These stories don’t give their readers the blissful luxury of ignorance. They are an afront to the comforting habit one may have of disassociating individual realities from vast statistics, of regarding this epidemic of violence as some sort of faceless or nameless phenomena.
Rather, readers are brought face-to-face with the detail of religious persecution. We are shown the thought-processes of a man on the brink of death, we are walked through the moment-by-moment decisions of a person attempting to flee for their life, we are exposed to the agony of three women being separated from their children.
The writing is heart-wrenchingly powerful, the stories its telling, infinitely more so. This is certainly not your average ‘coffee-table book.’
As well as the written stories, there are photographs of these persecuted individuals dotted through-out the book. Readers are not only told their stories, they are also shown their faces. These pictures serve to remind us that this discrimination isn’t happening to people who resemble cinematic-style heroes, it is happening to husbands, wives, daughters, sons, neighbours, friends, mothers, fathers.
2023 is the most dangerous year to be a Christian on record, it is integral to the increasing number of people who are losing their right to hold their beliefs that this reality is continually, and indeed creatively, amplified.
And yet, as noted earlier, the darkness of these stories is not devoid of glimmers of light. There is a distinct thread of redemption that is weaved through this resource, and indeed, these people’s lives. The beauty is found in the forgiveness shown by those who have been betrayed, the hope found by those who have nothing else to hold onto, the ‘gentle, defiant glow’ of those who are stubborn in their selflessness – all of it all the more staggering for being completely true.
This book presents its readers with a costly kind of goodness. A truly counter-cultural form of beauty. If you sit with it long enough, it will begin to chip away at the modern and ever-so-Western tendency we have to consider pain and beauty as forces that are mutually exclusive.
Art, in its various forms, is one of the most powerful tools we humans have, and that is never more evident than when it is used to communicate circumstances with a depth that statistics alone could never reach. Clay and Canvas is certainly one such example.
Clay and Canvas has been produced by Open Doors in Partnership with Something More Creative