Friday, May 4, 2012

Cosmic Christ Consciousness

By H. Wayne Williams


"I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father, but through me." (John 14:6)

These words have bludgeoned worthy
souls with violence to exclude.
Jesus postures only Love and mercy;
God's eternal Wisdom ever flows to include.

The dying grandpa's Buddhist altar
is entrusted to his Christian heir.
"Ancestor worship's not in the Psalter!"
Invoke Wisdom, not spiritual warfare.

"The true light that illumines all
has come into the world!" (John 1:9)

Cosmic Christ redeems and rests
with Wisdom in the Father's breast.



When absolute egotism
violates interfaith discourse,
sexism, classism, and racism
are brutal powers errantly in force!

Christians seek converts around the globe.
The Hindus view this with disdain.
Apostle Paul was no xenophobe.
Wisdom is the sacred of the profane.

"Jesus, pure servility,
suffered for all humanity!" (Phil. 2:6-7)

Cosmic Christ redeems and rests
with Wisdom in the Father's breast.



Swear off confessional fascism!
God's truth speaks cross-culturally.
Embrace confessional universalism!
After all, Who reconciles the stars?

As Christians we profess through Him
to know the God of all genealogy,
not our neighbor's faith to bedim.
Enshrined theology is idolatry.

"The Logos truly lived among us.
We saw Wisdom's graceful glory as
the one and only Father's Son." (John 1:14)

Cosmic Christ redeems and rests
with Wisdom in the Father's breast.


"God don't pick favorites; every reverent and righteous nation belongs." (Acts 10:34)

Wayne WilliamsWayne is a current MDiv student at Earlham School of Religion. He is a member of Brooklyn Monthly Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Christ Destroys His Cross

By David Johns

I went to the Museo de Arte Moderno de Carrillo Gil in January with one goal in mind: to see the painting I had been thinking about for the past two years. Like the song you can’t quite get out of your head, this painting, Cristo destruye su cruz (Christ destroys his cross), has found its way into my conversations and into my classroom. I was in Mexico City again, so I took the Metrobús south along Insurgentes to the Altavista platform and walked about six blocks to the museum on Avenida Revolución.

It wasn’t there.

“It’s in the archives,” one of the staffers told me, and it wouldn’t be exhibited any time soon.

“A private exhibition, maybe?” I asked, thinking it couldn’t hurt.

Not likely; but she said I should send a letter stating why I needed to see the painting. So, I sent the letter. Then I sent another. After a few weeks they sent one to me.

José Clemente Orozco was a contemporary of Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros, the paint-splattered trio of muralists who gave visual expression to a new vision of Mexico emerging from the Revolution. Orozco blew off his left hand as a child while playing with fireworks so he never had to “let his right hand know what his left was doing,” he could simply be free; and that’s what he was as an artist.

He painted the theme, Cristo destruye su cruz, three times in his life, twice as murals—one of which still survives at Darmouth College—and once on a 4’ x 3’ canvas. The third he painted in 1943 in a studio at 132 Ignacio Mariscal in Mexico City, where today a Friends meeting gathers each Sunday.

Parece como si fuera un leñador,” I told someone who asked how Jesus was portrayed in the painting; he looks like a lumberjack. After being crucified—that is obvious from his disfigured foot—Jesus swings a wooden handled ax and chops down the cross.

I can imagine him shouting with each impact of the blade: “Ya basta! Enough!” Or, as the biblical writers captured it: “It is finished!” To the violence that destroys and oppresses, to all the laws and institutions that diminish humanity under their power—enough. Orozco paints the cross not as wood, except for one small section that looks like a wooden stake, but as marble stone, the same material forming the crumbled ruins (a temple? a government palace?) behind the Jesus figure.

Taking down the cross is not enough. If one lives in the life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars, as Fox declared, more than war needs to go. Orozco’s Jesus is surrounded by symbols of those things that lead to crucifixions, Jesus’ as well as the crucifixion of countless, faceless others who are sacrificed in world where power crushes the vulnerable.

I returned to the museum and sat in the chief curator’s office for an hour talking about Mexican art, Orozco’s politics, creativity, and liberation theology. She was curious what a theologian from Indiana saw in this work. Then she led me into the archives, a small warehouse-like area where the work of masters was tucked away waiting their turn to breathe again in the galleries.

Cristo destruye su cruz was propped up against some shelving. I spent an hour with Orozco’s ax-swinging Jesus, on my hands and knees, examining color, lines, images, and the little things that aren’t so little when in the hands of a great artist.

For three hours in the museum’s research library I read everything the director placed in front of me—exhibition catalogues, biographies, reviews.

I was invited one last time to sit with Orozco’s canvas. Deeply grateful, I offered the curator a gift. She declined.

“I see something new in this work,” she said. “When Christ destroys his cross it’s not an act of revenge.”

It’s an act of hope for all creation.

David Johns
David Johns is Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. He is an Associate Editor of Quaker Religious Thought, a member of First Friends Meeting, Richmond, and a proud member of the Associación Teológica Ecuménica Mexicana.