Way up in the northwest corner of Manhattan is a small museum, tucked away in a wooded park, called the Cloisters. It’s one of the museums which make up the Metropolitan Museum of Art, opened in 1938 from five medieval monastic sites across southern France, and largely funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Their collection is medieval art, almost entirely Christian, and it has the feel of walking through a monastery in the countryside; it’s easy to forget you’re in Manhattan. One of the works that I noticed every time I visited was by the Italian painter Niccolo di Tommaso (1343-76). This work, Man of Sorrows, was originally a fresco placed, as the Cloisters has it, above a doorway.
The work shows the half-length figure of Jesus, rising from the tomb, displaying his wounds. It’s believed to have been painted in 1370 in Florence Italy and brought to the Met in New York in 1925. The idea is that Christ is the suffering servant Isaiah speaks of, the man of sorrows, became a common art form in Europe in the 14thcentury. It usually always depicted Christ rising from a grave or a tomb, usually only the top half, and always bearing the wounds from the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. This man of sorrows, the man of betrayal, suffering, isolation, and death, rises again to new life, though it’s not a new life disconnected from the old life.
The idea of resurrection is usually presented as ‘living happily ever after,’ but is that really what resurrection life is? Is that what Jesus shows us? Resurrection isn’t just another miracle story, like water to wine, but a fundamental definition of our belief. It’s physical; something about the body is transfigured. But our experience is that dead people stay dead, “when you’re dead, you’re dead” as my Systematic Theology professor in seminary put it. And yet, all of us experience an ending which isn’t really an ending as well as the invitation for transformation; we can become who we’re intended to be.
This week we’ll begin a new way to explore our life and faith, as well as how we make sense of it all the movies/shows we watch. Each Thursday from 5-6 pm we’ll get together on Zoom to explore how faith and our understanding of faith play out in reflecting what we believe or don’t believe. The idea is you watch a suggested show and then we’ll talk about it on Thursday at 5 pm; you don’t have to watch it but it provides a framework for the discussion.
This Thursday, I invite you to watch an episode from Season 2 of The Soprano’s called “From Where to Eternity,” available on Amazon Prime Video. On our Tuesday hangout time, 6 pm on Zoom, I’ll set up the episode for those of you who aren’t familiar with The Soprano’s and its characters. As you watch, you might begin to consider these questions:
- What’s the difference in resurrection and physical reanimation or resuscitation?
- What connects (establishes) the identity of my physical self with my resurrected self?
- Given that my body is buried and decomposed (or cremated) what will my resurrected self be made of?
- What happens to my consciousness in the span between my death and resurrection?
- Is there any connection between judgment and resurrection? If so, what?
Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.
Thursday Theology & Pop Culture on Zoom @ 5 pm
Join us as we explore our faith through movies and TV shows. This week Thomas will lead the discussion, and you are invited to watch “From Where to Eternity” from Season 2 of The Soprano’s available on Amazon Prime.
Sunday Evening Prayer on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture.