Saturday, October 2, 2010

Picture Panel Explained

For a while I've wanted to comment briefly on the panel I've placed at the top of my blog. Like many other things, that's been pushed to the very back burner while I'm pursuing education and whatnot. Tonight, I find an opportunity. Perhaps I could make better use of my time working on a research paper, but I'll lay that scruple aside for now and let myself enjoy writing for pleasure once again.

When I first made my blog, I wanted the title and description to say something about me and my intent for this blog. I wanted the title to reflect that the thoughts I here write, while often important to me, are not a matter of dogma nor would I refuse to be pursuaded contrary to them. Some posts are for fun and are therefore useful but not essential. Some posts are principles, observations, ruminations, and ramblings - non of these would I hold to adamantly. My writing is part of my thought, but not my essential identity. Hence I deemed it fit to title the blog, "The Adiaphoron".

When I began my blog, I did so in hopes that by writing for fun and by writing things I could not immediately express in conversation, I might be able to get to know myself better. I might be able to read back and get an idea of what I, the inward person looked like when turned inside out. Writing has always helped me get a handle on myself, and for a year or so The Adiaphoron served that purpose very nicely. Now things are altered - but that's another post. All this is to say that the quote from "The Scarlet Pimpernel" simply signifies that I sought to peep closer at that complex problem which is my own female heart through my writing.

Now for the panel. I included pictures because of what they symbolized to me. The first painting on the right,"On a Sailboat", was painted by Caspar David Friedrich, one of my favorite Romantic painters. We talked at length about this piece during one of our art lectures at Augustine. Dr. Tingley pointed out that the couple is sitting on a boat together. They are not sailing the boat per se, but the boat is carrying them. Unlike so many depictions of lovers, these two are not looking at one another, but at a point in the distance toward which they travel, toward which the boat is carrying them. It is a city. A golden city. In a larger picture, one can see that the city is lit up as if either glowing from within or as if the sun is setting behind it. Whether the artist intended it or not, to me (as to Dr. Tingley) this painting is an allegory of the kind of marriage I want to have. A union where both spouses are joined by a common journey to a common eternal destination, carried by the single boat of the holy church.

The next image is Luther's Seal. You friends of mine know that my confession is that of the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. It was through my Lutheran fathers that the weight of the Gospel of forgiveness and peace first impacted my soul and pierced it through, bringing joy and comfort. Christ is foremost and a faithful confession of Him paramount to my life and practice, though I fall short in action. This picture symbolizes my confession of Christ crucified for my sins and free forgiveness by His resurrection. It reminds me that I have sworn to retain this confession unto death.

The next photo is of a group of my baby goats from several years ago. It's hard to explain to people who have only known me for the past few years, but my herd was a lynch-pin of my life for over a decade of my life. I grew it from one goat to twenty or more at one time, managed them in health, cared for them in sickness, grieved them in death, and competed with them in many shows. When one feeds an animal twice daily, milks it as often, and grows up with it, one loves it with a bond seldom formed between creatures. My goats were my children, my "bitties". Though I've not really consistently been a goat-herdess for two and a half years now, my herd was foundational to who I am now, my experience, and my character.

The picture of the the parchment with the heart and cross drawn upon it and the words, "Dieu Le Roi" I chose for somewhat obscure reasons. I found this image on a Wikipedia page treating the La Vendee resistance and massacres (as I have written elsewhere on this blog). La Vendee is the French province that refused to surrender their priests or provide soldiers to the Parisian Committee of Public Safety during the French Revolution. They clung to their nobility as well. When they resisted the Revolutionary Government, the entire population was brutally murdered. The fragment in the picture above states, "God is King" - a dangerously politically incorrect statement for the time and place. I first heard of La Vendee while reading G.A. Henty's boy's series. (Excellent works for the most part; I hope to write on them at some point.) G.A. Henty greatly influenced both my understanding of history and my moral development. (I've several shelves worth of his books and read them all; some twice or more.) It is as much because of his influence as because of my admiration for the Vendeans' piety and courage that I place this picture on my blog.

