The Melancholy of Edvard Munch

munchDecember 2, 1863 – January 23, 1944, he was a Norwegian painter. He is regarded as a Symbolist and a forerunner of expressionism. He focused on themes of fear, anxiety, melancholy, and death. He did not believe in heaven, or other Christian themes or doctrines, as far as I know.

My intention is to reintroduce you to an artist that I highly esteem.  The challenge I suppose is to understand the issues that Munch discovers in his work. He clearly taps into the ‘angst’ of the modern man, and what he does perpetuates a mindset for our generation.

Obviously these paintings are just an introduction, and I understand that they are selective. I have refrained from any kind of interpretation, other than laying down a general principle–  to Munch, color is everything.

Munch was probably not a cheery person. He essentially was driven by anxiety through his whole life. It seems that he could be very ambitious. His classic work was “The Scream” which he made several versions to sell. He used different mediums to do this– tempera, lithograph and pastel. Interestingly, “The Scream” is a favorite target for art thefts. It captures the minds of every modern thinker.

Within our culture, “The Scream” is iconic. Warhol, Gary Larson, Dr. Who and even “The Simpsons” have cashed in on a parody of it.

Quotes

“I painted the picture, and in the colors the rhythm of the music quivers. I painted the colors I saw.”

“Painting picture by picture, I followed the impressions my eye took in at heightened moments. I painted only memories, adding nothing, no details that I did not see. Hence the simplicity of the paintings, their emptiness.”

“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.”

“Disease, insanity, and death were the angels that attended my cradle, and since then have followed me throughout my life.”

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The Scream, 1893
Munch’s best known painting ^

 

The Sick Child (1885)
Melancholy, 1894
Melancholy, 1894
Golgotha, 1900
Golgotha

My Favorite Psalm

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Probably the best known Psalm in the Bible is Psalm 23:The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want . . .” And I do like this Psalm. I particularly like the part that says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with me.” I like this part because of the preposition “through,” which indicates the valley of the shadow of death is not a permanent dwelling place, but rather a place we travel through to get somewhere else. But this is not my favorite Psalm.

Psalm 22 is also another popular one, especially since Jesus quoted it on the cross when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I like this Psalm because of it’s prophetic nature. Looked at closely you can find many of the things that would later happen to Jesus talked about by David in this Psalm even though David did not know that is what he was doing. But this is not my favorite Psalm either.

Psalm 27 is another favorite of many because it gives courage when it says, “ The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” In a sometimes terrifying and wearying world, this Psalm provides great comfort to those enduring trials. But this is not my favorite either.

If you ask most Christians (and even some non-Christians), they will have a favorite Psalm, and I am no different. My favorite is Psalm 116. This Psalm starts in verse 1 with: “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.” This is a Psalm of David when he was in great anguish and danger. The verses that speak to me the most are 3-4 and 8-9.

3 The cords of death entangled me,
       the anguish of the grave came upon me;
       I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

 4 Then I called on the name of the LORD :
       “O LORD, save me!”

8For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
       my eyes from tears,
       my feet from stumbling,

 9 that I may walk before the LORD
       in the land of the living.

Reading this Psalm reminds me of my journey through major depression and how God was with me in it all. It reminds me why I trust in Him – because He has proven Himself faithful to me in the past and has heard my cries for mercy. I supposed Psalms 23, 22, or 27 could serve the same purpose, but the language of Psalm 116 more closely fits the trouble and sorrow I went through, especially the part about delivering my eyes from tears. If you have ever experienced major depression, or known someone who has, you know that tears are an almost constant companion, and yet there is no understanding of why they are there.

I still have times of melancholy, and I certainly cry from time to time. But now I can identify what is making me blue and my tears have a reason and purpose when they come. And my God is always there to hear my cries of mercy.

So this is my favorite Psalm. What’s yours?

ysic, Linda K.

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The Day Jesus Sang

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“Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.” 

Matt. 26:30

This is the only place in scripture where it was recorded that Jesus sang.  There is no question that He sang on other occasions, we just don’t know the specifics.  The hymn on the way to the Mount would’ve been from the Book of Psalms, and most likely one of the Psalms of Ascent that would of coincided with that particular date. These hymns were known as the Hallel Psalms (meaning “Praise” psalms), and consisted of Psalms 113-118.

Jesus ‘singing’ tells us a lot of His frame of mind while heading for His death in just a few hours.  When a man is about to be executed at a definite place and time its unlikely that you will find him to be musically inclined.  Yet Jesus joined His brothers in singing to the Glory of God. He sings from darknesses depth.

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.”

John 4:23, NLT

The search in on!  The Father looks into our hearts to find something special.  Is it there?  Will He choose you?  Let’s not foolishly think that because you play the piano or the guitar you’ll be a “shoe-in.”  “Spirit and truth” is the awareness needed.  Being ‘filled with the Spirit’ is the only thing that is really necessary.

“Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”

Ephesians 5:19, NLT

An insincere heart can’t worship sincerely.

God is looking for worship that’s sincere and strong.  If we are not “spirit and truth” worshippers we can’t fake it. It is malfunctioning. But we can commence to begin.  We can start by preparing our hearts.  Putting them under the spigot of the spirit and of truth.  Let them soak like a sponge in God’s grace.  Things that are dry, will saturate themselves in God.

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Anchored to Him

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“Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”

Hebrews 6:18-19, NLT

“Every thing that is done in the world is done by hope.”  ~Martin Luther

“To live without hope is to cease to live.”  ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

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We must never give up our hope. In some sense we must guard our tether that reaches into heaven. The writer of Hebrews develops this idea into an exhortation. We are linked by hope as an “anchor for our souls.”

Many years ago I signed on as a deckhand fishing ‘long line’ for halibut in the Gulf of Alaska. We had to fish for 24 hours straight, we couldn’t put the long line into the water until midnight, and then we went all out until midnight the next day. It was brutal and cold work.

The ship’s anchor was vital. We ‘holed up’ in a sheltered cove were we spent a day resting up near Kodiak Island. I was as green as they come; I dreamed that we would make a fortune the next day. I suppose I was a bit deluded.

Anchors come in a dozen shapes and sizes: some are for muddy bottoms, others for sand or rock. The anchor is the only tether or connection to the ocean floor. It allows the ship to be fixed in one spot temporarily. The open sea is always churning and tides and currents are almost always running; the wind is always a factor.

wave1Waves can get rather dangerous. There can be sense of riding a roll-coaster. I have been at the wheel when water broke over the cabin. I knew real fear. (Watch the movie, “The Perfect Storm.”)

Our own hope is a ‘strong’ and reliable anchor for our souls. Let’s face reality. The storms we are traversing through can be formidable. Sometimes, we honestly wonder if we are going to make it. Having a mental or physical illness gives more credence to the power of the wind and waves.

But we have an anchor; it holds and tethers us to that which is solid and eternal. Our hope is in Jesus; he is both eternal and tender, and ever-present for us. Our anchor holds.

aabryscript

 

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