Healing Fear (2013)

The Life of St Luke the Surgeon — Film

Ταινία «Θεραπεύοντας τον φόβο» (2013)

Film: “Лука” (Luka)
Year: 2013 (released 2014)
Running time: 110 minutes
Director: Oleg Sytnik
Cast: Vitaly Bezrukov (Luke), Ekaterina Guseva, Andrew Saminin, Alexander Jacko, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Alex Shevchenkov
Manufacturer: “Patriot Film” (Ukraine, Belarus), with the support of the State Agency of Ukraine for movies and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus
Synopsis:
The film “Luka” is the dramatic destiny of of the world famous surgeon who would become St. Luke of Crimea, the great surgeon and priest — V. Voyno-Yasenetsky (Luka).
The year was 1917. Young doctor Valentin Voyno-Yasenetsky with his wife and four children moved to Tashkent, beset by civil war. Voyno-Yasenetsky became head physician in the city hospital. He not only saved hundreds of patients every day, operating under the bullets of the permanent street battles, but he fought for his life and the life of his beloved wife, dying of TB. In the midst of communist persecution, he was alone with four children on the outskirts of the former empire, so he decides to become a priest. And since then, he never gave up either scalpel or cross, and he went with them through all their hard exiles and arduous life, treating both body and soul.

 

St. Luke of Crimea was an Archbishop in the Russian Orthodox Church during Soviet times and an occasional prisoner on account of his faith, suffering extended physical torture in Soviet gulags for as long as 2 years at a time.

He is called the “Blessed Surgeon” because in addition to his work in the Church he was also a practicing doctor and professor of medicine, known internationally for his research on anesthesia and his innovative surgical techniques. St. Luke reposed in the Lord in 1961, and his prayers and relics are known to heal many people today of physical maladies.

Noli Me Tangere – Touch Me Not

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

‘Touch Me Not’ theme in Byzantine Iconography and Western Art

 

I must say right away that although I am an Art lover, I do not consider any of the paintings presented in the analysis below as either ‘beautiful’ or ‘Art’, let alone spiritual, in any sense. (Ok. probably the first three, the early Middle Ages, pass the mark) Their ‘fleshliness’ and ‘wordliness’ deeply offend and appall me. Just look at the corresponding Byzantine icons “Touch Me Not” (in Greek: Μη μου άπτου, Mi mou áptou), which show the appearance of the Resurrected Christ to Mary Magdalene as described in the Gospel of John :

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western ArtMagdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art

If the long flowing hair of a female Saint is considered (and rightly so) not common in Orthodox iconography, inappropriate for a number of reasons, and a borrowing from Western art of the time, how are we to feel with the Resurrected Jesus wearing a floppy sun hat ?!

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Oh, the spirituality and ineffable, ethereal Beauty of Byzantine Art, especially its iconography! How movingly does Andrei Tarkovsky capture it in the concluding scene of Andrei Rublev!

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Let us now turn to the original article and more about ‘my’ views on the matter in the coming week’s blog posts. Hopefully I should be able to explain better my mind as to why i do not consider such paintings ‘Art’, let alone ‘Sacred’.

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“In his Gospel John records that on the Sunday morning following Jesus’s crucifixion, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and, finding it empty, started to weep, for she thought someone had taken the body. In her worry and frustration, she “turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus . . . supposing him to be the gardener” (John 20:14–15). It isn’t until he says her name that she recognizes him.

Artists—mainly from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—have latched onto this detail of mistaken identity, representing Jesus carrying gardening tools, like a shovel or a hoe, and sometimes sporting a floppy gardener’s hat. A few artists, such as Lavinia Fontana, Rembrandt, and the illuminators of the book of hours and passional shown below, have even shown Jesus in full-out gardener’s getup. (In her commentary on John, Dr. Jo-Ann A. Brant mentions that the fact that Jesus left his burial clothes in the tomb, coupled with Mary’s confusion, might provoke the “fanciful speculation” that Jesus actually borrowed the gardener’s clothes. Nevertheless, a different understanding is more likely behind the artistic representations; read on.)

