the incredulity of saint thomas and other artsy things

By no means do I consider myself an “artsy” type. Actually I think the stereotype to be quite unfortunate. We figure those kind of folks would dress in a strange fashion and be socially awkward because they have too many important things on their minds. And, as we all know – there are many folks who fit that mold.

I want to enjoy art, but does that mean that I have to start dressing different and dye my hair? I guess I can give that a try.

As I have eluded to over the short life of our blog, I am a music guy. And lately, I have had the opportunity to come across a slew of new music that has really impacted me. Not only is the music really quality stuff but the lyrics move me forward into being a better person. And, I am not sure why that is.

A couple of years ago I went to a ministry conference that had a prayer labyrinth setup. One of the stations was an art station that had this painting on the wall:

The station asked us to sit there for an extended period of time and “take in” what we saw. This famous painting depicts the moment Thomas (sometimes known as “doubting Thomas) put his fingers in the side of Jesus.

This painting haunted me more and more the longer I stared at it. I became uncomfortable. I wanted to leave at first. Yet, I lingered for a while.

This painting captured a story I had heard numerous times since I was a child in a chilling fashion. Yet, I am not sure why I was uncomfortable. Because, shouldn’t I have understood how uncomfortable it would have been for Thomas to stick his fingers in an open wound? Why didn’t I contemplate the shock of all of Thomas’ doubts shattering around him in one moment as his hands entered the wound? Why didn’t I consider that his friends would be around him to make sure he understood the reality of the resurrection like they just experienced?

This painting haunted me because it forced me to deal with the realities of God’s word. As I stared at the painting I joined in a holy community of believers who wrestled with the realities of the scriptures. I realized that I am not alone as I struggle to discover our mysterious God.

Because, good art changes us. It offends us. It forces us to notice.

Yet for so many, we run away from good art.

Sometimes it is easier to take our world in a more sanitized fashion that is more agreeable to our sensibilities or assumptions. That is really natural.

Yet, I want to challenge you to engage in good art this week. Do so with some friends and see how it goes. Here are some ideas:

  1. Go to an art museum for a couple of hours. Walk around and take in what you see. Put in headphones and listen to good music while you do. Reflect with your friends afterwords.
  2. Buy some music this week from an artist you have heard about but would never typically support. Spend some time with this music. Read up on the artist’s motivation for writing this music.
  3. Read a book by an author on a subject you know nothing about or don’t understand.

How has good art affected the way you think and interact with those around you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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3 thoughts on “the incredulity of saint thomas and other artsy things

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