“[Photographs] are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you.”—Diane Arbus
In a desire to silence the true horror of Christ’s cry of dereliction, many have claimed that he was really just quoting Psalm 22 and therefore affirming the entire content of that psalm—a psalm which, in its totality, expresses deep belief. So, the claim, his cry of dereliction was really a shorthand description of belief, comfort, and security.
This perspective, however, fails to take into account the significance of the fact that the cry recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark is put in Jesus’ native tongue (Aramaic) rather than in the psalm’s original Hebrew. in the Jewish faith, the Hebrew Scriptures are read, memorized, and recalled in the original language, not one’s native tongue, so while this cry might be inspired by the psalm, the words reflect a person’s heartfelt cry of agony and loss rather than some mere quote. To read it otherwise would be to view it as part of some kind of cosmic theatrical show, a phrase that provides the whole Crucifixion scene with a sense of drama and despair all the while offering a wink that tells us everything is really fine.
We must instead give this cry its full theological and existential weight. We must read it with all of its horror and potency. It is a cry that comes from one cut off from all grounding in a deeper reality, one who has lost all sense of meaning, all mythological frames. It is a cry that exposes us to a man utterly destitute.
Here, right at the heart of Christianity, God despairs of God.
The Old & New Project is a collaborative design project realized by Jim LePage and Troy Deshano that “exhibits works themed on Biblical stories and passages….attempting to replace popular, yet sometimes low-quality, contemporary Biblical artwork with the kind of accessible and…
“The resurrection of Jesus was simply God’s unwillingness to take our ‘no’ for an answer. He raised Jesus, not as an invitation to us to come to heaven when we die, but as a declaration that he himself has now established permanent, eternal residence here on earth. He is standing beside us, strengthening us in this life. The good news of the resurrection of Jesus is not that we shall die and go home to be with him, but that he has risen and comes home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick prisoner brothers with him.”—Clarence Jordan
Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parents, as for lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
“Do you see how the devil is defeated by the very weapons of his prior victory? The devil had vanquished Adam by means of a tree. Christ vanquished the devil by means of the tree of the Cross. The tree sent Adam to hell. The tree of the Cross brought him back from there. The tree revealed Adam in his weakness, laying prostrate, naked and low. The tree of the Cross manifested to all the world the victorious Christ, naked and nailed on high. Adam’s death sentence passed on to all who came after him. Christ’s death gave life to all his children.”—Bishop John Chrysostom
“Wherever the gospel is preached, we must remember that its good news will make you crazy. This gospel will force you to act, interrupting the world as it is in ways that make even pious people indignant.”—Emmanuel Katongole
“Let us say to Christ: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel. Let us wave before him like palm branches the words inscribed above him on the cross. Let us show him honor, not with olive branches, but with the splendor of merciful deeds to one another. Let us spread the thoughts and desires of our hearts under his feet like garments, so that he may draw the whole of our being into himself and place the whole of his in us.”—Andrew of Crete