I was commissioned by Bill Moyers and the publishers Doubleday to create a painting that would be used for the book (hardback and soft cover), television titles, companion video, audio tape and website of the PBS TV series Genesis: A Living Conversation. As an artist I was also invited to participate in two of the ten television program panels which were moderated by Bill Moyers: In God s Image (the second episode, first broadcast Sunday, October 20, 1996) and God Wrestling(the ninth episode, first broadcast Sunday, December 8, 1996).
The second Genesis episode goes back to the beginning -- to the story of God's creation of the world and of the first humans in God's image. Says Bill Moyers: "I once saw a sculpture in the great cathedral of Chartres so striking it stopped me in my tracks. The artist depicts Adam, the first man, emerging as an idea from the side of God's head; God is thinking us into being. With such a beginning we human beings were destined ever after to think upon our existence, to imagine and argue about what it means to be made in God's image. Our participants in this discussion come from different cultures and persuasions, demonstrating once again that being made in the likeness of God does not mean we were made to think alike."
In the program Roberta Hestenes says: Yes, the gifts of God are glorious. Creation provides for the needs of the human family - but creation is not God. There is distance as well as intimacy between Creator and creation.
Hugh O Donnell responds: I just cannot accept that creation is not God. How can this possibly be? Because if God has made something that s supposed to have continued, and God is happy to let it continue, you have to assume it has this divine principle as its animating energy - the life force is God's.
In the ninth episode: Jacob, a fugitive with a stolen birthright, meets God in his dreams and embarks on a struggle for identity. Twenty years later, he encounters God again on the way to face his brother for the first time since the deception. Bill Moyers says: "The stories of Genesis are about life in the making. They tell us that we can change our lives. Even a scoundrel like Jacob, wandering the desert with fear and trembling, becomes a new man. His dreams make the difference - the first recorded dreams in the Bible. We are told that 'dreaming men are haunted men.' This son of Isaac was haunted right to the 'gateways of heaven.' He awoke, no longer Jacob."
Both PBS television episodes featured: Walter Brueggemann, Roberta Hestenes, John Kselman, Hugh O'Donnell, Burton L. Visotzky, Renita Weems, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg.