By Hillary Asbury

Whether or not we realize it, the visual arts are being used by churches every day. If you were to walk into a Christian church of any sort, there would more than likely be a cross hanging somewhere, if not at the focal point of the worship space. That cross is the result of an artist’s craft. From hand-hammered brass to ceramic pieces created on a wheel, many of the communion chalices we encounter are beautiful works of art. These are vital pieces of the church’s function, of the Divine Service, and they are more often than not created to be visually pleasing, with rich meaning and symbolism. Altars and even pews are crafted with care and creativity. Banners fly proudly with symbols appropriate to the church season. Visual aids grace bulletin covers, PowerPoint presentations, and projections. Church logos are created by graphic design. The visual arts are already important to the Christian life, but perhaps we’ve been using this art passively.

By Tim Winterstein

On my last post, John Joseph Flanagan (who must have been a 19th-century Irish priest in a former life—no, I do not really believe in reincarnation) commented,

“I think you should consider filling your mind and exposing your eyes to more uplifting entertainment than horror movies and stories about zombies. After awhile in the cesspool of life, one can become really quite soiled you know. And if you just happen to be a Christian or at least profess to follow Jesus, you might consider the choices you make as indicative of your character and the virtues you embrace. ‘Guard your heart,’ the Bible tells us. Even Christian liberty can be abused, and to open yourself to the garbage you write about will surely lead to a dark path indeed, and away from the faith and far away from your Lord.”

By Tim Winterstein

I want documentaries to document. I want tension between viewpoints, in the progression of the story, and between the filmmakers and subjects. Propaganda may be interesting for any number of reasons, but not because of its tension. It has a single-minded purpose and a tunnel-vision perspective. It consciously excludes anything that argues against the obvious purpose. But human beings and the events they observe are complicated. So, if there’s no tension, I’m not interested. And I appreciate it when documentaries can document that tension without turning into propaganda.

By Paul Nelson

Christians have the Bible. Aspiring singers have The Great American Songbook. Bartenders have a cluster of drinks that never go out of style. Being able to offer one effortlessly and quickly demonstrates that you’ve done your homework. You can do more than just pour Coca Cola and Jack Daniels into a glass over ice. There’s nothing wrong with a Jack and Coke, mind you, but some occasions call for a bit of class, a bit of savoir faire.

Enter the Manhattan. Simple. Classy. Timeless.

By Quincy Koll –

As someone who finds a vocation in both art and theology, I often desire to combine the two. While traveling during my sophomore year of college, I met an artist who devoted his art to depictions of the Gospel. When his work is viewed critically and questions are asked, the Gospel can be shared in a personal and meaningful way. I was inspired by this and tried to take on theological concepts in my own work.

By Cindy Koch

Just like any other Sunday, the ushers marched down the center aisle halfway through the church service. Their leather dress shoes kept even time with the piano music during the offering. As they passed our pew, I noticed neither one of the gentlemen were looking at their destination. Their heads were tipped to the right and they both wore a proud, goofy smile. I scanned the rest of the congregation for a clue to their delight. In a wave of curiosity, every man woman and child also turned to focus on the grand piano on the side of the church.