THE WING

DON’T GIVE UP THE WING FOR THE THING!

ART LOST ITS CREATIVE DRIVE

“Art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship.”
Igmar Bergman

ACCEPT YOUR WORK

“You have to accept what’s bad about your work as well as what’s good. Maybe they are one and the same.”
Lillian Hellman

THE CREATIVE PERSON

“The Creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated than the average person.”
Frank Barron

THE GIFT TURNED INWARD

“The gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of prison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up.”
Mary Sarton

TALENT/GENIUS

“Talent is the ability to hit a target others cannot hit; genius is the ability to hit a target others cannot see.”
Simone Weil

THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD

” The power which has always started the greatest religious and political avalanches in history rolling has from time immemorial been the magic power of the spoken word, and that alone.
The broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech. All great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses; they are not the lemonade-like outpourings of the literary aesthetes and drawing-room heroes.”
Adolf Hitler (from Mein Kampf)

“Talent is the ability to hit a target others cannot hit; genius is the ability to hit a target others cannot see.”
Simone Weil

“The gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of prison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up.”
Mary Sarton

“The Creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated than the average person.”
Frank Barron

“You have to accept what’s bad about your work as well as what’s good. Maybe they are one and the same.”
Lillian Hellman

“Art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship.”
Igmar Bergman

DON’T GIVE UP THE WING FOR THE THING!

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Thomas Edison

“The inexpressible is the only thing that is worth expressing.”
Frederick Franck

“There is no such thing beneath the heavens as conditions favorable to art. Art must crash though or perish.”
Sylvia Ashton-Warner

“Don’t reach for the shiny apple, don’t taste of the bitter fruit. Seek only for justice, search always for the truth. Because all that you really have is your soul.”
From a song by Tracy Chapman

“A friend is someone who stays with you in the bad weather of life, guards you when you are off your guard, restrains your impetuosity, delights in your wholeness, forgives your failures, does not forsake you when others let you down.”
Brennan Manning “ Sometimes I wonder if not all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”
C.S. Lewis

CREATIVITY by Catherine Marshall

“It should not surprise us that creativity arises out of the pit of life rather than the high places. For creativity is the ability to put old material into new form. And it is only when old molds and old ways of doing things are forcibly broken up by need or suffering, compelling us to regroup, to rethink, to begin again, that the creative process starts to flow.”

ANYWAY by Keith McKeith

“People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.

LOVE THEM ANYWAY.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

DO GOOD ANYWAY.

If you are successful you win false friends and true enemies.

SUCCEED ANYWAY.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

DO GOOD ANYWAY.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.

FIGHT FOR SOME UNDERDOGS ANYWAY.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

BUILD ANYWAY.

People really need help, but may attack you if you help them.

HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.

Because it was never between you and them.

IT IS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD ANYWAY.”

PREACHING AND THE ARTS an interview with Wesley Theological Seminary’s Catherine Kapikian

The day after she graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in 1979 with a Master’s degree in Theological Studies, Catherine Kapikian “marched into the dean’s office” and proposed the establishment of an artist-in-residence at the seminary. J. Phillip Wogaman, then dean, and President Jack Knight responded to her thesis that without the arts, “theological education was truncated,” by assigning a modest space under the chapel as a studio. They also appointed her to teach a two-credit course in the visual arts. And it was then, says Catherine, “that I was surprised to realize that I had a ministry in the arts on my hands.” More than 20 years later, Catherine is still at Wesley, now as the director of the Henry Luce III Center for Arts and Religion…. See More

Laura Wyke holds a bachelor of arts with a double major in Religion and Theatre from Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia. She is currently the Executive Administrator of The Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary where she is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. Laura serves as Pastoral Intern at Bethesda United Methodist Church in Bethesda, Maryland, along with Rev. Ron Foster, pastor of the church.

Kapikian was on sabbatical last spring when we caught up with her, and deeming it dangerous to appear on campus and risk getting bogged down with questions about projects and the like, we met off campus in the apartment of Laura Wyke. Then, around a pot of coffee, we started out with a most fundamental question.

HOMILETICS: So what does art have to do with religion? What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?

KAPIKIAN: The holy or the numinous indwells in the material place of significant art. It is a vehicle for ushering in the sense of the holy, or the divine. It is that which is spiritual, however one attempts to define that.

HOMILETICS: So art helps to access what is sacred.

