Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Perspectives on Copernicus and Galileo

This week's visual narrative is called Phantasmagoria in Perspectives on Copernicus and Galileo. It is the third in our series on spiritual blindness (Part 1: Blind as a Bat - on the blind leading the blind; Part II: In a Glass Darkly).

Part III is about our worldview and how we see things.

"A worldview is a way of seeing. It's the lens through which we see – a lens of assumptions, beliefs, images, metaphors, values, and ideas that we inherit and construct from our family, our teachers, our peers, our community and our culture.

In the West we have inherited a worldview that was formed largely in the 17th century. In this perspective, or world is best compared to a machine, a mechanical worldview. In this worldview, miracles – if they occur (as lack of belief and faith) – would involve interference from outside. God reaches in and fiddles. God is the outsider in this view; natural causes create effects mechanically and automatically unless God intervenes.

Some people believe God does intervene, overcoming the natural mechanisms. They are often called supernaturalists. Naturalists (or reductionists) believe in either no God or God does not intervene." (extracted from McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that could change everything,  Publishing Group, 2006)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Recipe for a Claudian Landscape

Apollo and the Muses
If you would like to paint the Claudian way then you can:

  • Arrange an impressive tree or other large object and place it in theforeground of thepicture to 'frame' the scene and to serve as a contrast to the view that opens up beyond.
  • The foreground should be painted in warm tones such as browns and golds – the idea being that warm colours come forward.
  • The background should fade away, so therefore, paint these into pale blues, since cool colours recede.
The Roman Campagna

Monday, April 11, 2011

Looking dimly through a dark glass

Looking through a dark glass, dimly
It's all to do with perceptions and the amount of light we have. Or the lens we like to view the world in.

The Claude Glass
Claude Lorrain was a landscape artist of the seventeenth century. His works were renown for their tranquility resembling Arcadian scenes and fairy land. In his name a convex hand mirror known as the Claude glass was used to view landscapes. The reflection was prettier than the real view. European aesthetes would set out into the countryside armed both with clear coloured glass filters that tinted their views pink, green, or blue, and with black-tinted Claude glass mirrors, which distorted the landscape, while seemingly to improve it.

The blackness modified the colours to a series of tonal gradations – like a black and white photograph.

Condensed in the smoky-hued mirror, almost any landscape turned into an unspoiled Shangri-la in miniature, a tiny glowing vista that conjured the idyllic pastoral paintings of the seventeenth-century painter Claude Lorrain. (Jessica Jenkins, Encyclopedia of the Exquisite). Nostalgic travellers would carry their Claude glasses and compare any attractive landscape with Claude's sylvan dreamscapes, often referring the painted version to reality.

Claude Lorrain

Claude Lorrain

Still not everyone agreed with this trend, particularly John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) the art critic who blamed the painter Claude for his distortion of reality and calling the Claude glass "one of the most pestilent inventions for falsifying Nature and degrading art which was ever put into an artist's hand."

The Light
When people argue over their beliefs it is usually based on their different world views i.e. the lens with which they view their beliefs. But Jesus' message is universal and his presentation of the gospel is as vision. Jesus claims to be the Light of the world. Light to those who see is its own evidence.

To secure effective vision there must be not only light, but also a healthy visual organ. Blindness may arise from the absence of light, from mere functional derangement of the organ of vision, or from some fatal organic defect in the organ. It is to those whose blindness comes from either of the first two causes that Jesus appeals. He comes as Light, strengthening the visual faculty, dispelling the darkness that envelops the soul, and revealing to it the spiritual realm.

"I am come into this world that they which see not might see" (Jn 9:29). This presentation of Jesus as Light, appealing to the organ of spiritual vision and vindicating empirically His unique Divinity dominates the Fourth Gospel (St John). "It is the pure in heart who see God (Mt 5:8), because the pure heart is the organ of the God-consciousness.

Jesus, the Light of the world, can appeal only to those who have the faculty of sight. "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven' (Mt 16: 17).

Where the faculty of sight is impaired or destroyed, however clearly the light may shine, there is no vision. This obscuration of the spiritual orb is what is called 'judicial blindness'. The phrase implies that there never can be such radical defect of vision without personal guilt in the person so affected. It is the judgement that comes through neglecting the light.

The capacity of spiritual vision is determined by use or disuse or perversity and may be so radically corrupted as to be impervious to the light. St John says that the Light shines in darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not (Mt 6: 22).

Spiritual blindness, therefore, signifies inability to see, or absence of the sense of sight; hence, figuratively, want of discernment, or defective intellectual, moral or spiritual sight.

The Claude Glass

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Blind leading the Blind

This is the first in my series on parables, proverbs and biblical myths (as some people would say).

Jesus said "Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest; for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.

"For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

"And He spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?"

"If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." 
When a person lacking in understanding or expertise attempts to guide another like himself, both will suffer serious consequences.
"There are none so blind as those who will not see."
It is pointless reasoning with a person who does not want to listen to sense.

Spiritual Blindness
Physical blindness gives people an image of helplessness and despair, but no one seems to recognise fully what spiritual blindness is.

Figuratively, blindness refers to an inability to recognise the truth. It can range from people who simply do not want to know to those who exercise it as a culpable condition, such as the judges whose judgment is perverted because of bribes.

