The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees

Project 3, Post 4: The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees

The is the 4th part of Project 3 which covers the state of the church here in America. You can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”

(Col.2:8-9, NASB).

Artistic Process:

  • After first identifying what direction the sun would be coming from in this painting, I added highlights to the branches of my tree using a bright off-white. Using a thin, straight brush, I created clean, crisp lines across the topside of each branch. Next, I used a dark grey to define the underside of each branch, as seen in the image below.

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  • I selected a dark greyish-teal to form the base of the tree’s foliage. Using a 1/2” wide, rounded, soft brush, I dabbed the dark teal paint into the canvas. Since trees do not have leaves all over each branch, I scattered the teal around the branches. Notice: I added some teal along the length of the branches, but often not covering the branch itself. This allows for the foliage that appears from behind each branch.

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  • Next, I added shadows, very dark shadows. For this I selected a flat back. I followed along the same pattern of the teal I had already laid upon the canvas, but also took the black across the branches in several areas. I did this, because leaves that are closer to the viewer would undoubtedly cast a shadow behind them. In other words, the dark shadow was applied to create depth.

D

  • I then selected a slightly lighter shade of teal-blue paint. After allowing my brush to dry, I dabbed it into the paint. Keeping the width of the brush parallel to the bottom and top edges of the canvas, I briskly tapped/dabbed the teal paint upon the canvas. This created rough edges, creating the illusion of leaves. I applied the teal paint in clusters. Some of these clusters were applied across the branches of the tree. Once this was finished, the distinct illusion of leaves had been created.

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  • Finally, I used a long, straight brush with a circular tip to dab on tiny dots of dark blue paint. This added texture and dimension to the foliage of the tree.

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Reflection:

While reading the Bible, 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 grasped my attention. Here, Paul says:

If some people are not Christians come to your church meeting while all the people are speaking in special sounds, they will think you are crazy. But if a man who is not a Christian comes to your church meeting while you are all speaking God’s Word, he will understand that he will understand that he is a sinner by what he hears. He will know he is guilty. The secrets of his heart will be brought into the open. He will get on his knees and worship God. He will say, “For sure, God is here with you!”

 

Paul’s main point here, put very simply, was to point out the fruitlessness of preaching in tongues/languages that others can not understand. Obviously, it is quite difficult to impact others meaningfully without speaking a language they understand. However, Paul’s words also point out the power God’s Word has on others. Thus, we can see the importance of straightforwardly speaking God’s Word for others, as the Word has the unique power to convert souls. This power lies in the Word’s ability to illuminate the darkness of sin, to bring it to the surface of one’s conscience. It is through the intimate illumination of sin which takes place within a person’s soul that leads to repentance and conversion. For this, I am reminded of Jesus’s words (John 3:20), “Everyone who sins hates the Light. He stays away from the Light because his sin would be found out.” Jesus is the Word, and the Word is the Light.

 

The composition of the tree’s foliage in my ongoing painting is symbolic of American churches which contain both darkness and shadows, as well as light. Some churches have become places of darkness, where scripture twisting and sin validation commonplace. Like the illusion of foliage in my painting, the illusion of holiness is maintained in unholy houses of worship. It is this illusion of holiness that sustains the false teachers’ positions of authority. As the scattered blue dots among the leaves, there may still remain a few congregants in the darkest churches who remain genuinely filled with the Light of the Holy Spirit. However, the majority of the congregants in the darkest houses have been led astray by the wolves.

 

How does this happen?

Notice in the image below how the foliage has overtaken the black shadows that I had laid down.While the shadows are still visible, the light has returned to prominence. In many churches the opposite is true: their trees are barren; the shadows having overtaken the branches. Like a garden unattended, weeds were left unopposed and passively permitted to flourish without reproach, and the Light of God’s Word was slowly, selectively, and purposefully twisted into language incomprehensible or kept locked away from the ears of the flock. The flock has been led into placid captivity.

