Bone Dead, and Rising
Vincent Van Gogh and the Self before God
Imprint: Cascade Books
276 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.56 in
- Published: March 2011
- Published: March 2011
- Published: March 2011
Here is a vivid, poetic, and evocative story of the painter Vincent van Gogh's struggle to become his true self. The author listens in on Vincent's most intimate, frequently startling thoughts on a host of topics, drawn from three volumes of his correspondence and his 900 extant paintings. What emerges is the portrait of an artist whose spiritual vision was borne of an agonizingly prolonged experience of the "dark night of the soul" through which his art dared to envision the triumph of joy over sorrow, of resurrection over suffering and death. Readers will discover that in many ways Vincent's story is as much about us as about him. Tracing van Gogh's pilgrimage from being an apprentice art dealer to being called to minister, in self-renunciation and misery, among destitute coal miners, the narrative follows his winding, tortuous path into adulthood as he struggles with family, associates, lovers--and with himself. Constantly evidenced in Vincent's own eloquent words and paintings is his tussle with the mysterious presence and maddening absence of God. Vocation unveils as a process of summoning and birthing his own self, through an attempt to imitate Christ, calling forth van Gogh's extraordinary creative powers from deep within. Adding choice supplies from other observers, Davidson here weaves his own exact, artful tapestry of interpretation, producing a suspenseful excursion into the life of van Gogh that offers profound meaning at every turn.
"This richly detailed and deeply felt account of van Gogh's tormented and self-tormenting life, together with many telling quotations from his correspondence with his faithful brother Theo, will be essential reading for all who see him as one of the geniuses of the nineteenth century."
author of Secrets in the Dark and The Yellow Leaves
"Charles Davidson's book viewing Vincent van Gogh's life and work is an excellent contribution to ways we might best understand the artist's struggle and spirituality. The flow of the narrative and the presence of theological and psychological motifs help us re-vision the artist in a postmodern framework that opens new and creative channels for understanding."
author of Van Gogh and God, The Shoes of Van Gogh, and Mystery of the Night Cafe
"This work of supreme art unveils Vincent van Gogh's own great art--in life, work, and death. It accomplishes this in amazingly varied fashion and unpretentious, religious depth. It is remarkably attuned to, and mostly uses, Vincent's own strikingly honest, poetic statements in company with some of Vincent's paintings. In the process, it interprets both with every conceivably appropriate tool, drawing in others' profoundly insightful responses to Vincent with the author's own. From beginning to end, Charles Davidson--pastor, teacher, clinician, poet, musician, and scholar--has created, reflectively, a rare, simply magnificent portrayal. Any attentive reader who has known either deprivation or struggle in life can find here a healing love and joy."
--Terrence N. Tice
editor of Hermann Peiter's collected essays, Christian Ethics According to Schleiermacher, and translator of Friederich Schleiermacher's Christmas Eve Celebration
"Bone Dead, and Rising is a psychologically and theologically incisive analysis of the life and work, the psyche and spirituality of Vincent Van Gogh. It is difficult to imagine that the artist himself would have missed the magnitude and worthiness of this verbally artistic rendering."
--Lallene J. Rector
co-editor of Psychological Perspectives and the Religious Quest
"Charles Davidson's remarkable volume is a powerful and pastorally sensitive biblical/theological interpretation of Vincent van Gogh's utterly productive and painful pilgrimage as a passionate artistic genius. Davidson's exquisite exegesis of Vincent's voluminous correspondence to his caring brother (who was convinced of his greatness) has rendered his incredible letters accessible to a much broader readership. The current-day monetary value of Van Gogh's altogether unique creations stands in dramatic juxtaposition to the abiding poverty of his own adult years. If he were alive today, he would no doubt sell his precious paintings in order to feed, clothe, and house numerous 'potato eaters' across the globe. We, all of us, are indebted to Davidson for helping us to understand Vincent's radical biblical theology."
--Dean K. Thompson
President and Professor of Ministry Emeritus
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary