Here is your class assignment for the day: using only two tubes of paint, one white and one black, you are to paint a full-colour picture of something beautiful.

Get to work, everyone! Now! And don’t complain to me that the assignment is unfair. If you’re truly righteous, pious, and devout, God will show you how to paint a full-colour picture using only black and white paint. If you fail, well . . . if you fail, you obviously don’t have enough faith in God. Don’t blame me for your failure. I didn’t make the rules. If you fail, it’s your own fault (you poor sin-saturated thing, you).

Pray, people, pray! Pray with all your might! If you pray correctly, maybe God will grant you the grace of being able to paint pictures in glorious, divine colour. Prove to me that you have faith! Pick up your paintbrushes and paint! Anyone caught cheating by bringing in tubes of red, blue, or yellow paint will immediately be brought before the Inquisition. Possession of any paints except Lead White and Carbon Black will be considered a shameful act of hubris, because only God is allowed to have coloured paints. Those other tubes you’ve seen at the store are the work of the Devil.

That’s right, class — everyone down on their knees. That’s better. And remember not to look up while you’re painting. Don’t look up at the trees or flowers or clouds or hills that you’re trying to paint. Such viewing is an unpardonable sin. You will paint beautifully coloured images based solely on the black and white words I’m about to recite aloud to you. Are you ready, everyone? Good. Here we go. In the beginning was the Word . . . .

Ah. A question. What is your question, child? You want to know what the colour red is? Well, as all the great mystics have taught, you’ll only be able to see the divine colour red once you’ve let go of all your desire to know what red is. Once you no longer care what red is, perhaps God will open your eyes for you so you can see it. But until then, there’s nothing you yourself can do. No one can learn how to see red, or be taught how to see red. To claim this would be the height of human pride and arrogance! Be grateful you can see black and white, child! Some people can’t even see that.

If you tell me you can already see red and blue and yellow, it’s proof that the Devil has captured your soul, you poor thing. Resist, resist! Pray harder. Ask for deliverance from the torment of False Colour. Ask that you may be given the divine gift of Church-Approved Sunglasses to block out those dangerous visions of colour. Life is much simpler in black and white. Everything is less confusing when I tell you what to do. Naturally, I always have your best interests at heart, you poor, weak, inferior creature, you.

I promise to look after you, as Christ looks after us all! It’s the least I can do in this broken, corrupted, black and white world.

Well, the day is over, and I see that once again no one in my class has enough faith in God to produce a thing of explosive beauty from the paints I have humbly provided.

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Lilies of the Field (c) Image*After

You in the back corner! Joshua, Yeshua, whatever your name is! You will be turned over to the Inquistion, and tried on charges of heresy for presuming to tell the class that all people can learn to see red lilies in the field if they listen to God with open hearts and not with closed minds!

As if God even wants to talk to regular people!

  
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