Thursday, August 07, 2008

Blue eyed Jesus

The visual arts are not seen often in the church, except for stock 1941 Kriebel Bates Warner Sallman lithos of a very germanic appearing Jesus reproduced from a print fifty years ago. I recently worshipped in a church with the golden blue eyed Jesus picture prominently displayed in an idyllic fashion at the altar. It made me wonder what the rendering said about the group of people who worshipped there and their world view in terms of "Open minds, Open hearts, Open doors", as well as what a person of another culture or color would think worshipping at the altar of the blue eyed Jesus? In 1941, however, the western world would have been comfortably at home with this image so much so that in the film making industry, the character of Jesus is protrayed as a variation of the 1941 litho standard of which about 500 million images were printed.
It could be said that the art or the music of a congregation is a matter of taste and context, so much of what I have seen traveling around in and out of local sacred spaces has been limited to the few same images, the blue eyed Jesus being one. When I was a child I was comfortable with the image, now it is time to put away childish things, in a sense, as mu personal image of Jesus has become more comphrehensive. It could also be time, in this global age, to rethink the images of Jesus we use in our worship spaces and in our literature. Oh can anyone show me the real Jesus? More importantly, do you see the real Jesus in the way I life my life, or in the way other professed believers live theirs?

The Real Jesus

Wide-Eyed and Mystified
by downhere


Jesus on the radio, Jesus on a late-night show
Jesus in a dream, looking all serene
Jesus on a steeple, Jesus in the Gallup poll
Jesus has His very own brand of rock and roll

Watched him on the silver screen
Bought the action figurine
But Jesus is the only name that makes you flinch

Oh, can anybody show me the real Jesus?
Oh, let Your love unveil the mystery of the real Jesus

Jesus started something new
Jesus coined a phrase or two
Jesus split the line at the turning point of time
Jesus sparked a controversy
Jesus, known for His mercy, gave a man his sight
Jesus isn't white

Jesus loves the children, holds the lambs
Jesus prays a lot
Jesus has distinguishing marks on His hands

If anybody walks behind the Good Shepherd
If anybody holds the hands that heal lepers
And if you recognize the eyes that see forever, please...

Jesus, Jesus
Oh, can anybody show me Jesus
Oh, let Your love unveil the glory, the real Jesus

Oh, can anybody show me the real Jesus?
Oh, let Your love unveil the glory of the real Jesus, the real Jesus


Questing Parson said...

Well said! Just downright well said!

PA Maverick said...

I'm a bit late in responding -- haven't been looking around too much lately. Over time, lots of controversy about how Jesus looked in physical appearance -- a "white" Jesus, a "black" Jesus, etc. Someone has noted that by being of Jewish blood, physically speaking, He was about halfway between white and black. All we have to go by is Scripture which doesn't provide photographs -- but only that sometime in the future we shall see Him as He is -- and that's good enough for me!

Jeff Kahl said...

Thanks for this, Pam. It's a good reminder that ALL Christians have, to some extent, a "Jesus" that they are comfortable with. "Judgmental Jesus," "Cool Jesus," "Touchy-Feely Jesus," "Traditional Jesus," "Liberal Jesus," "Intellectual Jesus," etc...

I look at the Gospels and see that there are 4 rich portraits of the multi-faceted personality of Christ. It's a good reminder that "The Real Jesus" defies all of our attempts to put Him into a single image. That He is bigger than anything we can imagine. If only Christians would pick up on that, we might stop bickering among ourselves so much!