Messenger by Hunter Madsen


Religion is not only about retelling others what God has done in the past. Just as important, it's about dictating what God wants from adherents today, and about exactly whose words get to fill in for God's magnificent silences. 

The issue of who may speak for God or the Gods afflicts every religion. One looks to the periodic re-editings of God's words in the Bible, or to the Pope's "infallible" encyclicals, or, for that matter, to old-school animist shamanism as illustrations of such authorized ventriloquism.  

Disputes over divine authority usually lead to bloody noses all around, as the Thirty Years War could illustrate; but other examples abound. Following the prophet Mohammed's death in 632 C.E., his followers promptly split into two camps - Sunni's and Shiites - and fell into violence over who shall inherit his mantle and megaphone. Across the centuries ever since, the murderous mayhem between Islam's two main camps has seldom slackened.  

To my mind, the fellow who classically pioneered the role of Divine Messenger and has pulled it off with aplomb is Hermes, winged herald of the Olympian gods.  As His current followers proclaim, Hermes is the only Olympian who can cross the border between the living and the dead, and He's got a zillion talents. Respected as the divine trickster, Hermes is also deemed the god of roads, flocks, commerce, elegant couture, and thieves. Not to be entirely trusted, then or now, but hey. 

In visiting, Hermes has brought mortals not only unearthly tidings, but also, some say, the very gift of human speech, by which our kind may comprehend and inquire. The formal interpretation of divine texts still goes by His pagan name, hermeneutics. Almost needless to say, the craft of hermeneutics is not entirely to be trusted, either.

TITLE - "Mesenger"
WHERE - Berlin, Germany (2015)