One Nation Under God
Few issues ignite more controversy than America’s Christian roots.
Who could forget Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s insistent claim that not only had God created this nation, He wrote the Constitution too, thus sealing the deal that we are a Christian Nation, making separation of church and state a moot point.
And Conservative Christian Ben Carson who is being widely considered as a 2016 presidential candidate, asserted a while back that “there are many well documented stories about God’s intervention on behalf of our country during the War of Independence.”
The religious right love to rewrite history.
A Leap of Faith
It follows then that they continue to reshape Jesus in their image, transforming the peace-loving compassionate Jew into a war-loving, wealthy Republican preaching selfishness and right-wing capitalism.
In keeping with the right-wing Christian’s attempt to recreate a world that never existed, lets take a leap of faith.
If God created this nation doesn’t it makes sense that his only son be born here?
What if Jesus was really an all American boy?
The Boyhood Of Jesus
An earlier generation of Americans were presented with one such fantastical notion in a series of charming paintings that ran in a Christmas issue of Life Magazine in 1938 depicting the boyhood of Jesus as if he were born and raised in New England.
The beautifully rendered paintings painted in the style of illuminated manuscripts were the work Lauren Ford a devout artist who wished to bring the teaching of Jesus to the modern world. In the familiar setting of her farm in Bethlehem Connecticut among barns and silos, pumps and rails fences she depicts the birth of Christ.
By painting the Holy family as if they were country neighbors, Miss Ford followed in the traditions of the great Renaissance artists who also painted the son of God and His followers as if he lived in their own towns and times. Her paintings are supplemented by texts from Mathew and Luke.
“Far from sacrificing any of its majesty,” Life explained to the reader, “Ford has brought new truth and universality to the immortal story.”
These eight paintings were published in children’s picture book called “The Ageless Story” that Lauren Ford wrote. Printed in 1939 by Dodd Mead and Company it won the Caldecott Honor Book in 1940 as the most distinguished American picture book for children that year.
Visually transforming the brown-skinned Middle Eastern Jew into a white skinned blue-eyed blonde Yankee, Jesus’s re-imagined childhood is straight out of a Currier and Ives print.
A few years later in its Christmas issue of 1944 Life featured a portfolio of Laurens Fords religious paintings and said of her art:
“Once in every generation of painters ever since the first story of Christ was told in pictures one artist has emerged who can tell the ancient story better than any contemporary. Today in the US Lauren Ford is such a painter.”
“Portraying Christ as if He were born and raised in New England,” the article explains, “a devout artist proves that his life is timeless and universal.”
Indeed, Jesus’s message of sympathy to the poor, enmity to the rich, and love for humanity is more timely than ever. And one needn’t be a Christian to have that faith.
Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved