Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ironic subersive art?

"...Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you...”

Now did he write or did he draw? And if so, what did he write or draw? What mark came from his fingers to bring about such a remarkable conclusion to this scene?

I think the marks in the sand we more powerful than his words, he was far more subversive, nuanced and cunning than we give him credit....but what the hell were those marks?


Malcolm Chamberlain said...

I tend to see it as irrelevant what Jesus was writing/drawing in the sand. It seems to me that it was the stooped position he adopted as he was writing that was important. Did Jesus look down at the ground so that he didn't look at the woman and bring further shame on her (as she was most probably in a state of undress)? Jesus averted his gaze (unlike the woman's accusers who were probably leering) as a further mark of grace and acceptance. It was only when the others had left the scene that we read that Jesus 'straightened up' (looked at her eye to eye?) Of course, all this is speculation, but it makes sense to me!

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

hey malcolm, i do know where you are coming from regarding the stooped position and that not bringing any more shame on the woman, but for a good while now i've been hounded by this writing/drawing part of the text - it seems to me it was included for a reason, but like most stories (though i recognise this not one of Jesus' parables) the story is part hidden part illusory.

i may be completly barking up the wrong tree, but something deep inside thinks the drawing had somepart to play and that it was the content of what was written/drawn that caused them to leave....

...and yeah, i think he would have looked her straight in the eye and she would have seen the kindest eyes a human could ever encounter - he may even given her his coat...who knows

ps, where were the disciples?

Suzanna said...

His statement to them may be a clue. It's not so much what is his answer to her sin, but what is ours? What would we write in the sand?
I feel somehow there might be a cultural clue to his bending down to write in the sand, but in the absence of knowledge, He asks me "what do you do when someone brings accusation before you?"
He doesn't want me to throw stones; -does he want me to bend down and keep busy, disengaged from the common argument so easy for us to be caught up in? The contemplative in him found the answer for her after the drama died down and she could face herself alone with him. Beautiful.

mister tumnus said...

this reminds me of the writing on the wall at belshazzar's feast which was a message of judgement. perhaps jesus' message was something pertaining to non-judgement. that'd be just like the bible wouldn't it?!

or maybe he was writing 'i've seen god and he's more like a woman (this woman?) than you think!'

Awareness said...

Good question! I'm laughing way over here at that photo you included.

I don't have an answer to your question yet, though the word "lust" seems to be filtering through my wee noggin. How about some lusty pic? Or, a statement like "Does your wife know where you were last night??" :)

Seriously, I think Jesus stooped down to draw in the sand so that the others were forced to look at the be able to see her in a different light. If Jesus hadn't looked down, they would've continue to focus their attention on him. The power behind the lesson would've disipated like water poured onto the sand.......

He redirected the light.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

I think this is an interesting bit of dialogue, and as I said to my friend malcolm, i may be barking up the wrong tree - i suppose i do have the right to be wrong

I like your thoughts very much, the idea of his actions tearing through time to beg questions to us, and i love 'the contemplative in him found the answer for her'

where would i be without your 'waits angle on life' - you see things i wish i could - the writing on the wall at belshazzar's feast did cross my mind too, but this is a priceless gem - wonderful my friend:

or maybe he was writing 'i've seen god and he's more like a woman (this woman?) than you think!'

who knows, maybe he even wanted to stick 2 fingers up at them and this was the best way to do just that

deep wisdom - that's why i throw these questions out there, love your mischievous take on lust - i mean these guys must have been in the room, hiding waiting for the sex to start - and the question I always come back to is 'where is the guy?'

the metaphor you use about redirecting the light though is very powerful indeed...

(ps, Thanks for the reminder of Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg)

For me it's a story which exposes the selfishness of those who hope to trap him in a conflict between morality and mercy. what was it is that C.S. Lewis said, 'Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.'

...maybe we will never know what was written or drawn....maybe in some bar in heaven he might tell us....maybe

Niki said...

I think the poor dude just wanted to take a minute to revel in spontaneous creativity.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

I couldn't agree more Niki, just wish I knew what the revelling creativity looked like...

Arlen Crawford said...

Twin Sons...great LP. Have you heard the sequel, No Resemblance Whatsoever?

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Hi Arlen

Yep Am afraid I havde all he has produced - strange that nothing much has been released of late, except 'Full Circle'

Arlen Crawford said...

That's because in May 2004 Fogelberg was diagnosed with an advanced case of prostrate cancer and has not toured or recorded since then. According to his web site, he is doing okay. I sure hope so.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Thanks Arlen, i had no idea. I'm not sure we will ever have such wonders as netherlands, captured Angel and the innocent age again, but i am thankful that for them - they have kept me good company on my journey - he's one of the best singer songwriters of them all in my book

Niki said...

Revelling in creativity can look like whatever you want it to, sparkle

The Meaning Weakened by the Lies said...

Harbour, I think you have a valid point. 'Where is the guy?'

I have no doubt that Jesus certainly avoided looking at her so as not to add to her shame. Her nakedness was all she probably was to any one of the men in there. (A pressure and cycle some women still feel today). Maybe he wrote something like 'forgiveness or death' She certainly would have died physically had they stoned her, but in the same vein, were they not forgiven their own sins then they could never reach eternal life.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...


the more i think about this the more i think it was a set up, the woman was a pawn in trapping Jesus - they didn't give a shit whether she lived or died - trouble is Jesus cared about it all, including the self righteous...

which is why i think what he drew in the sand had great significance...maybe