Gregory Milinovich

Author's details

Name: Gregory Milinovich
Date registered: March 7, 2012

Latest posts

  1. the unlikely orange: baseball, artfully — April 23, 2014
  2. the unlikely orange: new lenten collage: seventh, and final, in a series — April 18, 2014
  3. the unlikely orange: maundy thursday, 2014 — April 17, 2014
  4. the unlikely orange: new collage for lent (6th in a series) — April 16, 2014
  5. the unlikely orange: the bible on tape (jump, jump) — April 15, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. agentorange: some recent art from our house. — 1 comment
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Author's posts listings

Apr 23 2014

the unlikely orange: baseball, artfully

Original post at

photo by gregory a. milinovich, taken in warriors mark, pa., april 21, 2014

have i mentioned how much i love baseball?  

okay, good.  because it's true.  

i was reminded of that again the other day when i stumbled across this wonderful little article containing one writer's 25 favorite songs about baseball (he neglected to include anything from my favorite baseball album "Roberto Clemente: Un Tributo Musical").  it wasn't so much the songs he picked or his description of them that captured my attention, as it was his brief analysis about why baseball inspires such great art.  among other things, he writes, 

People who complain that baseball games are too slow are the kind of people who would rather watch cop shows on TV than read a good book. Perhaps that’s why football does better on the tube, while baseball does better at the library. The patient, burst-and-pause pace of baseball is not a drawback; it’s the sport’s greatest asset. (Geoffrey Himes, in "the curmedgeon: baseball songs,", april 22, 2014)
i couldn't agree more.  when people complain that baseball is too slow, i cringe.  you see, part of the great beauty of baseball is in its pace, its staccato rhythm, in which action is followed by a chance to gather, regroup, reflect, and move forward.  it is a sport ripe with pregnant pauses, which gives it room to breath, and offers spectators the opportunity to muse, to write, to anticipate, to remember, and to dream.  himes goes on to say that the lack of a mask or any major padding to the body makes it one of the more human-looking of sports as well, giving the viewer an easier avenue into imagining one's self on the field.

i can relate.  i took a walk the other day, while visiting my wife's family, and came across a group of little league baseball fields in the mid-morning sun.  they are positioned in central pennsylvania, overlooking a rolling vista of cornfields, which causes their low-cut green grass to stand in wonderful contrast, like something out of a "field of dreams" location.  it being a weekday morning, there was no one on the fields.  just me.  and a baseball i had found in the cornfield.  so i mentally envisioned the game.  i was the shortstop.  i was the pitcher.  i was the catcher, crouching, calling for a fastball, high and tight.  i was the batter, settling in, muscles tensed, poised.  i watched the graceful trajectory of the ball in my mind's eye, a pleasing parabola.  i was the baserunner, advancing to third on the hit, a tumbleweed of energy and sinew, grinding and sliding for the bag.  i was the third basemen, bent low, catching the beamed throw from right, swiping the leather down to apply the tag.  i was the umpire, calling loudly with conviction:  SAFE!  i was the crowd, enthusiastic, hopeful.

sure, it was just a little league field on a monday morning, but baseball does this to me.  it calls me into a magical place where miracles happen.  it is less feeding frenzy, and more musical masterpiece, with ebbs and flows, crescendos and decrescendos, half notes and whole rests.  it is a canvas upon which paint isn't thrown on in wild, raving fury, but is applied carefully, artfully.  whether it's on an empty little league field, watching a real game from the stands while enjoying a cold beverage, or checking the scores on my smartphone, waiting to see what happens on this 3-2 pitch with runners on the corners and two outs, it is magical and musical, all of it.  it may be slow, but only in the way that a delicious steak is best enjoyed patiently, without shoveling it down like a Big Mac; or in the way that a backrub is most perfectly delivered: carefully, intentionally, and deliberately.  baseball is slow in the same way that breathing is slow when you are perfectly content and the temperature is just right and the only difference between this and heaven is that you know this can't last.  baseball is slow like that.  like a masterpiece. like music.  like art.

