MERCER COUNTY —
A minister and his son combined words and pictures to create 26 portraits of Christ, and now those portraits are available in their new book.
"Portraits of the Christ" is the first collaborative printed project for Rev. Sperry Hogue, the semi-retired associate minister of Hermitage Church of Christ, and his son Nathan Hogue, a mental health therapist at George Junior Republic in Grove City.
Each of the 26 chapters is titled after an attribute of Christ: The rock; The bread of life; The only way; The miracle worker.
The words, written by Rev. Hogue, are brief. Each chapter is a single page and the words are paired with a photograph taken by the younger Hogue.
"It's not a comprehensive look at who Jesus is," Hogue said. He and his father admit there are probably hundreds, if not more, ways to look at Christ. The book's introduction notes this: "In the pages that follow we have attempted to focus on the many roles Jesus assumed as the Christ - the one who celebrates our strengths despite our faults, and who came to redeem us instead of condemn us."
As Rev. Hogue wrote the words his son read them for inspiration and dreamed up lots of ways to create an image for each trait. But often that was just the beginning. For one chapter he needed a door. Or did he want a gate? No, a door, he decided. But an old door or a new one? Painted or not?
Sometimes, the ideas for the images didn't work.
The resurrection is perhaps a predictable chapter, and the Hogues knew there were some obvious ideas for images to show new life, whether it be a baby or nature. But Hogue had another idea. A bean sprout.
He watered a bean. It sprouted. He took a picture. He surrounded the sprout with other beans and took another picture. He tried lots of different things. And in the end, "we ditched it."
The creative process yielded lots of funny stories for the father and son during the three-year project. And the project completed at least one circle in their relationship. Hogue said he learned about photography from his father, and remembers as a child his dad testing color swatches laid on his chest and shoulders with different camera lenses. It wasn't until much later that the younger Hogue started taking an interest in the art.
"Nathan has a creative eye," said Rev. Hogue, who this year marked 25 years at his Hermitage church.
The Hogues self-published the book and said they were amazed how word already has spread about it. They quickly sold 150 copies.
They're not sure what might come next. Rev. Hogue had written another book before this one, but the two said they might do another title together in the future. "Portraits of the Christ," included 26 characteristics and chapters, and it doesn't include even some of the most often-used references. It leaves plenty of room for more work, they said.
Already they're thinking the book might be a good option for Bible studies and faith groups looking for shorter reading assignments. The Hogues now are working on an accompanying study guide.
"My Dad has taught me the word all my life," said Hogue, who lives with his family in Liberty Township, including his wife Stacey, an artist featured in Allied News last month, and their son, Kellan.
"I think this has been a learning experience," Hogue said.
Books are available for $14.99 from the Hogues' e-store: www.createspace.com/3560787. Copies also can be purchased from the authors. Contact them via e-mail at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published April 14, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.