Perspectives with Rev. Firas Shammas


A new collection of paintings

In the beginning of the past month (April) the former U.S. President George W. Bush surprised many people around the world when he unveiled a new collection of paintings. 

He displayed them at his Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas. Prominent figures like Putin, Merkel, and the Dalai Lama among others, inspire his art.

Isn’t it a very interesting idea to recapitulate a part, or a phase of our life, in some paintings and pictures? If we think a bit, we will quickly realize that we do the same thing for our own life without having a presidential library and museum. 

Our childhood, teenage years, working career, and many other parts and phases of our lives are turned into and remembered as a collection of paintings and images. We display them somewhere inside us and we unveil them on particular occasions. 

But do we need anybody to remind us that we are very selective when it comes to the pictures we want to keep from the past? 

President Bush Jr. must have met hundreds of people in his two presidential terms, and experienced many events, but he just chose to pick thirty world leaders and paint their portraits.

Likewise, we choose a pinch of whom we meet, and what we’ve been through, to keep as our personal collection of pictures and images. Every one of us has his or her filtering system. 

When we revisit our past we like to go through flowery and nice pictures. We don’t want to re-experience our hard moments, awkward situations and painful memories. It is like displaying pictures in the funeral home, they are meant to make us remember only the best moments in someone’s life. 

When I first heard the news of the presidential art display by Mr. Bush I could not help remember some pretty pictures that he painted back in 2003 in Iraq. 

After all, you wouldn’t expect to go to the Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas to see (for example) a picture of what happened at Abu- Ghraib displayed there. We don’t enjoy having pictures of torture and abuse in our personal collection, do we? In fact, some people argue that some bloody pictures that we see today in Iraq still carry Mr. Bush’s signature! 

But, are we any better? I mean, hasn’t every one of us done the same? I know I did.

I have suppressed the horrible pictures I painted somewhere in a dark cave, and if you are to visit my art gallery, you will just see green nature, blue sea and holy places. The best picture I keep is a self-portrait, I look awesome in that picture! 

Usually we look great in our self-portraits and selfies; we capture, keep and communicate a certain image of ourselves. Our standards of selectivity go up when it has to do with our own image. 

But the fact is we can never pretend that the images and pictures we don’t like have ceased to exist and live according to this fact, not because Google makes almost any picture in the world accessible and traceable, but because we know they do exist and we can’t make ourselves believe otherwise. We live aware there are many pictures painted by us, including self-portraits that we don’t like! 

Just as the Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas made the news a month ago, I hope what you read and see in the Bible is good news for you. 

Jesus has revealed there a new collection of paintings; one of them belongs to me, and the other to you! 

It gives me great pleasure to know that I have been accepted and loved, not because of the pictures I’ve chosen to display in my art gallery, but I have been accepted and loved in spite of all the pictures that I have been making sure to hide for a long time now. It gives me a reason to live my life in a different way than I did in the past because I am portrayed in the Bible as a beloved son or daughter. 

The Bible says: “In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Gal. 3:26.” I wonder if you want to add this to your personal collection.

Rev. Firas Shammas,

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