SEEN / UNSEEN “The Story We Already Know”

My title is taken from my last blog post–from the summary of the movie The Life of Pi. Pi wants you to believe in the story where tigers can be tamed and miracles happen, and in the unseen world of faith that is as real as the real world. He criticizes the reporters for wanting the truth,  “a story they already know,” the story of the real world of ship-wrecks and tragedy.

The film’s  3D imagery, its amazing CGI tiger, and its digital whale make Pi’s unseen world believable. But can we believe the illusion that pixels create?

Is the artistic world of  “Eternal Digital Day” (from short story by Neil Das) ) a good and true reality? Or is “the story we already know” the true reality?

“The “story we already know” is the eternity that God has put in our hearts. Pi is searching for this unseen God who can fix the brokenness in the story he already knows.

“He has set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end,” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

The creations of man are copies of the visual world (mimesis) and the imaginary world.  All art is abstract in that it creates an illusion with line, shape, value, colors, etc. in a realistic way or an abstract way. It may be a marine landscape or a digitally created whale.

Piet Mondrian, (Dutch painter, 1872 – 1944) of the Der Stijl movement, began his art career by abstracting the landscape, and ended by distilling reality into vertical and horizontal black lines and the three primary colors. Influenced by Theosophy he was on a “religious” quest for the One that holds all reality together. He said, “To approach the spiritual in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual.” His (unseen) beliefs influenced his art (seen).

We see in his artwork below how Mondrian’s beliefs influenced his creativity. Study the work and life of great artists. They are almost always “great” artists because they deal with spiritual issues.

Piet Mondrian    Farm near Duivendrecht, c 1916.


Reality is not opposed to the spiritual, the SEEN is not opposed to the UNSEEN as Mondrian believed. The spiritual IS real, and all art, including movies, has spiritual meaning and significance. Mankind was created to worship, to “give worth to” the Creator. But instead he worships the creature and created things. He creates meaning and truth as he sees it, and makes God in his own image. Artists create seen and unseen realities and it takes wisdom–spiritual discernment–to know what is real and true. 

C.S Lewis wrote about the temptations that artists face in his book The Great Divorce  Chapter 9:
“. . . Light itself was your first love; you loved paint only as a means of telling about light. It was all a snare. Ink and catgut and paint were necessary down there, but they are also dangerous stimulants. Every poet, and musician, and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from the love of the thing he tells, to the love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they have to say about him. For it doesn’t stop at being interested in paint, you know. They sink  lower–become interested in their own personalities, and then in nothing but their own reputations.”

The temptation is to reject of the truth of “the story we already know” for the popular story, the story that makes us feel good, or the story of a God who is an image of our own creation. There is a constant antithetical battle between truth and falsehood and the seen and the unseen. 

The story we already know, that “God has set in our hearts,” but do not want to believe can be known because God revealed himself in time and space and gave us his written Word. He bridged the gap between SEEN and UNSEEN. God took on flesh and blood (the Incarnation). He died to redeem the “real stories” of our lives. And He is the Resurrection and the Life. In Christ unseen reality and the seen reality are united. Colossians 1:13ff.

New monoprints SACRIFICE Life Giver book     Life Giver Series In Him Was Life    The VineThree of a series of seven 22 x 30 monoprint/collograghs in my Life Giver Series

Dorothy  Sayers writes, “What do we find God ‘doing about’ this business of sin and evil?…God did not abolish the fact of evil; He transformed it. He did not stop the Crucifixion; He rose from the dead.”― Dorothy L. Sayers, The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays


Hesed Mercy     36 x 36 inches oil on canvas

Be Lifted Up O Ancient Doors and The King of Glory Shall Enter
My installation at Grace Center 2006

Painting Ancient Doors center panel           Door Way to Glory! Ancient Doors

Be Lifted Up O Ancient Doors 2

Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which began on Ash Wednesday and ends on Saturday after Good Friday. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. It is a time to reflect on God’s gracious sacrifice to broken ones with broken stories and who do not always trust the story we already know.

The Crown 1 +                                     The Crowning    12″ x 12″ oil and cold wax on panel


Resurrection2Bending to Love    36″ x 36′ oil on canvas

                                                      SOLI DEO GLORIA


“Ecce Homo” Albrecht Durer 1500                      “Ecce Homo” by Domenico Feti  1700

File:Flammarion.jpg Seeking the eternal in the present, in the past, and in the future!

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6 Responses to SEEN / UNSEEN “The Story We Already Know”

  1. Ellen says:

    Thank you! It is difficult to respond to such wisdom and beauty with the profundity it deserves. I am in love with your work.

  2. Gerda Teo says:

    Carol, Your writing is every bit as profound as your art work. Keep holding up our Savior in everything you so artfully produce.
    P.S. Is there not a little bit of irony in the C.S. Lewis quote about “Grace”?!
    Much love,

    • grace bomer says:

      Thank you, Gerda. Yes, in his allegory, The Great Divorce, the C.S. Lewis uses George MacDonald to discuss heaven and hell. This excerpt about the “Artist-Ghost” MacDonald tells Jack to “Whisht, now!” which means hush and listen as they witness another encounter between a Ghost and Spirits. This new Artist-Ghost was actually quite famous on Earth for his talent. He is very impressed with the landscape here and wishes he could paint it. Like the scientist, he is infatuated with keeping his profession going.

      The artist is informed of several new facts about the afterlife and Heaven:
      Before he tries to paint something he should first learn to see it through Heavenly eyes.
      His love was for light, and paint was simply the medium by which he shared that love.
      His paintings were great because he was able to capture glimpses of Heaven in them. Now upon viewing the real thing you are going backwards.
      There is a possibility that he WILL paint again; but only if he completely gives it up.
      Ink and catgut and paint are tools necessary on Earth, but they are also dangerous stimulants. If we are not careful, we become more interested in the use of the stimulant than simply using to tool.
      Interesting read!!

  3. Steve West says:

    Carol, thank you for sharing all of, both word and image. I love the quote from Lewis, but then almost everything he wrote is quotable!

  4. grace bomer says:

    Thanks Steve! I read your blog to get inspired! This last post
    I read aloud to friends as we were returning from a week long cruise! SO encouraging!
    “The last move. The last battle. The end of the last war”

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