He sits with furrowed brow, raised fist and relaxed chin as he contemplates the fate of the world.
Is it God?
It’s the Thinking Man. His profile has been popularized in art for centuries. I must admit that I was introduced to him through a less sophisticated medium; a character by the name of Maynard G. Krebs on the television show Dobie Gillis. In ironic fashion, Maynard would assume the thinking man pose. Maynard seemed to be anything but a true intellectual.
However, the statue was not originally known as “The Thinker.” The artist thought of him as “The Poet.” The sculpture was created to serve as a focal point at the entrance of an art museum in Paris. The statue was intended to symbolize Dante, the great poet known for his Divine Comedy, as he sat in contemplation of his play. Sitting upon his stone chair, the fortified writer would forever consider the eternal judgment of God.
Many universities display replicas of this famous statue. The University of Louisville, where I minister, has a replica made from the cast of the original sculpture. The Thinker has come to symbolize the great academic tradition. He has become an icon for modern day philosophy.
Yet, for those who love the gospel, perhaps we will see him still as he was initially made: A man reflecting deeply on the judgment of God as he looked across the masses. The next time I drive onto campus I will look to him not as Poet, nor Philosopher, but as a Preacher reminding me of an immanent judgment and the need for gospel proclamation.
That is certainly something worth thinking about.