Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Name is Barabbas

My name is Barabbas.  I know what you’re thinking. This can’t be the same Barabbas I’ve heard of.  The Barabbas I know about was a wild man- a  vicious rabble rouser- an instigator of violence – a thrower of stones – a murderer. To all of which I say, yes.  All that and more. I didn’t get these scars be being a good little Jewish boy. I was an angry young man. If there had been a Hebrew Lives Matter movement, I would have led the march. And my cause was JUST.  This was our land, and these interlopers - these European Imperialists  - had no right to impose their rule over us! You see that cross there?  These Romans claimed it as a symbol of justice.  Of law and order.  But whose law?  When a law is imposed against the will of the people, is that justice?  Was it justice when I watched my people – members of my own family were tortured and killed on crosses like that?  No, to them, and to me, that cross was a symbol of oppression.  This was the tool used by monsters to keep our people from rising up.
So I did the only thing I felt was right- I fought against our oppressors. Eye for an eye and tooth for tooth.  Blood for blood!  The only justice was that which we made for ourselves.  I led our ragged band of freedom fighters in the uprising to overthrow the men who imposed this unjust rule on us.  In that fight, I drew blood.  I killed.  But in the end we were overwhelmed and overcome, and our insurrection came to an end.  That is how it happened that I was in prison during the week of the Passover feast.  And that is how I came to be offered to the people by Pilate as an alternative for Jesus bar Joseph, called by some the Christ.

I had heard of him and his teachings.  But I had never seen him before that day.   If I had, I’m sure I would have spit in his face and laughed his words to scorn.  How dare he to speak of peace while we were oppressed?  To speak of mercy while we were being unjustly treated?  To speak of love in response to such cruel hatred.
But that was before I saw him. That was before he died in my place.  When I grew up, I had a hard life.  You trust no one, you stay tough if you want to stay alive.  And you never, ever take a knife for someone else.  You look first to your own safety. You survive.  And yet, when Pilate gave the people a choice between him and me to be crucified, he seemed almost glad to die in my place. But what had he done wrong to deserve death?  Not even the religious sins the temple leaders accused him of! He talked too much, sure, but about love! I had killed a man.  If either of us was worthy of death it was me. 

After they freed me, I should have run away, gotten clear of them.   But I couldn’t.  I stood transfixed by the love I saw in this man’s eyes as the people mocked and ridiculed him.  Days before, I would have gladly joined them in their cruel laughter.  But he was standing in my place now, taking my punishment.  He had freed me from my bonds at the cost of his own life.

I followed all the way to Golgotha.  And there I watched him forgive the crowd, forgive the romans, forgive me.  And then I watched him die.  For me.  What did it all mean?  He could not be an ordinary man.  No ordinary man would do what he had done.  He had to be exactly who he claimed he was.  This man was the son of God.  And his act of mercy, his act of love, of forgiveness, had transformed the very image of the cross.  No longer could it stand for justice to the romans, or stand for oppression to me.  Instead of justice, it stood for mercy.  Instead of oppression it stood for freedom.  Instead of death, the cross now meant life.  And since that day, I have spent my life seeking to understand the full implications of that change.  I listened to the teachings of the apostles, and I looked to the prophets to see how his death—and resurrection had been promised.  How it meant mercy, forgiveness, and life.  And now. I share that message, that good news to you.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Centurion's Tale

And now, for something completely non-pictoral, I present a short monologue written for Easter.  I'll be performing this tomorrow and if i can managed to get it filmed, I'll add that video to the end of the post.  For now, here's the script:

You know how the story goes.  A cohort of roman soldiers gathered beneath the crosses. The messiest part of their work done they are now on their knees gambling, drawing lots for the soon-to-be dead man’s clothing. The leader of these men, a centurion, stands apart, watching the condemned man’s final moments of agony.  He is silent as he observes the manner in which this innocent convict meets his fate.  You know the words that centurion spoke as the man who hung from that cross gasped his last breath.  Well, I was that centurion, the man who executed the orders that killed the Son of God.