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Still, there are others who actively engage in their own entrapment and in the entrapment of others. These sheep, having fallen asunder through indoctrination into worshiping the false philosophies of men, will fervently reject God’s Word when it is spoken. They will bray incessantly with anger and rage to all those who plainly speak God’s Word. These are like the swine who trample pearls beneath their feet (Matthew 7:6).

“Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Our jobs a Bible-believing Christians of all denominations is the same today as it was in Jesus’s time, in Paul’s time: we are to be a spirit-filled force of holy opposition, holding fast against the forces of darkness. We must keep ourselves directly opposite to those who espouse falsehoods. Only through our steady withstanding can we expect to bring God’s Light and His Word into our shadow-stricken churches. Only through our unwavering example can all sinners hear the language of Christ and repent, sheading their chains of sin.

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.  “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

(Acts 20:27-31 NASB).

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Project 1, Post 6: To Pee or Not to Pee… It’s Complicated

Project 1, Post 6: To Pee or Not To Pee… It’s Complicated

Preface to Reflection:

In my last post I described my intention to paint “simplistic” blue flowers, as well as the fact that simplicity isn’t one of my innate artistic abilities. Well, my blue flowers have now turned out more complicated than I intended for them to be. Yes, my three, blue flowers are still somewhat simple, but far more complicated than I had imagined in my mind. This is often the case with my artwork.

Note: In my next post, I will test my original hypothesis and will try to UNCOVER the aluminum foil that I laid underneath my painting. I shall see if it actually works! Gosh, I sure hope that it does!!!

(Read the Artistic Process below the Reflection.)

Reflection:

It’s complicated…

In life, there are few issues that are simple, black and white, and straight forward. Most of life’s journey leads us down complicated paths and requires us to make decisions regarding complicated choices, complicated issues. …Such is true for the North Carolina “Bathroom Bill.”

Celebrities, sports organizations, large companies, politicians, etc. have decried North Carolina’s law requiring people use the restroom that coincides with the sex on their birth certified, which in almost all cases is one’s biological sex.

It’s discrimination! It’s bigotry! It’s hate!  –  Or is it?

There are several key elements/points one must examine to determine the answer to this question:

  • North Carolina state law was already in place prohibiting localities from enacting their own anti-discrimination rules. Thus, the city of Charlotte broke state law by doing so. The only reason the state legislature even acted on this matter was a direct response to a municipality disregarding state policy. This, the state has attempted to restore uniformity.
  • Why is it important for municipalities to align with the state? As a human development professional, it is easy for me to understand why. Humans being flourish and society too flourishes when there is a clear set of rules and expectations, called boundaries. *These are the good kind of boundaries that are vital for our well-being, children and adults alike. In government, the state sets a particular set of boundaries. It is important for municipalities to work with those assigned boundaries to prevent chaos within the state itself, ensuring civic/government functionality. For example, a state citizen may move from one city to another already knowing the rules. Sally won’t have to fear possible fines or jail time for breaking a law that she never knew existed simply by changing her address. Johnny won’t be able to move from one city to the other just so he can purposefully commit an offense that was illegal in his original city of dwelling. So, this uniformity guarantees accountability for all citizens and it also guarantees protections for all citizens within the state.
  • Subjective ideas driving laws ignores factual evidence, thus creating laws that were formed with little higher-level, critical thinking or considerations. Case in point, human beings are prone to taking full advantage of situations entirely for their own benefit.

Two examples:

  1. At a restaurant when I was 11 years old, I can remember my mother “identifying” me to the waiter as being 10 years old in order to pay the discounted meal cost for children “10 and under.” Did she forget that I was 11? I doubt it.
  2. At an event a couple of years later, I can remember my father “identifying” me to the Doorman as being 13 years old so that he and I could attend the event which prohibited children twelve years and under. At the time, I was 12. Had my dad mistakenly aged me up by one year? I doubt it.

These harmless examples show how every day, good, normally honest people will sometimes be dishonest for their own gain. Do you know anyone who used a fake ID in high school or college?

