Friday, September 27, 2019

Talking Ed

Copyright © Edward Riojas

Apparently, I have something to say.

I used to be extremely quiet – just ask anyone who knows me. When I was a child, an older brother sometimes teased, “He doesn’t talk,” when visitors came to call. That point, however, becomes highly debatable if you now ask those close to me. The once-overly-shy kid can be a chatterbox.

Without promoting myself as a public speaker in any way, it seems a growing number of folks think I have something to say. I will assume it has nothing to do with the timbre of my voice, the smoothness of my delivery, or any presence I might exude. On the contrary, it has everything to do with the subject worth presenting – sacred art’s place in the sanctuary and how my work fits into that picture.

I've given talks before, but for some reason speaking engagements have been ramping up this year. Beginning in early January, I gave a couple of formal presentations at the Calvin Symposium on Worship. (Yes, I felt like a stranger in a strange land.) In late spring I gave an informal presentation to the KCAD Christian Fellowship at Kendall College of Art and Design. A few days ago I gave a similar presentation at Christ the King Lutheran Chapel on the campus of Central Michigan University. My presentation will be bumped up a couple of notches November 16, when I will be giving an expanded presentation at University Lutheran Chapel on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

This gentle escalation of talks is preparing me for an event that, Lord willing, will happen sometime next summer in Council Bluffs, Iowa. It’s a bit too early to spell out exactly what that will be, but the intent is to expand the presentation further yet so it spills over multiple days.

What is most exciting about all this is the strong desire – among confessional artists, Lutheran pastors, and laity alike – to educate on the subject of sacred art within the Lutheran church. For countless reasons, a great chasm has formed between how church art was viewed in the Old World and how it is viewed in the New World – and an ocean is the very least of reasons.

Hopefully, these presentations will begin to correct some long-held misconceptions, and will point, once again, to the usefulness of art in the Church. Hopefully, the shy, little child of my youth will yield to his elder self, who definitely has something to say.

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