With Christ in the Desert: Second Week

During each week of Lent 2012, FAN features images from a collage by Br. Jeffrey Wilson, TOR.

Br. Jeffrey Wilson, TOR explains the symbolism of this portion of his collage. 

Throne: As Christ is the source of healing and reconciliation, the throne represents the source of division through domination over others, both humans and the rest of creation. The stone foundation disperses the weight of domination and oppression evenly among the humans on the left (humanity) and the elephant on the right (the rest of creation). Below the throne, a rift begins to open in the ground and spreads out towards the observer, growing wider as it goes. The rift represents the growing division and alienation between humanity and the rest of creation.

The two serpent armrests represent the direct opposites, or antitheses, to the great commandments given by Jesus. “The first is this, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:29-31). The opposite of loving God with all one’s heart is idolatry. St. Paul equates idolatry to greed: “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)” (Col 3:5). “Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:5).

The serpent head on the man’s left hand side symbolizes greed/idolatry. Below the serpent’s head lie a stack of money and a bag that is tied tightly closed. While the money represents monetary greed, the cinched bag represents those things that we covet as our own, and thus, greedily desire above God. In other words, they are our idols.

The serpent head on the man’s right hand side symbolizes the opposite of loving one’s neighbor as oneself which are malice, violence, and unjust war. The right hand side is customarily a warrior’s weapon hand. Below the serpent’s head are a machine gun and a gurkha knife, tools that can be used for violence and war. “Simeon and Levi, brothers indeed, weapons of violence are their knives. Let not my person enter their council, or my honor be joined with their company; For in their fury they killed men, at their whim they maimed oxen. Cursed be their fury so fierce, and their rage so cruel!” (Gen 49:5-7).

The throne rests on two stone tiers, or platforms, that serve as the foundation. The front of the top tier is engraved with seven symbols representing the seven deadly sins while the bottom tier is engraved with eleven symbols representing various expressions of the seven deadly sins in today’s culture. The lower symbols are meant to help interpret the corresponding symbols above them, starting from the lower tier to the upper tier and on to the two serpent armrests.

Starting from the left of the image (“Not loving one’s neighbor as oneself”), the first symbol on the top tier represents “Wrath”; below it on the bottom tier appear symbols of a Wolfsangel, Sickle and Hammer, and Star. The next symbol on the top tier represents “Envy,” below which appear the Republican and Democrat party logos. Third comes “Lust,” illustrated in today’s culture by the Playboy Logo. In the middle of the throne, encompassing themes from both sides, features “Pride,” represented below by the BP Logo.

On the right side of the throne (“Not loving God with all one’s heart”), “Sloth” is closest to the center on the top tier, with the corresponding Ouroboros, an ancient symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, on the tier below. “Gluttony” appears above the McDonald’s Logo, followed finally by “Greed” with Euro, Yen, Pound, Shekel, and Dollar signs.

Published in: on March 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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