Home Forums Noticings… 190515 – Haystacks

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    May 15, 2019

    I don’t know why exactly but a news report I read last night really irked me. The report was about an auction at the famed Sotheby’s auction house where an 1890 Claude Monet painting was won with a $110.7 million bid. Yes, you read that correctly, over 100 million dollars – for a painting – of haystacks. Apparently there were 7 people hotly pursuing this painting. Seven people all willing to pay over 100 million dollars for a painting – of haystacks. It’s just obscene.

    I started to think of what else those 7 people might have done with their 100 million dollars. They could have built hospitals, or seniors housing, or homeless shelters, or established programs in places that would help people, or chosen any issue that touched someone in their family and made it a whole lot better for a whole lot of people. And to be fair, maybe that’s exactly what they did with their other hundreds of millions of dollars and they are great philanthropists. Or maybe not. The only thing for sure is that they were all willing to pay that much money for a painting – of haystacks.

    I wonder if their fridges have works of art from their kids or grandkids on them? I bet if they framed one of those pictures and displayed it in the same reverent manner as the Monet that they would receive far more compliments. And if they took that 100 million that they didn’t spend on the painting and spent it on helping people they’d receive far more esteem. That wouldn’t make them any more money, but it would certainly make them more admirable. I guess it’s bothering me because I know there are so many people struggling to make ends meet and keep their heads above water while others have millions upon millions of dollars as playthings. Surely there’s something fundamentally wrong with that.

    We’ve been exploring the book of Revelation this month and noting that at its heart it is a biting critique of Empire – a system of oppression where the powerful meet their needs and desires at the expense of the poor, and the weak, and the powerless. Art auctions are an egregious example of that. But then again, so are my running shoes, and my cell phone! It’s easy to see the haystacks in someone else’s eye and miss the cornfield in your own.

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