Monday, August 18, 2008

Radiant Cross
Last week at Prayer Meetin', I handed out a copy of a piece of Mexican folk art that was in Christian Century last month. The drawing was based on the radiant cross. I am thankful that in seminary I had a professor who liked to show us lots of pictures. We learned that in a lot of Christian art work depicting the cross that it can be a source of light in the painting. That is, people in the painting are not illuminated by the sun or a lamp. The "light" in the painting would come from the cross or Jesus' body.

In other traditions, the radiant cross is used for a symbol in first communion celebrations. You can even buy a lot of party supplies for your after-church shindigs.
Here's what I gave my folks.
Suggestion: open this in another window.

At first glance it does look a little ordinary. If you focus on the cross in the center, though, those concentric circles and the dots have something of a pulse to it. This flat, black and white drawing becomes what I like to call optical theology.

Give it a try. You might want to enlarge and print out this picture for yourself (jury's still out on what staring at a computer screen too long will do to you). See what I mean? This drawing has a lot of movement.

OK, now pray with that. Lend you imagination to the movement a little. The artist probably did not have only one right answer in mind. My general explanation is this: the cross is often seen as a rather flat symbol, you know, death, resurrection, yadda, yadda. In this picture, though, there are a lot of things that are bouncing around with the cross at the center. Remember what was given to give us life--no yadda about it!

Someting else happened to me while I stared at this picture. I got a little too close to it, a theological statement in itself. I ended up unable to focus both eyes to make one target and saw two pictures. I was then staring at two crosses. I had to remember something else important that came right to me. One cross was Jesus' and the other my own.


DMaC said...

All you're missing is an angelic voice saying, "better? or worse"?

Chip Reeves said...

OK, 1... or 2...
2... or 3...