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.
The art you'll encounter in Inspiring Generosity may stir a fresh look, may inspire you to greater generosity.
Prentiss Taylor (American, 1907-1991)
In Whom I am Well Pleased
Above a watery landscape, lush with full trees and a congregating crowd, light bursts from the sky. This beaming shaft carries a dove down towards the people, who, with hands clasped or arms raised, join in praise of the Holy Spirit. Two men in dark clothing are in the midst of baptizing the central figure dressed in white, while masses of people look on nearby and on the banks of the river. Arms are pushed heavenward as the Christians rejoice in the breaking divine light. Supple lines and rounded forms curve organically. Rhythmic energy flows amid the collective spirit of this congregation.
Although the artist is not illustrating the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in this image, he directly references that specific biblical moment by incorporating the dove (the Holy Spirit) descending from a parted sky. The title of this work of art also explicitly links this scene to Jesus's baptism (Mark 1:11). However, the scene recalls a baptism the artist witnessed while visiting Charleston, South Carolina in 1933. Taylor's absorbing melding of the scriptural episode with a contemporary enactment of the Christian ritual of baptism not only captures a powerful aspect of religious life in the American South, but also displays the artist's deep engagement in the cultural landscape of his time.
About the Book
The Prodigal Son
The Good Samaritan
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 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 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).