Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jesus and the American Flag….

We spent the day yesterday…and last night in Pigeon Forge.  For some reason, the Parkway reminded me a bit of the strip in Las Vegas.  So many motels/hotels (many with dirt cheap rates) restaurants, shops, and shows. It was my first visit to Pigeon Forge….Keith’s second.  He was there years ago.  We had a great time.  We saw a magic show in the afternoon….and then went to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat last night.  Both were very professional and entertaining.  Lunch at O’Charlies, a late….very late….dinner at IHOP…a walk down the strip in between shows…high point of which was a quick stop at Starbuck’s where it was our lucky day!  It was free breakfast pastry day….which included cookies! (My kids always tried to tell me cookies were a suitable choice for breakfast :)  A chocolate chunk cookie was exactly what I had in mind when we stopped there.

We also happened into an art studio that featured Thomas Kincade’s artwork…and a few other similar (copy cat?) artists whose paintings also appeared to be “illuminated.” I love Thomas Kincade’s work..and have a print of the Sweetheart Cottage hanging above the couch in our living room. 

The paintings of an artist by the name of Jack E Dawson were also on display.  Keith pointed out one particular painting entitled

       “If My People” 

                  by Jack E. Dawson


Untitled, 4/16/02, 10:38 AM,  8C, 5734x7578 (168+384), 100%, straight 6 sto,  1/30 s, R56.4, G61.7, B100.7 

As you can see, the painting is a close up depicting someone mending a torn and tattered, bullet ridden American flag.  At first I thought it might be Betsy Ross but the clothing, while it looks like something from the Revolutionary War era, is obviously men’s clothing.  Scratch Betsy.  One of the hands in the painting is holding a needle with crimson thread.  The other hand? Can you see the hint of a wound….partially hidden by the sleeve on the other hand?  A nail print? Yes, it is indeed a nail print. This painting depicts Jesus mending the American flag.

There is detailed information about the symbols and images (twin towers, fetus, man in prayer, demon) hidden in the painting at Dawson’s Bitter Sweet Gallery website.  

I mentioned offhandedly that I didn’t think spirituality should be intertwined with patriotism.  Keith remarked that he didn’t know how you can separate the two.  We discussed it a bit more as we hoofed it up and down the strip.  Can you separate the two?  Should you separate the two?  Was this nation really founded on Christian principles?

Then….before leaving Pigeon Forge, we hit a discount book store.  And I picked up several books that deal with these very questions…

Shane Clairborne’s “Jesus For President” and “Irresistible Revolution”

Brian McLaren’s “Everything Must Change.”

And I had Greg Boyd’s “The Myth of a Christian Nation” in my pile….but ended up putting it back.  I (really) like what Boyd has to say but my stack was getting higher and higher (also bought McLaren’s “A Search For What Makes Sense” and the “Furious Pursuit Workbook” which was only 99 cents)

So…..with this painting fresh in my mind, several discussions with Keith…..and my stack of left wing reading material….. a series (at least theoretically) is born.  Musing about this melding, intertwining of politics and spirituality….specifically US politics and Christianity.  I’ve written about this topic on my blog before……HERE.  So another idea rattling around in the churner….

But in my next post, I am going to write a bit about Jack E. Dawson’s other artwork….which I really like.  It is ripe with symbolism and exemplifies how a picture can be worth a thousand words…..

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