9/26/07

Images of Christ - 1


Photo by Kevin Yezbick

That's quite a statute, isn't it?

It stands 62' high and weighs in at about 16,000 pounds. It's a wood and styrofoam sculpture over a steel framework anchored in concrete. (Jesus may be rising here, but he isn't going anywhere!) The structure is covered with a fiberglass mat and a resin exterior. It was constructed in Florida and then cut into sections to be trucked to Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio and reassembled there at the baptismal pool - they seem to do everything Extra Large at this church!

The statue, King of Kings, was designed by Brad Coriel and the artist was James Lynch. Over 8,000 man hours went into development and installation. It is thought to be the largest image of Christ in North America.

Religious art can tell us a lot about the faith of artists and of the people drawn to their work. What does this incredibly larger-than-life image of Christ tell us about James Lynch and the people of Solid Rock Church? Well, these are not fundamentalists who take literally the second commandment's injunction concerning graven images. This borders on being a brazen graven image!

Clearly the person of Christ is a powerful element in the faith life of these Christians. With little regard for scale or moderation, the people of Solid Rock Church invite Christ to burst on their scene in an overwhelming way. That the site for this image is the baptismal pool tells us something about the importance of this rite for Solid Rock believers and for how they expect Christ, in baptism, to overpower those who go down into the waters.

That Christ rises up in proportions dwarfing his own cross is, I find, a curiosity. On the one hand, a cross proportional to Christ's torso here might have threatened the safety of the buildings in its shadow but on the other hand this community's theology would not be one to downplay the role of the cross and Christ's suffering in our salvation. Perhaps here, as in every representation of the Christ, we find a theological compromise between belief and expression of that belief. No one image can capture or sum up the person of Jesus. Something is always missing, left out, "lost in the translation."

What does the religious art in your home tell you about your own faith or the faith of those who placed those objets d'art? What religious art are you drawn to and what does that reveal about your faith? What does the art in our church building speak to us - and of us?

This post is the first in what will be an occasional series on images of Christ.

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