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Andrew Wyeth and Swazi orphans

Yesterday I went to an exhibition of America’s most prominent living painter, Andrew Wyeth. He has spent much of his life in Maine and his paintings reflect that lonely landscape. He made a conscious effort to leave people out of his paintings in the same way that many of us live lives without …
By Seth Barnes

Yesterday I went to an exhibition of America’s most prominent living painter, Andrew Wyeth. He has spent much of his life in Maine and his paintings reflect that lonely landscape. He made a conscious effort to leave people out of his paintings in the same way that many of us live lives without intimate relationships. It’s a sad aspect of our American cultural heritage which prizes independence over interdependence.

This morning I received an email from my coworker Ben Messner in Swaziland:

Our first day was spent delivering food to 500 orphans scattered all over the community. We found 2 very sick children laying on a mud floor. It was worse than what you see on the TV for sponsorship commercials. These children are completely malnourished and sick.



Bugs were swarming all around them and climbing in and out of every crevice. The children were either too weak to notice or had given up the fight. The one child had been fed a steady diet of alcohol and little else. Our hearts were breaking. Today the solution was to get multi vitamins and de-worming pills and make sure the caregivers cleaned hands with soap and used boiled water. The need is overwhelming.

Andrew Wyeth chose a life lived far away from such realities. People in his paintings often seem remote, isolated from society and its messiness.  We who trust Jesus serve a Lord whose lifestyle and message was very different. It’s sad when our lives look more like lives in a Wyeth painting – distant from the world’s pain.

“This is true religion, to help widows and orphans in their distress.”

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