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The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. — First John

A Sense of Spirit

The differences most Christians have with each other are cultural, not theological. A man dying of thirst will take water from the first well he finds. The structures that house believers differ as much as their language and customs, but share in common a yearning for the sky, based on a firm foundation in their native soil.

Churches hold an enduring appeal for artists. The rounded flesh-colored buttresses of the little iglesia in the plaza south of Taos, New Mexico were favorite subjects of Georgia O’Keefe, not generally known among the faithful. Her nearby Ghost Ranch below the painted rocks at Abiqu, however, is now a Presbyterian Retreat Center.

The cathedral at Wells, England has been described as music frozen in stone. Looking up into the soaring vault above its crossing made me dizzy. I could not believe my eyes when first I saw there engraved a date with only three digits in it.

Whether in Paris, Rome, or Cottontown, Tennessee people have always given the very best of whatever they had to build their churches. From the dusty barrios of a forgotten Spanish realm, to Norman Cathedrals in England, to a modest spire on a white frame Cumberland Presbyterian Church which sprang from the Great Revival on the Tennessee frontier, people have used the art of architecture to build their soaring hopes of eternal life into these structures. A country churchyard such as this one on a quiet hill above Dry Fork Creek is a beautiful place to await it.

In every land there is a place
Not subject to the town;
The outpost of an exiled King,
Who’ll one day claim his crown.
The poorest here are welcome,
And daily fed within
With bread and wine and radiant hope,
And washed of grimiest sin.

The Pope! How many divisions has he got?

— Joseph Stalin


Bill Puryear's paintings shown in the gallery above are available for purchase online. All works come framed. Shipping is free. Use the links below to order.

All Saints at Sewanee
Giclee: Oil, 8×10, Price $240 – BUY DIRECT

Giclee: Oil, 11×14, Price $400 – BUY DIRECT

Old Hopewell
Giclee: Watercolor, 11×15 matted as 19×22, Price $460 – BUY DIRECT

Giclee: Watercolor, 14×20, Price $1,000 – BUY DIRECT