Inspiring Generosity

Inspiring Generosity: Stories of Faith and Grace in Art explores examples of compassion, giving, and sacrifice in subjects from the Western religious tradition. Featuring forty artworks from the Thrivent Collection of Religious Art, the book reflects on the theme of generosity expressed both through scripture and in visual art. In addition to illustrating familiar parables like The Prodigal Son and The Good Samaritan, the images also delve into more complex instances of generosity, as in the accounts of Esther and Abraham, and the sacrificial generosity of Christ’s Passion. The history and artistic background are given for each artwork, followed by a theological perspective and modern devotional insight.

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The art you'll encounter in Inspiring Generosity may stir a fresh look, may inspire you to greater generosity.

Featured Art

Circle of Maestro degli Antifonari di Padova (active first quarter of the 14th century, Padua, Italy)

Two Marys at the Tomb
{Illuminated manuscript, ink and gilding on vellum, c. 1320-30}

Two Marys at the Tomb
Two Marys at the Tomb

Two women stand near an empty sarcophagus, their heads tilt down as they peer into the open tomb. The scene, part of Christ's Passion story, is described in multiple Gospels. This image depicts the account in the Gospel of Matthew. The first woman is Mary Magdalene; she wears red, her traditional color in art. An angel sits on a pink marble tomb, gazing at the two women nearby. Faithful to the scriptural text, the angel is clothed in white as he is perched solidly on the edge of the sepulcher, thus emphasizing his, and Jesus's, real presence on earth. His raised right hand points up, indicating the triumphant Resurrection about which he informs the women: Christ is risen, He is no longer to be found in the tomb.

This decorated initial "A" is a cutting from a large choir book which introduced the first response at the first nocturne of Easter Sunday with the chant Angelus domini descendi de caelo ("The angel of God descended from heaven"). Such exquisite hand-painted letters with precious pigments and metals, such as burnished gold along the sides of the "A," and on the haloes of the three figures, were intended to illustrate and revere God's word in scripture, as cherished in worship and other devotional practices.

Videos

About the Book

About the Book

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son

The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

The Nativity

The Nativity

Articles

A deeper and more expansive awareness and understanding of generosity is uniquely possible while experiencing historic and contemporary art.

Meet the book authors

Joanna Reiling Lindell

Joanna Reiling Lindell is the Director and Curator of the Thrivent Collection of Religious Art. She has written essays and organized numerous exhibitions on works on paper and religious art. In 2011 she authored Faithful Impressions.

Ed Klodt

Ed Klodt is a theologian and Manager in Thrivent’s Mission Support group. In 2006 he authored The Jonah Factor: 13 Spiritual Steps to Finding the Job of a Lifetime.

John Busacker

John Busacker is the Founder of Life-Worth, LLC, a life planning creative resource. He has authored three books; 8 Questions God Can’t Answer (2009), Fully Engaged: How to Do Less and Be More (2011), and Dare to Answer: 8 Questions That Awaken Your Faith (2015).