*The point is that it is foolish to presume anything contrary to the absolute, concrete fact that there would most definitely be people jumping at the chance to “identify” as one sex in order to gain access to the restroom used by people of the other sex simply for perverse, personal gain.

  • Privacy and Safety for All State Citizens: Fact- Men and women are physically different. Men are naturally stronger, even those who possess a slight, unassuming, physical stature. Fact- Bathrooms are closed, secluded spaces usually consisting of only 1 exit. It is entirely reasonable for women to feel uncomfortable and fearful at the idea of being alone in confined, isolated spaces with men who are strangers. Women are taken advantage of by men every day in this country, often in spaces incompatible with the ability for an easy escape.
  •  Fact- People like privacy. Apple refused to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone for privacy’s sake. Fact- Gender and sexual orientation do not always match. Many transsexuals are still attracted to people of the opposite sex, to the people of the very sex the transsexuals are trying to become. Thus, simply because a man is living as a woman does not mean he is not still very much “straight,” attracted to women. Given these facts, for the average person, changing in front of a transsexual still renders the same level of emotional discomfort, fear, and feelings of complete exposure as would changing in front of the opposite sex. So, would it have been acceptable for the state government to force modest citizens into humility and strip them of their integrity and privacy by requiring them to undress in the presence of the opposite sex? Should we all hand over our phones and most intimate moments to the government to put on public display? Of course not. Acting to protect the physical privacy and integrity of citizens should be understood as a highly valued virtue of any government.
  • Emotional Suffering from Both Sides: Transsexual individuals say they would feel uncomfortable using the restroom of their biological sex. I understand that. If a man were living as a women, I can easily see that using the men’s bathroom would cause someone fear and emotional distress. Yet, the same is true for the general population. Would it be wise for the government to demoralize the masses to appease a few? Is that just law? More importantly, is that a characteristic of a genuinely representative government, one that disenfranchises almost all of its citizens? Would a representative government only extend its empathy to a few?

Would a representative government rank and determine the innate value of its citizens by the amount of corporate money it receives? Does Apple determine your personal worth? Of course not.

  • Is granting special privileges based on subjective ideals about someone’s identify the only way to accommodate this small segment of society? No.

 

This is a complicated issue that has little, if any link to acceptance and discrimination- the black and white clarity that some would prefer us to believe. As a minister I feel it is my duty to point out the truths that are often hidden beneath the emotional hysteria of public outrage.

In conclusion, when considering – and I mean honestly considering – the above points I believe it is extremely difficult to deny the evidence that North Carolina in no way acted in a discriminatory, bigoted or hateful fashion. Instead, I argue that the state should be commended for its common sense, critically composed and conceptualized policy: a policy that far more adequately represents its own citizens than any pretend-policy that may possibly be proposed by the “vocabulary-stone” throwing, loud mouths attempting to degrade the very human worth of all who oppose their subjective, ever-evolving views.

I pray that the leaders in North Carolina will be given the strength needed to stay the course and that those so filled with anger and misinformation find the peace and openness of mind to consider the truths of some views contrary to their own. I also pray that all of us are able to understand and consider just how complicating some issues are and that we seek that information in order to be informed citizens. Amen!

The Artistic Process:

To add depth, I used bright, light blue and white to define the outer edges of the petals, especially where the petals overlap. To further accentuate this, I used deep, dark blue directly next to the bright blues and whites, giving the illusion of shadow upon the lower petals. To add a pinch of color variation, I used my fingers to smear yellow paint onto the petals in small areas. Later, in keeping with a contemporary-impressionistic approach, I used solid black to outline the flowers, adding a few black flecks upon the petals where desired. *Note: If you have difficulty with placing lights and darks, just reference a picture of a flower and focus on the shadows and brightest points on each petal.

In the background, I added tall reeds using long, smooth strokes. I brought in the yellow from the petals by creating the illusion of wheat/cat tails. Using quick, rapid, “conscience—free” strokes of the paint brush, I striped/flicked on the paint to create the feathering bristles of tall wheat grass.