faith

Good Friday – a song that truly saves people

 

There’s a lot to be said about #GoodFriday… and I don’t claim to speak to all of that in this video… but I put together some thoughts that I’ve had about GF that constantly give me joy. It’s a song that truly saves people.

A Biblical response to tattoos

Since I posted Why The Church Needs Art – Part Four… which speaks to the stations of the cross tattoo show I did years ago… I’ve had a few people contact me about a biblical basis for tattoos. Back then we were getting the same questions… and one of our elders, David Capes, a biblical scholar, wrote this letter to those who asked. I think it’s great… and I share it with you now.

IMG_0215

We’ve had many questions concerning Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” Although the verse before says “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” and most everyone no longer thinks that command applies to our modern cultural context, many believe that verse 28 is still something we our bound by. Our good friend, church elder, and biblical scholar Dr. David Capes wrote a letter to such a question and we think it’s a good response if you had such a query:

“For the record I won’t be getting a tattoo—for lots of reasons—but I understand how some want to and others find it strange. People over 45 often associate tattoos with bad behavior. When they were growing up the only people to get tattoos were those who went off, got drunk and came back all inked up. Even Scott last week in his sermon talked about being afraid of a rough fellow who was “all tatted up”. Today though I imagine most Ecclesians under 35 have at least one tattoo. It is understood like a rite of passage into adulthood, a way of expressing their individuality and yet ironically going along with the crowd (since most their age have them). It is an interesting cultural phenomenon.

Now specifically to your question about the Old Testament Scripture. It is true and undeniable that Leviticus instructs the people of God not to cut their bodies or get tattoos. But we must ask what function those laws had. There are 613 laws in the Old Testament that make up—and this is key—God’s covenant-agreement with the people known as Israel. Some laws are universal (no murder, no stealing, no adultery), but the majority are specific to that people. Christians today, for example, don’t remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy by doing no work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the 7th day of the week, Saturday, not Sunday. Christian women today don’t follow the laws of what to do during their menstrual cycles. The majority of Christians eat pork, shrimp and catfish despite God’s clear instruction to Israel not to eat these things (Leviticus 11). Christians today don’t celebrate Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Now why don’t Christians follow these laws? They are part of the Bible. True, they are, but these are laws God gave to establish the people we know today as Israel. These laws set them apart from their pagan neighbors. They are written, according to Paul, for our instruction but they do not apply to us. Paul, you remember, did not insist that Gentile men be circumcised in order to follow Christ even though circumcision was central to the Abrahamic covenant. Circumcision is the mark/cutting of the body that set the men of Israel apart from their pagan neighbors. Today many Jews still follow these laws and practices.

Informed by the Old Testament, Christians are to be formed by a different set of teachings (the Sermon on the Mount, law of Christ—Galatians 6), practices (Sunday worship, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, hospitality), and beliefs (incarnation, trinity, resurrection, etc).

Now to the question of our bodies as the temple of God. This is true and a central part of the church’s teaching. However, temples were not blank buildings. If you read the description of the tabernacle in Exodus and Leviticus you will see that the temple was an ornate, decorated, beautiful place. It was probably the most ornate building they would ever see. The walls were covered with tapestries that had images of angels on them. The columns were covered with images and designs. The furnishings were of gold and silver. This was, after all, God’s house and it was meant to be grand. You could not look in any direction in the temple and not see some image crafted by an artist on the walls and columns.

For centuries, the church has struggled to tell the story of the Gospel well. They mined culture around them to do so. The halo around the heads of saints on paintings and icons is an image of the sun drawn from pagan culture and stories of Apollo. The catacomb paintings are not unlike paintings in pagan burial chambers (they just tell part of the Christian story). When Martin Luther wrote hymns, his hymn tunes were inspired by folk songs he heard in his day. Contemporary Christian music is drawn on the various art forms you can hear on the radio. The stations of the cross tattoos are probably most like the stain glass windows of churches. For most of Christian history, the majority of Christians could not read. So church leaders put art work in their churches to tell the story. Stained glass windows are a celebrated art form which depict key moments in the drama of redemption. Even today we are fascinated and instructed by their images. I suspect that this tattoo project is a moment when we have the opportunity to tell the story again to a different group of people. For these people tattoos are a manner of self-impression mixed with a bit of social conformity.

