Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Bittersweet Announcement

Well, I was afraid this would happen. It looks like I'll be taking on some ministry opportunities at a nearby church. When I looked at my to-do list to see what I could remove to make it happen, the blog seemed the easiest thing to cut. I'm not done with the Candid Goat, but I will not be posting regularly for a little while.
Thanks, and I hope you have a great day.
PJ Wehry

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Theologia Germanica / Works of Love

Martin Luther

Theologia Germanica

Written around 1350 by an anonymous author, the Theologia Germanica (or German Theology) was extremely influential on Martin Luther. After diving into it, I'm beginning to understand why. The author emphasizes man's total incapacity to reach God. The only stage that man can reach on his own is despair, what the author calls "hell." The work sharply divides between the eternal and temporal and has a real Neo-Platonist flavor to it. Because of this, the author emphasizes self-denial and suffering.

From Chapter 16

It is important to note, believe, and know that no life on this earth was as noble, good, and dear to God as the life of Christ but that it was at the same time most bitter to human nature and self.

The opposite kind of life, the careless, free life, is most sweet and most pleasant to nature, self, and the I. But it is not the best and the noblest. In many people it becomes the extreme of wickedness.

Although Christ's life was the most bitter of all, it is paradoxically the dearest.

The Temptation of Christ

Application

I am not at a stage of life where I feel I can speak with confidence, at least not on most things. However, in our haste to distance ourselves from Medieval piety, I think we often miss the blessing that suffering is. Most people will agree that the end of suffering can be and often is a good thing, but, while I can't fully articulate it, I wonder if we can separate the end from the process. However we phrase it, I think that we need to embrace suffering. At the very least, I think Christianity would be wise to mention fasting more often and to acknowledge the need for physical discipline in becoming pure.

Acknowledgments

I'm indebted to the preface of The Theologia Germanica.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Your Body is a Battleground by Barbara Kruger / A Thing of Beauty

Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger was born in the United States in 1945. She worked as a graphic designer for magazines but turned to art in the 1980s to explore both gender and consumerism. Her work generally consists of photographs with big bold type over them. Produced in 1989, the art work today is called Untitled, though for obvious reasons it's often referred to as "Your Body is a Battleground." For further information, see Barbara Kruger.

Untitled (Your Body is a Battleground)


Review

Kruger is obviously not concerned with subtlety. By splitting the photo with its negative, she reinforces the battle motif splayed across the work. Kruger emphasizes how the developing technology of mass media shapes our culture. When Kruger created this work with the obvious slogan across it, she brought to our attention the way that everyday media shapes and controls our ideals. Awareness of these forces is the first step to combating them.

Reflection

When art was divorced from worship, our culture tried to ground art in beauty. Nietzche critiqued any form of absolute values as a power play by those attempting to impose those values. While many artists attempted to preserve art for beauty alone, many artists (and most critics) could not ignore the powerful social effects of art. Since no grounds for beauty could be established, artists began to focus solely on the social aspects of their work (see my post on the "Work of Art in Age of Mechanical Reproduction"). While many people are frustrated with the current state of art, we can appreciate it more if we understand why they're doing what they do. More importantly, the return to social value in today's art can provide a chance for Christian art to truly dialogue. What's key here is that we dialogue with today's art rather than dismiss it.

Acknowledgments

I'm indebted to The Art Book produced by Phaidon for many of the facts surrounding the painting.