 

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Attributed to Jacopo di Cione (Italian, 1365–1398/1400), Noli me tangere, ca. 1368–70. Pinnacle panel from a Florentine altarpiece, now in the collection of the National Gallery, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene, from a Biblia Pauperum (typological picture book), ca. 1405, Netherlands. British Library, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Fra Angelico (Italian, ca. 1395–1455), Noli me tangere, 1440–42. Fresco from the convent of San Marco, Florence, Italy.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Israhel van Meckenem (German, ca. 1445–1503), Noli me tangere, 1460–1500. Engraving. British Museum, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Sandro Botticelli (Italian, 1445–1510), Noli me tangere, ca. 1484–91. Predella panel from an altarpiece from the convent of Sant’Elisabetta delle Convertite, Florence, Italy, in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Master of the Dark Eyes, “Christ Appears to St. Mary Magdalene as a Gardener,” from The Hours of the Eternal Wisdom: Lauds (KB, 76 G 9), fol. 88r, ca. 1490. Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands), The Hague.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
“Christ Appears to Mary Magdalene as a Gardener” (detail), ca. 1503–1504, England. Fol. 134v, Vaux Passional(Peniarth 482D), National Library of Wales.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Noli me tangere, 16th century, Limoges, France. Enamel plaque, 27 × 19 cm.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), Noli me tangere, 1511. Woodcut. British Museum, London.
Titian (Italian, ca. 1488–1576), Noli me tangere, ca. 1514. Oil on canvas, 110.5 × 91.9 cm. X-ray photographs show that Christ was originally painted wearing a gardener’s hat.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Hans Baldung (German, ca. 1484–1545), Christ as a Gardener, 1539. Oil on canvas, 110.1 × 84.1 cm. Hessen State Museum, Darmstadt, Germany.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene, 1540/45. Tapestry, 210.3 × 268 cm. Design attributed to Michiel Coxcie (Flemish, 1499–1592) or Giovanni Battista Lodi da Cremona (Italian, active 1540–1552). Woven in the workshop of Willem de Pannemaker (active 1515–ca. 1581). Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Noli me tangere, ca. 1560–70, Germany. Ink and wash on paper.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Agnolo Bronzino (Italian, 1503–1572), Noli me tangere, 1561. Oil on canvas, 291 × 195 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Lavinia Fontana (Italian, 1552–1614), Noli me tangere, 1581. Oil on canvas, 80 × 65.6 cm. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), Noli me tangere, 1638. Oil on panel, 61 × 49 cm. Royal Collection Trust, London.
Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Noli me tangere by Edward Burne-Jones (design) and William Morris (execution), 1874. Bottom right stained-glass panel of the Vanderpoel Window, Trinity Church, Saugerties, New York.

The portrayal of Jesus as a gardener isn’t meant to suggest that Jesus was literally gardening that day—though he might have been, and that’s amusing to think of. Rather, it alludes to his role as one who “plants” us and grows us. He gets his hands dirty in the soil of our hearts, bringing us to life and cultivating us with care so that we flourish.

According to Franco Mormando, whose research involves the religious sources of Renaissance and Baroque Catholic art, Jesus the gardener was a traditional theme of orthodox scriptural exegesis and popular preaching that traces its origins to patristic times. In a 2009 article for America magazine, he writes,

Mary’s misidentification was meant to remind us, so the pre-modern exegetes taught, of a spiritual reality: Jesus is the gardener of the human soul, eradicating evil, noxious vegetation and planting, as St. Gregory the Great says, “the flourishing seeds of virtue.” Although today out of circulation, this teaching was disseminated in [the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries] in such popular, authoritative texts as Ludolph of Saxony’s Life of Christ (a book that played a crucial role in St. Ignatius Loyola’s conversion) and [starting in the seventeenth century] Jesuit Cornelius a Lapide’s Great Commentary on Scripture.

