Roundup: Art ministry in West Africa, illuminated Merton poem, Deeper Well Records, Van Gogh’s lost Jesus paintings, and Jesus quiz

Partner with an arts missionary: My friend Scott Rayl has joined Wycliffe Bible Translators as an arts specialist and is in the process of raising money to start training for service in West Africa. Scott is the person who first got me interested in non-Western Christian art—I’m sure you can see his influence across my blog. If you’re interested in donating toward his mission, click here and fill out the “Give” box. Be sure to watch the short video he put together to explain what an “arts specialist” is and why he feels called to that role.


“Aubade-Harlem” by Thomas Merton, illustrated by Andre Racz: One of my assignments as assistant editor of is to seek out artistic responses to poems and vice versa as well as poet-artist collaborations. I found this one in Christian Art by Rowena Loverance (perhaps the best introduction to Christian art I’ve read), and ArtWay got permission from New Directions to publish it online. The poem—by one who has been named one of the most famous theologians of the twentieth century—likens Jesus’s crucifixion to the life of the children of Harlem, martyred by the exploitation of the white professional class. Drawing on the brilliant visual interpretation by Romanian American artist Andre Racz, Loverance explains that the children’s prayers of a better life, like kites floating upward, have been crucified on the ghetto’s lines and wires.

Deeper Well Records: In its latest e-newsletter Image journal linked to “Twelve Cascadian Arts Organizations to Know About,” which led me to discover the Christian music collective Deeper Well, birthed out of Door of Hope church in Portland, Oregon. The several talented artists who make up this entity offer an alternative to mainstream CCM, representing genres like folk, country, and funk. I found that I really like the songwriting of Wesley Randolph Eader. Below is a video of him performing the original song “Of Old It Was Recorded” with Ben Michel and Eric Earley; it’s the title track of his first studio album, which you can download for free from NoiseTrade.


Vincent Van Gogh’s lost Jesus paintings: I’ve done a bit of research on Van Gogh and the influence of Christianity on his art (which is waiting in the wings of this blog), and this summer another book on him came out that I look forward to reading, titled Van Gogh’s Ghost Paintings: Art and Spirit in Gethsemane. By poring over correspondence, author Cliff Edwards has uncovered evidence that Van Gogh had created two paintings of the Agony in the Garden—which he then destroyed. The book explores why. “The answer to the mystery of the lost paintings,” writes the publisher, “illuminates the relationship of joy and suffering, discovery and creation, religion and the arts in van Gogh’s life and work.”

Quiz on Christ: Tim Challies and Mark Jones have created thirty questions to test your knowledge about Jesus according to scripture, councils, and creeds. Though different Christians, even within the evangelical fold, may contest some of the answers (and Challies said he has received push-back on some via e-mail), for the most part this is the orthodox understanding of the nature and roles of Jesus. I got a 28/30 . . . how did you do?

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