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) http://thedasslereffect.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/biolog.pdf ) 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.
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
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.
SOLI DEO GLORIA
“Ecce Homo” Albrecht Durer 1500 “Ecce Homo” by Domenico Feti 1700
Seeking the eternal in the present, in the past, and in the future!