I hope this helps. I suspect it will for some, not for others. People often have a visceral response to tattoo culture. If I can help in any way, please let me know.”

Best,
dbc

David B. Capes
Thomas Nelson Research Professor
School of Theology
Houston Baptist University

 

Why The Church Needs Art – Part Four

Part Four in a series of videos I made about some things I learned being the artist in residence at Ecclesia Church in Houston, TX from 2009-2012.

Read More»

Why The Church Need Art – Part Three

Read More»

Why The Church Needs Art – Parts 1 & 2

For the next four weeks, I will be releasing a series of videos highlighting some of the things I learned being the artist in residence at Ecclesia Church in Houston, TX from 2009-2012. I wanted to get these stories out… and I thought about just writing them… but because I had so much unused footage of things I did at Ecclesia, I decided to put them in video form. So.. here you go. Cheers.

 

Part One

*In the first two speaking segments, the sound is not great. We lost that audio in transferring data. Just wanted to let you know that I know it’s not great.

 

Part Two

 

*If you are interested in me telling these stories in a live setting… I have a full multi-media show (live painting, group singing, curated video) based on this content that is available for performing. Please email me here to find out more info.

 

*Also, if you’d like to not miss out on the release of the next videos, important updates, and periodic free art, sign up for my much cherished email list!

Failure Of A Plan

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 10.21.32 AM

I failed.

I’m 37 and I don’t have a plan for my life.

It seems to me like you should at this age. At least… that’s the standard perception amongst my peers.

I was talking about this with a fellow late thirties friend. She’s recently divorced and her life feels like the rubble of a city after an air raid reminiscent of WWII. She too doesn’t know where to go next… and finds herself lamenting the lack of a plan… a lack of having her shit together… a lack of feeling like there is a successful way forward.

I can whole-heartedly relate.

Our words ended and we took a few beats together in silence to sit in the solidarity of “failed” plans. “Failed” thirties. “Failed” success stories.

Then these words emerged from somewhere deep.

 

Let’s accept our failure. 
And then, standing in the ashes of our failed plans,
let’s ask ourselves this:
What does this now free me to do?
Read More»

“Troubled Guests” at Level Ground PDX

levelgroundace

I was contacted by the folks at Level Ground about possibly providing some art element to their upcoming weekend roadshow in Portland. If you don’t know about Level Ground, here’s a statement from their website:

Read More»

Forgive Thy Other

I decided to refresh an old painting I had done called “Forgive Thy Brother”.

So I bring you “Forgive Thy Other.”

 

Prints & Products available on my Society6 page.

Read More»

Viktor Frankl Quote

Endure Burning - Viktor Frankl Quote

 

This is one of my favorite quotes by Viktor Frankl. His book Man’s Search For Meaning had a great influence on me last year. In fact, this quote is on the front page of my personal journal. The text in the cloud is actually a copy of that text.  Anyway… I had wanted to make a poster based on this quote… and this is what I came up with. You can get a print and many more products on my Society6 page.

Read More»

OCC Mural

occ1

Recently I was commissioned by Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA to create a mural illuminating their new Blessing My City campaign.

Originally we agreed on three 7ft tall by 5ft wide canvas’… each depicting a concept of their campaign:

1. Caring for your parish – not only the church but the parish of your home in a neighborhood.

2. Voice for the Voiceless – assisting with educational needs worldwide.

3. Sacred Space – the journey together towards a redeeming God.

For logistical reasons, I broke up the sections into two images each. This gave me two pictures to help me speak to the layered concepts. Because of my schedule I had about 5 days to make all these and I think they turned out great considering the time crunch.

You can see the paintings in the lobby as you enter the church.

Read More»