spiritual life

Depends on who’s looking

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship

Never before has our family engaged in such vigorous debate of artistic merit. It all started when mom and I went into an odd-lots store intent on replacing a fleece jacket with one in a different size. We left with a jacket that fit — and a remaindered painting.

Of all things.

That would be the milder of the comments inspired by my adding this abstract piece to our living room as an inexpensive winter pick-me-up.

“A step above a horse painted on velvet,” was one opinion. “I see a bouquet of flowers viewed from above,” said another. “The diagonal lines are rather exciting,” was also heard, as was, “Those colors are absolutely garish. And, that gold!”

To make things more complicated, we all agree on one thing. As good or as bad as the painting is, we like it better displayed horizontally, as pictured above, rather than vertically, as the placement of the artist’s signature would suggest was intended.

It seems that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. A good thing to remember when choosing art — and even more important when choosing a life.

It’s true. Opinions vary. What the world around us judges as “pretty” may look hideous in God’s eyes. And, what God finds lovely may seem as unappealing as oils on black velvet to our peers.

In terms of the painting, the worst that can happen is the naysayers will prevail and it will wind up in a less prominent part of the house. Perhaps a dark hallway. In terms of eternity, only one opinion matters. Being put out of God’s sight isn’t a risk worth taking.

10 thoughts on “Depends on who’s looking”

  1. “It’s true. Opinions vary. What the world around us judges as “pretty” may look hideous in God’s eyes. And, what God finds lovely may seem as unappealing as oils on black velvet to our peers.”

    Yes, he doesn’t do fashions. He sees beneath surfaces too.

    I was negotiating with an Ebay seller this week, trying to go to pick up the sold goods and pay her. She messed us about, repeatedly. Wouldn’t stick with agreed dates, wouldn’t give her pickup address. Wouldn’t even fix some mistakes on her listings so we could check out properly.

    It finally dawned on me that she was trying to wriggle out of the sale. Occasionally sellers do that, it’s an underhanded way of cancelling, because Ebay has a contract system. When the price is accepted by the buyer there’s no way out for the seller. Still, she made it difficult, hid, lied, etc. I got very annoyed, as anyone would, and a tension headache. Finally I cancelled, as we still didn’t have a firm day to go pick up.

    And I think that people in “The World” generally like us to have God’s values. Honesty, integrity, keeping your word, etc are still valued and are still around. As we found with other sellers, that honoured the sales commitment.

    I love your painting, by the way.


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hope you get your Ebay item one way or the other. 🙂 What you said about “the world” is interesting. I think most of us want everybody else to operate by God’s standards — because they are the standards that respect other people. Not as many of us want to actually live out God’s standards, though. Irony!!

      The painting’s still in the living room so far. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Years ago I was in a Christian fellowship of young adults, mostly single, in a great diversity of sizes, shapes, and quirky personalities. When I first met them, I thought they were the oddest-looking bunch of people I’d ever seen. As I got to know and love them, though, they became more and more beautiful. I treasure the memory of the years I spent getting together with them every week, and the way they taught me to look past appearances.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a great point. God really is looking from a different point of view. It’s kind of how we look at Abraham Lincoln. He wasn’t handsome in a toothpaste ad kind of way, but I suspect most Americans have a positive feeling when looking at his face.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a terrific post! We’ve had that discussion in our home more than once, along with the discussions of craft and crapht. And if you’re into architecture, check out Prince Charles vs. architectural modernists! We had that experience recently at Tate Modern, which goes against my favored art styles, although we both admitted what all we saw was interesting. We may not have liked or understood it, but it was interesting. (Is “interesting” like damning with faint praise?)

    My two cents on the painting? I’ll go with the flowers and horizontal, but upside down from the horizontal in the photo! See, we’re all different!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! Your suggestion on the painting orientation made me smile because that is exactly how it is hanging now and the complaints have stopped.

      People really do have different tastes. I’m not much of a modernist, either. 🙂 My soul seems to prefer beach cottage or a place that looks like Beatrix Potter characters would feel at home.

      Liked by 2 people

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