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Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

Author: Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE, OBLSB
Ave Maria Press
Publication date:
March 25, 2013


In this first book to explore photography as a spiritual practice from a Christian perspective, Christine Valters Paintner builds on the process of contemplative creativity she introduced online at Abbey of the Arts and in her book The Artist’s Rule. She considers how a camera can help readers open “the eyes of the heart.”More than a book on photographic technique, Eyes of the Heart is about cultivating photography as a spiritual practice. Adapting the monastic practice of lectio divina (sacred reading) into a form of visio divina (sacred seeing), spiritual director and Benedictine oblate Christine Valters Paintner invites readers to a new way of viewing the world–through the lens of a camera. Paintner guides readers through six themes connecting the medium of photography with the Christian spiritual life. Each theme provides a photographic journey in which the reader does not simply take images, but receives images and learns to see with “the eyes of the heart” (Eph 1:18). Photos by the author are included.

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Supplemental Materials

Virtual Book Tour

Guest Posts

Tending the Moments” hosted at June Mears Driedger
Quieting the Mind through Contemplative Photography” hosted at A Photographic Sage
Contemplative Photography in a Time-Obsessed Culture” hosted at Expressive Prayer
Planning a Personal Retreat” hosted at A Sacred Journey
Bless the World with Your Eyes” hosted at Consecrate the Day
Learning to Trust What Shimmers” hosted at Holy Ordinary
Seeing Ourselves with Eyes of the Heart” hosted at Ronna Detrick
Practicing Resurrection through the Eyes of the Heart” hosted at Anam Cara

Audio Interviews with Christine

Sacred Life Arts with Dana Reynolds
A Congruent Life with Andy Gray

Written Interviews with Christine

Seeing With Eyes of the Heart: A Q&A at Patheos (as part of the Patheos Book Club)
A Year of Rejoicing hosted by Louise Gallagher
Anam Cara hosted by Tara Owens
Faith Squared hosted by Liz Rasmussen
@ Idealawg hosted by Stephanie West Allen
Always We Begin Again hosted by Judy Smoot and Michael Landon
Catherine Anderson Studio hosted by Catherine Anderson

Reviews and Reflections

Spirituality and Practice
Image Journal of Religion and the Arts
Doc Hollywood by Craig Detweiler (as part of the Patheos Book Club)
Living a Holy Adventure by Bruce Epperly (as part of the Patheos Book Club)
A Musing Amma by Elizabeth Nordquist (as part of the Patheos Book Club)
This Ordinary Adventure by Adam Jeske (as part of the Patheos Book Club)
Profoundly Superficial by Annie Wright
Find Hope by Mary Benton
Shot at Ten Paces by Kate Kennington Steer
GodSpace by Christine Sine
A Photographic Sage by Patricia Turner
Sense of the Faithful by Peg Conway
Holy Ordinary with Brent Bill
Melanged Magic with Evelyn Jackson
Provoking Beauty by Leanne Shawler

Praise for the Book

"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