The Bible makes explicit the connection between God the Father and gardening. Genesis 2:8 tells us he was the world’s first gardener: “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” The prophets sometimes wrote of God’s gardening in a metaphoric sense—for example, in Isaiah 61:11: “For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, / and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, / so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise / to sprout up before all the nations.” Or Jeremiah 24:6, in which God says of the exiles from Judah, “I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.” Furthermore, Jesus’s parable from John 15 casts God as a vinedresser.

John’s Gospel, though, goes even further to ascribe this role to Jesus, and to present his resurrection as the genesis of something new. For example, the prologue to his Gospel starts, “In the beginning . . . ,” an obvious echo of the prologue to Genesis. In 19:41 he mentions that Jesus was buried in a garden, and in chapter 20, that he was found walking around in it. He mentions twice that Jesus rose on “the first day” of the week, as if this were the first day of a new creation (cf. Genesis 1:35). And then he has Mary mistake Jesus for the gardener. When taken in concert with Paul’s conception of Jesus as the Second Adam (Romans 5:12–211 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45), these allusions suggest that Jesus is the gardener of the new Eden, doing what Adam could not do. His resurrection broke ground in this garden, marking the beginning of a massive restoration project.

That’s why Jesus is so often found toting a shovel in the resurrection art of Renaissance and Baroque Europe. He is the caretaker of humanity, bending down to bring us up, to make us full and healthy and beautiful. Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon on the topic back in 1882, in which he declares,

Behold, the church is Christ’s Eden, watered by the river of life, and so fertilized that all manner of fruits are brought forth unto God; and he, our second Adam, walks in this spiritual Eden to dress it and to keep it; and so by a type we see that we are right in “supposing him to be the gardener.”

More recently, Andrew Hudgins—inspired by the imagination of visual artists—wrote a poem called “Christ as a Gardener.” You can read it in full here.

I’m curious to know whether any modern artists have exegeted John’s text in the same way—that is, portraying Jesus as a gardener in his appearance to Mary Magdalene. Besides a pen, brush, and chalk work by Anton Kern, done in a Baroque style, I am aware of only a few, the first of which is Graham Sutherland’s 1961 altarpiece in the St. Mary Magdalene Chapel of Chichester Cathedral. Commissioned by Walter Hussey, one of the twentieth century’s most important patrons of sacred art, Graham Sutherland painted two versions of Noli me tangere. Hussey chose the one that shows a door opening out into a garden and Christ wearing a sun hat made of straw, pictured below. (Click here to see a longer shot of the painting in its chapel context.) The alternate version is in the Pallant House Gallery, also in Chichester.

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Graham Sutherland (British, 1903–1980), Noli me tangere, 1961. Oil on canvas. St. Mary Magdalene Chapel, Chichester Cathedral, England.

Back in 2010 Jyoti Sahi posted an oil painting on his blog along with three others under the heading “The Resurrection.” I think the signature says 1987, but it’s hard to tell, as it’s cut off in the photo. In it Jesus carries an oversize scythe while Mary anoints his feet, just as she had done a week earlier, when she had shed tears in anticipation of his death (John 12:1–8). The outline around her is reminiscent of a kernel of wheat.

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
Jyoti Sahi (Indian, 1944–), The Resurrection. Oil on canvas.

Most people associate scythe-wielding figures in art with the Grim Reaper—that is, Death—due to an iconography that stretches all the way back to the fourteenth century. But the Bible associates scythes with Jesus, the lord of the harvest (Matthew 3:12Matthew 13:2430Revelation 14:14–20), the harvest being the end of the world. Only those who have rejected Jesus need fear his Second Coming, for those who have grown in his word will be gathered up into heaven. This painting in particular reminds me of Psalm 126:5: “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy”—a beautiful song of ascents that has been set to music by, among others, Bifrost Arts. Mary had wept penitently over her sin, and then later over the impending execution of her Lord, and still again at his grave, but now, because of his Resurrection, she enters into his presence with shouts of joy, and even more cause for worship.

