One of my most vivid childhood memories is finding a picture in a coffee table book on the art of famous painters. Amidst the pious Madonnas, the agonizingly crucified Saviors, the curved and plump depictions of femininity and the various other expressions of ‘Ars gratia artis’ was de Goya’s piece ‘Satan devouring his children’.
Since then, the painting and the concept behind it have rattled around in the back of my mind. For example, from my perspective as a Christian, I’ve wondered what homicide bombers think, in the first moments of existence on the other side of eternity, when they realize what awaits them is not the 72 virgins they were promised.
To believe something, to heavily invest in it emotionally only to have it let you down when you need it most, is devastating. This is true of ideology and also of relationships - relationships in general and of the relationship with our parents in particular. With the possible exception of relationship with a spouse, no other relationship means more to us than the one we have with our parents.
Whether your relationship with your parents is good or bad, you understand what’s at stake. If it’s good, you remember the fear it might not turn out to really be that way at some point. If it’s bad, you already understand from experience more painful than most will ever know.
CCM artist Bob Bennett penned a lyric many years ago that established the goal. He wrote, “There’s no such thing as divorce/between a father and a son/between a daddy and his daughter.” Put bluntly, good parents don’t betray the trust their kids put in them. For my mother, true to her Missouri farm girl roots, it was rather less dainty. Parents who wouldn’t live up to their responsibilities didn’t deserve to draw another breath. Farm animals that didn’t care for their young were killed. Problem solved.
Enter Goya and his art. Satan is evil. We all understand that. But Goya’s painting evokes a strong response and heightens the devil’s heinousness. Many of his servants, no doubt, use him as much as he uses them. Bad boys, they earn their wage playing with a bad boy badder than themselves. They took their shot and failed. But what of those more innocent, to whom the father of lies whispers enticing promises in order to bind them to him with no intention of keeping his end of the bargain? What of those whom Satan devours?
Such is the picture, the dilemma and the emotion Goya’s painting evokes. But it’s all hypothetical. It’s just a painting after all. It’s just art. I can identify with the feeling but I’m safe because the people I trust wouldn’t turn on me like that. That is, until life imitates art.
We’re about to enter (actually, it looks as if we have already entered) the primary season for the 2008 presidential election. If the recent past is any indicator, it is going to be a rough ride for Democrats. Republicans tend to be more private in their differences. Reagan established the boundaries with, ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican!’ Republicans disagree with their colleagues but they tend to do it more discreetly. There are exceptions, of course, but nothing that comes close to recent doings on the Left.
First there was Joe Lieberman. A Democrat Senator since 1989 and his party’s candidate for VP in 2000, Joe dared to break with his party on one issue, that of the war in Iraq. For his chutzpah, he was made a pariah and his own party supported another Democrat to take his Senate seat in 2006. A sitting Senator opposed by his own party after years spent supporting that party yet differing with it on just one issue!
Now David Geffen publicly insults, of all people, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Need I say she is a sitting Democrat Senator and former First Lady? Democrats running to her defense are conspicuous in their absence. Geffen and others now flocking to the bandwagon of B Obama, the new darling of the Left, have only scorn and insult for the one they formerly fawned over and lionized. Loyal Democrats publicly, intentionally and mercilessly thrown under the bus when their perceived value is diminished and their talents no longer needed. Satan devouring his children …
Understand, I’m not calling Democrats Satan or satanic or even evil. I’m wondering what is going through the minds of Lieberman, Clinton and their peers when the party discards them so casually? Do any wonder if they are next? Which of today’s icons will bleed tomorrow’s ichor? Who is currently bulletproof but will be felled in a hail of rhetorical gunfire tomorrow? Is anyone asking himself, don’t my years of faithful service count for anything? Does anyone feel betrayed by the father that loved them, lured them and then left them?
Resisting the urge to close with, “Bon appetit!” …