What we can learn about authority from Banksy

The above is a photo of a Banksy print which hangs in my hall. (Sorry, Banksy, if I should have asked permission to use the image.) A question I have when I look at the picture is whether the character depicted was always intending to throw a bouquet of flowers or whether the missile he was originally holding miraculously turned into a bouquet as he drew back his arm. Maybe as you look at the image, you have other questions. As with any artistic creation, be that a painting, a poem etc., we cannot know the mind of its creator unless the creator shares their thinking. I enjoy finding out how others interpret art (using that term in its widest sense), but get a little annoyed when someone speaks authoritatively on the what’s its creator means when the creator hasn’t otherwise shared the meaning or symbolism of their creation.

For me, the same is true when I read (and it is generally reading, although it can sometimes be listening) what others have to say about God. If the person comes across as too authoritative, my reaction is how can you possibly know for sure. It is in sharing thoughts and ideas and reflecting together that we can possibly bring some of the Creator’s thinking to light. Some people say they have a faith but prefer to practise it alone. That’s fine but there is something about sharing with others what we think Jesus or the Bible means which enriches our faith. We explore together and even then we can only hope to deepen our understanding, not find all the answers:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 – New Revised Standard Version)

Published by Angie Allport

Methodist minister

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