KAPIKIAN: Yes, it does. It shuttles you to a different place than where you’ve been by ushering in some sense of the Transcendent – like when I listen to the National Symphony or go to the theater. Once I walked into a small gallery in Holland, and there was a tiny painting by Rembrandt. It was late in the day and the light was falling across the floor in a certain way. It was a painting of an elderly man bent over by himself at a table with his head in his hands. It gripped me in such a way, that it reduced me to my knees. I don’t know exactly how to express what that process is. But when you’re in the presence of the material reality of art, you are lifted, transported, shuttled, disclosed – and often what is disclosed is that which has to do with the holy and the sacred.

WYKE: There are things in the liturgical experience of the church that cannot convey the type of emotion and feeling, the inner sense of spirituality that art does, whether in visual, theatrical or musical form. There is something that goes deeper there in those arts than does our common liturgy, as important as liturgy is. Too often, our liturgy is barren if not enhanced by the arts, thus allowing us to go much deeper into theology, just by simple images, or plays.

HOMILETICS: Liturgy itself emerged, did it not, as an attempt to “dramatize” if you will, the salvation history of God’s people. Certainly the Eucharist – the elevation of the Host – for example, is a visual restatement of the theology that is central to Christianity.

KAPIKIAN: Sometimes I think the words themselves get in the way of going deeper with God. But certainly, the church, from its very conception used the visual to convey the spiritual, even something as basic as the drawings on the walls of the catacombs. To me, it has to do with the notion that you come to know God most abundantly through the use of all your senses, and that any human activity and endeavor ought to embrace the full use of one’s brain. But that aside, in the West, through the medieval period and Renaissance, except for the Iconoclastic Movement, the visual arts were a fundamental part of the liturgy, and it wasn’t until the Reformation that the centrality of that way of knowing God shifted to the spoken word, and to the truncation of the sacramental. The liturgical renewal that is going on now suggests that it has taken 500 years to recover from the Reformation, and perhaps 150 years from now, we’ll look back and say that it was at the end of the 20th century that the Reformation finally drew to a close.

HOMILETICS: Is it a right brain/left brain thing?

WYKE: I think it might be, but I also think there is a common thread that people share. I’ve noticed this by experimenting in my own congregation with different types of art in the past year. There is a common thread that excites everyone’s inner being when they are in a church if the presence of art is used, as Cathy said, as a means to transport them from their everyday life into a totally different place, a spiritual place.

HOMILETICS: So what has triggered this renewed interest in liturgy and the arts?

KAPIKIAN: Probably the fact that we are such a visual culture now, the place of the image, what we know about how people learn.

HOMILETICS: If art is a way to access the sacred, it would seem that in such a secular culture, one would use all means possibly to uncover the sacred.

KAPIKIAN: There’s something else going on too. No one today in their right mind in the field of the arts would attempt in a public formum to stand up and define what art is. It’s beyond definition today. In fact, you can dig a hole in the ground and call it art, if you want.

HOMILETICS: That’s the only art I could create!

KAPIKIAN: I seriously doubt that. So artists are not tethered anymore to a notion that art is evolved out of a tradition of skill or is anchored to aesthetic principles anymore. In our vastly secular culture, artists don’t understand doctrine, and a massive number of artists wouldn’t have anything to do with the church because the doctrine gets in the way. Yet in our experience here at Wesley as soon as you plunk artists into an environment where the creative process for its own sake is valued and seems to be connected to a deeply spiritual process – which all artists know intuitively – they suddenly flock toward the religious dimension of reality. You’d be surprised at the number of artists who come here and turn around and start seeking theological literacy. They start going to classes.

HOMILETICS: Is that the same thing that would happen in the parish?

KAPIKIAN: Absolutely. It’s the same thing. We have artists now seeking degrees, and a couple are going on for Ph.D.s in liturgy. All these artists are coming to theology via the back door. There’s such a natural alliance between the arts, the artists who create art and those who are deeply rooted in theological traditions. So here we are in a radically secular culture where God might as well be dead, where there is no definition of art possible, and you have a place like this [Wesley] where the two are coming together and the natural alliances and correspondences are so fundamental.

HOMILETICS: We have artists that are becoming theologically literate. So what do we need to do with the pastors/ theologians out there? Get them a coloring book?

KAPIKIAN: We must make them literate in terms of the multiple languages through which the arts are expressed. I know for a fact here, that – as unselfconscious as we are about the arts here – future pastors come here, and they walk past our studios and their body language and posture are a dead giveaway. They tighten up, put their heads down. They don’t dare look in there; it’s just too sensuous a place.

HOMILETICS: Maybe they’re afraid they’re going to see a crucifix inverted in a jar of urine.

KAPIKIAN: Maybe. The point is that they need to be educated in the nonverbal languages of the heart.