East of Eden
Life with "Art"
I just finished reading my blogger buddy Matt Appling's first book, "Life After Art." Like I just finished it three minutes ago. Upon closing the back cover, I told K, "I want to grab my sketchbook and draw something. I don't know what, exactly, but I want to draw. And I've never felt like that after reading any other book. So... wow."
Yes, "Life After Art" is truly that good. When I ordered it last week, I wan't sure what to expect. I purposely avoided reviews and stories about it. I like going into some things fresh.
I was surprised by it's relatively compact length (less than 150 pages). An easy, one day read, so I thought on Saturday. Yet, here it is on Thursday morning, and as stated in the opening, I just finished. Why the delay?
There's just so many pockets of wisdom in this book. Weaving in childhood memories, inspirational figures, art techniques and Biblical stories, Matt packs so much into each chapter. In chaper two he writes:
But when we say that beauty is simply in the eye of the beholder, we give students a false lesson about the world. We teach them that there is no standard for success. We teach them that their perspective is the only measure of their life. My judgment (or for that matter , God's judgment) on them doesn't matter, as long as they are satisfied with their life.
A refreshing new perspective on that old adage, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Check. A substantial lesson on moral relativism through the use of art? Double Check. In chapter three, Matt discusses beauty, truth and the Bible:
The Bible is a book that is full of all manner of human drama: love, loss, poetry, song, humor, sex, drunkenness, and everything else humans do. Maybe God planned it that way because He knew He'd need to keep our attention somehow, and since God is all-knowing, He knows that sex sells.
In all seriousness, the Bible reads this way because the deepest questions and longings of the human heart cannot be answered with formulas.
But it is our foolish, scientific, modern minds that look past beauty, literary grace and variety of the Bible, the mystery of the gospel, the majesty of God's revelation, and demand that it all function as a science textbook. It is precisely that ultramodern thinking that causes most Christians to miss the truth of the Bible, many other Christians to become disaffected with the Bible, and non-Christians to scoff at the Bible. We are stripping all the beauty out of the Bible and demanding that it provide us with a formula instead of faith.
Yes, yes, and yes! Later in chapter three, Matt delves into how people often confuse ugliness for beauty:
And now here we are, in the twenty-first century, trading real beauty for ugliness and cheap things. That is the world we live in today. We exchange truth for lies, intimacy for images, salvation for self-help.
Remember, just because we accept and live this existence doesn't mean this is all somehow beautiful or good. We obsessively chase some standard of human beauty (and spend billions on unused gym memberships in that pursuit). That does not make our standard beautiful. Our culture looks at pornography constantly. That doesn't mean pornography is somehow beautiful... There are millions of us who think we have beauty in our lives, but it turns out that we desperately need our vision checked.
Now I could keep posting powerful excerpts, but then I'd have to post the whole dang book and I'm not going to grab cash from Matt's pockets like that. So for all you cheapsters (yes, not really a word, I'm aware) out there, go here and read the first chapter for free. Then buy the book! Not only is it inspiring for the individual reader, it's perfect for use in a small group. Or, give it as a gift. Mother's Day, graduations and Father's Day are all around the corner! I'll stop my spiel here, but believe you me, it is that good.
Now where are my color pencils...