In Direction Journal Fall 1998 · Vol. 27 No. 2 · pp. 148–56, author Rachel Baerg writes…
’Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was destined to have become a minister of the Word; his father and grandfather were both Calvinist preachers. He was convinced that his love for the Bible and desire to serve Christ could be realized by following in their footsteps. For five years he undertook a desperate struggle to establish himself as a minister. His two attempts to proclaim the Gospel, as lay preacher and volunteer missionary in a mining town failed miserably. His unstable temperament, eccentric behavior and excessive devotion to his job bewildered the people he worked with and resulted in complete rejection: by his congregation and by the religious body which had assigned the appointments. Perhaps most painful was the rejection by his own family, particularly his father who disowned the son he considered wayward.
In 1880, at the age of 27, van Gogh took up painting. Turning his back on previous hopes and focusing on painting, his passion for God, the need to serve him and others became more pressing. Van Gogh entered his new life in art not as one who enters a profession, but almost a spiritual calling. The shift however from the world of ministry into the world of art was difficult. Just as van Gogh, the preacher, had not been able to fit the mold, van Gogh, the painter, could not follow the lead of his fellow artists.
In the decade that followed, his entire artistic output would appear on the canvases we know today that reflect his relentless struggle and comprehension of his faith. He died young, having sold only one painting during his lifetime. He remains an enigma with paintings selling for $ms.
My husband and I will be viewing Van Gogh’s work at the National Gallery of Victoria. Contemplating how many do not fit the status quo, suffer rejection, misunderstanding, struggle with their faith .. which if we are honest, is many of us, at times.