By Rev. Austin Miles
"The Painter of Light," has and continues to delight millions of people all over the world with his work. Indeed, he was proclaimed 'as one of the most popular artists of all time which rankled jealous onlookers.
Thomas Kinkade's exquisite paintings transport viewers to a more peaceful time where cottages under a full moon reflect light from the surrounding snow. Raindrops glisten as they fall on streets of another time while Christmas lights illuminate the windows of a cabin in the mountains near a sparkling stream.
The paintings are so tranquil that viewers, for a glorious brief moment of eternity, are able to put themselves into the scenes of a better time.
Kinkade was also a dedicated Christian man who's goal was to glorify God in his work. He loved God, loved people and loved the church. That love went deep.
One pays a huge price for success, rousing the less talented to a fit of rage, determined to seek revenge for their own failings, which can be achieved by criticism, slander and hostility toward the one who HAS succeeded.
The art world ranked among the first to try and discredit his work. I remember attending an art appreciation class at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, California in 2000. The first thing the instructor said was,"When we talk about art, don't even mention Thomas Kinkade. What he puts out is NOT art but trash."
Perhaps the secular world was less concerned by the art technique he used but more concerned about the glorification of God in his paintings. The press was quick to publish anything negative about the artist.
This was hurtful to Kinkade. But more hurtful was the Christian army who joined the drumbeat of the jealous art world, who seem to relish the gossip of tongues against anyone who is blessed of God.
And their corrupt tongues wagged enthusiastically at the news that Kinkade had a drinking problem, was arrested for DUI, and, they pontificated, "was just a no good drunk," while the secular world basked in the fact that this was just another case of Christian hypocrisy.
From numerous sources, Kinkade had been a model citizen and Christian...until the hatred began to be spewed at him. It was then he began to drink.
"No no," regurgitate the faithful, "he probably was always just a drunk, and he called himself a Christian, tsk tsk."
An artist has an extra sensitive heart, making him a penetrating observer, reflecting life more intensely than others. But such a heart is also easily hurt.
Kinkade began having a drink, maybe two, to try and soften the pain of the rebukes from those he loved. Soon the number of drinks increased leading to the destruction of his family and ultimately to his untimely death.
This writer can identify with this, having gone through something similar several years ago. Fortunately, I came out of it in time, with new strength.
So before criticizing Thomas Kinkade for going off the deep end, lets begin by checking ourselves...the way we find fault and criticize others 'who are not as perfect as us.' Words hurt.
At the Bronx Zoo in New York, visitors, observing frightening animals, wind up at a small building with a sign stating, "CAUTION! You are about to see the most frightening, vicious, dangerous destructive animal of all. Be Careful!"
The tour guide, who has lined everyone up in front of that door, only allows one person at a time go go in. Upon entering the dark room, the door slams behind you sending chills up and down your spine. When the lights slowly come on, the visitor is faced with a mirror. A sign states why this animal is the worst of all. Yep, our own reflection.
Perhaps those who contributed to Kinkade's death should go and look in that mirror, or one close by at home and think about careless, critical words spoken about another. Many, many people, both secular and Christian, are responsible for the death of a great artist. Christians, we are to be encouragers, not discouragers.
Thomas Kinkade at the young age of 54, who could have given us so much more, died at his Monte Sereno home on April 6, 2012.
Final Note: Before you judge others, you should first judge yourselves.
Rev. Austin Miles is a working chaplain in Northern California.