're left with some distorted point of view
That cripples who we are and all we do.
There are times you gotta fight for all you're worth
Stand up to the voices from the past
And as you draw close to Him the more moments you'll have
When His love overwhelms and you know it's true

That the Lord, He loves you
So let His voice be heard above the rest
Hold on to what you know is true
And let the Lord love you
You gotta let the Lord love you.

-Rory Noland, from the book Heart of the Artist