Such blindness to the truth results in mental confusion where an individual has forfeited the ability to perceive truth at their own cost.

Paul in the New Testament describes gradual blindness when he writes of those whose 'foolish hearts were darkened.' (Roms 1:21). In another view he talks of seeing poorly now in contrast to seeing perfectly in the life to come (1 Cor 13: 12); as in dim glass.

Jesus described in the religious leaders and teachers of his own generation in terms of blindness (Mt 15:14, 23: 16-17, 19, 24, 26). The irony of their situation is that in their spiritual ignorance they assumed that they understand perfectly.

Similarly, Christian believers who revert to their pre-Christian ways are described as blind, not perceiving the contradiction expressed in their behaviour, (2 Pet 1:9, 1 Jn 2:11).

The Pharisees and Pharisaical Actions
Commonly thought of as hypocrite. Pharisaical means marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness. The etymology of hypocrite suggests 'a pretender'. In Hebrew culture the Pharisees pretended to be the authoritative opinion on righteousness and the law.

They are model citizen of Israel, accepted leaders simply by virtue of their zeal for the law. Sound familiar?

So why did they hate Jesus so? If you read the parable above, the Pharisees did not follow the spirit of the law, but the letter. The Pharisees did not act like that parable. Jesus challenges their right to their assumed position and exposes their pretense and emerges as a higher authority than them.

The pharisees had zeal but no knowledge of the mystery of the kingdom. Even the prophet Isaiah has spoken about the Pharisaic ardor for the details of the law when he said "So then, the word of the lord to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there – so that they will go and fall backward, be inured and snared and capture." (Is 28:13 NIV).

They are foremost interested in the restoration of Israel. They are politically influential. For this reason we find them to be the foremost inquisitors and dialogue partners of Jesus. Jesus accuses them of abusing their power: "devouring widows' houses" (Mk 12: 40), taking the best synagogue seats (Mt 23:6), expecting dutiful marketplace greetings and the title Rabbi (Mk 23:7).

Jesus says they are blind guides. Blinded by pride to the complete perspective. Their myopic vision of the law leads eventually to a decline in popular opinion and immediately to the harsh judgement of Jesus "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel" (Mt 23:24 NIV).

Thought they are considered expert exegetes in the nuance of the law, Jesus condemns them as teachers of the law for expanding its intentions. While they take offense to this sabbath healing of a man with a withered hand (Mk 3:1 - 5), he refers to the written law and scorns extrapolations (Mk 2:27). He claims their traditions make void the word of God (Mk 7:13) by focusing on minute details and missing the larger purpose.  "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness." (Mt 23:23 NIV).

The Pharisees are offended when Jesus eats with tax collectors and prostitutes. Intent on separation from all defilement, the Pharisees have applied to their table fellowship the laws prescribed for priests and sacrifices. To emphasise their insufficient efforts at purity, Jesus call the Pharisees "whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but on the inside … are full of the bones of the dead." (Mt 23: 27 NRSV).

It was the pharisees that used their political and religious cloud for revenge; with priestly roles and political connections, they encourage his trial and crucifixion.

For those in spiritual blindness Jesus said "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Lk 23: 34).

Please check my visual narrative As Blind as a Bat (Phantasmagoria.thecomicseries.com/comics/pl/97574). It has another story about Jesus healing on the Sabbath Day and will give you a clear idea of what self-righteousness really is. The pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. To the clear moral vision of Jesus the attitude implied in this objection showed a radical depravicty of nature, an inability to discriminate between fundamental ethical distinctions. The former blind man says "Whereas I was blind, now I see. This man has done good to me, and for me, therefore, he is good." It is not the function of the prince of darkness to give sight to the bound.

Blind leading the Blind

in The Maze of the Labyrinths

SO here it finally is! Phantasmagoria in the maze of the labyrinths. Yes, make your choice --- the road less travelled or the wide road?

The Maze of the Labyrinths
These labyrinth's are filled with symbolism.

Tree of Life (evergreen tree is immortality of the soul) in the middle vs the minotaur (but there is always salvation from that even if that road is taken) - the sword (spiritual weapon).

Crown of thorns: Jesus and persecution.

Grapes: for nourishment. The Eucharist.

Ivy: faithfulness, eternal life.

Crown: reward and eternal life.

Beehive: honeyed words.

Egg: resurrection

Chain: imprisonment; broken chains - liberation.

Lamp: Truth, light, divine inspiration. Word of God.

Water: purification.

Swallow: because it hides itself in the mud during winter, the incarnation. Because of its return in the spring, resurrection.

Butterfly: transformation and resurrection.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Minotaur's End

Here is the collage for my visual narrative called The Maze of the Labyrinths (which is coming shortly).

The End of the Labyrinth or the Demise of the Minotaur

The Myth of Theseus

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Allegory of the Boy Artist Vanitas ATCs

As part of my ongoing visual narratives, I had made two collaged images of vanitas (Vanitas collages). These images I then decreased in size and made into ATC cards.

With the left over images I made vanitas birthday cards/ATCs .... now that's being different!

Vanitas ATC

Vanitas ATC

Happy Birthday JK

Hour Glass and the Ink Happy Birthday ATC

Unforgettable JK

Timeless History

Vanitas Celebrate Your Birthday