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 You're here » Christian Books Index » Books » Catholic » Van Gogh and God: A Creative Spiritual Quest

Van Gogh and God: A Creative Spiritual Quest

Author: Cliff Edwards
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       Cliff Edwards' Van Gogh and God is the book I have been eagerly awaiting. After all these decades of van Gogh studies, finally someone opens up for us Vincent's deepest quest and convincingly shows that the art of the 'sorrowful, yet always rejoicing' Dutch painter is of deep theological and spiritual signficance. Cliff Edwards radically dispels the view that Vincent was lost in religious fanaticism until he found his true vocation as a painter. He clearly demonstrates that the whole of Vincent's life and work is a rich source for all those who search for a deeper knowledge of God. This book brings me back to very precious memories. While on the faculty of Yale Divinity School, I taught several seminars on 'The Ministry of Vincent van Gogh.' There is no doubt in my mind that these seminars had a much more profound effect on my students than any other seminar or course I taught. I have used many writers, especially the contemporary writer Thomas Merton, as useful guides, but I have never found students to be more personally, intellectually, and emotionally involved than they were during periods of attentive looking at Vincent's drawings and paintings.... Vincent's God, so real, so direct, so visible in nature and people, so intensely compassionate, so weak and vulnerable, and so radically loving, was a God we all wanted to come closer to. And now here is the book: Van Gogh and God. It almost seems that Cliff Edwards, in his careful and sensitive study of Vincent's spiritual journey, is telling me that I was not crazy after all when I spoke of Vincent as one of the main spiritual guides in my life.... It is Cliff Edwards' great contribution that he has helped us to better understand the spirituality of Van Gogh. With remarkable lucidity, he shows how deeply Vincent's spirituality was molded by the Zen Buddhist as well as by the Christian tradition; the best of the Japanese as well as the Dutch spiritual heritage were being lived and expressed by Vincent in word and picture. Most original is Edwards' perspective on the 'Oriental connection' in Vincent's work. The nonhuman-centered way of Zen Buddhism brings us close to Vincent's approach to nature and helps us understand why Vincent saw health and restorative forces where we are inclined to see only violence, choas, and approaching death.... I am deeply grateful that Van Gogh and God has been written and I am convinced that those who read it will find in Vincent a lasting spiritual companion. ----Henri J. M. Houwen

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