The next image is one I found when looking for artistic (not movie) depictions of Eowyn (LOTR). As many of you know, I used to (and still do to a lesser extent) strongly identify with Tolkien's character of Theoden's "sister-daughter". From the beginning of my fascination with Tolkien's works, I was awed by the insight with which Tolkien crafted Eowyn. I felt as if at last at I had found a male author who understood the female psyche. But that aside, the picture above depicts Gandalf, Aragorn, and Eomer around Eowyn's bed. Aragorn, in his office as the king-who-heals has literally brought Eowyn back from the dead with the "common" herb athelas which those esteemed wise treated as of little worth. Those who have only seen the movie completely miss the dialogue of Aragorn, Eomer, and Gandalf about Eowyn and the pathology of her condition. Read the book. It's beautiful. Eowyn has raised her eyes and set her heart on being what she is not, in a place not meant for her. She is restless with what she sees as her helpless femininity entrapping, caging her capabilities and spirit. When she finds and finally understands love, she is at rest. No more must she be a shield maiden and long to fight and kill and die, but she will "be a healer and love all things that grow and are not barren."

The next image - I'm sure there's a name for it, but I don't remember. But obviously, it shows Christ holding out His Body and Blood "for us Christians to eat and to drink". These are my life and salvation, my consummation yet here on earth. My life, the culmination of a week of prayer, and guilt, and the shame that threatens my sense of identity and worth. Before this Presence my fear would hang my head and plead for mercy, but Christ gives His gifts for peace and not fear. He has absolved me already, though my heart forgets or does not grasp it. Here, no matter what my fear or confidence, He loves me with a love that overwhelms any doubt and fear. "Here. I give my body to you." No mention of my sin or failures or my half-hearted devotion. The God of the Universe encounters me and instead of condemning He embraces me. "What sin do you have? My blood is for the forgiveness of your sin."

The last painting is also one that I encountered in my Augustine "Art in Western Culture" course, though I don't remember actually talking about it at the time. I think I looked it up later. It's called "Domine Quo Vadis", Latin for "Lord, where are you going?" Tradition has it (according to Wikipedia) that Peter fleeing from probable crucifixion in Rome met Jesus and put Him this question. "I'm going to Rome to be crucified again" came the response which turned Peter around in his tracks and sent him back to martyrdom. Sometimes "Domine, quo vadis" is the cry of my heart as well, "Lord, I don't understand. This isn't the way to do things. This doesn't make any sense. Where are you going?" My Lord didn't say that following Him would make sense or wouldn't hurt. But He goes before me. He's done it all before and I can trust Him, even when it looks to me like I'm only trudging along the procession of the condemned to crucifixion.

Anyway, that's the panel. Oh! I suppose I could mention Joan of Arc on the sidelines down there. She doesn't make it into the panel because I'm not really sure about her. (Material for another blog post someday.) She was one of my childhood heroes and I'm 99% positive that she was a faithful Christian. (She makes a good confession anyway.) What exactly she heard speaking to her, I'm not sure of. (Like I said, more later, hopefully.) But the lass had spunk, and religiously driven spunk too. She did hard things, changed people's lives, and changed the course of history without political background or aspirations. There's something that attracts me about courageous women who are not afraid to do what needs to be done. That's why she's on my blog. More of a symbol of female bravery for me than of the historical Joan.

I'm up too late again. Why do I do this on nights before church? Late or not, it's nice to write again. Maybe God will grant me time to do more blogging in the future. For now, so long, dear reader.


Pine Cone Boy said...

Hey, only just got around to reading this. Busy busy busy, wot.

Your posts cheer me up. And they give me hope when I'm tempted to fall into despair and depression. Thanks. :)

TruthQuestioner said...

Hey, only just got around to reading your comment. Like, no life, right?

Thanks, PCB, so do yours (when I find time to check blogses). I miss you guys and all the good times, but I know God's given me the time I have now, just as he gave us the wonderful time then.

Hope to come up sometime. Don't know when that'll be. Peace.