Our cover design for this issue’s report on the church in Japan incorporates the Japanese word for church. As we looked at calligrapher Tim Botts’s brush writing, our fertile imaginations saw a churchlike roof line in the exotic characters. But Tim brought us down to earth by telling us the word simply combines the symbols for teaching and meeting. A “teaching meeting” is a concept of church with which many evangelicals would be very much at home.

Tim Botts learned calligraphy as a student at Carnegie-Mellon. But immediately after being graduated from college, he and his wife, Nancy, went to Tokyo, where they taught conversational English from 1969 to 1972 under the auspices of a Brethren in Christ mission. While in Japan, the budding young calligrapher wanted to study brush writing, which he did—until he ran out of money after just five weeks.

Although he considers himself a novice at brush writing, Tim admits to having been influenced by his Japanese experience. The zen principle of focusing on the moment has resulted in Tim’s creating some of the most spontaneous and original calligraphy around. (See his books Doorposts and Windsongs for the evidence.) The Japanese celebration of their very limited space and their appreciation for the asymmetry of nature have also affected his work.

The Tim Botts Fan Club is eagerly awaiting the September publication of his next work: Messiah, a rendering of the libretto for Handel’s masterpiece, complete in 52 color plates. We suspect it will be a hot gift item next December.

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