Modern Christian Art and Mt Sinai

Preface

Like most believers in this era, I know little about Christian art. The Church – the People of Christ – decided to trust a bunch of atheists and agnostics with the education of our children and the protection of our culture, in return for easy living under the sheltering hand of the self-adoring State.

Naturally and inevitably, we were betrayed. Snake-oil salesmen promising something for nothing should be best avoided.

But, I believe all that we lost will be regained and then some, thanks to homeschoolers at one hand, and the self-impoverishment of the God-State at the other. It will be slow-going, but it will get done.

Modern Art

One example of Modern Christian Art I would offer is the game Journey. It is not the work of one believing man, Jenova Chen, but he gave the direction for his game and his company. He desired to make a co-operative game, instead of a competitive game; a game of beauty rather than strife. It was not an easy task, as he describes here.

Watching video play-throughs of the game, I was struck by the use of biblical symbolism, often unknowingly I suspect. For example, the dangerous war machines have a striking resemblance to dragons and snakes, as we can see here:

Or consider the mountain that the journey is aimed for: a cleft at the top of a mountain. As Chen notes, he initially had the journey’s goal being a cleft in a canyon wall, and only later raised it up to the top of a mountain.

Mt. Sinai: The Mountain of God & The Cleft in the Rock

I did not realize this until after reading the article “The Stones Will Cry Out” by Miles R. Jones, Ph.D. – found in the May/June 2013 issue of Faith For All Life, a magazine you can subscribe to at http://chalcedon.edu/ .

In this article, Dr. Jones focuses on Jebel al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia as the real location of Mt Sinai. But my focus here is the description of Mt Sinai given in the Bible, which refers to a cleft that can be found at Jebel al-Lawz, page 7:

The Lord informed Moses of the debauchery of the idolaters going on below. Moses descended the mountain holding the precious gift of God in his hands. He saw how unworthy the people were to understand or appreciate God’s gift, since many were already lost in pagan celebration and licentiousness. In his anger, he broke the tablets as his testimony to the unworthiness of the Israelites. As the tablets broke, a great earthquake engulfed the camp.

Moses gathered the sons of Levi and commanded them to slay all of the idolaters, be they brothers, companions, or neighbors, “and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (Ex. 32:28). The Caldwells investigated and photographed an ancient graveyard two kilometers from the base of Jebel al-Lawz. It contains thousands of graves in an area where there has never been a significant population except during the Exodus. Moses ascended the mountain again, the sixth encounter, to seek the Lord’s forgiveness for the sins of his people.

Moses descended and moved the tabernacle away from the main camp as the Lord had commanded. After he did so a cloud descended upon the taber- nacle and the Lord spoke to Moses from out of the cloud, the seventh encounter: He “spake unto Moses face to face,
as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Moses beseeched Yahweh to show him His glory. The Lord agreed, excepting that “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live… I will put thee in a cleft of the rock … while I pass by … and thou shalt see my back” (Ex. 33:20–23). Moses was instructed by the Lord to “be ready in the morning” (Ex. 34:2) and to come up into the mount. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest” (Ex. 34:1). Moses hewed the tablets and “rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone” (Ex. 34:4). At the initial peak of Jebel al-Lawz in Midian, there is a prominent cleft in the rock just above a cave. In the story of Elijah, after an encounter with an angel of the Lord, he traveled for forty days and nights until he arrived “unto Horeb the mount of God … and he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there …” (1 Kings 19:8). Elijah encountered God on that peak and on that same peak Moses had his eighth encounter with God and witnessed His glory. “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord … and … passed by before him” (Ex. 34:5–6).

For the second time Moses passed forty days and nights with the Lord and when he descended from communing with Yahweh his face radiated brilliance so intense the Israelites could not look upon him. There, guided by the hand of God, Moses “wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten command- ments” (Ex. 34:28).

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Write these words, For after the purpose and character of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Ex. 34:27). When Moses returned from
his eighth encounter he told Aaron to gather all the people in order to convey God’s word written upon the tablets of stone. Because his face shown with such intensity, Moses wore a veil while he spoke to the people and reiterated the commandments God had given him. However, when “Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded” (Ex. 34:34).

That was Moses’ ninth encounter with Yahweh at Sinai.

The importance of the cleft is the driving force of the game Journey: it is the goal that the traveller pushes forward. In the gameplay, the Cleft in the Rock is a near-perfect allegory for God Himself; of Heaven (and, better yet, the New Creation); and His Law-Word.

The Law-Word of God

Speaking of the Law-Word: because Chen didn’t want people to be hostile and curse each other, but still wanted a connection between the players, language is reduced to beeps and complex (but meaningless) symbols. But in-game, the symbols have meaning, and can be seen as an allegory of the Word of God.

Once this is accepted, the sheer importance of the Word becomes obvious. It allows the traveller and his companion (if any) to fly. It is the very basis of the lost civilization that the traveller explores: the Word came from the mountain as a seed from the Mountain of God. It was used to create a wondrous culture, but a culture that began to worship mere power – symbolized by the clouds and the banging sounds of the old machines – and then destroyed itself in war.

After the war, after the death, the clouds dispersed… and a small part of the Word even came down, to create the traveller himself.

(Much of this can be seen in the video above)

The Sorrows of Rebellion

An additional note before I close off. From the beginning of the game, we are reminded of the deaths of many, many people by the graves, and sometimes by pictures of the rows of the dead as well. For a game that was never really intended as an allegory of Mt. Sinai – only to connect people – it’s a very good allegory for the thousands of people who were killed when they worshipped the golden calf at the foot of the mountain.

Summary

If the average Christian made this game as a deliberate allegory, it would be too forced, too preachy, too heavy-handed. It wouldn’t be beautiful, it wouldn’t be art, and it wouldn’t touch the soul.

Without even deliberately trying to do so, Chen showed us how good Christian Art should be made. Beautiful, moving, complex, subtle, but with a strong storyline, and not shying away even from death and grief.

The Establishment has chosen to suppress the glory of Christ. Your job is to uncover it, draw from it, and let it shine. Perhaps some of the lost artist and poets can give you a hand (Ben Jonson, anyone? How about Milton? Anyone? Anyone?). But God rightfully demands that new songs of praise be sung, and – as we watch The New Order crumble under the weight of its own lies and delusions – we should get to work, laying down new dreams and returning to old truths.

The Ultimate Resource

I have recently discovered a book, The Ultimate Resource  (an updated version can be read online here). Pu simply, the book argues that scares resources have rising prices, which leads people to find a low-cost substitute.

The ultimate resource is not gold, oil, uranium, or even something basic like heat and light. It is people themselves. People both create demand for a product, and find ways to create it.

I think that all Christians should agree with this viewpoint. Simple raw numbers isn’t the way to go, even if it is better than an uninhabited wasteland. We need more of the ultimate resource, more young people: they need to be raised in the fear of the Lord, to have a strong work ethic, to understand His law and be well-equipped to apply it, and to have a heart of love. Raised right, these young people –  may they outnumber the sand – will change the world, for the better!

Large godly families are better than small godly ones: this is the source of any future worth talking about. Godly families that turn away from the road to hell tend to be more creative and more persistent than the wicked, and more financially successful as well. On the other hand, the wicked can and should diminish in their sterility, their perversions, their refusal to work.

God wants us to choose life, for our families and ourselves, And the more life, the better!