Updated: Jan 22, 2022
I’m reading James K.A. Smith’s You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit. In it, he explains the importance of apocalyptic literature, which is often wildly misinterpreted:
Seeing the world and our culture [clearly] requires a kind of wake-up call, a strategy for jolting us out of our humdrum familiarity and comfort with these institutions in order to see them for what they are.
Interestingly, Scripture has a way of doing this: it's called "apocalyptic" literature. Apocalyptic literature- the sort you find in the strange pages of Daniel and the book of Revelation is a genre of Scripture that tries to get us to see (or see through) the empires that constitute our environment, in order to see them for what they really are.
Unfortunately, we associate apocalyptic literature with "end-times" literature, as if its goal were a matter of prediction. But this is a misunderstanding of the biblical genre.
The point of apocalyptic literature is not prediction but unmasking- unveiling the realities around us for what they really are. While the Roman Empire pretends to be a gift to civilization and the zenith of human accomplishment, John's apocalyptic perspective from a heavenly angle shows us the reality: Rome is a monster. So apocalyptic literature is a genre that tries to get us to see the world on a slant, and thus see through the spin.
I want my art to be apocalyptic. In my last post, I talked about a piece that unmasks the horrors done to the least of these.
Someone came across some of my Bible doodles on Instagram the other day and messaged me how much she appreciates them for being “brutally honest.” That was such a compliment. I hadn’t thought of my art in those terms before, but I think that’s something to aim for:
“Brutally honest apocalyptic art.”