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5.30.2016

O, Happy Fault!


O Happy Fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer! (O Felix Culpa - from the Exultet)

The busy bee  in the above picture is a correction bee. He is drawn into The Saint John's Bible - a modern, completely illuminated copy of scripture. The illuminators made mistakes - of course they did. because everyone does. Their genius is in their delight of correction - redemption. This bee is drawn hauling up, by elaborate pulley, a bit of corrected text. He is a part of the work. A very important part.  And they made that work beautiful and complex, because it is. 

Computers and software are a great blessing. But they allow us to hide our corrections, at least superficially. I wonder if they also increase shame. They allow us to fix so quickly, and yet my frustration seems to increase when I find them. I find that I am tempted to be smug when I find errors in the text of others. There errors make me feel better about my own. (their, they're there, now!)

What if our religion offers us another way, a way which we ignore (what's new?)  A way in which errors are greeted with delight because they offer chance of a beautiful and creative redemption. What if our sins are not proof of our depravity but delightful opportunity for grace? What if the open and beautiful work of repair was highlighted, celebrated. 

Would you call the rest of this illuminated text depraved and fallen because it has errors? Could you frame that correction bee as punishment or penance? Or would you praise their honesty and  creativity?  Do not the errors and their redemptions make the text better than perfect?

You may keep your Adam in his unfallen state. I will take Peter and Paul, fools and failures redeemed. I will stand with Magdalen, her demon-scars still visible.



The Saint John's Bible is housed at St. John's University, Collegeville MN. I hope to see it in July.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Saint_John's_Bible



Comments:
After doing a practice run of a lecture I'm giving in Australia, one Friend advised me to practice it again, making as many mistakes as possible -- that will take away the nervousness. He said he learned this when he was working in the opera.

 
I got to see the St John´s Bible in media res when it was shown under construction (without bees) at Tacoma Art Museum. Spectacular. The Psalms and the book of Genesis are both great calligraphy and great illustrations = great artwork. Enjoy!
 
It is a grace to read text like this now and then. It reminds me what all of it is about.
 
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