24 February, 2009

Consuming Art

Jeff Baldwin, in a course of lectures at Worldview Academy, explained to me that art has two components: Content and Form. What does one do with art that has exquisite form but awful content? One of my favorite quotes about art comes from a Spanish designer:
Creation continues incessantly through the media of man. But man does not create...he discovers. Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator. Copiers do not collaborate. Because of this, originality consists in returning to the origin.
~Antonio Gaudi
But, as Melkor did in The Silmarillion, some artists return to an impossible origin. What then? Obviously, participating in this art will result in disturbed thoughts and a faltering soul.

But can I not participate to some degree, and glean what I might find useful?

What if I enjoy this art? Does God forbid it?

God forbids many things that are deemed "good" if they are in the wrong context.

Edit: While perusing I Corinthians 15 in response to a friend's post, I read verses 33 and 34:
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
~I Corinthians 15: 33-34

17 February, 2009


When we cease to seek a world that ought to be, and stop using our imaginative capacities generatively, we have forfeited our capacity to hope, and re-create. In this sense, recreation, even the leisure of fishing, points to re-creation, our central task of rebuilding a broken universe. If a trout, or other enchanted creatures of nature, cannot be allowed to inhabit our urban world, swimming against the currents of the economy and flowing into the currents of cultural production, we have already closed the door to the generative reality, making the re-humanization of our world unattainable.
~Makoto Fujimura

Sometimes, artists use words instead of paint. I would like to be in the business of hoping, as Mako is.

14 February, 2009

It's the Late, Late--I mean, Really Early Show!

Yes, yes...it's 4 AM and I cannot sleep. Methods I've tried tonight:
  1. Staring at the ceiling
  2. Staring at the insides of my eyelids
  3. Listening to music in my head
  4. Praying (I lack the discipline to pray for 4 straight hours)
  5. Reading
  6. Sketching
The painting in the post below has my artistic mind churning. I tried to sketch a sunset resembling Munch's, with some of my own technique, but couldn't figure out how to make the sunrays and the waves interact. So then I got out some color, hoping that would help...but I think pastel is the wrong media for such a blatant image. Too soft. Also, I should get/make a blending pencil. Some day.

I'm kinda concerned that I can't sleep. College fencing practice is tomorrow, and I'd really like to go, but after that I have set-up for church (it's in a different location, ergo the Saturday set-up) and then 4 hours of work. I've been doing nothing all week due to illness, so I'm concerned that no sleep + fencing + set up + work could equal a sicker Elf come Sunday morning. Sigh. And I already didn't go to practice on Thursday because I didn't feel good.

Oh wow! I haven't blogged about the tournament last weekend yet! Well, then, here's the report.

The weekend was a smashing success. My fears about what could happen when a bunch of college students rent some hotel rooms for a weekend were unfounded, at least for the night I spent with them. Thank God! I fenced the best I ever have in my life, which is remarkable because by 2 PM I was a metabolic mess. I had failed to carbo-load the day before the tournament, so after a few hours of fencing my body had no more energy to give my muscles or my brain. Ergo I could have won the bronze medal match for my team, but failed by one point. I tracked my performance, and won 7 bouts in a row before crashing...maybe next time I'll be able to extend that streak by planning better. Ah well. 4th place out of 20 colleges ain't bad, and we even got medals! So now I can say I medalled in a collegiate fencing conference :-)

The girls fenced the first day and the guys fenced the day afterward, so for the day that I was fencing I had a wonderful support group of guys from the team. Will was our main coach, and did a fantastic job. If he weren't so keen on leaving my city I'd ask him to join my coaching staff. Josh, who is planning to get his Master's degree in fencing (ack! So jealous), helped me with doing specific drills for some of my opponents, and tried to get me to fence smarter :-P Maybe I should ask him to join my staff...

Why did I fence so much better that weekend than other tournaments? The team aspect made a huge difference to me--I'm used to it because of high school. Individual bouts were better because I was not trying to analyze every scrap of information I could. Apparently I fence better when I'm slightly spaced out! By the end of the day I was pretty giddy and probably annoyed a lot of my teammates. Oops. Being sick didnt help that.

A note on some teams...our first match was against Swarthmore College, our hosts. None of us had warmed up (BAD idea), so we lost miserably. But we finished way ahead of them in the standings. Huh. Navy had a team there...and I was like "oh these girls should be fun to beat," expecting them to be all hardcore etc. Nope. Not so much as a fleche out of them. (PS I scored on fleches a lot! Weird.) William & Mary's team looked like they could all be relatives...after our match, one of their girls asked me if I spoke Icelandic. I don't, but told her I was a linguistics major, which made her explode in joy. Rather funny to watch someone else have reactions that I usually have :-) We had beaten Florida earlier in the day, but they beat us in the bronze medal match. Both matches were won or lost by one bout. They were a frustrating team to fence, but it was good fencing.

