JUXTAPOSITION – Art Imitating Life and Vice-Versa

tlc-cover-2015-11-01-pix417_0Picasso El Loco

If you study the two pictures above you will see a decided resemblance.  The sonorous expression of Michael, Presiding Bishop (Archbishop in actuality) Curry, expresses a sentiment similar to that of the subject of “El Loco” one of the works of Pablo Picasso from his “blue period”.

“El Loco” represents an expression by the artist of his experience of seeing a homeless man virtually driven mad by the deprivations he has suffered.  His deprivation is a poignant reminder to us Christians of the suffering and deprivations suffered by Our Lord before, during, and after his crucifixion.  It reminds us of why those who have been deprived or neglected are our special care and delight. Pablo Picasso has captured the essence of a homeless man at the end of his rope.  He is one bewildered and befuddled by what he perceives to be the abandonment of his life by his God.  His madness is a call for help from any and all who might be near.

In my real life dealings with the homeless I find them to be on the front line of the battle between good and evil.  They readily admit their need for God and willingly embrace the call to salvation. They confess their sins readily and seek to amend their lives to atone.  Unfortunately their weakness creates barriers which they cannot alone overcome.  But, always they admit their dependence on God and God alone.

The Episcopal Church of the United States is much like “El Loco” in that many of its members now feel they have been abandoned by their God and left homeless and bereft of spiritual direction. They have been driven “mad’ by the uncertainty and imprecision of its doctrine.  In this time of moral and economic crises their Holy Mother Church itself stands uncertain as to its core beliefs.

Now we see the rising up of Michael Curry. He is 62, and has been bishop of North Carolina since 2000, leading a diocese of 48,000 church members, 112 congregations and a network of ministries. He has confirmed and or ordained at least two of my friends to the priesthood.  Both of these friends readily attest to his Christ like civility and humanity and have exemplified those traits in their own ministry.

A Chicago native who has two daughters with his wife, Sharon, Curry,  grew up in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Hobart College and Yale Divinity School. He was ordained as a priest in North Carolina, leading parishes there and in Ohio. He then served for 12 years at St. James Church in Baltimore, Maryland, which was established in 1824 as the third black Episcopal congregation in the U.S.

Quoting from the Huffington Post

Curry is known for his emphasis on evangelism, public service and social justice. Author of “Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus,” he has said he prays “for a church passionately committed to making disciples.”

He takes charge at a time when fewer Americans are formally affiliating with a particular religious group, contributing to steady membership declines in the Episcopal Church and other liberal Protestant groups, as well as some conservative churches. Membership in the Episcopal Church has dropped by 18 percent over the last decade.

Curry supports gay rights, speaking against North Carolina’s 2012 constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage, which is now invalid, and allowing same-sex church weddings in the North Carolina diocese. Curry said the U.S. Supreme Court “affirmed the authenticity of love” Friday by legalizing gay marriage nationwide

The Presiding Bishop elect has chosen the tile ‘Crazy Christians’ as the title of a major work which speaks volumes about his perspective. We Christians are called to be “counter-cultural” We are not called to conform or to support the status in quo.  We are called to suffer with Christ as a witness to the world as to the “right’ way to live which in its essence requires “material sacrifice”.

Michael Curry understands this as he understands suffering through his African American heritage and that suffering has bred in him a bond with Jesus that is unbreakable. It uniquely qualifies Michael Curry to serve as the Presiding Bishop of Episcopal Church the United States.

May God protect him in his calling to preserve the very existence of the Anglican Communion in these United States.

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