All posts tagged Fra Angelico

  • The Sign That Saves The World


    The Sign That Saves The World
    Brian Zahnd

    Look to me and be saved,
    All you ends of the earth!
    –Isaiah 45:22

    Peri and I are on our way to speak at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem and we’re spending a few days in Florence, Italy exploring the cradle of the Renaissance. Visiting the museums and art galleries, I’ve seen hundreds of crucifixion paintings, and I’ve tried to view each one with a reverent eye. I never look at depictions of Christ crucified with a jaundiced eye. Their religious nature and ubiquitous presence may illicit a yawn from the secular cynic, but not from me — I’m an incorrigible Christian. I believe the cross is where Christ saves the world. Looking at the cross with the right eye, the reverent eye of humble faith, is the locus of salvation. The cross is the sign that saves the world.

    Ten years ago when I first began to connect Fyodor Dostoevsky’s enigmatic phrase “beauty will save the world” with the cross — it is at Golgotha that the ugliness of human sin is overcome by the beauty of divine love — the image of the cross as saving beauty that I most often referred to was Fra Angelico’s fresco. Today when we visited the San Marco Monastery I was able to see this fresco painted by the monk-artist Beato Angelico in 1441. As I lingered in contemplation of Fra Angelico’s Crucifixion, it prompted me to once again ask — what does this mean? Take a moment and ponder this question with me.
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  • Don’t Rush Past Good Friday

    crucifixion copy

    Don’t Rush Past Good Friday
    Brian Zahnd

    Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
    –Lamentations 1:12

    Easter is approaching, but between us and the pastel colors of Easter lies a ghastly and bloodstained Good Friday. Don’t rush past it. In your haste to get to the garden of the empty tomb, don’t whistle past the gruesomeness of Golgotha. The resurrection is made as cheap as the fake grass in an Easter basket if we don’t linger long and hard over the catastrophe of Calvary. The cross is the epicenter of Christianity. And it is the cross that is the peculiar scandal of Christianity. As the Apostle Paul said,

    “We preach Christ crucified, a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” –1 Corinthians 1:23

    There is nothing particularly unique about a religion that worships a resurrected god — the ancient world was awash with such religions. But Christianity is the only religion to have as its central focus the suffering and degradation of its God! Easter alone does not make Christianity unique. It’s with Good Friday and Easter together that we find the uniqueness of Christianity.
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  • The Beautiful Alternative


    “Evil is to be overcome by forgiveness. As likewise is violence.”
    -John Milbank, Christ the Exception

    Jesus gives us an alternative to violence. Forgiveness. Jesus didn’t just theorize about it, he lived it. On the cross Christ made his message credible. He lived it all the way to the end. And calls us to follow him.

    I believe most of us long for it to be true. We long for the Jesus way to be the beautiful alternative to the ugly way of violence. Romanticized violence can be appealing—imagined musketeers and Hollywood shoot ’em ups—but real violence is always ugly. In a world awash in endless cycles of violence we know it’s appalling and we wonder if the beautiful way of Christ is a viable alternative. Read more

  • The Beatitudes (BZV)


    People have asked for the “BZV” Beatitudes. So here they are.

    Blessed are those who are poor at being spiritual,
    For the kingdom of God is well-suited for ordinary people.

    Blessed are the depressed who mourn and grieve,
    For they create space to encounter comfort from another.

    Blessed are the quiet and content, the humble and unassuming, the gentle and trusting who are not grasping and clutching, for God will personally guarantee their share when heaven and earth become one. Read more

  • Truth, Violence and Love


    What is truth?

    This was Pilate’s famous ironic question of Christ. A short time later—after Jesus had been scourged and was now standing before Pilate wearing a crown of thorns—Pilate answered his own question when he said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to crucify you?” In this moment the “truth” came out. For in the end it is the power of violence that is the ultimate truth for the principalities and powers. The “truth” of violence is the axis around which the world ruled by the principalities and powers revolves. It is their centering principle. It is the bottom line for those under the spell of “the ruler of this world.”

    Pragmatism is the ultimate truth of empire, and the ultimate pragmatism is violence. (Though ordinarily great effort is expended to conceal this “awful truth”.) So despite the fact that noble virtues are often present within the empire (family, justice, service, etc.), the axis of empire, the centering principle, the final truth is violence. This was certainly true of Rome. Read more