Here’s another heartfelt personal story — another good American having trouble with today’s America and today’s American Christianity. (This is reproduced by permission from the “News” page of Marc Bohne’s oil-paintings web site.)
I did go out into the Midwest last October. It was a strange experience, and not much the place I remember. Everyone out there seems to be “into” the Iraq war, in the way they used to get into local football games when I lived there.
The television pulpit seems to be winning the minds and fear of people everywhere.I come from a very military family, not only as an army brat, but four of my six siblings joined one branch or another after high school. Trust me, I support the troops, I just believe that they deserve the best and most honest leadership.
I also get the impression that many out there think that the current administration running things in Washington embody the teachings of Jesus, which is where I step off the bus.
There were Bush-Cheney signs everywhere, even churches. I used to stop into local churches while traveling. My road trips can get a little isolating and church was a good way of connecting with people while far from home.
My Christian roots are deep. I was born and raised Roman Catholic and for many years wanted to be a priest. Following my years in the Midwest, I was youth pastor at my church in Colorado. While working as an associate director at the YMCA of the Rockies, I was deeply involved with the evangelicals in the area and throughout the country. It was hard not to be. I was even accepted to Fuller Theological Seminary in the early eighties, the natural progression for the path I was on. I will admit to not being much of a Bible thumper, but I took Jesus’ teachings to heart.
I still do.
Jesus’ teachings were less apparent than the political views of these powerful religious men, and I felt a strange new sensation there. I felt alone.I just can’t see them in anything I am experiencing in church or in my government, in spite of the talk I hear. What I see is divisions like never before, deceptions beyond belief, and death and dishonesty woven into patriotism.
And fear. The thing Jesus came to save us from. From what I can tell, it wasn’t sin, because He forgave that without much ado.
The Midwest I remember was a place rich in a shared desire to understand those teachings and live them as much as one could. Church was usually a small and intimate community of people who shared that desire. I suppose there are still pockets of that, but what I was experiencing more this time was this strange mega-church mentality. The television pulpit seems to be winning the minds and fear of people everywhere. Jesus’ teachings were less apparent than the political views of these powerful religious’ men, and I felt a strange new sensation there. I felt alone.
My trip was cut short. I spent one and a half weeks instead of the three I had planned. I felt sad, my get-up-and-go sort of run out of gas. I have to tell you, as a painter, if you lose that passion to process what you observe (and that is my fundamental job, to observe…) you are done. You go home. The land was unfriendly, the people I talked to afraid. Something felt sorely missing. I couldnt make myself stop in at any church, afraid as well that I would find Jesus worshipped as idol, no longer respected as teacher.
This is not a political statement of any kind. I dont really care about politics. This is life, and impossible for me to brush off as politics. It is life, and too often nowadays, death. Under these circumstances the colors are not as bright, the lines not as defined, and the frivolousness of anything that does not correct our course from deeper into darkness and more toward light is just difficult to bear.
I found this site (PublicChristian) on the web, and found it a breath of fresh air. There is not any one sermon here or writing that is more pertinent than another, and I have found hope in reading the whole thing. Just when you think you may have given up…
Anyway, it has been a tough couple of months for everyone, not to mention for the Iraqi people or our kids sent over there to liberate them, whatever the latest meaning of that is. It feels like a dark and unfortunate time now.
I love hearing people’s reactions to the painting “Daniel”. It would be more appropriate to note that Daniel (the actual person) is one of the most genuine and ernest followers of Jesus’ teachings, accumulating almost nothing material in his 20-something years here. He presently lives in community in a monastery in Arizona, exactly as he believes is best for the soul.
As a painter, I positioned him on the picture plane within a strategy of chiariscuro, in order to frame his face. He is actually looking at the light, rather than looking into darkness. –Marc Bohne
I was over at Marc’s website, looking around, and was struck by his “Daniel”. It’s a painting of a young man who looks like he’s seeking something, but I noticed he’s looking deep into the darkness for it. It seemed somehow appropriate, concidering his words above.