Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Apologizing to Vincent

Forgive me, Vincent...

Please play the song as you read this blog. I have loved the song as long as I can remember, but today it made me weep because I now understand what the source of his pain was…


I spent a majority of my major in upper level and graduate level art history classes - yet somehow I missed an important detail in Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Don McClean didn’t fully clue me in when he sang about Vince, and the sky, and love…though I see now that McClean understood, too.

Starry Night ~ Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, Oil on Canvas 73 × 92 cm, 28¾ × 36¼ in

The Van Gogh Gallery says of the painting:
“Perhaps the cool dark colors and the fiery windows spark memories of our own warm childhood years filled with imagination of what exists in the night and dark starry skies. The center point of the town is the tall steeple of the church, reigning largely over the smaller buildings. This steeple casts down a sense of stability onto the town, and also creates a sense of size and seclusion. ”

The ‘fiery windows’ and the ‘sense of stability’ from the steeple are at odds with what I now see and know.

Vincent’s father was a minister. Vincent desired to follow in his father’s footsteps to share the hope of Jesus Christ with the least of these. He ‘trained’ for it, but was a poor student. He was poor at public speaking. He wasn’t a natural. It was a struggle.
Yet because of his sincerity, he was assigned as an evangelist to a small coal-mining town in Belgium where he could fulfill his heart’s desire. He found himself deeply moved by the destitute flock and all he experienced there. He was moved to sketch and paint these people. His superiors admired his care and concern, but after about 6 months the church terminated his assignment due to his lack of preaching skills.

Now look at his painting Starry Night.
The windows of the church are black and cold.

In another painting, The Church at Auvers, notice the church is dark inside and has no doors. His deep disappointment from his ‘failures’ as a preacher and the church’s response never healed. I am grieved.

The Church at Auvers ~ Vincent Van Gogh, 1890Oil on Canvas, 94 x 74cm - 37 x 29 Inches

Rory Noland, in his book The Heart of The Artist, (which I do NOT recommend or endorse, but am referencing to make my point) notes this of Van Gogh:

“One can’t help but wonder how different Van Gogh’s life might have been had the church encouraged him to be what God obviously made him to be - an artist. I wish a caring Christ-follower had come along side him and said “Hey, Vince, maybe preaching is not your thing. But God gave you an amazing ability to paint and draw, so why not serve God with your art instead of trying to be a preacher?”

I would only add to Noland’s "wish" that Van Gogh could have indeed fulfilled his heart’s desire to preach THROUGH his art and not given up that aspect at all. I believe they are one and the same in the heart of an artist called by God. It is not an either / or.
Actually, Vincent does 'preach' through his art - and still does. He just didn't know it.
He lived in a different day.
I also want to note that because the 'church' of his time (or even one or two or a few particular people) treated him the way they apparently did - is not a reflection of Jesus and His response to such as these.
Always get to know Jesus…go to the source for the answers, not the counterfeits.

My experience in the last year ministering to the 'darkened church’ has reminded me that all who proclaim the name of Christ are not little Christ’s themselves (ie “Christians“, or “Christ-Followers”). There is a mission field inside the so-called 'church' to these lost ones.
I understand the dark windows in Starry Night.
I understand the doorless building that is The Church at Auvers.
My family informally 'counsels' (loving and listening) with the wounded and messed up product of such places. We have spent late nights with the young ones who have lopped off their own ears (metaphorically) in the wake of manipulation and false teaching. Preachers who lie in the name of Christ have a special necklace awaiting them (it’s called a millstone).

I want to apologize to all the Vincent’s out there who have ever been hurt by those in the (so-called) ‘church’. I plead with you to trust again -- and know that this manipulation & deceit is not the message of the true Church - the true Body of Jesus Christ.

“They would not listen - they're not list'ning still -- perhaps they never will.”

We are listening! Don’t cast aside those who still uphold the Truth and want you to know there is Hope.

“They would not listen - they did not know how -- perhaps they'll listen now.”


'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

~Revelation 3:20-21
Anyone who imagines him/herself in this particular blog should be aware it is not targeted at a specific group - or a specific person (or written in CODE or as a way to vent-- wink wink) - but to all of us in 'the church’ as a whole… it is about self-examination as a body - and was born out of the personal experiences of witnessing the pieces of broken hearts scattered along the paths of life... victims of those who lie and deceive from inside the "church"
No code there... no venting there...
Van Gogh was a casualty.
There are casualties every day.
I have been thanked by some recent casualties…thanked for trying to understand and for attempting to reach out to Truth.
Sometimes the Church just messes up because they are not mature; they make a mistake - they don’t mean to - it just happens … we all do that… and sometimes the "church" messes up because they are not walking in the Light...THAT is not acceptable.

This blog also contains entries on Forgiveness,
Owning up to Our Own 'Stuff'.
Take a look around ...


nic2415 said...

Had I not played the song while reading, I wouldn't have gotten the same effect. Holy cow! How sad I am. How many more have had the same thing happen.

Raspberry Grace said...

I just had to leave a comment to your wonderful you know that I too have always loved that song? It makes me cry and shiver and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time I hear it, because it moves me so, though before now I have never understood why..but it has always made me think of Jesus!

I had no idea that Vincent had wanted to be a preacher, or that he had been rejected because his talent was not "enough", how sad, my heart grieves for him..I wonder if he spent the rest of his days feeling his art just wasn't enough either?

