Week 5 Art Description: “Anti-Creation Narrative”
(Pharaoh Hardens his Heart to Moses’ Requests)
By Lauren Wright Pittman, Inspired by Exodus 5:1-2; 7:8-23 | Graphic Image
As I sketched this image of Pharaoh, I realized how cartoonish and irrelevant this character had become in my mind. What would Pharaoh look like today? I sat with this question as a creeping sense of irony came over my body. I would argue, to my surprise, that a modern Pharaoh might look a bit like the reflection in my mirror, and maybe in yours. This story of Pharaoh’s hardening heart leads to a kind of anti-creation narrative—one where the world is coming undone and actively being destroyed. Sound familiar?
As a society, we are actively undoing God’s creation through our consumption while clinging to ease, convenience, and our power over our environment. We harden our hearts to the ways our actions cause harm. We value our comfort over the health of our coastlines while the first climate refugees flee their homes due to rising tides and sinking land. As water becomes scarce, violence will increase. Many will have to fight for their basic needs. I believe Pharaoh’s hardening heart is prophetic. This narrative reveals to us how a person’s clinging to power can literally unravel creation. We often undo the threads of creation, while God entreats us to become co-creators. We have seam rippers in our hands when God wants us to have needle and thread. There is a difficult hope in the narrative, however. Our own unraveling of God’s dream for creation is not strong enough to thwart God’s plan. Ultimately the Israelites find liberation. In this image, the waters of the parted Red Sea frame the chaos of the plagues. We will succeed, with God’s help, in healing the earth. We just need to allow God to soften our hearts, to take initiative in changing our perspective, and to welcome the challenge of restoring creation.