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The RoundTable


We are God's Work of Art

Winter 1989


Major Articles

  • Interview with Michael Bartz, Genevieve Cassani, Belden Lane, Mary Ann McGivern – Mary Ann McGivern
  • The Art of Prayer, The Prayer of Art – Marian Crowley, CSJ
  • Art as Healing – Katrina Campbell
  • Waiting on Creation – Larry Nolte
  • Interior Woodworking – Joe Vogler

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Kids at Karen House
  • Why This Issue – Ellen Rehg
  • Centerfold –Quotes by Peter Maurin, Langston Hughes
  • From Central America – Virginia Druhe
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Mark Scheu
  • RoundTable Talk – Harriette Lane Bagget

Why This Issue:

“We are God’s work of art created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning God had meant us to live it." (Eph. 2: 10) This quote from Ephesians reveals the union between function and beauty in human life. As God’ s work of art we are most beautiful when we are most fully human; in other words, when we are most like Christ.


Many people, who consider themselves non-artists, tend to be intimidated by art. The Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, once assigned art to the realm of the unsayable, along with religion and ethics. And while there is much about art that transcends or simply does not involve words, one suspects that part of Wittgenstein’s motivation was an awe --perhaps even a fear -of art. It is too holy to draw near to; too ineffable to grasp with rough, human hands.


On the other hand, if we do not put creativity on a pedestal, we may trivialize it. "The guitar's all right, John, but you'll never make a living by it," as John Lennon's Aunt Mimi once told him darkly. But he knew better -not that he would make a killing at it, but that he had to do it.


He had to create because that is who we are. That the Christians at Ephesus were being told is that, as God’s work of art we are also all artists, whether we are conscious of it or not. Every moment in our lives is an act of creation, every encounter with another living being generates something new. But, the skeptic asks, is it art? When does the act of creation not only make something new but also make something beautiful? It does when we are living the good life that we are made for. Jesus taught us what it means to be God’s work of art, and showed us how to make our lives a divinely inspired work of art.


In this issue we bring you the reflections of people who have consciously

focused on our human vocation as creators. A discussion by four area artists, Mary Ann McGivern, Michael Bartz, Genevieve Cassani and Belden Lane uncovers the political and communal dimensions of being “the secretary of God's praise.” Larry Nolte and Joe Vogler draw out the lessons for life which the practice of their art has taught them. Sister Marian Cowan, CSJ, captures the spirit of Oriental Brush Painting in her spare and elegant article about this art form. Katrina Campbell relates her experiences and thoughts as an art therapist, with the help of some of our guests at Karen House who have benefited from her loving guidance.


Art is essentially a spiritual undertaking, as the writers of these articles relate. Perhaps conscious art work, like brush painting, wood-working, silk-screening or play writing is even more of a spiritual act than any uttered prayer or liturgical rubric. For when an artist is absorbed in the concrete elements of her calling -brush, wood, or words -she is not thinking about the Spirit at all, but attending with great intimacy to the working of the Artist-Creator.


-Ellen Rehg



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