Full course description
Finding God in Culture - Paintings I is a self paced meditation course designed to invite participants to contemplative thought inspired by paintings depicting various subjects of biblical themes from Creation to the End Times. With the help of historical information and guiding questions for each artwork, participants will sit with each image and consider the artist as prophet: Regardless of whether you like the painting, what does this work claim about God, humanity, and living out our faith in the world? The contemplative mediations are intended to enhance understanding of and appreciation for the arts, invite awareness of opportunities for reflection in the world of art and culture, and offer resources for further study. Each session will include paintings of varying theological viewpoints, historical periods and global perspectives.
About the instructor:
Originally from New Jersey, Wendi Bernau earned a BA from Tufts University, a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and a Master of Divinity from Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth TX. She has served as the associate conductor of the Oak Ridge Symphony, director of the instrumental music program at Manley Baptist Church, brass faculty at the Community School of the Arts, music director of First United Methodist Church of Glen Rose, and associate pastor at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church. Wendi has taught undergraduate classes in music theory and ear training and music appreciation; she also homeschooled her two children. She has been a featured trombone soloist and is an award-winning artist and sought-after speaker and performer. With formal training in visual arts, music, theater, literature, and theology, Wendi brings all these skills together for performance art, teaching and preaching. As Pastor of the Arts at White’s Chapel, Wendi developed an exciting, innovative ministry focused solely on the Arts and spirituality. Discussion groups about theology in the Arts and meditation groups that pray with and through creative activity became the cornerstones of this program of spiritual formation and direction. Wendi is currently serving as the Pastor of the Arts for the Missional Wisdom Foundation where she develops curriculum, teaches classes and facilitates workshops, retreats and worship services, both online and on location. Wendi’s classes are appropriate for ecumenical and diverse groups:
“Sometimes I think we tend to view our spirituality as something external - we talk at God instead of listening for God; we have all our answers and God in a neat little box - but my goal in any of my classes or workshops is to look for other possibilities and perspectives. For me, success is when people come out of our time saying ‘I’ve never thought about it that way before’ or ‘I’ll never see that (whatever it is) in the same way again.’ My ministry is designed to offer people innovative ways to practice their faith that are consistent with our Christian tradition and I think the Arts are extremely valuable for that purpose: painting, music, dance, literature, photography, cinema, theater - all of them! Listening for God is challenging for us today because it doesn’t seem productive; it seems wasteful, of time, resources, energy, or people think they aren’t creative; but this is false. In any of the programs I facilitate, an end product is never the focus; the important part is the process - both as an artist and as an observer/participant. Are we listening to hear God speak? Reflection is the key to this: without reflection, it isn’t prayer, it’s just art. Intentional spiritual experiences in the Arts are very personal, and like most valuable experiences, when we can release the desire to control the outcome and hope to be surprised, amazing things can happen.”