Union in Action: Swedenborgian Artist
WELCOME TO TODAY'S WORSHIP SERVICE
April 29, 2012
UNION IN ACTION: A SWEDENBORGIAN ARTIST
THIS YEAR'S THEME: The Year of the Lord
THIS MONTH'S TOPIC: Union with the LordTODAY'S MESSAGE: Union in Action: A Swedenborgian Artist
Open your Bible
Light a candle
From the Bible:
9 Jesus answered, "I have been with you a long time now. Do you still not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. So why do you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you don't come from me, but the Father lives in me and does his own work.11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or believe because of the miracles I have done.12 I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.13 And if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it for you so that the Father's glory will be shown through the Son. 14 If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
774. The Lord's presence is unceasing with every man, both the evil and the good, for without His presence no man lives; but His Coming is only to those who receive Him, who are such as believe on Him and keep His commandments. The Lord's unceasing presence causes man to become rational, and gives him the ability to become spiritual. This is effected by the light that goes forth from the Lord as the sun in the spiritual world, and that man receives in his understanding;, … ; for the heat that goes forth from that same sun is love to God and love toward the neighbor. [the 2nd coming] , may be likened to presence of solar light in the world; unless this light is joined with heat all things on earth become desolate. But the coming of the Lord may be likened to the coming of heat, which takes place in spring; because heat then joins itself with light, the earth is softened, and seeds sprout and bring forth fruit. Such is the parallelism between the spiritual things which are the environment of man's spirit, and the natural things which are the environment of his body. T.C.
Union in Action: A Swedenborgian Artist
Perhaps artists can show us a pathway to union with the Divine.
Let’s explore the work of Swedenborgian artist George Inness [1825-1894], who was one of the Hudson River painters.
He was born in the Hudson River town of Newburgh, New York, in 1825; the 5th of 13 children. His household included a Baptist, a Methodist, and a Universalist.
His father was a successful grocer, and Inness began work as a grocer's clerk when he was in his teens. He taught himself to paint, and began painting seriously in 1841 [age 16]. He had his first exhibition at the National Academy of Design four years later.
He became Swedenborgian in 1860 at the age of 35, when a fellow painter, William Page, introduced him to Swedenborg. From then on, he attempted to express Swedenborgian theology in his painting.
At the 1893 Chicago fair, Inness was the best-represented American, with fifteen paintings.
He wanted to express the Swedenborgian concept of the presence of the Divine in the earth. He wrote:
The paramount difficulty with the artist is to bring his intellect to submit to the fact that there is such a thing as the indefinable, God is always hidden, and beauty depends upon the unseen--the visible upon the invisible.
He often stated he was not out to glorify nature, but to express its hidden spirit and underlying character. At the heart of this approach to painting was Inness's understanding of the aim of art, which was not to instruct, not to edify, but to awaken an emotion.
He wanted his paintings to show divine influx, and wrote:
The intelligence to be conveyed by it [art] is not of an outer fact, but of an inner life. The greatness of art is not in the display of knowledge, or in material accuracy, but in the distinctness with which it conveys the impressions of a personal vital force, that acts spontaneously, without fear or hesitation.
Inness termed his work "civilized landscapes" and tried to paint an integration of humanity and nature. He saw God as ever-changing, and wanted to express this concept in his paintings.
Because of this, he never saw his painting as “finished.” As his son wrote:
My father had the idea firmly established in his mind that a work of art from his brush always remained his property, and that he had the right to paint it over or change it at will, no matter where he found it or who had bought it, or what money he may have received for it. Wherever he found his pictures after they had left his studio he criticized, and would in most violent language declare the thing was "rot," that the sky was false or the distance out of key, and in a very matter of fact way would say "Just send it around to the studio to-morrow and I'll put it into shape.'
If the owner of the painting objected that he liked it just as it was, Inness would say,
it makes no difference what you like; I say the thing is false.... And I want you to understand, sir that I claim the right to go into any house and change a work of mine when I am not satisfied with it, and see where I can improve it. And he said, “Do you think, because you have paid money for a picture of mine, that it belongs to you?"
He also wrote: I have changed from the time I commenced [painting] because I had never completed my art and as I do not care about being a cake I shall remain dough subject to any impression which I am satisfied comes from the region of truth.
Inness's devotion to Swedenborgian doctrine and his desire to find new ways of seeing the world, led to the creation of a new form of landscape painting. His innovative style and his studies in psychology and philosophy distinguish Inness from other American painters of his time; give his work a deeply spiritual quality.
Roberta Smith wrote in a New York Times article that Inness wanted to show that paint has a nature all its own, and that God, or something close, was in the lack of details. Ms. Smith added that Inness's appreciation of paint as a vehicle for personal, complex emotional expression was years ahead of its time. His work has long been considered a precursor to the painterly, process-oriented art of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning.
[The New York Times; Sept. 26, 2003].
When Inness painted, he was expressing his love of God, as one might do in a sermon or a prayer. What is it like for you to look deeply at his paintings -- or other art work? Is it, for you, a way to experience union with God?
Let us pray.
" As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you,O God." (NIV).
This passage reminds us that we must seek the "Living Water" from the Lord to create our art. So also must we remember that we are not alone in its creation. It is our Union with God as we create that gives our work the qualities of beauty and inspiration. We are the vehicle through which the Lord works.
So as we focus on the Lord In prayer and meditation, we cannot help but be inspired in the use of our talent.
"Holy One, as we pray and meditate on you, may we be filled with Your Living Water. Give us the focus and the energy to be the vehicle that produces inspirational works. We are endowed with the talent you gave us at birth.
May we give that talent to all serving you. We thank you and praise you for the Living Water you give us each day. May we use it with Truth, Wisdom, and Love for the good of all. AMEN."
Watch a slide show of Inness’ paintings with the music of Rev. Ken and Laurie Turley [Swedenborgians] playing in the background and see if it can be a form of worship for you.
To watch the slide show, CLICK THIS LINK.
[you can go back later and learn more about each painting by clicking it.
Extinguish your candle.
Close the Bible
Go in peace, honoring union with the Divine through the arts.
9 PM Eastern; 6 PM Pacific;
Chapel Chat Room
Coffee Hour Chat
9:30 PM Eastern; 6:30 PM Pacific;
You can watch Rev. Wilma giving some of the highlights of this service by clicking on the arrow on the video below:
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