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One of the most successful Christmas presents–in the sense of being truly surprising and appreciated–that I have ever given was a work of art. We had just moved to the snowy tundra of Wisconsin and were missing our native Oklahoma. An art professor at Concordia Wisconsin where I was teaching, Gaylund Stone, had come there from a stint at a college in Oklahoma, where he had painted some landscapes. One of them was just of a tractor in a field, but he perfectly captured Oklahoma’s red dirt, big blue sky, and intense bright light of a hot summer day. That was Oklahoma! I bought the painting off Gaylund–who is still at Mequon, by the way–and gave it to my wife for Christmas. The gift was a big hit, and the painting became a treasured icon of our old home at our new home.
Works of art–whether paintings or literature or crafts–make outstanding Christmas presents. They are unique. They are personal. They are meaningful. And they typically show much more appreciation of the person you are getting them for than the typical electronic gadgets, fashion accessories, or gift cards that have become the norm.
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Also, buying art–especially good art, Christian art–is a way to build up our culture. Christians interested in improving the aesthetic dimension of our increasingly ugly society tend to focus on the supply side: We need more Christian artists (filmmakers, entertainers, authors, painters, etc.). This is true. But we also need to focus on the demand side, and this is where all of us non-artistic types can make a major contribution. Ugliness, lack of creativity, and decadence pervade–in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Main Street–because this is what the public is buying. If the public were to hold out for something better, something better would appear. We do need Christian artists,...
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