Posted by: owizblog | April 26, 2017

The Screaming Sky: Thought For The Day, Radio Scotland, 26 April 2017

Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream” is everywhere, even coffee-mugs! Some mornings I need three mugs of coffee before my world stops looking as disjointed and unsettling as the world of that poor, tormented chap, hands held to his head, open-mouthed, unheard…

And there’s the swirling, angry, palate of colours in the sky; unearthly reds, oranges, cold blue and white streaks, picked up in the pallid face as though the world itself catches his despair

Scientists love this sky! Some connect it with the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa, which coloured global sunsets for two years. But now, Norwegian researchers wonder if Munch captured the rare phenomenon of “mother-of-pearl” clouds – thin formations at very high altitudes and low temperatures; sudden, sky-transforming swirls of blood-reds and oranges just as Munch described seeing once, in his diary.

A moment when the world seems to feel what we feel. This is the critic John Ruskin’s “pathetic fallacy”, that things, landscapes, the weather, reflect our emotions; the sky weeps, or daffodils dance in the breeze. It’s a fallacy we need. The sense that the whole world couldn’t care less can be very hard to take.

The end of Luke’s Gospel presents two people walking a country road, crushed by the trauma and grief of Jesus’ death. Blazing middle-eastern sun, no doubt. They want the sky to scream, the universe, to acknowledge their pain – but it doesn’t. Nothing does. A figure appears, joins them. “Tell me about it…” And they do. The sun beats down, the sky is brazen, nothing has changed. But what they feel, what they have experienced, has registered. It’s only as he leaves them that they realize who this was…

“Religion” said a cynic “is humanity’s attempt to communicate with the weather.” It isn’t, of course. But we do chronically look in the wrong direction for God. We need to look, not to a distant, unfeeling sky, but to where we are, who we meet, those who journey with us on the road. That, says Luke, is where we find God.

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