Monday, January 10, 2011

follow the...follow God.

In the movie Harold and Maude, there are three short scenes together where three male authority figures in turn advise Harold.  They each are sitting at a desk; they each say two to three sentences, then the scene changes to the next one.  One humorous touch is that there is a framed picture on the wall behind each of them: behind the psychiatrist is a picture of Freud, behind the army officer is a picture of Nixon (the movie is from 1971), and behind the priest is a picture of the pope.  When I first noticed these little touches, I was guessing what would be behind the priest: God?  Jesus?  But no!  The pope!  And then I thought, Shouldn't the priest be saying what God would say?  And then I realized that to Catholics, what the pope says and what God says are the same.  And so it is with our church and the prophet.

We are physically separated from God, and the Church teaches that certain things that God says must go through His representatives here.  But it bothers me a bit that frequently people have pictures of the First Presidency on their walls; and yes, many times they'll have Jesus too.  But the reason it bothers me is that it's a degree of separation from God.  We don't worship Thomas S. Monson; we worship Christ and our Father in Heaven.  Having pictures of the apostles are of course are of course more feasible because they're photographs, whereas any depiction of God would have an unknowable accuracy.

I suppose since people picture God in different ways, and each one's own way helps him or her, I wouldn't want there to be one standard version of God.  I think people should seek out (non-LDS!) art that portrays God and Christ in a way meaningful to them.  I, for example, don't like picturing God as the bearded identical twin of Jesus that's in the popular First Vision painting.  I'd prefer to think of repentance in a way other than Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (I have a problem with guilt, and although the message is that He suffered for me, in my head it always turns out to be He suffered for me).  There was a gallery at the conference center of artwork submitted for a contest from the Ensign, I think.  One was titled "Repentance" and was a non-realistic lady smiling and looking heavenward, from where red rose petals were falling.  I like that a lot better, especially because it is more open to interpretation and can be symbolic in different ways to different people.