By Wendi Bernau
I frequently find myself searching for different ways to connect with God. When I discovered contemplative prayer, I fell in love with visio divina: the practice of sitting with a picture, noticing what I notice, asking questions, and praying about it. I found this to be a profound addition to my spiritual life, so I asked the question: what if I designed a class around this kind of conversation (the artist as prophet)? We could look at art, music, books, poetry—cultural artifacts of any genre—and ask these questions: What does this artist claim about who God is, who we are, and what it means to live as a person of faith? We don’t have to like their work or agree with them, but we do benefit from asking the questions and wondering about what they have to say. The series of live classes on various topics were delightfully engaging, so I began to modify the courses for individual use.
This series of reflection courses (Finding God in Culture) is available at www.academymwf.com as self-paced online contemplative prayer practice. Each course centers on a particular artistic genre and has a unifying biblical or theological theme. In each unit of each course, there are four pieces to contemplate specifically chosen for their geographical, historical, and theological diversity along with background information and reflection questions. Each subsequent course includes its own unique collection of art pieces. Whether you take these courses alone or go through them with a group, I hope that you will find the Finding God in Culture series informative and challenging. May there always be more questions than answers.
Currently available: Paintings I (Creation to End Times).
Coming soon: Paintings II (Discipleship).
Other courses currently in development focus on music, poetry, symbols, and architecture.