Praying Angry

Note: I use swears and talk about tough topics. You are warned.

On Wednesday night we had an artist, Fred Feldmesser, come and talk to my Theology and the arts class. In addition to art, Fred is a diamond dealer, this is how he makes his living. The money from his art sales goes to support children’s hospitals in New York, where he is from, and LA, where he lives. Fred talked to the class about going into hospitals under the name “Freddy Rocker” to talk about gems to sick and dying kids. He does this because sometimes helping a child forget their pain for a moment is the best thing you can do in a world of pain and brokenness.

In our class we have been talking about “What is art, and who is an artist? What is Theology and who is a Theologian? And what is worship and who is a worshiper?” The question took on new meaning when we viewed the art of Fred Feldmesser because Fred is an atheist. Nevertheless much of Fred’s art uses religious imagery.

One piece of his art stood out to me. It was a painting of a child in a white robe, halo on his head kneeling by the bed in prayer. To this painting Fred had added the words in large block type “What the Fuck”.

In his conversation it seemed to me that this painting succinctly summed up his view of the world. Fred talked about seeing the violence and brokenness in the world and being mad about it. Much of this he blames on organized religion, not just Christianity, as well as government and capitalism.

Whatever the reason we do live in a broken world. Today I was asked to pray for a girl raped in an alley, and a boy beaten with a crowbar. Fred’s prayer, which is what it is whether he knows it or not, is the most appropriate prayer I can think of for those situations. “God, What the Fuck?!”

I don’t expect an answer, at least not directly. I think the best I can hope for is the response of God to Job: an encounter with God. This isn’t an answer, but a reminder that God is still God, and that God still loves us even in the brokenness.

I don’t have an answer, but I am grateful, somehow, that my heart still breaks, sometimes, with the things that break God’s heart. And now I pray “God, heal us, for we all are broken.”

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