Study of God the Father – Raphael
A big subject for a short posting. Well. Modern culture is, when we think about it, replete with images of the hated, feared or failing father. We are all clever Freudians, we think. Novels, films, songs and poetry are just stuffed full of rage against the father, of bitter, spoiled love. It is extraordinarily hard to think of a modern piece which is about tenderness and respect between fathers and sons. Post-war culture gave us a novel entitled Strike the Father Dead. Growing up in an era in which we felt compelled to blame the parents ( see, for example, Larkin), there was little produced in the culture that explored, examined, celebrated the relationship between father and son. The injunction to ‘honour thy father and mother’ was met with the brattish, shameful reaction of ‘why should we?’. Particularly as we were making all things new. Literature, perhaps, was written about the longing for the good father, rather than the actuality.
Where are the models of respect and love? In the Bible we are shown good fathers: Tobit and Tobias, the father of the Prodigal Son and, of course, Saint Joseph. We meet some rotten ones as well, of course. Herod springs to mind.
Dmitri Levitkzy’s Father
The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.
Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,
and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.