Like you I wonder too how many more christians grieve inside because they feel what they have to offer doesn't make the grade? when the truth is whatever we can do,the smallest thing we CAN do for Him, and that "small" thing may be the action that leads to someone being set free.

Now, if I could just get around to living in the reality of that.. :)

God bless you, you made my day!

love, Raspberry x

orion713 said...


Now I am all verclempt ovah here!

Melanie said...

Dear World,

The words written here by this artist are profound and true.

Though "Christians" are meant to represent the truth and love of Christ - sometimes they forget to listen to the heart of God.

He creates through me. When I am not creating for him and through him, my art is empty and dries up. When in communion with the Creator of all things good and beautiful - I can feel his pleasure in what I am doing.

Thank you kD Duck for this video, and these words.

I was never taught to view and appreciate art this way. But one day, I had the opportunity to se two Van Gough's in person. It sparked a deep feeling in me as I looked at his work. So I went and checked out a video on his life. And it discussed told some of the general details of what you mentioned... but not the heart of it.

I went back the next year to see the same two Van Gough's and was even more deeply moved - understanding his heart and his passion

Thank you so much for this blog!

larin said...

Katey, as a Christian studying art history this last year I have been struck by the number of artists who struggled with their work and are considered "tormented" artists by modern scholars of the field. What is profoundly lacking in most writings about such artists is the understanding of the role of faith in many of their struggles. The secular world has been so busy trying to remove faith from the public realm that they have even turned their sights on history and it causes us to lose much understanding. Michelangelo is another artist who I think is likely misunderstood because of a lack of willingness to look deeply at his faith.

I also appreciate your words of wisdom regarding the church, Christians and "Christians." So many people are hurt and driven further away by hurts, fears and prejudices. I know I've been on both sides (the hurt and, unfortunately, the perpetrator) and God has shown me to look for balance. Balance while staying true to His Word can be so hard.

Wonderful insight and I'm so glad you shared it! --LaRinda

BLUEYEDUCKstudios said...

Thank-you so much for your wisdom & understanding - EACH of you!

There is no specific finger-pointing here (as you all clearly understand, thank-you) - except the finger that points back at my own heart. I am passionate when it comes to injustice and false witness ... I learned that from Jesus - though have a long way to go to learning how to deal with it.

Van Gogh is a symbol of many in each of our lives - across time - who are hurt ... and spit at every mention of Christianity.
It is no easy conversation.
One by one we (I) apologize and seek reconciliation to the casualties along the road and take responsibility for our (my) own part (if we (I) have any part) ...

Thank-you for those who have spoken boldly here and to those quiet ones who support the truth and bandage the wounded.

The "Church" is a safe place - and will stand.

Denise Aumick said...

Light can be found in the most unexpected places and absent from some expected places. This was an amazing post. Ollabelle will be in the mail early this week to you. ~Hugs

Shabby Cottage Studio said...

Duckie, you leave me warmly speechless and thoughtful.

BLUEYEDUCKstudios said...

Thanks Gail ~ xo

My heart breaks all to often seeing these messed up kids...these casualties...

I have to say I better "understand" some of the song lyrics they hide behind - !
I so understand now...

Long nights on the phone overseas ... or IM'ing a kid in another state ready to toss it all away has shown us the pain up close ...

Thanks again all of you who understand the need to get the truth to these kids ...
these neighbors...
inside the churches and out...

BLUEYEDUCKstudios said...

Rehersing again the strong message of being responsible for what we say & do - is my blog using Linkin Park's "WHAT I'VE DONE" ...

~ posted Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dixie Redmond said...

kD -

You always amaze me, girl. I love the way you think. I totally hear this post. I never knew a lot about this, but I do have Rory Noland's book on my bookshelf above my computer. It's a great book. Thanks for thinking and writing and posting...


Cherie said...

Beautifully moving video...I have never cried at hearing that song before, and now I am.

I am going back to read now...and listen again...

Thank you!

Marionette said...

Thank you for the wonderful blog article on Vincent! Yes, I have always loved that song and it always strikes a sad emotion inside of me. I have had the amazing honor of seeing a show a few years ago at the Detroit Institute of Arts which highlighted his portraits. It was amazing! I especially loved his self portraits. There really are emotions that you can see in his paintings...the brush strokes, the color! I wish we could have all been there to give Vincent some much needed hugs and support as he continued his journey in his art. He created hundreds of paintings in only about 10 years of his life. He was always searching from some sort of approval...from Theo, from other painters, from the public, but most certainly from God. I just hope that he now knows how much he has touched us all. He has definitely been a big influence in my art career. I would love to sit down and read all of his letters to his brother, Theo (which are published).

Thank You Vincent and God Bless You!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

AMEN, Katey sister! Too often those who claim to be Christian are guilty of not only not encouraging but discouraging those whom He has placed in our path. A kind word, in due season, is enough to turn one from hell to heaven's gate.
I'm visiting via FAMM, your blog has been a blessing to me. Every morning I listen to Alistair Begg, XM radio, to receive the Biblical teaching I don't receive elsewhere. You are blessed to sit under his teaching; it's my heart's desire to, one day, worship in Parkside Church.

jeff said...

thank you

jeff said...

this is a post to you. (the vincent one from november 9th. not necessary to publish this comment unless you want to .