Lastly, He Qi’s Do Not Hold On to Me from 2013 also references the Jesus as gardener metaphor, but because the head of the shovel isn’t visible, it’s not as obvious.

Magdalene and the Resurrected Lord, Byzantine icons and Western Art
He Qi (Chinese, 1950–), Do Not Hold On to Me, 2013. Oil on canvas.

Do you know of any artworks from recent times that take on this theme?

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St. Paisios the Athonite

Icons, Photographs and Video on his feast day

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I may be on a pilgrimage in Romanian monasteries, but St Paisios’ the Athonite, my patron Saint‘s, presence is strongly felt all over Romania. Plenty of icons of his and books with his services and spiritual counsels in all monasteries and churches I have been so far! I truly regret having to leave this week of all weeks Greece, but thanks be to God, while this was going on inside Souroti monastery church on July 12, and this outside the church, near his tomb

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Much longer queues than in 2013 … every year longer! The Lord is glorified in His saints!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the faithful all over in Romania were holding Vigils and praying Akathists and Supplication canons, asking for his prayers.

Wherever I go, the moment Romanians realise that I am Greek and my home town is near Souroti, they start asking for my telephone number and email, so that I can make arrangements and help them go and venerate his tomb.

 

Just in case you missed it, this is a beautiful documentary (in Russian with English subtitles) about the life of St. Paisios the Athonite and his years spent on Mount Sinai in Egypt.

And another one:

And yet another one by the Patriarchate of Moscow (a film documentary of six episodes with total duration of 5 hours on the holy life and work of Saint Paisius of Mount Athos):

With a Sling and With a Stone

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THIMBLERIG’S ARK is a blog which records one writer’s journey through faith, art, and life which I personally find very inspiring and highly rewarding. This film review is fresh, honest and constructive. “Should Christians Support Christian Content?” he asks in another blog entry, only to conclude, and rightly so in my opinion, that discernment should be applied. Bad art is simply not art, no matter if someone wants to call it “Christian” art. And I can’t agree more with another aside of his: ‘“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8) I don’t see “Christian” anywhere in that list, so that doesn’t seem to be an automatic criterion for what I dwell on.’ This specific quotation from the Epistle of Paul and Timothy to the Philippians and the interpretation provided above are a central preoccupation of my blog too.

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Thimblerig's Ark

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2014 saw the release of some major Bible-themed movies, movies backed by serious Hollywood studios, movies involving household name actors, directors with impressive filmographies, and budgets in the hundreds of millions.

Financially, the movies did respectfully, but they failed to make any sort of connection with the elusive “faith-based” audience – the audience willing to come out in droves for movies like God’s Not Dead or the films of the Kendrick Brothers.

The cry went out from faithful filmgoers everywhere, complaints that the films were not biblically accurate, that too many liberties had been taken, that our sacred stories should never have been entrusted into the hands of nonbelievers, and that one of us needed to do a Bible story properly, to show the world just how amazing our stories can be.

Veteran director Tim Chey answered that call, purportedly raising over 50 million dollars so that he could make a movie version of…

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In the Eye of the Storm

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Silver Helix (1)

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“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” 

― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

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There was once a wave in the ocean, rolling along, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the swiftness of the breeze.

It smiled at everything around it as it made its way toward the shore.

But then, it suddenly noticed that the waves in front of it, one by one, were striking against the cliff face, being savagely broken to pieces.

‘Oh God!’ it cried. ‘My end will be just like theirs. Soon I, too, will crash and disappear!’

Just then another wave passing by saw the first wave’s panic and asked:

‘Why are you so anxious? Look how beautiful the weather is, see the sun, feel the breeze…’

The first wave replied:

‘Don’t you see? See how violently those waves before us strike against the cliff, look at the terrible way they disappear. We’ll soon become nothing just like them.’

