Encountering scripture in the company of authors and artists.
You can join the Bible study in person on Tuesdays at 1:00 PM in the EASE Gallery at Saint Stephen’s, 30 W. Woodruff Avenue. Or you can enjoy it here. Please feel free to comment if you’d like.
Encaustic of Christ Pantocrator from Saint Catherine’s in Sinai, to accompany Matthew 7:1-5
The idea of Christ as the judge of the world largely stems from Revelations, and was developed into the image of Christ Pantocrator. This icon, painted in encaustic sometime in the 5th or 6th century, is the oldest icon of Christ in the world.
Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs, to illustrate Matthew 7:6
Smarthistory explains this better than I can, so I’ll link to their video here. I’ll also link to all-art.org, which has a nice little chart of the different proverbs in this painting. Look for the man throwing pearls, or in this case roses, before swine.
Scott Cairn’s “A Word,” to accompany Matthew 7:7-11
For A.B.She said God. He seems to be therewhen I call on Him but callinghas been difficult too. Painful.And as she quieted to findanother word, I was deliveredonce more to my own long grapplingwith that very angel here — stillhere — at the base of the ancientladder of ascent, in foul dustlanguishing yet at the verybottom rung, letting go my griplong before the blessing.
Ervin Bossanyi’s “Peace Window” to accompany Matthew 7:12
Bossanyi was born in Austria-Hungary at the end of the 19th century. Like many of the artists in this Bible study, his life was deeply effected by the two world wars. He spend most of World War I interred in a French prison camp. As the Nazis came to power in the thirties, he fled to England. When some of the ancient windows of Canterbury Cathedral were blown out during the Blitzkrieg, Bossanyi was commissioned to replace them. The peace window was one of these replacements. Christ has three halos, signifying power, love, and grief. Children from around the world gather at the feet of Christ, each with the word “brother” or “sister” in their own language. Bossanyi wrote that “Only works of art done by passionate, burning love bear the mark of validity in buildings of dignity.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Life’s Tragedy” to accompany Matthew 7:13-14
It may be misery not to sing at all,
And to go silent through the brimming day;
It may be misery never to be loved,
But deeper griefs than these beset the way.
To sing the perfect song,
And by a half-tone lost the key,
There the potent sorrow, there the grief,
The pale, sad staring of Life’s Tragedy.
To have come near to the perfect love,
Not the hot passion of untempered youth,
But that which lies aside its vanity,
And gives, for thy trusting worship, truth.
This, this indeed is to be accursed,
For if we mortals love, or if we sing,
We count our joys not by what we have,
But by what kept us from that perfect thing.
“Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission to accompany Matthew 7:15-20
This beautiful little scene from 1986’s The Mission shows the Jesuit missionary Father Gabriel going out into the South American jungle to try to make contact with the Guarani, the native tribe he’s come to convert.
R. S. Thomas’s “The Kingdom” to accompany Matthew 7:21-23
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
Debussy’s La Cathedrale Engloutie to accompany Matthew 7:24-27
Debussy drew his inspiration for this wonderfully impressionistic piano prelude from the Legend of Ys, which tells of a submerged cathedral that rises up from the transparent water on clear mornings. Debussy frequently visited Mont St. Michel in Normandy, and this is probably another inspiration for the piece, given that the monastery located on the island can only be reached by a causeway that disappears at high tide.