Artist’s statement: “Heretic’s Diary”
This show was not a light-hearted undertaking. Many years of painting, research and reflection have gone into it. I have read the Bible cover-to-cover and many other books to try to understand what religion is all about.
I acknowledge that some good has been done in the name of religion and by its churches and I would never want to diminish the comfort it brings to so many people. This show deals with another aspect: the damage inflicted on cultures and societies—physical and emotional damage suffered by countless individuals—all in the name of religion.
The paintings are not meant to hurt anyone; my hope is that they will promote conversation. This show is an expression of my personal journey from the fundamentalist teachings of my childhood to the present day. (Thus there are no paintings on Islam, Judaism or other religions; I wasn’t brought up in those cultures.) As a nonbeliever (or heretic, as I would have been called at other times in history) surrounded by people who believed in a deity, I became silent. But as I started these paintings it became clear to me that silent is not what I should be. Why should my beliefs—and more so, my questions—go unheard?
Every day scientific discoveries show us how the earth has become what it is. We can translate and read myths from before Christ and see where many Bible stories have come from, how the Bible was put together and by whom. We can look at the history of Christianity and see what has happened to keep it alive. But not many people take the time to examine their beliefs or to research the book they base their life on. If we question things that don’t make sense to us, we are told, with circular logic, that we “must have faith.”
It is certainly simpler to accept the myths than to live in fear that one might die and spend eternity in hell. It’s much easier to err on the side of religion. Is it really faith? Or is it really fear? And what does being religious mean, when we pick and choose what we want to believe from the Bible? Is it God’s word or not?
Most religions are ancient belief systems, yet we let such beliefs, often based in ancient fear and hearsay, define our own beliefs, values, and even our lives. A disturbing number of people in this country take everything stated in the Bible at face value, yet as hard as they try to prove that stories of the Bible are true, they cannot.
Throughout history, people have questioned religion. But innocent people have been tortured or killed to assure that the church retains its power and keeps ancient beliefs alive. Many religious believers still live in fear.
By letting the Bible and all its beliefs serve as an historical text and not “the truth” I have moved into a world of little guilt, with lots of time to wonder and a freedom to feel what’s really going on around me. On my own terms I am able to appreciate every moment I have here on earth with those I love. There are so many very important, urgent things we need to consider as human beings. I don’t have the answers and that’s OK for me. The paintings in this show give voice to my personal questions.