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Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture Paperback – February 1, 2009

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Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture + Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts + Art and the Bible (Ivp Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: NavPress; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600063012
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600063015
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An artist with the craftsmanship and global appeal of Makoto Fujimura comes along all too rarely. Such an artist with a strong faith commitment who both inspires and leads other artists--now that's really rare. Mako is a fine writer. I learned, and was provoked and frequently moved by these reflections that through Mako's eye have become unique refractions." --Philip Yancey: author of more than twenty books, including Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? and What's So Amazing About Grace?


"Like his art, Makoto Fujimura's essays harbor a depth of luminosity that requires and rewards patient contemplation. This collection is an important contribution to the conversation between faith and art and between art and our beautiful, broken world."

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 28 customer reviews
I highly recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest interest in art and culture.
Makoto Fujimura writes like an artist, a Christian and a person with his eyes wide open to the world, full of insight, with a hunger fro God and an appetite for life.
charlotte cooper
I was drawn first to thumb through the book, taking glimpses or tastes of the book before ever sitting down to read it.
S. Baker-Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By C. Burkitt on June 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I received Makoto Fujimura's Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture, I was wowed by the evident care that had gone into it's design. It is the loveliest paperback book I've ever seen. I expected to find it interesting, perhaps a little challenging, and certainly full of beauty.

But life intervened, first in the form of a traffic collision, then in the form of a layoff from my job. I found myself with more time on my hands than I was accustomed to having, but the last thing I wanted to do was read a collection of meditations by a Japanese-American artist. I read some, found myself foundering, and put it aside. Then, driven by a sense of responsibility to the publisher for sending me a free copy, I tried again. And again. And again.

I found after all my trying that the book was better than I wanted to admit. It isn't that I don't like art. It is that I do like logical, well-reasoned argument. I like a straight highway and a car with plenty of horsepower. Instead, I was forced to meander on a country path through unfamiliar landscapes, never knowing quite where I was going or how I was going to get there. It struck me that this was the sort of book my artistic wife would like. I'm not sure she has ever read a book straight through. She reads the beginning, jumps into the middle, skips to the end, backtracks, quits for a week, resumes from a different spot than where she left off, and generally leaves me dumbfounded. If I tried to read like that, my brain would turn to pudding.

(Full disclosure: My wife reminded me that she read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck straight through and enjoyed it immensely. Incontrovertible evidence that she is a better person than I.)

Refractions is a book of meditations.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Chandler on April 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Makoto Fujimura is a contemporary artist whose home and studio are near Ground Zero. Out of a response to the attacks on 9/11, he began to set aside time every Saturday to write. This was a time to process and reflect on the emotions and changes in his life and city. The result of these writings is this beautifully crafted book.

In recent years, we have seen a renewed interest in the relationship between art and theology, and Fujimura offers a significant voice in that conversation. The book is a collection of essays loosely joined by the topics of faith, art, and culture, as the title suggests. While some books seem redundant after the first few chapters, the unique subject and fresh thoughts of each essay pulled me forward into every page turn.

What I appreciate most is the awareness that Fujimura displays of his soul and surroundings. He describes this awareness in the book's first essay:

"The process of creating renews my spirit, and I find myself attuned to the details of life rather than being stressed by being overwhelmed. I find myself listening rather than shouting into the void. Creating art opens my heart to see and listen to the world around me, opening a new vista of experience. This is the gift of the 'second wind.' Such a state taps into what I now call eternal timefullness."

While I was able to engage and be shaped by his thoughts throughout, it was this awareness that challenged me the most. After finishing the final chapter yesterday, I closed the book and opened my journal. With infinite access to information and social connection, all of us would do well to be a little more connected to our own selves.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Michelley on June 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
I wanted to like this book--I really did. The book's subtitle indicates a promising combination of faith, art, and culture. Though this series of blog postings indeed focuses on the intersection of all three, it simply bored me. The writing exudes grace and the visual artwork intrigues, but felt largely bland. I was expecting the author to be sort of like Henri Nouwen (if he had been a Japanese-American visual artist), or this work to be a more contemporary version of Madeline L'Engle's "Walking on Water," and I suppose that is why I am disappointed.

Peace-making and community-building are recurring themes in Fujimura's writing, and I think they should be more emphasized in the subtitle so that someone interested in these subjects would be more likely to pick up this book.

I do not consider myself a visual artist, and so perhaps I missed a lot of the richness of this text because of my ignorance. The book is beautifully presented, and I suspect there's more substance than I was able to appreciate. Anyone who wants to join Fujimura in working as a quiet activist for peace, hope and beauty through the arts will likely be inspired by his writing. However, as an educated layperson inclined to be interested, I was unmoved.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Heather Goodman on June 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture collects essays written by Makoto Fujimura to artists from 2004 to 2006. Living in post-9/11 New York City, Fujimura challenges artists: How does your art recognize the brokenness around you? How does your art offer hope and redemption in the midst of it?

I began this book months ago. The essays demand to be read contemplatively, even devotionally. I savored it morsel by morsel, letting each piece roll on my tongue, slide down my throat. As I digested it, it became part of me and part of my art.

Makoto leads artists toward art that recovers dignity and beauty without becoming sentimental or ignoring the hurt and brokeness of the world. In fact, the path toward beauty moves through brokenness.

He encourages artists to take the long view of their art in a time when fifteen minutes of fame, instant recognition, and "[peddling] our goods to find significance and survival" rule the art world. "Artists who labor to develop their craft, artists who are committed to a longer view of their art, suffer" (p. 142). But our art isn't for fame, recognition or even significance. It's to glorify God and offer a sacrament to this world. It is to bring God's power of resurrection to the dead.

To do this, artists need the Church to invest in them spiritually and artistically. They need the Church to walk alongside them, to hold them up, even, to support them (emotionally, spiritually, and financially). Fujimura calls for an expanded role for the Church--not just appreciating the arts and using them in their worship (although these things are good), but to train artists and encourage them.

Fujimura's writing awakens hope for the discouraged artist. And who among us is not or has not been discouraged? I read this at a time where I realized I had a choice: to take the easier (although not easy) and marketable road of art or to take the longer, sufferable road.

I choose the longer road.
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