Also, I found a magic weapon. Well, ok, it wasn't magical, but the grip (large Belgian) fit my hand remarkably well, and though the blade had several weak spots (I prayed it wouldn't break on any of my opponents), it was light enough that the weight of the weapon was pretty far toward my hand. Yay! It's a lot easier to fence with lighter weapons and/or weapons that are weighted toward the hand. I was borrowing this particular weapon from Alex, because all of my weapons failed. Jason fixed one of my weapons and fell in love with it (it has a German grip and really flexible blade), so I told him I'd trade it for Alex's weapon (named Lucille). Maybe I should show up at practice tomorrow, if only to see if Jason got that worked out with Alex!

With that, I think I'm going to try this novel thing they call "sleeping."

13 February, 2009

Edvard Munch

Images move me. This particular image I found because of the D'arte Board.

The Sun by Edvard Munch

I could stare at this painting for a long time and still be learning. Agh! This is why they say a picture is worth a thousand words...I can't really describe to you why I appreciate it. Edvard Munch used "blood" a lot to describe the substance of a sunset, and he got it here. It's elegantly violent, what with the water and rocks and shooting red/blue/yellow rays. And then the ring pattern around the sun. Some day I would like to get a large poster version of this and hang it in my studio space.

Please, please tell me you recognize this artist. Recently his most famous painting was stolen and damaged by the thieves. The news made me sick to my stomach.

Images move me.


Welcome to my new--well, different-- blog! A certain feline friend of mine texted me yesterday and said "I need ur username and password for Blogger to upload ur new layout." And I was like "oh? I have a new layout?" And this is what I found when I got home :-) Isn't it beautiful? As Jason noted below, I've always had a pre-fab design, which was adequate for my blog (I do love green), but really wasn't as unique as the blogger. So I'm happy that someone who knows HTML better than I has made it unique. The elf in the header looks remarkably accurate.

Changes, however, will probably occur, since there are always rough spots in transitions, such as my Flickr flash disappearing. Also, even though 99% of the people in my city identify with the colors of black and gold (as well as many outside of my city), it just doesn't resonate with my blog so much. Maybe because I associate black and gold with football, I just can't see it working in an elvish realm :-) So the green is on its way back.

10 February, 2009


Thanks to Dord Defined, I heard this sermon and thought it would be worth remembering and sharing :-)

04 February, 2009

Home Less

Today, I had the privilege of spending about an hour and a half with a homeless girl. I honestly can't remember her name, so I'm going to call her Carli. She and her friend were panhandling on one of the many steep roads that lead to my college campus. "Stranded!" their sign announced. And then more letters and something about being "...very hungry!" My heart flip flopped, and I pulled over.

I've been reading a book called Under the Overpass, which hasn't changed my views on homeless people, but has strongly encouraged me to put those views into practical application. My policy: I never approach homeless or panhandling men. When they approach me, I'm extremely cautious and never give them anything (except maybe the time of day or directions). I would love to change this policy, but experience has taught me that strangers, and especially male strangers, should not be trusted. Most of the homeless that I've seen are male, so my ability to minister to the homeless is frighteningly small. Ergo I've been praying that God might put me in the path of some homeless females.

Lo and behold, God answered my prayers today! Honestly, I drove around the block several times while wrestling with the duty that called. I had a purpose that didn't include these young women. I didn't know who they were, or what they were doing, or what they could do. A quick call to my mom confirmed that my purpose and questions were disposable, and this is the first time I've seen women panhandling in months. So, I parked and introduced myself to Carli and her friend. I offered a ride, and mentioned food. They jumped at the chance, deciding that Carli would come with me and her friend would watch their stuff and wait to meet Carli's boyfriend. So, my adventure began.

After blasting the heat in hopes that Carli would stop shivering, I drove all around Oakland looking for a parking spot. A grocery store was very close to where I picked her up, but had no parking, so we meandered around (and narrowly avoided crashing into a bus--not my fault!) for a long time, looking for a store with a parking lot. Giant Eagle appeared unexpectedly, and in we went. I told Carli to get whatever she wanted, and she kept her costs around $10, despite my offers of band-aids for her blisters and some purified water. Efficient shopper, that girl!

Throughout this trip, I learned that Carli was a native to this city, but left home at the age of 16 because there was no more home. Her father died, various family members fell ill...so she started drifting. She'd been to lots of places throughout the US, traveling on the Greyhound, which sounded cool to me. She and her friend were living under a bridge in a park near my school, and had made friends with the guy who lived under the other end of the bridge. Do I believe her story? Yes. Do I think she could be living in a more secure place, with a more secure future? Yes to the first part, no to the second. Surely her wanderlust had compounded problems that were already there, ergo her constant wandering and lack of resources. However, none of us have a secure future. If I were in her shoes, I can't say I'd make different choices.

