Soot was the problem. It covered the Sistine Chapel’s affrescoes making the colors gloomy and obscuring the details. So in the early 1990s, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel were subjected to various restorations. After hearing that the colors were so bright that they had a Warhol vibe to them, I went to the chapel to see for myself.
After a long wait in line, we visitors were herded into the Chapel. Here, like everyone else, I strained my neck to look up at the ceiling. But the neck stretching didn’t last long as we were soon herded out towards a loggia leading to the exit. It was so crowded that we could only shuffle, not walk. Behind me I could hear two women talking about the affrescoes. One woman said to the other: The God that Michelangelo painted doesn’t look like the God I pray to.”
In Genesis 1:27 we’re told that God made man in his own image. So if we’re all made in the image of God, why don’t we all look alike? It’s an intriguing idea especially considering that God has no material form. So the only way we can see God in our mind is if we create our own image for him.
Some scholars explain the Genesis verse by saying that humans are meant to be the image of God in their spiritual nature. But for me the keyword here is “image”.
The Jesus I grew up with was like the image above–white with light brown hair and blue eyes. However, in 2001, Richard Neave, a forensic anthropologist collaborated with the BBC on a documentary, created a model of a Galilean man. Neave said that, since Jesus was from Galilee, he would have looked more like the man in the image below than he would have looked like the man in the image above.
In the end, we all pray to a God that we’ve created ourselves. And that’s comprehensible and acceptable. However it is not acceptable for someone to impose their image of God on others.
Not all Gods are alike.
Related: What did Jesus really look like?