Painting: Feces or Frescoes?

23 Jun

You have to wonder about this. Is this the way God intends to give Abraham children, through a slave woman rather than his wife? And it doesn’t make it any easier that Hagar is Egyptian. Is it through the Egyptians, of all people, that God is going to get things done?…What does God think of this arrangement? We don’t exactly know. He never steps in and says, “How dare you take matters into your own hands like this. You should have waited until I told you what to do!” Could God have been okay with this? 

Screwing up is deep in Israel’s genes; God carrying them along regardless is deeper still.

Genesis for Normal People, Peter Enns and Jared Byas

Alas, a film is a creature made of many different parts and pieces, the script being a vital one, and I cannot say with a good conscience that this film ever overcomes that one fatal flaw. That being said it isn’t completely destroyed by it either. So we’re left here in essence with a masterpiece painted in shit. Scott can try his hardest to make something beautiful out of it, and he does, but no matter what he’s still painting with shit. I can only hope that for the sequels he’s given some actual paint.

Film review of Prometheus by theblog Simply Film

I thought about cleaning up the more pungent and potentially offending language from the Prometheus review by Simply Film. But the very edginess and pungency of it is what struck and stayed with me. Even the more religiously acceptable “crap” doesn’t quite do. I’m also counting on the reader’s ability to roll with it. As it were.

How often a director has to overcome the flaws of the script he is given.

A masterpiece painted in shit.

Viewers of Prometheus can judge how fitting such a judgment is of that film. I am struck by how fitting such a description is of humanity in general.

The review converged with my reading of Genesis for Normal People by Peter Enns and Jared Byas. Their observations and questions quoted at the top of this post concerning Abraham’s decision to use his Egyptian servant girl as a surrogate wife and mother (at his wife Sarah’s suggestion) dovetail beautifully with the review. All of those storied patriarchs – Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah and Rachel (and Bilhah and Zilpah – ohhhh this gets messy indeed, doesn’t it?), Joseph and his brothers – provide less than high quality elements with which the Master Artist can paint his masterpiece, don’t they? Funny how, thanks to Calvin and his kin, we tend to think of God has handing us the script that we are fatalistically predestined to play out, hopefully reciting the lines to his sovereign satisfaction. What a turn to see us essentially handing the Artist the rather pungent palette “script” of our own often muddled and befuddled lives only to see Him make a masterpiece of it still.

Feces painting.

Yes, we have an Artist who can handle all the fecal matter we present in our dodginess, our prejudice, our inattentiveness, our bigotries and biases, our just plain and all too often sanctimonious nastiness – what Paul refers to as “the works of the flesh” which I think Peterson in his Message captures most pungently:

Repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on…

And we do.

Humanity brings him a full palette. Regularly. Daily. Would that such a supply stopped with the patriarchs of Genesis. But it doesn’t. We carry on the tradition rather nicely. Especially in too many sacred halls. Which is one of the reasons Genesis can still so speak to us if we let it. And he still paints a masterpiece for eyes that can see it (even if you have to hold your nose just a bit).

And if that is what the Great Artist of Life can do with feces, just imagine the frescoes he can produce when we actually supply him with paint. The paint of faith, hope, and love. What Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit,” again captured well by Peterson’s pen:

He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Imagine what he can do with such a palette.

It’s nice to know that he can do some of his finest work with feces. That means there’s a wonderful and redemptive hope for each of us.

But think of it.

Just imagine what the Artist can do if we will but bring him paint.


Posted by on June 23, 2012 in musings


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8 responses to “Painting: Feces or Frescoes?

  1. LorettaJean

    June 23, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Beautiful (feces and all), full, convicting, and encouraging all at once 🙂 I so love your musings!! I’ve so often given thanks for the record of all the dumb (or downright stupid) things God’s chosen (Jew and Gentile) have done–how He stuck with “it” in spite of them and us all. When satin gets into my head (all too often) I so want a do-over. Then my Father smacks me (oh so gently) on the back of my head and says, “get over yourself–get up–get on with “it” –what did you learn?–how much more do you love me?–NOW how are you going to live tomorrow?–who are you going to help today? And then my heart rests again. Walking with my Lord in September years is a beautiful thing that often really sucks! Praying for you and your family, Brother. Keep hitting the keys 🙂
    Your Sister, Mother of Steven!!!, Lover of God,


  2. Valerie Shriver

    June 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    You’re amazing, I enjoyed reading this. I have to say you are one of several that keep’s bringing me back to the vineyard. I look forward to hearing you speak whenever I can. your’re and amazing talent that encourages me to keep seeking more.

  3. Eric D

    June 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    This passage really moves me deeply. Thank you Mike for sharing your wisdom and ponderings.

  4. Kristi Harris

    June 24, 2012 at 12:52 am

    As usual, your writing leaves me encouraged, convicted, and smiling. I hope I’m handing Him more paint than otherwise. For the many times I know I’ve handed him the lesser offering, I have renewed hope that even then He can bring forth something of value. Wow–what a God 🙂

  5. wordhaver

    June 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    I love your description of our September years! Beautiful but often really sucks. Love it. Keep hitting the keys yourself, Loretta, mother of Steven, lover of God. You bless me. 🙂

  6. wordhaver

    June 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Eric, you and I shall have to sit down for coffee sometime soon. Glad you were blessed my friend!

  7. wordhaver

    June 24, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    You bless me Valerie – and glad it is mutual! Let’s all keep seeking! 🙂

  8. wordhaver

    June 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks Kristi – and amen!


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