This venture opened up so many possibilities. Forget that I never finished my shopping list. Forget that my wallet is $11 lighter and that I used a lot of gas while looking for a parking lot. Mostly what I'd like to do is learn how to help her more. Sure, what I did might have fed her and her friend for a bit, and the heat in the car felt good, and hopefully our conversation was uplifting, but is that really helping? She mentioned hanging out at a christian shelter called "Connections," but I can't find anything on the internet related to that. I'm really curious about the possibility of volunteering with some such place, though.

Regardless of what I feed her or can do for her physical needs, she needs one thing only: Salvation by Christ alone. Carli told me that she loves Jesus and wants to be like him, but despises organized religion. She went to a Catholic school as a child, and knew some interesting things about the Bible. "Revelations is is WEIRD, man," and "those books--some former generation decided what goes in the Bible and what stays out--how do we know that it's OK for us today?" were two notable quotes. I mentioned that my church was unaffiliated, but couldn't remember the word..."like, non-denominational?" she asked. She seemed cool with that idea, and suddenly changed her opinion and said she likes to go to church and be with people who love each other and love God. Hmm. I regret not asking her to come to my church, but I knew she'd be unable to get there and I won't be at church this coming Sunday, so I am praying that she goes to some church, or that Connections will provide some spiritual guidance, or that God somehow moves in her life so she realizes what she needs.

Why do I write such things? Not to say anything about myself or Carli, but so that you, my dear readers, might be encouraged to see God in this situation and in situations around you. I pray that you and I will be salt unto the earth, that you would see God at work around you, and that you would seek to be part of it.

Please pray with me for Carli, her friend, and her boyfriend.

02 February, 2009

Yay 2009!

The first month of 2009 has been full of God's grace! Allow me to recount his blessings, and please forgive my scattered recollections...

I spent the first few days of 2009 (and the last few days of 2008) in Akron, OH. I am seriously considering the possibility of God moving me to that city in order to glorify and enjoy him there. Nothing is wrong with where I am now, though. My heart sometimes fills with tension when I consider my future.

Speaking of my future, I've been applying for quite a few jobs since finishing college (I haven't graduated yet, but that's a long story...). No interviews. Huh. I'm tempted to doubt God's grace in this area, but he has provided for me in so many ways through so many times that reason demands I continue to daily place my faith in him. The struggle to trust him for a job in the right place has been oddly constant, but I'm learning more about perseverance. And I can't honestly say I'm uncomfortable about it. Learning about perseverance and faith in such pleasant circumstances is a surprise.

When I returned from my sojourn in Akron, I was privileged to sit under some amazing teaching at my local church. This message about fear brought about some particularly sweet times of repentance. I realized that I've been idolizing fencing, and trying to plan my future around my high school team at the expense of God's plans for me. As a result, I've been afraid of change, lest my idol fall. Because of Mr. Pierson's ministry, I've shifted my priorities into a more correct formation, and though the thought of leaving my team still makes me sad, I am willing to follow Christ joyfully, into whatever future he has planned for me.

Concerning fencing, my high school team is doing all right. Authority is a dangerous tool. I enjoy wielding it, but am constantly aware that I could be abusing it. A friend who fenced with me in high school returned to help coach for a few weeks before leaving to serve with the Marines. It was great to hang out with him, because his Senior year of high school was fraught with troubles, some of his own doing and some of divine intervention. Since joining the Marines, he has regained control over his life, and redeemed his time in the military well. When he finishes, he hopes to come help me coach again. I hope so! I am praying fervently that he gives authority of his life to God, who helped him conquer drugs and addictive habits. What a sweet thing that would be. His situation gives me hope for some who are currently in the fencing program.

And also, soon I will be able to say that I competed as a collegiate fencer. Next weekend I am headed East to participate in a large fencing tournament for college fencing clubs. I'm so excited! I hope I am able to keep my scheming mind calm enough to compete well and also be a witness to those who are in the darkness. I suspect I am the only Christian going on this trip, and there will be many opportunities to display my hope in Christ.

I'm also able to say that I've been ice climbing and mountaineering :-) I spent approximately 24 hours with a family in my church, and what fun we had! It actually was more than 24 hours, if one counts the service we rendered to the church as part of the Tech team. After church, a lot of people went sledding, which provided me an opportunity to ask Mr. C about ice climbing. He had tentative plans to go the next day, and invited me. The family was kind enough to share dinner and give me a place to sleep until we departed at 6 AM. We climbed and mountaineered for most of the day, and finished with a trip to Sheetz. Dinner followed at their home, then I went to my house to recuperate. I was bruised and beaten and inspired. I can't thank them enough for 1) planning the trip, 2) coming on the trip, or 3) staying home and caring for the rest of the family while the crazy people went climbing. I love climbing. It's the best (and safest) adrenaline rush I've experienced so far :-) Here are photos, if you're interested.

And I'm happy to say I've done all this without missing a high school fencing practice :-) Though my attendance at college practices have been lax...

Random: I'm developing a taste for coffee. Odd!