Thursday, May 17, 2007
Okay, true confessions of a theologian.
Pentecost, coming of the Holy Spirit (upon the COMMUNITY, please note -- this is not an individual-me-and-Jesus event): check.
Then again, the disciples weren't too fond of Jesus running off to the nether realms, either.
The art is a mixed bag, too, and some of it raises my feminist Christian hackles. I do like the Dali one, more because in its typical Dali way it offers a perspective the other art doesn't. And the 14th c. Florentine piece above is my current favorite aesthetically (I am waiting for it to speak to me theologically, or perhaps I am not giving it a chance). But the art in between those two periods -- eh. (Note my sophisticated use of theological language here. At least I'm not using my doctoral training to obfuscate.) Like this and this. Boring. And male, male, male. And rather than both human and divine those pictures offer neither human nor divine presence. At least to these eyes.
But I am just a simple country ecclesiologist, so what do I know.
Perhaps, also --to get back to those unhappy disciples-- it is because of the sentiment expressed on the site where I found the Dali reproduction: l'Ascension n'est porteur d'aucune bonne nouvelle pour l'humanité! C'est un évènement qui concerne Jésus et lui seul... C'est Jésus qui s'en va, Jésus qui nous quitte... "The Ascension is not the bearer of any good news for humanity! It is an event that concerns Jesus and him alone... It is Jesus who goes away, Jesus who leaves us..."
Still, it's not just that.
The art of the Christian East speaks to me a little more (Egyptian 13th c. Anastasis [Resurrection] and Ascension and 15th c. Russian Ascension) -- in fact, have a look at that Russian one right here. Much more movement, and the angels are right among the earthlings. Poor Mary, though, is rather wooden and tiny; though centrally located, she almost fades into the foreground.
As always, I find beauty and consolation, and some of the best Christian and Anglican theology I know, in the prayers of Janet Morley. I'd almost forgotten to go to her. Her collect for Ascension Day reads:
you withdraw from our sight
that you may be known by our love:
help us to enter the cloud
where you are hidden,
and surrender all our certainty
to the darkness of faith
in Jesus Christ, Amen.
The apophatic non-answer.
What think you all? Talk to me, and to each other, in the comments below.