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Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice Paperback – April 22, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Opening Christine Paintner's Eyes of the Heart is like entering a garden in full bloom. It opens up all your senses so you see, smell, taste, and touch the world in a whole new way. Paintner has a gift for reuniting the transcendent and the immanent. She calls God home. She sees the Divine in the pebble on the path, hears its sound in the buzzing mosquito. This modern-day monk knows the essential secrets to sacred living and joyful being and she shares them freely." --Jan Phillips, Author of No Ordinary Time


"Christine Valters Paintner explores the eye as a window to the heart. Using scripture and observations from thinkers in all faiths she offers a spirituality of photography as writing with light. This monk, photographer-artist, and writer combines the art of image receiving with visio divina, taking us through a detailed program for the feeling, reflecting, and completion of our heart's vision." --Br. John J. O' Hara, S.A. , Graymoor Spiritual Life Center


"Eyes of the Heart is more than a celebration of God's presence in the world. It is itself an experience of receiving the Divine directly within. Paintner's insights and exercises lead the reader to a personal, intimate encounter with divinity. In the process, she also illuminates the way to self-understanding and creative serenity." --Anthony F. Chiffolo, Author of 100 Names of Mary

About the Author

Christine Valters Paintner is the online abbess for Abbey of the Arts (abbeyofthearts.com) , a virtual monastery offering classes and resources on contemplative practice and creative expression. She holds a doctorate in Christian spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and earned her professional status as a registered expressive arts consultant and educator from the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. She is the author of Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire and The Artist's Rule, and is a columnist for the Progressive Christian portal at Patheos. She leads retreats and trains spiritual directors, currently living out her commitment as a Benedictine Oblate in the city of Vienna, Austria with her husband.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Sorin Books (April 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933495545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933495545
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
[ This review originally appeared on the Slow Church blog on Patheos ]

One of the key facets of Slow Church is the idea that creation operates as a gift economy: i.e., that all life is created and sustained by God. Our call as humans is to live gratefully within the broader economy of creation. Part of a life of gratitude is the living of a receptive life, in which we are wondrously attentive to the abundant gifts of God that surround us at any given moment.

The challenge to living such a life, however, is that we all too often are formed into the pattern of industrial Western culture that is moving ever faster, and in which attentiveness is rapidly becoming a lost art, as Maggie Jackson has chronicled in her recent and superb book Distracted. However, humanity is not lost, we are still capable of reversing this trend and re-training our attention. There are many arts, crafts and even hobbies (e.g., birdwatching, as Phil Kenneson has pointedly argued in a recent talk on Slow Church) that can train us to be more attentive. It is in this context, that I found Christine Valters Paintner's new book, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice. I was familiar with Paintner's work, and had even reviewed her recent book on Lectio Divina.

I was therefore not surprised that Eyes of the Heart is a profoundly helpful resource in helping us to recover the lost art of attention, and will certainly be of interest to readers who are interested in photography (or those who might eventually become so; although with the smartphone explosion over the last few years, practically everyone has easy access to a decent camera, and is a photographer at some level).
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Christine Valters Paintner knows how to take you to a spiritual level you don't expect through photography. The lessons and exercises are wonderful. I've gone through her self-paced online course, Eyes of the Heart, and this adds depth to the subject. I'll be buying any book she publishes and take more of her courses online through Abbey of the Arts.
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Professional photographers don't just take photographs, they build them. Light, scene and camera are the raw elements that need to be assembled into a compelling masterpiece. That being said, I have always liked for ways to may my faith and my craft. This book was not the answer, though there were some helpful elements.
The emphasis in the book is on 'receiving' images. That is, not being too self critical, not trying to think too much about what you are doing, but simply allowing a scene to speak to you. This is based loosely on the ancient medieval practice of lectio divina where you allow yourself to 'receive' special insight into certain passages of scripture. The author attempts to extend this practice to photography, which is a novel approach and may be beneficial to those without much skill in the craft.
Still, I was encouraged to trust my instincts even more than I already do. Many of my favorite images are those that have called to me, begging me to be photographed. Often these images defy the normal rules of composition and yet when examined later prove to have a wisdom of their own. On that way, at least, this book was a help.
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Format: Paperback
Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice, Christine Valters Paintner's latest book, is moving, helpful, challenging and inspiring. Which is not surprising, given Christine's record of turning out such books (two of my favorites are The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom and Awakening the Creative Spirit: Bringing the Arts to Spiritual Direction).

Christine, besides being an author, is a Benedictine Oblate, writer, artist, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and teacher. She's also the on-line abbess for Abbey of the Arts ([...] an amazing site that you should know about, if you don't already. I'm a regular visitor to the site and participant in her "Invitation to Photography" spirituality exercises. She's going to guest blog here soon!

As a photographer, as soon as I heard about Eyes of the Heart I knew I wanted to read it. I was not disappointed. Christine is a wise writer and grand guide into the idea of combining contemplation and photography. I appreciate this as I've been doing what I call "praying with my camera" for years. In some ways, Christine's concept is similar to Sybil MacBeth's concept of "Praying in Color" -- an active, visual, and meditative form of intercessory prayer.

We find that the title comes from Ephesians 1:18 when Christine writes, "Photography as a spiritual practice combines the active art of image-receiving with the contemplative nature and open-heartedness of prayer. It cultivates what I call sacred seeing or seeing with `the eyes of the heart.
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I've been searching for this book for several years. I've been doing all these things myself wondering if I was all alone, and now Christine has given my experiences, dreams, and photographic moments words and said it better than I could have ever said them! If you are a Christian contemplative photographer, I have not read a book that compares! If you are a contemplative photographer from another faith tradition or no faith at all this book will be an amazing insight and life giving to your art and heart! I'm going to buy several copies and give them to others!!! Thank you so much Christine for writing this book!
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