Tuesday, June 8, 2010
By Tom Wachunas
Those of you who follow these missives regularly will hopefully recall that on several occasions I have told you of my Christian sensibilities. I will immediately add here that I don’t mean Christian ‘leanings’ or ‘tendencies.’ Please make no mistake about it. I am a disciple of Jesus, albeit a very flawed one. When I have alluded to that fact here, it has usually been appropriate to the art at hand.
Very, very often I write about work that is not overtly Christian in content, or made by a Christian artist (and I certainly don’t require or expect as much), yet I am still comfortable in articulating my praise and admiration for what I am looking at, or hearing. For as much as I can rave about a given artist’s remarkable achievements, it is the ineffable thing called spirit or force or inspiration embodied in that artist, released and manifest through his or her work, that is really “speaking” to me. In effect I am responding to what I have called the residual spark of God’s creative energy that still lives in all of us. In some of us that spark is nourished and stoked over time, and we become artists of one kind or another, perhaps ignorant of, or even denying God’s hand in it. And for those who never develop such “talent,” the capacity to seek out and be moved by the arts is nonetheless very much a function of that spark – again, even if not acknowledging the divine source of our enjoyment. In short, making and/or savoring art is intrinsic to our nature, and as such a reflection of the fact that we are indeed made in God’s image. We are sparks immortal. I’m not making this up, atheists’ and agnostics’ arguments to the contrary notwithstanding.
By extension, it seems to me that the same power that enables me to praise and savor human artistic accomplishments also enables me to be in slack-jawed awe as I encounter images from deep space, an achingly beautiful sunrise or sunset, the first blooms of my rose bushes and tiger lilies, the first words of my grandchildren. Or the impossible, mind-numbing vastness of the microcosm called the human body.
And so it is that a Christian friend recently reminded me of something I first encountered about three years ago: laminin. For some of you this may be old news, though I sincerely hope it still thrills you to the marrow to think of it. Briefly, laminins are a type of vital protein made up of adhesion molecules that literally hold our cells together. For every science entry you find on the internet about them, there must be at least one Christian commentary. This is largely due to the fact that laminin molecules are in the shape of the Christian cross. Unmistakable. Extraordinary. Utterly, divinely beautiful. The image accompanying this post is not just an artist’s approximation. Plenty of electron microscope photos of the molecule are accessible on the internet, and they look just like what you see here.
Once again, then, I respectfully remind you that God - Father, Creator, the First Artist - left not just his creative spark in us, but the very shape of his eternal plan for fellowship – adhesion - with him. We carry, from our beginning, in the very fiber of our being, the reminder of the redemptive act of Jesus.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1: 15-17
Can somebody give me an Amen?