‘Oh, but you don’t understand,’ the second wave said.

‘You’re not a wave. You’re a part of the ocean.’ (2)

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Katsushika Hokusai’s Under the Wave off Kanagawa, also called The Great Wave has became one of the most famous works of art in the world—and debatably the most iconic work of Japanese art. The Great Wave is part of the legendary series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. (3) “The preeminence of The Great Wave —said to have inspired both Debussy’s La Mer and Rilke’s Der Berg—can be attributed, in addition to its sheer graphic beauty, to the compelling force of the contrast between the wave and the mountain. The turbulent wave seems to tower above the viewer, whereas the tiny stable pyramid of Mount Fuji—Japan’s sacred, national symbol of Beauty, Spirituality and Immortality–sits in the distance. The eternal mountain is envisioned in a single moment frozen in time.

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Hokusai characteristically cast a traditional theme in a novel interpretation. In the traditional meisho-e (scene of a famous place), Mount Fuji was always the focus of the composition. Hokusai inventively inverted this formula and positioned a small Mount Fuji within the midst of a thundering seascape. Foundering among the great waves are three boats thought to be barges conveying fish from the southern islands of Edo.” Nonetheless, “Hokusai has arranged the composition to frame Mount Fuji. The curves of the wave and hull of one boat dip down just low enough to allow the base of Mount Fuji to be visible, and the white top of the great wave creates a diagonal line that leads the viewers eye directly to the peak of the mountain top.”(4)

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To the Japanese eye, accustomed to reading from right to left—the great claw of a wave appears almost to tumble into the viewer’s face, the surging breakers may seem to swamp the boaters, even Mount Fuji appears fragile, about to be engulfed by the uncontrollable energy of the water, and still  the humans in their tiny boats “doomed” to perish in the sea do not look panicked! On the contrary, they look like hanging to their rows in full discipline. It looks like they are experienced and know how to cope with such a situation. (5)

 

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Jennifer Rundlett, a fellow blogger, sees “through” its art “the many trials of life and how overwhelming we often find them, being so focused battling our problems, and trying not to be consumed by them”, whereas “the wave is pointing our eye to [Mount Fugi] the focal point or meaning….that beauty and immortality is in how we ride out these storms.” (6)

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This Japanese painting brought to my mind an English Romanticist, William Turner’s famous seas, stormy skies, sinking ships and tempests studies, with a very different theme to Hokusai’s.

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The power of the storm versus man’s inabilities was a main theme in Turner’s work. Dreadful catastrophe was a common theme in English romantic art period and Turner specifically painted themes of shipwreck a number of times throughout his life, exploring the effects of an elemental vortex. The romantics had taken a liking to natural phenomena and shipwreck became a popular subject. 19th century Britain specifically was very familiar with shipwreck as it was a period of great English shipping.  … The craftsmanship of these ships did not deter the fact that the man made vessel was still at the mercy of the wind.

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Let us have a good look at Turner’s most famous storm painting: The Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth (1842), http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00530 Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth shows a ship off the English coast struggling to persevere through a storm.  The steam-boat resides in the center of the vortex.   Turner’s untamed brushwork creates a swirling composition of chaotic colors and lighting. The swirling storm creates a composition that leaves the eye to circle around the canvas repeatedly. The black of the wind and the waves of the sea create a circle around the doomed ship. Through the windy peephole, the viewer can see the helpless ship at the mercy of nature’s violent motion. One can imagine the ship swaying to and fro as its crew desperately tries to take control of the sail and stay afloat. In this context the vessel can be interpreted as a symbol of mankind’s futile efforts to combat the forces of nature. 