I also was there when they condemned this man, and sentenced him to death though they could not prove he had committed any crime.  His one offense that so outraged the Jewish leaders and compelled them to demand his life of Pilate?  He claimed to be King of the Jews and Son of God.  A bit crazy, perhaps, but a capitol crime?  Surely not.  And when faced with these accusations, did he become defensive or angry?  No, he stood in silence and accepted the charges.

When Pilate asked if it was true that he was King of the Jews, a simple, respectful reply was all he gave:  “it is as you say.”  So Pilate had us beat the man, hoping to appease the wrath of the Jewish leaders and avoid a riot.

Yes, we laughed at him then.  Mocked him, dressed him in rags, with a crow of thorns and a wooden scepter.  “Hail, King of the Jews,” we jeered.  A bit of harmless fun, we thought it.  We were not killing anyone, and his scars would heal in time, and maybe He would have some sense beaten into him and learn his proper place.

But this was not enough for the leaders.  They pushed and pushed until there was no choice.  In order to keep the peace, we must kill this harmless madman. 

As the crowds gathered around to toss insults at him while he hung in agony, did he lash out or hurl words of hate back at his mockers?  As nails ripped through the flesh of his hands and feet, did he cry out for mercy? Did he seek escape from his anguish by accepting painkillers offered to him?  No mere man could have refused such temptations!

Instead, he said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”  Speaking forgiveness of sin as only a God could give, and asking it of God himself, calling him Father? 

But there was more than just his attitude that was different.  When the thief that hung on his right asked forgiveness, He assured the man he would be in paradise with him that very day.  Only a God could make a promise like that.

And stranger still, at midday the sky grew dark, as if Creation itself was mourning his passing.  Only then did he call out, speaking to God with a familiarity that no man would dare.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And finally, as he died, were his last words those of hate, anger, despair or loss?  No, none of these; not even the acceptance of a beaten man, but something like victory rang out as he said, “It is finished! Into your hands I commit my spirit,” and he died.

Suddenly the ground beneath our feet began to tremble, as if rocked by great heaving convulsions of grief.

Surely this man was the Son of God. 

But why?  As he himself said, why had God forsaken him?  What was the cause?  I didn’t understand then, but I know now.  This was no mere political execution.  No mere appeasement of the masses. Certainly not the death of a madman or criminal.  No, this was a sacrifice.  This man, this Jesus, called the Christ, died in our place.  You, like I, caused his death.  This sacrifice was a payment of the penalty due for your sins and mine.  Truly, this man was the Son of God, and his gift, by his death, was life for us, a life in which we might also become sons and daughters of God.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ninja Turtle

A request was made by a little kid who sits in the row in front of me in church. "Draw me a ninja turtle." This was the result. Inked with a pentel brush pen, colored with marker, then highlighted with chalk pencil and shaded with charcoal pencil. I kind of like the effect of those blended media.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Playing with Colored Pencils

I've been experimenting with a pretty cool technique for getting really soft blending/coloring with colored pencils: spill the shavings from sharpening a woodless colored pencil onto the paper, and rub it gently in with a cloth or rag. The more pressure applied, the darker the color will be, but it gets a nice smooth application regardless.  It ends up looking similar to pastel chalk drawings.  Take a look at some of the early results:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Silly Symphonies (Comic Strip) animations from 1934-1935

These are animations that were created as basically space filler for the Silly Symphony comic strips produced by the walt disney company in 1934 and 1935.  I scanned them from a reprint of the strip put out by Abbeville press in 1980, and digitally brought them to life to share with everyone else out there who is into this sort of disney/animation ephemera.  Most of these are generic business by mickey and the gang, but it is interesting to see where they fit in the timeline of Disney history-  note for example one that has Mickey in his suit from The Band concert, the first Mickey cartoon in Technicolor, or the two animations of Donald Duck as he appeared shortly after his first role in the Silly Symphony "The Wise Little Hen," as well as one of the little red hen herself, not to be confused with Henrietta Hen, who makes an appearance in one of these animations performing a thrilling soprano aria.  Hope you all enjoy seeing these!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Drunk Duck Radio Comic page 8 planning sketches

some rough character design doodles:

and my rough layout sketches: