Saturday, October 02, 2010

every common bush afire with God: Genesis 1-8

For thirty-one weeks our church will be reading together The Story of the Bible.  We'll be soaking in the major narrative that weaves all the smaller stories together from Genesis to Revelation in all of its beautiful, grand, surprising, mysterious, conflicting, sometimes-romantic, often-bizarre, prosaic and poetic splendor.  As part of my job as Worship & Arts Director at Union Center, I've been researching the way the deep truths (or magic, if you're C.S. Lewis) of the written Word of God informs art.  In other words, how do humans try to make sense of the truths stitched into the seams of the universe through their art, literature, music, poems, architecture, exploration, operas, dance, plays and so on?  

There is no way to collect all these works into one place; most certainly not in the brief seventy-five minutes we spend together each week as a corporate assembly.  Consider the posts here each Sunday a cutting room floor of sorts.  A tiny sampling of the age-old journey of artists influenced by the biblical narrative.  

p.s., I hope you'll be watching for these lower-case i incarnations of truth in the art you encounter in your own journey.  Feel free to share them in the comment section!

Week One: Genesis 1-8

Garden of Earthly Delights
 Heironymus Bosch (Madrid, 1503-1504)
oil-on-wood triptych

Themes:  human origins and purpose, collective longing for Utopian-ideals, inability to achieve those ideals, shattering of relationship, jealousy, murderous rage, cosmic disaster

[I]n his hand
He took the golden compasses, prepared
In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This universe, and all created things...

This God the Heav'n created, thus the earth,
Matter unformed and void. Darkness profound
Covered th'abyss; but on the wat'ry calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread...
(John Milton, Paradise Lost)

The Expulsion from the Garden

fresco, 1425 

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright
                     (Gerard Manley Hopkins, God's Grandeur)

The Deluge
Gustave Dore'

illustration, 1866

It hath the primal eldest curse upon't
A brother's murder.
(Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 3, scene iii, lines 40-1)

Babel Revisited
Julee Holcombe
digital photographic composition of modern-day skyscrapers, 2004

Oh, Oh Deep water
Black, and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open
I've run a twisted mile
I'm a stranger
in the eyes of the maker.

(Daniel Lanois, The Maker)


Union Center Worship, September 26, 2010:
Art from the archives influenced by Genesis 1-8:
  • everything I've read by Flannery O'Connor
  • this movie I wrote about here
  • this essay I wrote grieving the loss of a perfect family gathering place 
  • this poem I wrote during last year's Lenten season, titled Genesis 3:24
  • this narrative I wrote after I saw a rainbow on a hard day
The Writing on the Wall: High Art, Popular Culture and the Bible by Maggie Dawn
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