By Hillary Asbury

Whoever said “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” was full of baloney.

I love what I do, and I still do all kinds of things that feel like work! I love painting, and I love serving people and churches with my art. But I work all the time. I maintain websites, professional profiles, and subscriptions. I’m self-employed, so I maintain the business side of everything I do. I draw up and negotiate contracts. I make drives out miles away for conferences and meetings about commissions. I edit my work digitally and send files out for print. I network, exchange business cards, and shake hands.

By Hillary Asbury

The catacombs of Rome are a vast, labyrinthine network of passageways. They are cavernous: dark, cold, bleak, and eerie. Death lingers there. In the stillness and quiet of the depths, you can feel it. Long after the tombs fell into disuse, forgotten for centuries, they still whisper of finality… as though you can hear the last breaths of those ancient bones echo in the distance.

By Tim Winterstein

Usually, I just check the internet to see which films won which Oscars. I don’t really have any strong desire to hear the rich and famous pontificate, posture, and “use their platform” to push this or that cause. I have nothing against them doing so; I just don’t want to watch it. This sort of exhibitionism has been given the name “virtue signaling,” in virtue of the tendency to show how much more virtuous one is than some other one who has not shown the same virtues he or she holds up as virtuous.

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.