Monday, February 27, 2012

ART IS A TEACHER

Art is not just a skill but a teacher. When I began art courses in 2006, I started seeing things differently. I noticed shapes and arrangements, colors and tones, lines and curves, schemes and designs, everywhere around me.

One night in the hospital, I caught myself staring at the typical row of skin creases around one of my patient’s armpits where her pectoralis inserted beneath the deltoid. I was suddenly fascinated and wanted to capture on paper an area of the body I’d seen for decades without noticing or appreciating its uniqueness. The same was true for other parts of the naked anatomy, but especially the structures of the face: eyebrows, noses, lips, jawbone angles, ears, hair; all were more interesting now. Art had given me renewed vision, awakening my eyes to see more of what I'd been looking at without really seeing.

Because my mind is steeped in theology and logic, it was easy to see another dimension where art is a teacher. In meditating on humanity’s bent toward creativity, I saw how artists, even in their most innovative moments, are essentially imitators. All human art is an imitation of the artistry within creation. Even the abstract artist selects and recombines the same lines and forms and colors, even the randomness, which have always been resident in nature. This teaches us something about God and something about ourselves.

After I’d been taking art classes for a few years, I wrote this poem:

ARTIST

Paint clouds that really rain
And noisy, running streams,
Or birds that can take flight
And sing beyond your dreams,
Or sculpt a lovely nude
That wakes to your embrace . . .
If not, then praise the Artist
Who made the human race.

— David L. Hatton, 10-20-2009

Today, in thinking more about the theological lessons of art, I finished another similar poem:

DESIGNERS

We’re designed to be designers
By the Maker of the skies.
When they copy nudes and nature,
Artists often plagiarize.
Praise the Artist of creation,
When you render earthly art.
Our designs are mere reflections
Of the great Designer’s heart.

— David L. Hatton, 12- 27-2012

Human artists and their compositions provide a powerful, extra-biblical proof that we are made in the image of the Original Artist.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

INTRODUCING MY BLOG

I like to learn, but I must teach. Discoveries delight the mind, but sharing them fulfills the heart. When I gain new perspectives on God, His Word, creation, or our place in it, I feel compelled to express them. This usually comes through prophetic prose or poetic verse, but occasionally in the form of visual artwork. This blog is my way of passing along those insights and inspirations to those interested. Avoiding a topical or chronological order, I hope to pattern my blog after my own stream of consciousness: a spontaneous, serendipitous interweaving of thoughts.

In introducing my blog, let me first break apart and explain the wording of my name for it: "PastorDavidRN's DANCE with NAKED TRUTH." Its long title is an important description.

My parents named me “David,” which means “beloved.” I’ve always appreciated that about my name. Knowing its literal Hebrew meaning helped me grow up with gratitude. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt thankful for being “beloved,” not just by my parents, but by God.

I really am a pastor, an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church. Since 1996, I’ve been serving a small retirement community church sponsored by Faith Legacy Church. Many of the sermons I've preached there can be listened to on my "Sermons" webpage linked above. Some of the insights I hope to share in this blog came during this pastoral ministry to seniors.

I really am a nurse, too. After getting my RN in 1981, I worked the ER for almost a decade. Then in 1991, I cross-trained to OB and have helped thousands of mothers give birth and nurse their babies. This job is still my main source of income. Meditating on the physical realities of life made so dynamically obvious in nursing has shaped much of my thinking about our humanity.

Dancing is a meaningful metaphor. Life rarely marches in a straight line. It spins and whirls, jumps and twirls. And we rarely dance alone. The dance floor of life is relational. I first used this figure of speech in my talk called, “The Dance of the Sexes.” All humans are in a dance, because we are made in the image of a Trinity of Individuals Who have danced together forever.

Nakedness is another metaphor with rich meaning. Its reputation today, however, is smothered by prudish fear and sullied with pornographic filth. Hopefully, from time to time, I will offer an array of historical, cultural, theological, and psycho-social insights on nakedness that will help restore its human-friendly significance.

Truth is foundational for true love. Without it, love becomes wishful sentimentality, at best, and addictive fantasy, at worst. Jesus said “the truth” can liberate those enslaved to sin (John 8:31-36). We get the phrase “the naked truth” from an ancient fable that beautifully illustrates the nature of truth: “While Truth was bathing in a river, Falsehood stole her clothes, and rather than wear the rags Falsehood left behind, Truth went about thereafter naked and unadorned.” I wrote a poem about this fable to expand upon its concepts.

Insights are epiphanies, realizations of truth that are usually sudden and unbidden. Since they seem to come more frequently with age, I believe most of them arise from the workings of human reason. But they can also be God-given revelations, and if that divine source is suspected, they must always be checked against God’s Word, His authoritative revelation to us. Part of the reason I’m starting this blog is that I seem to have so many of them. If they touch on Christian doctrine, I won’t be sharing them unless I can show their relationship to Scripture.

Inspirations are much like insights, but to me they serve as ignition points for creative expression. I have been writing poetry since early childhood. My love for proverbs, epigrams, and aphorisms has made me a collector of quotes and lured me into the challenging task of whittling ideas down to short, pithy and catchy sentences. Since 2006, I’ve begun to fulfill my dream doing of artwork. Some of all these areas of inspiration will appear on the blog.

God is my King. My life and my thoughts revolve around Him. If I hear Him doubted, my reason goes into gear to prove Him. If I hear Him maligned, my thoughts line up in ranks to defend Him. My goal is to love Him more. So, I can’t help but bring God into this blog. In a very real sense, He is its Lord and the motivation behind it.

Creation is everything else—all reality other than God. I have many insights and inspirations both about the handiwork of God and about His creative will in the continuity of  human creativity. But there is one place where God and creation personally meet: the Incarnation. If you find my blog heavy on the implications of that doctrine, it’s because it has captivated the bulk of my thinking for years, and I will never tire of its riches in contemplation nor exhaust its depths by writing about the God-Man Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

So, welcome to my blogmy dance with “the naked truth”—as it tries to offer my insights and inspirations concerning God and creation.