Religion is one of the biggest sticking points we face today. There are 15,000 different tribes around the world and they all have some way to access the spiritual, whether through simple ceremonies or through structured religion. Which one of them is right?
In my exploration of the spiritual, I have touched on many vast questions like the one above. Why is it that we all think our particular religion, or our particular 'branch' of the church is without doubt the best? In some cases, we even think it is the ONLY religion that gives us access to the true God. Some of us believe that the elimination of certain individuals who disagree with us or our beliefs is itself sanctioned by God.Then of course there are those of us who believe that going to war in God's name is acceptable. This is not restricted to any one religion - almost all religions have done it or are still doing it - none of us can claim exception. If both sides in a war believe God is on their side, which one is right?
I have a particular interest in Jesus Christ, or Jeshua Ben Joseph as he was known when he was alive. I have often wondered what he was like as an individual and what really did happen during his life. Did the three temptations really happen as explained, or are they simply a metaphor for the many experiences he had in the 13 years between his baptism and the wedding in Cana?
I have completed a number of sculptures and drawings around aspects of the life of Christ, all of which raise questions. Look at the captions on the images and they will hopefully provide you with ideas to contemplate. More information is provided below.
The Second Temptation
This sculpture, entitled the ‘Second Temptation’ alludes to the biblical story of Christ being tempted by the devil – but looked at in a more contemporary way. It is a very powerful piece of sculpture which has always drawn a great deal of attention when exhibited. The figure is life-size and as a result one engages directly with it as one walks around the piece. The metalwork depicts the top of the temple from where the devil tempted Christ.
Why was Christ looking down from such a high point? Is the devil represented by the voices in his own head? Is it possible that Christ was contemplating suicide, unable to cope with the mission before him? Yet he did not jump……..indeed he did the opposite: he took control of his life moved ahead with a quiet confidence. How many times have we found ourselves in challenging circumstances? Do we cope with those circumstances in a similar way or do we hold onto the role of victim as if it is really who we are?
The Fall from the Cross
When Christ is crucified he appears to be a victim, yet again another example of a good person being brought down by the powers that be. I am not so sure this is right. After all, it is his inquisitors who feel awkward, unable to deal with the situation at hand. He remains calm, from the moment he is arrested right through to the crucifixion itself.
Yet there is one moment when he is on the cross when he appears to lose faith in himself and in God. He cries out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ In this moment of lost faith, he metaphorically falls from the cross, the wooden structure that by then had become his support and even today, still holds him up in millions of churches, homes and graveyards across the world. It is a telling moment – and one perhaps that many of us can relate to as we struggle to keep faith in ourselves in our daily lives. He is however still connected to the cross by his foot and thus does not fall from grace.
Have we not all had moments when it seems that we are alone, when we appear to be carrying the burden entirely ourselves? Perhaps the answer sometimes is in how we are choosing to see our position. If we were to take a helicopter view and view our situation from a different perspective, it may look very different. I have personally found this approach very useful and enlightening.
The myth in the Crucifixion
Our view of the crucifixion has always been one of the physical – the brutality, the pain and finally the death of Christ, a victim at the hands of the authorities. The church has used this image of Christ’s victimisation as a ‘logo’, a rallying point, since the fourth century.
I have a very different vision of Christ. Rather than a victim, he was an enabler – rather than dying for our sins, he was saying ‘take responsibility for your own lives’, and rather than saying ‘you need me to help you find your way’, he was saying ‘here are some guidelines to help you on your way – now off you go!’
In this sculpture I have de-constructed the crucifixion. Instead of him hanging on the Cross, he stands at the highest point of a tree (symbolising the cross). His position remains roughly the same as if he were nailed to the cross, but instead of hanging, he is gesturing, dancing and embracing the universe and all-that-is and encouraging us to recognise the sheer vastness of it all and the potential therein. The tree becomes a channel for his extraordinary energy and consciousness which flows through and from him into the world and anchors itself in the earth below.
More than that, he is falling backwards, joyfully, symbolising the trust we need in ourselves to let go of the stories we have created about who we are and the structures and rules we have embraced to support these stories, and allow our true natures to emerge freely allowing our intuition, rather than dogma, to guide us on our way.
The Masters’ Shoes
Has Christ come again? With 2.18 billion Christians across the world, his appearance would cause the biggest ‘impact’ in history. The amount of power he would have in his hands would be extraordinary.
And yet he was not a man of power. “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
Thus if he came, would he not prefer to be ‘unknown’? A ‘regular’ guy? And why should he come as a man? Why not a woman? More than that, why only as one person? Could it be that there are thousands of people out there who are a ‘portion’ of Christ?
And why only Christ? There have been many masters from across the world in times past. Might they also be among us? How many are there and what sort of shoes would they wear? Indeed, are they wearing them already?