Matthew 16: 21-28

A triptych is a very particular type of artwork. Deriving from the Greek for “three-fold”[1], it is a work of art that comes in three parts, which are then associated together in order to form a single work.  Sometimes the completed work tells a single story; sometimes it forms a narrative of events.  From its earliest days as an art-form, the triptych was associated with Christian iconography, and was especially used as an altarpiece – both in large, public churches, and in the private chapels of powerful individuals. Continue reading “Matthew 16: 21-28”

Matthew 16: 13-20

The issue of identity is central to the human quest for meaning and understanding, because within identity fall many of the “big questions” of human existence.  Who am I? Where do I belong? Where have I come from? Where am I going? These are all ultimately questions of identity, because the answers they elicit ultimately arise from our own self-understanding.  It may seem like a circular argument, but the question Who am I? depends for its answer precisely on who we understand ourselves to be.  Where our sense of self is deeply grounded in a sense of past, present and future, the question Who Am I? can be a self-reinforcing cycle of reflection, discovery, and affirmation; but where our sense of self is shallow or even non-existent, this cycle can become a vicious circle of despair, confusion, and self-deprecation. Continue reading “Matthew 16: 13-20”

Matthew 15: 10-28

Between the years 161-180AD, the Roman Empire was ruled by an Emperor named Marcus Aurelius. He ruled during a period in which the Empire enjoyed relative peace and stability within the Empire; and, aside from some minor local persecutions, Christians largely went about their lives unmolested. Many historians regard this period as the “golden age” of the Roman Empire; and many of those same historians regard Marcus Aurelius as the best of the Emperors who ruled during this era. Continue reading “Matthew 15: 10-28”

Genesis 32: 22-31

In the second series of the animated television show The Simpsons, there is an episode entitled “Bart Gets An F”. In this episode, Bart Simpson must pass a crucial history test, or face the prospect of having to repeat a year at school. However, try as he might, Bart can’t seem to focus on his studies; and on the evening before the test, in his desperation, he falls to his knees and begins to pray. Watching from his bedroom doorway, Bart’s sister Lisa shakes her head and sadly whispers: “Prayer – the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Continue reading “Genesis 32: 22-31”