Two images have been seared in my mind these past few days. Both are scandalous, although for differing reasons.
The image of George Floyd…
…and the image of President Trump.
The contrast between the two is stark. The image of Floyd’s death comes to us raw, unfiltered, even a bit “grainy” as it was a moment captured by a nearby observer. The image of President Trump is crystal clear in its definition, properly footnoted as an AP photo, a carefully curated piece of political propaganda. We see George Floyd in his black tank top and the President in his suit and tie. Floyd’s hands are behind his back; Trump’s hand holds up a Bible. And the images emerge to us from their contexts: we see one man being pinned to the ground by law enforcement officials until he passes out and, ultimately, dies; we see another man whose security detail forcibly pushes back peaceful protesters in order for this photo to be secured.
These two images are more than the latest grist for our insatiable cable news echo chambers. These pictures might very well be Rorschach tests that reveal to us the condition of our souls.
Which image is an allegory for the image of Christ? The triumphalistic commander-in-chief? Or the incarcerated criminal?
What do you feel when you look at these pictures?
(If you’re tempted to roll your eyes and write me off as simply propagating the political ideology of “the other side” — the side which you oppose — I want to say that I’ve long since renounced partisan politics, at least the bifurcated iterations of “conservative” and “liberal” which seem to dominate the political landscape of this country. I often feel alienated from both parties, so I feel no compulsion to defend or destroy either side. I neither idolize nor demonize.)
My greatest interest at this point in my life is to preach Christ crucified. Which is why these images are so important to me.
One image reminds me of Christ; the other of anti-Christ.
That’s what I see.