Coulda Been A Contender


Joe Carter comes up with the most damning indictment yet of the "Painter of Light": namely that he is capable of so much better (both paintings above are his and there are further examples of his wholesome work at the link). If the guy simply had no taste or soul to begin with, it would be one thing, so now the whole oeuvre is just that much more sad.

Carter's conclusion:
Sentimentality, as literary critic Alan Jacobs says in a recent interview with Mars Hill Journal, encourages us to “suspend judgment and reflection in order to indulge deliberately in emotion for its own sake.” Reflection reinforces and strengthens true emotions while exposing those feelings that are shallow and disingenuous. Sentimentalists, however, try to avoid this experience of reality and try to keep people from asking questions by giving them pleasing emotions they have not earned. The shameless manipulation of our emotions, says Jacobs, is the ultimate act of cynicism.

Kinkade’s cottage fantasies offer this sort of emotional manipulation. The cottages are self-contained emotional safehouses in which the viewer can shut himself off from true emotions earned through a real encounter with reality, from the rough and sometimes harsh realities of creation, and—most importantly—from other people. The Cottage by the Sea offers a place where the viewer can enter the perfect world of Kinkade’s creation—and escape the messy world of Kinkade’s Creator.
See also: The Painter of Lite
it would be a mistake to reduce the discussion of sentimentality to a conflict between earnest populists and alienated elites. There have been popular artists, like Shakespeare and Michelangelo, who never seemed to indulge in sentimentality, while some sophisticated artists, such as Raphael and Tennyson, can’t be thought of apart from it. 
a little more:
Kinkade’s patriotism and his attacks on the horrors of artistic modernism are standard-issue conservative notions. When it comes to theology, however, he is a little more original. The majority of his expressions of faith are fairly conventional, solidly within the evangelical mold, but his theological defense of the world depicted in his paintings is that “I like to portray a world without the Fall.” I have yet to encounter any evidence that Kinkade cites scriptural or other warrant for this modus operandi. The Bible, as a narrative, seems fairly explicit about there being a Before and an After. Moreover, Christ’s message was not to pretend the world isn’t fallen but to take up our crosses and follow him through suffering and sacrifice. To create a body of work illustrating a world without the Fall is, for a Christian, to render Christ superfluous.
The more I’ve thought about it, the more it seems to me that Jesus took every opportunity he could to counter sentimentality. At just about every juncture when those around him are tempted to rely upon sentiment, he brings them up short. To the announcement that his mother and brothers have arrived at the edge of the crowd—a Hallmark moment if there ever was one—he replies that only his disciples are his mother and brothers. And the one recorded instance when Jesus weeps takes place after he has deliberately delayed coming to see the dying Lazarus. In John’s recounting of the story, Jesus is clearly moved by the suffering of the man’s family, and perhaps his awareness of this death and resurrection as proleptic of his own passion. But whatever emotions he was feeling—grief, pity, regret—they were inexorably shaped by the reality of the Fall.