Dead Men Eating
Lunch by George Tooker
Painted in the early part of the twentieth century this painting captures the increasing isolation and loneliness of our culture. George Tooker seems to have drawn a lunchroom scene at some work place with diners eating sandwiches and drinking their coffee.
While the sterile pillar and straight tables bring people into close proximity there is no relationship or communication at all! I find this especially strange if this is indeed a business lunchroom. Surely somebody would know someone. They all might as well be on different planets.
In the center of the lunchroom we see one token black man and one woman. The rest appear to be white men. Perhaps this was painted at a time when every company needed their quota of minorities. No one relates to them and they relate to no one either.
As we look around the room we see six backs turned to us. They don't want to communicate with us or anyone else. Three individuals look like they have their eyes closed -- it's the three eating their sandwiches. The man drinking coffee has his back to us and has turned away behind the metal pillar to avoid any eye contact with others. One man with glasses looks like he is buried in a book -- no doubt escaped to a more exciting world.
The design of this lunchroom is strictly functional and easy to clean. There's nothing soft or pretty to make anyone want to linger here. Could this be the future of mankind that we are altogether on this planet and yet we each keep to ourselves?
Now notice the drab colors of the painting -- a lot of dull browns, drab gray and a little blue. Without the life of God's Spirit within us we are dead -- dead to God and dead to one another. But God has not left man dead in his sins. It says in the Bible, "Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved. " Ephesians 2:4-5
Grace is what makes the life of God flow to men. When grace flows, man is accepted by God and man in turn wants to extend the graciousness of God to others. If even one man or woman extended grace to their colleague this whole lunchroom might be filled with the echoes of conversation and laughter. You were saved by grace so you could extend this to others.