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Apr 18 2014

the unlikely orange: new lenten collage: seventh, and final, in a series

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"into your hands i commit my spirit"
mixed media collage on stretched canvas (found papers, acrylic paint, markers, glue)
8" by 10"
april 2014
gregory a. milinovich

and so we come to the end of lent, and of my lenten discipline to engage the Biblical texts that we are dealing with in church each week in a creative and expressive way.  this collage deals with what might have been the very last words uttered by the mouth of Jesus, words that are part of a prayer found in the 31st psalm.  it would seem that as he hung dying, Jesus was praying this prayer, not having his life taken from him so much as still offering it into the hands of God, whom he knew would embrace and redeem him.  on this good friday, let us remember that while we are good at pointing fingers at the ones who killed Jesus, whether you want to blame the religious leaders of the jews, or the roman authorities, or even ourselves because of our own sinfulness, the truth is that Jesus offered his life.  he gave it.  he could have stopped it at any point, but he chose not to.  the gift of salvation is really a gift of love.  offered by Jesus to you.

it has been a fascinating journey for me these last 7 weeks to reflect creatively on the seven last words of Christ before his resurrection.  i have really enjoyed the discipline of making a collage each week to respond to or live into the text.  here are all seven together:

and the sides of them:

i hope you have at least enjoyed seeing the idea of possibilities.  we are so used to approaching the Scriptures in one way:  listening to a sermon.  or maybe reading it at our desk and underlining some things.  maybe we've even grown into meditating and praying through certain texts, or using other resources to study particular passages more deeply.  all of those things are good.  but i want you to see  that there are other ways, too!  you can reflect.  you can respond.  you can create and interact.  you can draw a picture or write a story.  you can write God a letter to ask your questions.  you can find bits of paper and glue them together!  there are many ways for you to have a dialogue with God about this word, which is like the very breath of God.  how will you breathe it?

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Apr 17 2014

the unlikely orange: maundy thursday, 2014

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today is maundy thursday. maundy is a derivation of the latin word, mandatum, which means commandment.  today is so called "commandment thursday" because we remember the final supper jesus had with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion, and in particular, what happened at that meal.
it wasn't just any meal, of course.  it was the celebration of the passover.  a time when followers of YHWH looked back to remember how God delivered their ancestors from slavery in egypt, and how God had established a new covenant with the people.  the whole meal was full of sign and symbol of this covenant, this sacrificial system, in which the blood of a lamb had allowed the spirit of death to pass over those who put their faith in God.  the passover meal had become such a ritual, that there were certain words and prayers and routines that were part of it.  and on this night when Jesus ate the meal with this closest friends, he did it differently.  he basically told them that his own blood was going to be the lamb's blood that allowed death to pass over all of God's children.  he was remembering that ancient covenant God had made with the people, but he told them that he was doing something new.  "i am giving you a new commandment (mandatum)," he told them, "to love one another as i have loved you."

so in the old covenant, one had to obey the law, and then make sacrifices of animals and grains and so forth to compensate for the failures to obey the law.  but in this new covenant, we have a new commandment.  it isn't about making animal sacrifices, though one must admit that the sacrifices required in this new covenant, while less painful to the birds and animals, are perhaps much harder for us to make.  this covenant calls us to love each other.  this isn't a program or a system.  it is a calling and a commandment.

as if to get it through their thick heads, Jesus knelt down and washed the feet of his friends, and soon to be deserters.  i imagine he was sure to get in between their toes, and to scrub briskly on the bottoms of their feet, where the grime really gathered.  and he did this intimate gesture as a way of demonstrating the kind of love he was talking about.  his commandment (not a suggestion or a gentle persuasion) to love is not about being nice or even friendly, as great as those qualities are.  no, he is mandating that we get our fingers dirty; that we get up close and personal; and that we be quick about surrendering our attachments to titles and positions and entitlements.  instead of thinking about what we deserve, we are to lower ourselves, to kneel to the level of the dirt and grime of our neighbors (after all, how clean are your feet, really?), and love them right where they are.

that is our new commandment.  it is a new covenant.  it is marked by spilt blood and broken flesh.  it is remembered in ritual and sacrament.  and it is wonderfully and beautifully practiced by all those who are truly followers of the One who first demonstrated it.