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Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth exhibited 1842 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00530

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In Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth Turner uses a muted color palette. Pale blues and deep browns cover the canvas in swirling motions. Though the palette is predominately neutral, which usually creates a calming tone, the swirling motions and lighting create the chaotic effect Turner was going for. He wanted to simulate the true nature of a storm at sea. The bright white of the sail draws the eye directly to the ship, even amidst the swarming colors around it. Turner creates a pocket of light amidst a dark and shadowy canvas to illuminate the ship. Since he lights the ship in such a way, all focus is immediately drawn to the ship. The shadowing swirling winds only emphasize the ship more. The focus is relentlessly on the plight of the ship. This painting clearly invokes fear in a man or keeps him in his place as the weaker.  Here the emphasis is on the raw, merciless force of Nature and Man’s frailty and helplessness. (7)

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It is famously said that Turner conceived this image while lashed to the mast of a ship during an actual storm at sea to get a better account of the wind and ocean and what the ship must’ve felt like in the midst of it. This seems to be nothing more than fiction, but the story has endured as a way of demonstrating Turner’s full-blooded engagement with the world around him, and is stunningly dramatized in the famous Mast scene of the mesmerising, highly maginative and richly detailed 19th century period biopic Mr Turner (2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYN6HwLSvyg

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Khalil Gibran  makes ample use of the “storm/sea/wave” imagery in “The Prophet” and explains how we all are “travellers” and “navigators” in the sea of life, our “pain being the breaking of the shell that encloses [our] understanding”. (8)

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For an auditory raw, rough storm experience, let us not forget Aretha Franklin’s duet with Joe Ligon in the old time gospel  “I’ve Been In The Storm Too Long ” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUujg0BTIjk&list=PLkGwJ-k-JlPEDnwXWd5RDpNmjbUa0fi6y

“I’ve been in the storm… too long, Lord too long
mmmmm… I’ve been in the storm… too Long, Lord too long
Lord, please let me…have a little more time, I need a little more time to pray
Oooh…I’ve been in the storm too long…”

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Jesus walks on water, by Ivan Aivazovsky (1888)

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Yet, whether competent or helpless, I personally want to bring God in all these “storms”. So that I can walk on the water, towards Him, and when I see “the wind boisterous, … [am] afraid; and beginning to sink”, I can cry “saying, Lord, save me.” And He immediately will stretch forth His hand, and catch me, and say unto me, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’ (Matthew 14:29-31, KJB) And He will still the storm–within and without my mind–to a whisper and hush the waves of the ‘sea’  (Psalm 107:29) and (Mark 4:39).

 

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Christ walking on the sea, by Amédée Varint

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François Boucher Cathédrale Saint-Louis (1766) Versailles

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Walking on water, by Veneziano, 1370.

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Sources:

  1. “I Capture The Majestic Power Of Ocean Waves”, amazing collection of underwater vortex and wave photographs at http://www.boredpanda.com/moments-in-the-ocean-images-created-from-water-light/
  2. “The missing rose” by Serdar Ozkan, cf. Paulo Coehlo’s blog http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2014/03/21/30-sec-read-you-are-not-a-wave/
  3. For the full collection, go to http://Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-six_Views_of_Mount_Fuji
  4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art at http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/JP1847 For more analysis, watch Thompson, curator of the Hokusai exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, delving into the story behind this world famous print  at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbPHPfVw6zQ
  5. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-asia/art-japan/edo-period/a/hokusai-under-the-wave-off-kanagawa-the-great-wave and http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/24645 and http://www.artelino.com/articles/the-great-wave.asp
  6. For more details, go to her inspirational blog site, dedicated to sharing with insights of God’s love through meditations using art and music, at https://jrundlett.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/new-perspectives-god-given-problems/
  7. http://www.artble.com/artists/joseph_mallord_william_turner/paintings/snow_storm_-_steam-boat_off_a_harbour’s_mouth
  8.  Lebanese-American artist, poet (1883 – 1931), chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction, including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose, and the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu or Lao-Tze.

New Martyrs. New Mob. New Hollow Men.

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“One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, ‘Jesus!'” (1)

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They are the “new martyrs” and sadly, we are the “new mob”, “we are the hollow men”.

