I had the privilege of hearing Makoto Fujimura speak earlier this evening at Duke and also this afternoon at a "Brown Bag" lunch event. This evening he spoke about John 11:4 in relation to his illuminated gospels project:
"Every act of creativity is, directly or indirectly, an intuitive response to offer to God what He has given to us. We twist this intuition and may create something transgressive and injurious, but this creative impulse originates from the Creator. Jesus wept.
Judas was livid at Mary’s act, and argued that the nard could have been sold and the money given to the poor (Mark 14:5). Pragmatism, legalism, and greed cannot comprehend the power of ephemeral beauty. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness; the opposite of beauty is legalism. Legalism is hard determinism that slowly strangles the soul. Legalism injures by giving pragmatic answers to our suffering. Legalism takes away life by forbidding the nard to be spilled onto our feet. Artists, like Mary, can intuitively give generatively and break open the oppression. Often, in the church and in the world, pragmatism and legalism stand in the way.
Artists need Jesus’ tears to create. They need to relate to Jesus’ tears.
Artists know the poor, and they do not need to be told by a legalist to give to the poor. Jesus knows that those who truly give cheerfully are merely responding to an extravagant God. What we deem to be extravagant and wasteful, Jesus calls the most necessary. The problem is not that we do not respond extravagantly to the poor; the problem is that we do not believe in an extravagant God."
The above passage is from an essay on his web site. To hear him articulate this in person was amazing and profoundly encouraging to me.
To learn more about Mako, visit his website: http://www.makotofujimura.com/ . His paintings for the Four Holy Gospels project will be exhibiting this summer at MOBiA in New York. I hope to make it up there to see his work in person...