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Apr 16 2014

the unlikely orange: new collage for lent (6th in a series)

Original post at

"lent 2014: it is finished"
mixed media collage on stretched canvas (handmade paper, found papers, acrylic paint, marker, glue)
8" x 10"
april 2014
gregory a. milinovich

here is my sixth collage this lent, a reflection on Jesus words "it is finished."  we've been studying these final words from the "deathbed" of Christ in our church this lent, and i've been trying to express my own interpretations visually in these collages. this one is meant to be a bit messy and dark, to express the intense brokenness of Christ, that his body was literally broken, and that the temple curtain was split in two.  behind the curtain, of course, is the holy of holies, the mercy seat, and the very presence of God, and i wanted to illustrate that with something bright and glowing.  even in his death, he is victorious.  these words, "it is finished," are not meant to be heard as an acknowledgment of defeat, but rather as a victorious claim of completion.  he did it.  he did this unthinkable thing, and now the dark veil of death that separated humanity from God has been rendered useless.  it is finished.

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Apr 15 2014

the unlikely orange: the bible on tape (jump, jump)

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i've been sitting on this post for some time now, hemming and hawing about actually writing it, but, well, holy week seems about as good a time for a confession as any.  so here goes. 

when i was a young teenager, maybe 13 or 14, my grandparents asked me if i wanted a bible.  but not just any bible.  it was the bible recorded on audio tapes.  i guess they got it somehow and no longer wanted it, and wondered if i would like it.  now, let's be clear about one thing: i was a pretty good church kid.  i mean, i was a teenager like any other, and i had my junk, but in the grand scheme of things, my main form of rebellion was growing a curly mullet and listening to stryper.  when i listened to amy grant singing "baby baby," which was pretty clearly not about Jesus, i felt like a wild child.  

so, when my grandparents offered me the bible on cassette (oh, i nearly forgot:  kids, a cassette was a small plastic cartridge that contained a metallic tape substance inside it, wrapped around two reels.  you put it in a cassette or tape player and it would turn the reels and read what was recorded on the metallic tape, playing it for you to hear.  if you were really cool, you had a small cassette player called a "walkman" that you could carry around.) they had good reason to do so.  i was already a regular bible reader at that age, usually equipped with a set of colored pencils to underline and highlight any and everything that seemed underlinable.  
but when they opened that soft plastic case to show the audio bible to me, i have to admit that i didn't see the inspired or infallible word of God therein.  nope, i saw a blank canvas of some 16 cassettes being offered to me.  i'm quite sure i almost too enthusiastically received this offering, which probably caused no small delight for my grandparents (and maybe my parents, too?).  "What a good boy," they might have thought.  "How many teenagers want to listen to the Bible on tape while also reading it - AND underlining it too?  we are so proud of him."  

and i'm sure i did nothing to redirect any praise that might have come my way.  

but now it is time for my confession.  those tapes weren't about the bible for me.  they were about the tapes.  even though they weren't meant to be re-recordable tapes, i knew how to fix that.  just a little bit of chewing gum in the little open cubes at the top of the cassette, covered with some scotch tape, and that baby was ready to pop into my boom box.  and not only did i have one, but i had 16 of them!  at 90 minutes each that was 24 hours of blank tape at my disposal!  i was like a kid in a candy store, or a devout Christian in a bible store.  

and why did i so enjoy the idea of so much blank tape? 

because i loved the radio.  

even though my tapes were all of the christian ilk: petra, michal w. smith, stryper, whiteheart, whitecross, and pretty much white-anything, i spent plenty of time secretly listening to pop radio out of lexington, kentucky.  and i loved it.  there was something so different about the way it sounded from what had been deemed safe by (or for) me.  it was probably also the rush of knowing that i was doing something i felt was disapproved.  so i listened on.  but i didn't want to have to wait to hear "man in the mirror" by michael jackson or "jump jump" by kris kross, so i started recording these songs onto tape.  as a song would near its end on the radio, i would take my position next to the boom box, fingers poised and ready to pounce.  as soon as the next song began, if it was one i wanted to preserve, i would quickly press the record button, and then i would have "right now" by van halen to listen to anytime i want to.  

