Our family recently read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Having had read it years earlier, I was prepared to encounter the harsh guards, flea-infested beds, and vile smells. What I hadn’t expected during this second reading, however, was discovering the significant role that visual beauty plays in Corrie’s experience.
Like bread crumbs guiding Hansel and Gretel, a sparse trail of beauty offers hope in the midst of tragedy. Corrie uses scavenged threads to create a masterpiece of embroidered flowers on her pajamas. The singed remains of tulips offer promise. Color is more than symbolic for life – it infuses life to the deadened imaginations and despairing souls. The book ends with the following words:
“Windowboxes,” I said. “We’ll have them at every window. The barbed wire must come down, of course, and then we’ll need paint. Green paint. Bright yellow-green, the color of things coming up new in the spring.”
* * *
We live in an intensely visual world.
We’re (rightly) warned of the associated dangers.
But do we dare to dream of the possibilities?
This rich, eight-minute video gives an overview of Makoto Fujimura’s celebrated Four Holy Gospels project and a glimpse of his heart. You’ll want to enlarge to full screen – the images are stunning.
Makoto Fujimura – The Art of “The Four Holy Gospels” from Crossway on Vimeo.
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I wonder what would happen if we designed our church bulletins with large margins to encourage such doodling, and made available color pencils and markers. What would happen if we did invite children into our theology, to dance, to improvise, to play and to draw beautifully? You see, it does have to do with the Gospel, in our true identity as the heirs of Christ, as princes and princess of the Great King. The Feast is to come, the Wedding is about to start.” You can read the entire essay here.
- What ideas from the article resonated with you?
“It’s not so much of excluding ourselves from the secular liturgies, but to repent that we have not understood what is a beautiful liturgy. . .”
- What do you make of that?
“If we do live in a visual culture, then lack of beauty leads to a dehumanized state of our entire culture; and, I might add, poverty of our theology.”
- What does beauty have to do with theology? What are the implications?
“Visual theology happens, when we are engaged with scriptures,
with fulness of our imaginations.”
* * *
If you missed the first few weeks of this series, you can catch up here:
Week 1: Building From Ground Zero: A Conversation with Makoto Fujimura
Week 2: The Beautiful Tears
Week 3: The Five Hundred Year Question
- A Few of My Favorite Things - February 1, 2021
- The World Needs the Class of 2020 - June 22, 2020
- Books for Boys – A Show and Tell - February 5, 2020
I love the idea that Christians are wedding planners. Lately the Lord has been hounding me with the essential nature of hope — both temporal hope and eternal hope. Hope is caught up in the idea of a wedding: both in the realization of the hopes of the groom and bride, as well as their guests’ hopes for a long and happy life for them both. We exert ourselves to make it a tangible, hopeful experience for all involved. Flowers, food, and lavish clothing…all is a visual reminder of the Bridegroom’s return for His Bride.
The window boxes to Corrie were an idea of hope in the camps. My faith is bolstered when I’m gardening and I find bulbs that have reproduced over the fall and winter — with no effort from me. The Lord gives the increase. Tangible reminders of an eternal truth. He is faithful.
I’m saving that video for breaktime this morning with the kids. Thanks, Julie!
Julie Silander says
Kelly – Your bulbs in the garden are the perfect picture. I’m growing to see that such reminders are scattered throughout my day – if I’ll only have eyes to look for them. Thank you.
Renae Meredith says
From the article: “It was as if life came back into their faces, full of delight…one student asked ‘wow, it’s ok to draw right in the Bible?’ And the teacher said, ‘Yes.'”
And from the video: “We, today, have a language that celebrates waywardness. But we do not have a language that…brings people home.”
What are we as a church, if not home? If not a place where it’s okay to write and draw in the margins?
Julie Silander says
Renae – I loved that as well. “We have a language that celebrates waywardness. But we do not have a language that brings people home.” That is true in our culture, our churches, and in my own home. What a paradigm shift – toward hope.
Kris Camealy says
This article is amazing, and this is what keeps sticking out to me,
” And yet, we do not realize that we have been worshipping the wrong idols all along, and all of us are capable of such misplaced devotions, misaligned liturgies. It’s not so much of excluding ourselves from the secular liturgies, but to repent that we have not understood what is a beautiful liturgy, or to discover, for the first time, that gifts and stillness was there all along behind the voices of the casualties of culture wars and flash bulbs going off. It’s time to rediscover why and from whom the Greatest Gift of All has come from. But it’s more complex than to diagnose and speculate on what went wrong, when really, Houston and Winehouse are just the tip of the iceberg.”
This concept of misplaced worship, and re-discovering why and who, the greatest gift has come from. It is the very foundation of our theology it seems, to know where we have come from, and whose decedents we are. We are shaped by our lineage, and ours, begins with God. This truth changes everything and this one belief, and understanding outlines our entire theology. This is the very framework for the canvas of our lives. …
I’m still thinking about this rich article, but that’s where I’m at right now. Thanks, Julie for challenging me and providing a space to ruminate about these things.
Julie Silander says
Kris – Isn’t that something? We (I) expect that repentance will come in the form of “turn from” rather than “turn to.” What a beautiful picture of the Father who lavishes his children with good gifts. Please feel free to share more if and when thoughts develop. So encouraging…