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“I’ve learnt something important from the horrors of the last few weeks. As I pray for the Christians in Mosul, it becomes clear to me that I need their prayers more than they need mine. … I thank God for the humbling gift of allowing me to witness these new martyrs walking on their way to salvation before my very eyes. … We are witnessing the birth of holiness; we are part of a miracle.” (2)

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The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot

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We are the hollow men

… Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As …

rats’ feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar…

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This is the way the world ends
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Not with a bang but a whimper.

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Watch Marlon Brando legendary reading of “The Hollow Men” in Francis Ford Coppola’s and Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking classic Apocalypse Now (1979) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPeHO1r8paU and also listen to T. S. Eliot himself reading it in his own unforgettable manner at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fu8awT5Jzs

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(1) http://www.christiantoday.com/article/isis.executes.12.christiansincluding.boy.and.2.women.who.were.raped.in.public.and.beheadedfor.refusing.to.renounce.jesus/66532.htm

(2) For the full article “NEW MARTYRS. NEW MOB” go to Father Seraphim’s last year blog entry at http://www.mullmonastery.com/uncategorized/new-martyrs-new-mob/, ” still timely, with the ever-rising wave of genocidal persecution of Christians by Muslims.

O Death, Where is Thy Sting?

Anastasis_at_Chora

Let us contemplate our own mortality and ‘refute’ the nihilism of ‘mercy’ killing with artworks of Beauty. Classic Christian art such as ‪Purcell’s Elegy for the Funeral of Queen Mary can be so uplifting! Let us also draw upon all Art that has something of God in it, or that through it something of God can be refracted, such as Kurosawa’s Dreams and Rumi’s poetry.

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Purcell’s Elegy

Man that is born of a woman

hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery.

He cometh up, and is cut down like a flow’r.

He flee’th as it were a shadow,

and ne’er continueth in one stay.

In the midst of life we are in death:

of whom may we seek for succour,

but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?

Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty,

O holy and most merciful Saviour,

deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

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For sublime Purcell please go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYELAu9hqdU

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Kurosawa’s Dreams ends with a funeral procession for an old woman in a village that plays like a wedding. Instead of mourning, the people celebrate joyfully as the proper end to a good life. The whole village turns out for her funeral. Kurosawa stages the funeral procession as a celebration of a life. Music is played, a song is sung, people dance in the procession as if it is a parade, and it’s a joyous scene. At the end, the traveler picks and places his own flower on the rock like the children before him.

For Kurosawa’s last Dream, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEEOfJdGzcQ

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As for Rumi, the mystic poet and Spiritual Sufi Master, let the ecstatic vision of his hauntingly beautiful ‘Death’ poem speak of itself!

When I die …

When my coffin

Is being taken out

You must never think

I am missing this world.

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Don’t shed any tears,

Don’t lament or feel sorry

I’m not falling

into a monster’s abyss.

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When you see

My corpse is being carried

Don’t cry for my leaving,

I’m not leaving,

I’m arriving at eternal love.

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When you leave me

In the grave

Don’t say goodbye.

Remember a grave is

Only a curtain

For the paradise behind.

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You’ll only see me

Descending into a grave.

Now watch me rise.

How can there be an end?

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When the sun sets or

The moon goes down

It looks like the end,

It seems like a sunset,

But in reality it is a dawn.

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When the grave locks you up,

That is when your soul is freed.

Have you ever seen

A seed fallen to earth

Not rise with a new life?

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Why should you doubt the rise

Of a seed named human?

Have you ever seen

A bucket lowered into a well

Coming back empty?

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Why lament for a soul

When it can come back

Like Joseph from the well?

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When for the last time

You close your mouth,

Your words and soul

Will belong to the world of

No place, no time.

For Rumi’s “When I Die”, please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEwJm-RPhNE

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  • Icon on top: Harrowing of Hades, fresco in the parecclesion of the Chora Church, Istanbul, c. 1315;  raising Adam and Eve is depicted as part of the Resurrection icon, as it always is in the East.