i still have them.  

when i was supposed to be listening to the book of james, and thinking about taming my tongue, i was instead nodding my head to the infectious rhythms of boyz II men, en vogue, and paula abdul.  i had the audacity to put labels over top of the factory labels on the cassettes, and call my own tapes "radio stuff."  in the picture below, you can see my blasphemy in full bloom.  you can see right through my "radio stuff" label to the king james-like script below it, like a finger of shame pointing right at me, proclaiming "The New Testament."  that may be all that is written on the cassette, but it is really saying, "this was the holy bible, you heretical little punk."

there, now i feel better.  i still have all those tapes, and every once in a while, for kicks and giggles, i pull one out and give it a listen.  and i am reminded of grandma, who is no longer with us, and who thought i was listening closely to the book of hebrews as i meditated on how Jesus is our new high priest.  i have a feeling she isn't too disappointed to know that it was really one of the ways that i was exploring the world through music.  i even think she'd be delighted to know that i became an ordained minister, and a father of 3 amazing boys.  i have studied the bible in pursuit of my own faith, and in pursuit of a masters degree.  and i have continued to listen to pop music, to world music, to gospel and bluegrass, opera and jazz, hip hop, rap, soul, funk, metal, blues, and anything else i can get my ears around.  i have discovered hope and truth and freedom and beauty in all this music, so it has served as part of God's revelation to me: a kind of scripture.  and it all started with grandma and papaw's bible on tape.

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Apr 09 2014

the unlikely orange: new collage for lent (5th in a series)

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"lent 2014: i thirst"
mixed media collage on stretched canvas
acrylic paint, pages from a bible, marker, glue
8" x 10"
gregory a. milinovich

here is the latest effort to result from my lenten discipline this year.  as in recent years, i committed to making something rather than giving something up during lent, and it happens to be that i am making a collage each week to correspond with each of the seven last sayings of Christ (which also happens to be what our sermon series is at catawissa avenue umc).  it is, of course, extra work for me during lent, but it is good for my spirit to carve out some space (time) each week for this form of expression.  i have to make it part of my to-do list, but once i'm there, in my art room, with paint all over my hands and glue all over everything, with limitless possibilities, i'm filled with peace.  

this week, i did something very different for me....i painted!  i mean, i often use paint in my work, but usually in an abstract way.  for this particular saying, i wanted something simple that conveyed the idea i was looking for, and i wasn't figuring out how to do it with bits of paper. so i decided to try and and paint an empty glass.  it is one of our glasses, from our house.  i am not overly pleased with the way it turned out, but at least you can tell what it is!  

in worship we discusses some various possibilities for what Jesus might have been saying when he said, "i thirst," including the most obvious one: he was simply thirsty.  but he also may have been referring to psalm 22, or 69, both of which are referenced in this collage.  or, he may have been referring to something he commonly talked about: his cup of suffering.  several times in the stories about his life, his biographers have him talking about his cup of suffering, including that famous scene in the garden when he is sweating blood about his impending crucifixion, and he nearly begs God to take this cup from him.  but on the cross, when all the suffering is finally about to end, he cries out, "i thirst."  was he simply thirsty?  or was he indicating that his cup of suffering had finally been drained?  it is, at least, an interesting question.  

regardless, though, there are many who are still thirsting all around us everyday.  neighbors and coworkers.  people walking down the street.  people waiting with us in the waiting room.  in line.  in traffic.  everywhere.  and they are dying of thirst.  Jesus had talked about this, too, when he said that when you offer a drink to one of these thirsty people, you are actually offering a drink to him.  that's how it works.  physically and spiritually.  we are called to be thirst-quenchers: to offer real, clean, fresh water to those who don't have it, and to show that there is a living water that flows from a deeper well.  that water fills your soul and truly quenches your truest, deepest thirst.  

jesus is thirsty.  in the faces of your day.  how will you offer him a drink?  

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