All posts tagged Edvard Munch

  • Good Friday: A World Indicted

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    Good Friday: A World Indicted
    Brian Zahnd

    Good Friday offers humanity a genuinely new and previously unimagined way of understanding both the character of God and the nature of human civilization. As Jürgen Moltmann writes in The Crucified God, “the cross is the test of everything.” But to understand Good Friday we need to be clear on who did the accusing, condemning, and killing of Jesus of Nazareth.

    As we read the passion narratives in the Gospels it’s obvious that it isn’t God who insists on the execution of Jesus. Mark tells us, “the chief priests accused him of many crimes.” (Mark 15:3) Jesus’ jealous rivals accused him of heresy, blasphemy, and sedition because they were possessed by the satanic spirit of rivalry and blame. It wasn’t God who charged Jesus with capital crimes. It wasn’t God who shouted, “Crucify him!” It wasn’t God who ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The work of accusation, condemnation, and torture is the work of human civilization under the sway of the satan. The spirit of God is not heard in the crowd’s bloodlust cries of “crucify him,” but in Christ’s merciful plea, “Father, forgive them.” We must not imagine the machinations of the devil as the handiwork of God!

    When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the principalities and powers of Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate and their constituent institutions of religious, economic, and political power were at enmity with one another. These power brokers were bitter rivals locked in a fatal embrace. But when they took their rivalry-induced fear and hate, and projected it onto Jesus as their chosen scapegoat on Good Friday, they achieved a demonic unity. Luke precisely tells us this. “That same day [Good Friday] Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.” (Luke 23:12)
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  • Jesus Died for Us…Not for God



    Jesus Died for Us…Not for God
    Brian Zahnd

    “You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.” –The Apostle Peter, Acts 3:15

    Golgotha is where the great crimes of humanity — pride, rivalry, blame, violence, domination, war, and empire — are dragged into the searing light of divine judgment. At Golgotha we see the system of human organization that we blithely call “civilization” for what it is: an axis of power enforced by violence so corrupt that it is capable of murdering God in the name of what we call truth, justice, and liberty.

    Golgotha is also the place where the love of God achieves its greatest expression. As Jesus is lynched in the name of religious truth and imperial justice he expresses the heart of God as he pleads for the pardon of his executioners. At the cross we discover that the God revealed in Christ would rather die in the name of love than kill in the name of freedom. Our savior is Jesus Christ, not William Wallace.

    The cross is both hideous and glorious, simultaneously ugly and beautiful. It’s as hideous as human sin and as glorious as divine love. It is a collision of sin and grace. But it is not a contest of equals. In the end love and beauty win. We call it Easter.
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  • A Long Way from Mona Lisa’s Smile


    A Long Way from Mona Lisa’s Smile
    by Brian Zahnd

    Yesterday Edvard Munch’s modern masterpiece, The Scream, sold at Sotheby’s auction house in New York for a record $120 million, making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. To which I say three things:

    1. I like Edvard Munch. I saw an exhibit of his paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009.

    2. $120 million is a lot of money for a painting.

    3. We’re a long way from Mona Lisa’s smile.

    What do I mean by that? Well, if Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with her enigmatic smile is the iconic image of the Renaissance, then Munch’s Scream may be the leading contender for the iconic image of modern man. And this is worth pondering. How has a mysterious smile been replaced by a horrified scream? What has happened to us? What is it about Munch’s disturbing masterpiece that speaks to us so deeply? Read more

  • Skeptics Wanted!


    I need a skeptic. Perhaps you are one. Perhaps you know one. Perhaps you could invite a thoughtful skeptic to participate in my thought experiment.

    I respectfully address myself to thoughtful skeptics. Think with me…

    If it was true that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead in the manner reported in the Gospels (i.e. not merely a temporary resuscitation, but an ultimate triumph over death), would you be willing to believe in Jesus as divine in at least some fashion?

    If you answer no, are you saying that the resurrection of Jesus is inconsequential whether it is true or not?

    If you answer yes, then in what way would you expect the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection in the first century to reach you in the twenty-first century? In other words, what evidence would you accept as a credible witness to this historical event? Will you accept a credible historical witness?

    If not, what evidence will you accept? If you say something on the order of God writing in the sky or shouting from the heavens, then it seems to me that you are requiring yet another miracle in order to believe the first miracle. It seems you are in effect saying you require something other than a resurrection from the dead in order to believe in Jesus. Is this the case?

    Are you in fact saying, “Even if Jesus was raised from the dead, I would never believe it?” Is this a fair representation of your position?

    I am genuinely curious.


    (The painting is Melancholy by Edvard Munch)

  • “Conversion”

    This is one of my favorite poems. It seems to go with my Red Letter Living topic this week.
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Read more