Sunday, September 30, 2007

Father's Image



Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-25)

You may not believe me, but I've recently met Rembrandt! No, not the man himself, but I visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and stood face to face with one of his great paintings, ‘Titus as a monk’. And you know what? I didn't know this painting at all! It really is an extraordinary piece of art. Most of the canvas is painted with all the dark colours that Rembrandt is famous for. Your eyes are automatically drawn to the pale face of Rembrandt's son Titus, posing in a dark brown robe and monk's hood. Please allow me to share this special experience with you... No, I can't show you the real painting (you have to visit Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum to experience this sensation) - but I can give you a little picture with this official description:

Rembrandt painted this portrait of his son Titus dressed as a monk in 1660. The monk's habit offered Rembrandt the opportunity to show his skills in the painting of brown tones. He depicted every possible nuance of brown, both in the deep shadows and light areas, so that the thick woolen material almost becomes tangible. In the background, Rembrandt has loosely painted a bush and a wall. Titus's thin face is separated from the background by the brown hood. This concentrates attention on his downcast eyes and his introspective gaze. Titus was not a monk, although he probably served here as a model for the famous monk: St Francis of Assisi.

Maybe you are thinking, hmm, that's all very interesting, but why do we need to know this? Please visit the Rijksmuseum and be awestruck by Rembrandt! No, the man is not there in person, but then again - he is... You can see his master skills in every touch, in every little detail. But you can also see how much he cared about his son, because his love is mirrored in a face that is so real that you almost feel like touching it. You can also hear Rembrandt's heartbeat and experience his passion in this timeless painting. Yes indeed - you can feel his creative genius deep down inside your soul...

There's no denying, you can meet Rembrandt in the Rijksmuseum. A piece of art was never produced by sheer coincidence - out of absolutely nothing. If you think that such a coincidental creatio ex nihilo is a human possibility, you need to get a mental check-up. Only God can create beauty out of nothing and speak things into existence! Just look around you, do you recognize the Master's hand in the beauty of his creation? Did you ever have an up-close and personal look at the image of his Son, as depicted in God's living Word? Did you ever hear the Father's heartbeat and did you ever experience the power and inspiration of his Holy Spirit? Well, you can. And you don't have to travel to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum to get in touch with the Father through his Son. Open your heart to the Spirit of God and he will open your eyes for the truth that can be found right here.

Click pic to enlarge. Source picture and description.

10 comments:

Conny Vos said...

Je passie en enthousiasme springt van het scherm en werkt aanstekelijk.
Sommige vinden de herfst vreselijk, maar het proces van de seizoenen is zo fascinerend. Kijk eens naar het verkleuren van de bladeren, de kruisspin - eng, maar prachtig tegelijk - en haar web in de ochtendzon. Gods majestueuze schepping, ongekend en ongeevenaard.

Paul said...

Daar hadden we het juist vandaag nog over! Mijn zoon Robin (15) noemde de spin en het web als een indrukwekkend voorbeeld van 'instinct' in de natuur. Ongelofelijk wat die kleine beestjes kunnen bouwen - zonder bouwtekening te raadplegen...
Ik bracht Robin vanmorgen vroeg naar de jongerenruimte omdat hij daar gitaar moest spelen. We zagen een kat lopen met een muis in z'n bek. We kwamen zo te spreken over 'instinct' een woord dat mensen gebruiken omdat ze verlegen zijn met de 'voorgeprogrammeerde' dingen die dieren kunnen. Denk aan vogels die weten hoe ze een nest moeten bouwen... En ik houd van de wisseling van seizoenen en geniet ook van de herfst!

Carol L. Douglas said...

Since the Rijksmuseum is beyond my means this year, I will visit “The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art” which runs until January 6. This is a sort of a Dutch year in Manhattan; the Morgan Library is featuring “Painted with Words: Vincent van Gogh's Letters to Émile Bernard.”

What strikes me about the Romans passage is another unseen player—the position against which St. Paul is arguing. This position seems to be what we would call nihilistic; i.e. that the world and human existence are without truth, value, meaning or purpose. But that is usually thought of as a modern or post-modern position.

In the extended passage, St. Paul ties this spiritual nihilism to moral degeneracy. This is pretty much what contemporary moral nihilists argue— there are no objective moral facts, because there are no moral truths. (However, I think St. Paul, Nietzsche and modern cognitive therapists would all agree with the proposition that there are no happy nihilists...)

This argues two things. The first is that, truly:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

The second is that modern man is technologically more advanced than his ancestors but certainly not intellectually more advanced. As I’ve asserted before.

(Although I can make no sense of your Dutch, I do imagine Conny is talking about autumn. It’s by far the most beautiful season here in the Mid-Atlantic area with the ranges of purples, chartreuse, golds, and flaming crimson, all lit by a fleeting warm light. But of course it proceeds the bitter winter we all dread. We are at 43.15N latitude and I can barely bear the darkness of winter. Amsterdam is at 52.22N. How do you stand it?)

Paul said...

Yes, Carol - Conny and I were talking about Autumn, but also about animal instincts, spiders and the beauty of God's creation in general!
It is a bit grey here, and we do have some rain - but I am not complaining. Conny said that the whole process of seasons is fascinating - and I agree. I like the turning of the seasons and I can be a bit melancholic without becoming depressive...
Autumn is a time for consideration, for reading books, for walking in the rain and the wind - for a deeper look at life and some philosophical thoughts.
I agree, the ancient thinkers had plenty of time to do some good thinking and we are not superior to them in philosophy. As a matter of fact, we can still learn a lot from them.
In as far as Paul is concerned - he lived closer to the Source and had a personal encounter with Christ on his way to Damascus. He was a Jew from the school of Pharisees, a Roman citizen and he was raised in a Hellenistic culture. I think that God handpicked him to do this job: bringing the Good News to the Greeks (the Romans and us...)

Art said...

Great thoughts, Paul! Thanks. I love Rembrandt's work. He was a true artist but his images are only a reflection, no?

Paul said...

@ Art
Yep. But not a POOR reflection.

Cori said...

Just saw a reproduction of the Night Watch in our Cultural History Museum in Pretoria. Will definitely visit the Rijksmuseum when next in Nl...

John said...

Hi Paul!

Sorry about my long hiatus - shepherd work called and I gladly responded. Thanks for this marvelous post. I have a growing appreciation for art and it's power to communicate. Maybe I'm just paying more attention these days...

You have every reason to be proud of your Dutch masters. They have gifted us all in a wonderful way.

Looking forward to "catching up" with the blog in the next few days.

John

Carol L. Douglas said...

A student was raving to me about traveling to the Netherlands in winter. She said you can amble through museums that would be crowded during the tourist season. I've promised my mother I'll accompany her to Australia this winter so she can see her cousins, but I just might keep my eyes open for a great airfare to Amsterdam.

But I might have to learn more Dutch than, "Mijn zoon" and "Gods majestueuze." Even I can figure out "instinct" on my own.

Paul said...

Hey, that's great news, Carol! Please keep me posted about your travel plans.