Priests, Painters, a Mad Farmer and a little Gabriel

As a Lenten study this year a colleague and I have put together two series, Seeing Resurrection and Living Resurrection.  On Sunday mornings we’ve been looking at images of resurrection and on Wednesday nights we’ve invited a series of speakers to offer stories about resurrection in their lives and in the lives of others.  When all is said and done members of our church will have more than a dozen images of resurrection in their homes and six stories of resurrection in their memories.  You might say that we are spending the season of Lent practicing what resurrection might look like and hearing how it sounds.   In what feels like a never-ending winter, practicing resurrection has been a welcome enterprise.  Here’s part of what we’ve seen so far:


Resurrection of Lazarus
Catacomb Via Latina, 4th C

Resurrection, Giotto

Noli Me Tangere
Scrovegni Chapel; 14th C


Resurrection; 16th C


Resurrection; 16th C


Resurrection; 15th C

prodigal son

Beckmann, Max
The Prodigal Son, 1949


Orozco, Jose Clemente
“Cristo Destruye Su Cruz” (Christ Destroys His Cross)
Mural At Dartmouth College, 1933

Caravaggio - doubting thomas

The Incredulity f St. Thomas; 1602-1603

It seems fitting here to add the mad farmer’s poem that begins with a warning and ends with a wish…

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

And a little music to close:

Practicing on Monday,


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5 Responses to Priests, Painters, a Mad Farmer and a little Gabriel

  1. Ellie Roberts says:

    This was fascinating. Although I knew many of the artists, it would have been very helpful if the artists’ names had been beside the pictures. Many thanks, Ellie Roberts

  2. Maria Estefania says:

    Love the music, love the video, adore the poem. Thank you, Jim. So sorry to have missed the forum discussion this morning. I hope it was recorded!

  3. Linda V says:

    Thanks Jim. This wonderful poem reminded me of one I heard on The Writers Almanac some years ago. I believe it touches on the themes of resurrection and letting go, but using more domestic images.

  4. yalilla says:

    Peter Gabriel, Wendell Berry and all those fine fine artists. Such a treasure you’ve given us today. Thank you so much!

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