Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hi, My Name is Jesus


Hi, I'm Jesus. I'm an important guy. I have important things, heavenly things to think about. I'm not happy. No, I'm not happy. I haven't been happy since early 1953, or maybe even 1940 to be exact, when I looked out at you for the first time from your Sunday School walls and saw you doing bad things, very bad things, making pictures of me with long, wavy brown hair and an angular nose and tight lips, very tight, pursing lips, as if I were sitting in some anti-earthly commercial photography studio getting my picture taken so people will know exactly what I look like, which I do, especially with my Halo shampoo, which I really like, but maybe not manly enough to whip to a pulp and smash their faces a bunch of temple merchants with a bull whip that I borrowed from a guy I know. No, I'm not happy.
Peter, you lied to your mother the other day. Andrew, you said a naughty word when you hit your finger with the hammer. John, you drank too much wine the other night, not too much, just enough to make me angry. Matthew, we fell asleep in church didn't we, yes we did. And Thomas, you were slow-dancing just a little too close to that girlfriend of yours.
And you . . . I forgot your name, so you're off the hook for now.
Thaddeus, I hate to say I saw you stick up your finger at someone who cut you off when you were riding your camel the other day.
Benjamin, you're not wearing your WWJD bracelet. Jacob, I don't mind you saying my name but not after you stubb your toe. And Frank, you know what you did but I can't repeat it because I'm Jesus.
And there are so many more, but I'm getting tired. I have them tape recorded and on auto-play.
I'm watching you.
I have praying hands.
And sad face.
And scared, just a little, but not too much.
I'm gonna getcha.

7 comments:

livingpalm said...

"Christian art? Art is art, painting is painting; music is music; a story is a story. If it's bad art, it's bad religion, no matter how pious the subject." --L'Engle, Walking on Water

"Aeschylus writes, 'In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'

We see that wisdom and that awful grace in the silence of the Pieta, in Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems; in Poulenc's organ concerto, but we do not find it in many places where we would naturally expect to find it. This confusion comes about because much so-called religious art is in fact bad art, and therefore bad religion...Some of those soppy pictures of Jesus, looking like a tubercular, fair-haired, blue-eyed goy, are far more secular than a Picasso mother and child. The Lord Jesus who rules my life is not a sentimental, self-pitying weakling. He was a Jew, a carpenter, and strong. He took into his own heart, for our sakes, that pain which brings wisdom through the awful grace of God." --L'Engle, Walking on Water...

"Stripped of religious and moral values, many contemporary artists who are self-conscious and creative, knowing that they are, but not knowing the why, see themselves as results of a cosmic accident. Much postmodern art, fiction, poetry, music, drama, and film represents the result of this unknowing and the fragmentation, cynicism, and personal chaos that result from it.

The tragedy is that so many Christians , in their revulsion at the perverse aspects of such art, shun all art, even that which may spring from a God-honoring imagination or a Christocentric consciousness. The other 'Christian' alternative is a conservatism that responds only to 'kitsch', a sentimental art of the Hallmark greeting card variety that cheapens true sentiment, turning it into sweetness and light or mere moralistic propaganda -- no teeth, no guts, no muscle, no reality. No real Christianity either, if we consider the Creator's work a our powerful, radical model.

But 'kitsch' is easy. It is as accessible as a Thomas Kinkade painting, and as stereotypical. It is manipulative and narcotic, and by contrast it makes true art seem difficult or complicated. For true art is not all sweet reasonableness. It may project outrage, or make a creative statement as hyperbolic as Jesus' 'if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; if your right hand causes you tos in, hack it off and throw it away.' Such an image is meant to jolt, to shock, to sting, to push truth into our awareness in ways that show the freshness, originality, and surprise of the Creator." --Luci Shaw, Beauty and the Creative Impulse

Laura said...

<...as if I were sitting in some anti-earthly commercial photography studio getting my picture taken...>

Yeah, as IF! That's crazy.

Tim Stewart said...

I gotta add: I like Thomas Kinkade paintings! They evoke warm, cozy, homey, safe, and loved feelings inside me. Those glowing windows on a winter's night show that there are warm, tucked-in rooms where people are. It makes me think of heaven. :-)

livingpalm said...

I think what the author was trying to say, in referring to Kinkade paintings, is that for too long the church has been unwilling to allow anything BUT lightness and heaven into its artwork and that is not reality. Its like all TVLand and no CNN -- all the time, know what I mean??

livingpalm said...

or should I say, it's like all baby in the manger and no Savior on the cross -- all the time...

s. e. wedelich said...

um... i just wanted to ask Jesus for a new computer and say that i've been doing my devotional EVERY day for the past few months... so i should be in the black on the ledger...

(hoping the sarcasm is duly noted)
-sam

Grace said...

wow... Jesus is a red-headed anglo... My life makes sense again. Thanks, David Taylor. (or should i call you orlando?)