My daughter Maria and I visited the Canton Museum of Art on January 2 to view the “Illuminating the Word” exhibit, which featured an extensive collection of pages from the St John’s Bible, handwritten and illuminated . (http://caelumetterra.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/a-rare-and-perfect-beauty/).
It was a Thursday, and it was snowing hard, so we had the museum to ourselves, or very nearly; there were only a couple of other people, who were in the next room, where the other exhibit was.
The very last illuminated page that we viewed was, appropriately, from the Book of Revelation. As we stood there trying to take in such a work of beauty and perfection one of the men walked out of the other room and stood beside me.
“That is from the Book of Revelation” he said.
Oh, oh, I thought, but just said “Yes, I know.”
“It is about the return of Jesus Christ.” he said.
I felt like saying “No shit”, but as I was raised to be polite I just said “I know.”
“I believe that He is returning very soon” said the stranger.
“Well people have thought that ever since He left” I replied.
“That’s true” he admitted.
“In the late 70s”, I said before he could continue, “I was sure that He would be back very soon, yet here we are.”
“So you are His disciple?”
“Not a very good one”, I said, “But then He sets a very high standard, doesn’t He?”
The man had to agree.
I continued “But I know that He is merciful and He loves sinners, so I have hope.”
He looked a little confused, as his recitation had been sidetracked, and he mumbled something and walked away.
This was my first encounter with an erstwhile evangelist in a long time. I’m sure the guy had the best motives in the world, but I question how hanging around a museum exhibit, by the page from Revelation, waiting to ambush innocent sinners with your canned spiel is serving God. Apparently it did not occur to this man that the beauty of the Illuminated Word is itself a witness, that souls are more attracted to God by beauty than by propositional truth. I am sure that most museum goers would simply be annoyed at someone intruding like that.
God bless him, I know he meant well. But this just seemed like the latest evidence of the density of much of the evangelical world, oblivious that they are repelling people rather than attracting them to God.
Which is not to say that Catholics and Orthodox Christians do not do the same.
If you click a couple of times on the image you can view it larger.