The Skeptic

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Description

The Skeptic

oil on panel, 36″ x 36″ framed by the artist

Although God is unseeable, His miracles are happening all around us, in fact, right in front of us. And yet we hold onto our past, lugging around our shame, our outdated paradigms, our “sins,” because they are what we “know.” These are what is familiar to us.

But faith is about what we cannot see; it calls for imagination and hope in the midst of bleakness and doubt. The spiritual realm exists in a different quantum dimension, into which we each are given rare glimpses. But because we cannot explain these miracles within the limits of what we can perceive in our current realm we tend to discard them as unverifiable. Man turns away from the offer of grace, which is standing right in front of him, instead blaming God for all the misery in the world.

Absolute truth and goodness are not directly accessible to us. They are the result of an intricate equation. Get one part of the formula wrong and the whole thing falls apart. Absolute truth and goodness do exist but we simply cannot see it because 1) we are always changing the equation to suit our desires and 2) parts of the equation are not accessible to us as humans, from within our inherently limited perspective of observable reality.

The past haunts us and holds us in its grip. But is it any more real than the bright promise of hope calling us out of ourselves?

The Skeptic is many of the things you don’t want in a work of art: it is narcissistic, preachy, heavy handed. But, it is heart-felt, personal and globally relevant. The main character is inspired by Michelangelo’s famous “Damed Man” in the Sistine Chapel. He is haunted by figures from his past, the finger of shame pointing, hands pulling him backwards. The figure of Christ, stands right in front of him, but is invisible to him. He offers the Holy Spirit, which he discards because it seems to be merely a Dove, unworthy of his attention.

The iconic photo of the Syrian child, dead, face down on the beach, represents man’s inhumanity to man, the inevitable result of our turning away. So many people point to this photo as the ultimate proof that there is no God, asking, “how could a loving God allow such a thing to occur?” Perhaps another question one might ask is, “why do we allow this to happen?” Perhaps the most empowering question might be, “what can I do to change it?”  But perhaps the wisest question of all is to ask, “what does God want me to understand about this situation?”

The absolute truth and goodness of God is that He has created a world in motion. Things we call “good” and “bad” are happening in it, all the time. But within our limited perspective, we often cannot see the truth or the good. All we can can do is pray for wisdom, asking God to change our perspective about why these things happen.

Meanwhile, we must learn to forgive, which is at the heart of faith.

Here is my blog, which explains further, the inspiration for this painting.

 

Additional information

Type of Work

Original Painting by Robert Maniscalco, Giclee – archival inks, stretch on canvas, Artists Proof (AP) – archival inks and paper

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