Sunday, December 25, 2011


Of late, I have been reading a lot of biographical material about Georgia O'Keeffe (d. 1986) and her circle of friends and artists, including her photographer-impresario husband, Alfred Stieglitz (d. 1946). Both helped shape the adventurous face of artistic modernism in the Twentieth Century. Both were fascinating personalities, but hardly virtuous outside of their art work. Much of their lives, despite their artistic genius (and my fascination is with O'Keeffe far more than with Stieglitz), were marred by the sexually perverse.

In contrast, I am near finishing Basic Christian, a biography of the British evangelical pastor, author, and statesman, John Stott (d. 2011). Rev. Stott was not an artist through photographs or on canvas (although as an avid bird-watcher, he did engage in aviation photography), but rather a purveyor of biblical truth through a godly and focused personality. His call was to preaching, teaching, writing, and the truths of Scripture. He was known for his discipline, articulation, and humility. He was a model for ministry, for a life well lived under the calling of Christ. I have benefited from so many of his many works: Basic Christianity, The Cross of Christ, The Contemporary Christian, Why I am a Christian, Between Two Worlds, and others.

John Stott, I can admire. I am inspired by this faithfulness and character. O'Keeffe and her kin, on the other hand, display creativity, daring, and often (when not perverse) endearing idiosyncrasy. But they were not godly. In most ways, they cannot serve as models of moral character. And I must read and study them with a certain amount of caution, lest I imbibe unhealthy sensibilities.

1 comment:

Sarah Geis said...

As we are influenced by the company we keep, so are we influenced by the lives we study-- for good or for ill.