I have found theology and church history coming alive because of my new interest in the arts.

While Sorting Through Books at the inevitable book table at a recent conference, several pastors were heard to say that they were weary of looking at layers of books. They would select—if at all—only rare treasures that would speak directly to their own needs.

Now that I am in my forties, I find my obsession for reading is beginning to subside. I am picky. Colorful jackets do not bait me as they once did. As a result, however, an empty spot has appeared in my life. In an effort to fill this uncomfortable emptiness, I decided to investigate a new area of interest. I decided to try the arts.

I have always been interested in painting and music. However, because of the attention I concentrated on theology and church history, I didn’t have time to explore more in the arts. Now I began by purchasing The Story of Painting, by H. W. Janson. I decided I would study, not simply read, this work. I examined individual paintings so closely that I began to feel I had given myself an introductory course in each one. Then I tested myself, flipping through the book to see if I could name the painter of each work without sneaking a look at captions.

I went on to other works, such as The Story of Art, by Gombrich, A Treasury of Impressionism, by Harris, The Larousse Encyclopedia of Renaissance and Baroque Art, by Hamlyn, and Famous Artists of the Past, by Chase. Friends and relatives began to give me gifts, which included such works as Rembrandt’s Life of Christ, Western European Painting, The Life of Christ in Stained Glass, and Great Masterpieces of World Art.

As I read, I began to feel an old hankering to paint. Unfortunately, my box of oils had collected ...

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