“What is this painting, Grandpa?” 9 year old, Timmy, asked of the patient grandfather who accompanied him.

Bob Schmit was about 3 steps away from his grandson in the Metropolitan Museum. He was engrossed in a different painting by the same artist. The boy’s question finally penetrated Bob’s concentration after a few seconds; and he turned, smiled at the boy, and moved closer to accommodate his answer.

“Oh, this, why, this is a very well-known painting, Timmy. It was painted by the same famous artist who painted all of the paintings in this great hall. His name was Nathan Renquest. He painted scenes from American life more than 75 years ago. 

“These just look like regular people, Grandpa,” Timmy astutely observed. “Why did he paint these people?”

“Well they are just ordinary people, Timmy. But they represent a certain kind of people that Mr. Renquest became interested in. These people are what we now call Gulliworms. In fact, Mr. Renquest is the one who gave them that name. And this group of paintings is known as the "Gulliworm Paintings," Timmy’s grandpa explained.

“Why did he call the people gulliworms,” Timmy asked.

“Well, Mr. Renquest came to see these people as ‘gullible little worms’ as he put it in one of his essays. And eventually, as he talked about and explained his art, he shortened the term to gulliworms. And that term just stuck.”

“But, why did he think they were little worms, Grandpa? They are not worms; they are people."

“Well, that was just Mr. Renquest’s way of saying they were not very articulate or careful in their thinking. He saw the gulliworms as people who just go mindlessly along without real direction, and without long term or higher concerns.”

“Oh", the boy said thoughtfully. Then he asked, "Well, why did he call them gullible?”

“Oh, it seems, over the years, as Mr. Renquest painted these people in the various scenes of their lives, he noticed something about them. He noticed that they would believe most anything someone told them if that someone told them long enough, and in the right way,” Bob explained to the youngster.

"The gulliworms were especially susceptable to what we now call 'spin,' Timmy. Spin is a twist on the truth. It's where you take a situation and make it appear to be something that it's really not. And usually, spin is used by bad people to make a bad thing look like a good thing. And, Mr. Renquest just noticed that the gulliworms were very susceptable to that tactic.

“You mean the gulliworms believed lies, Grandpa?” Timmy continued to press.

“Well, yes, I guess that is the truth of the matter, Timmy. And they would do so even if it was an outlandish lie, based in the most ridiculous distortions.”

“What are distortions, Grandpa?”

“Oh, a distortion is a twisting of the facts. Like, if I told you that people came from green seahorses, would you believe that?”

“No way, Grandpa, that is ridiculous.” Timmy affirmed.

“Right, and you can see that; because, you are a smart boy with good common sense. But, the gulliworms, not so much. They would actually believe stuff like that if you told it to them long enough, and in the right tone of voice, and it was spun the right way. They were just very gullible, you see. And, Mr. Renquest began to notice that as he painted them.”

“In fact, consider the painting at which we are looking. Notice all the different people looking through the store window, watching the television which is for sale. See how intent they all are. They are taking in every detail of what is happening on the television.

"And look at the make up of the crowd. Notice that most of the crowd is either old or young - not all, of course, but most. So, what do you think Mr. Renquest is saying to us in this painting, Timmy?” Bob asked.

The boy pondered the painting for a long minute, hoping to impress his grandfather by decoding the painting. But, eventually, he said, “I’m not really sure, Grandpa.”

Bob smiled, and then began to explained, “Well, Mr. Renquest is simply showing how the gulliworms were especially vulnerable when it came to media presentations, things like television and movies. He often observed that the world view of the simple minded gulliworms was easily shaped by the biased spin of the media. He saw that they never verified facts. The gulliworms simply swallowed whatever agenda the media happened to be pushing at them at any given time. So, he is showing us this through the painting.

"And, he is also saying that gulliworms are most easily manipulated by the media when they are young and when they are elderly. It's in these times, he said, 'that they can most easily be persuaded to believe what you want them to believe, and to do what you want them to do.'  So, again, these are the ideas which he painted into this picture.

“And all of the paintings in this room have this same kind of coded message in them, Timmy. It’s much like when one of your super heroes carries a secret message on a microchip hidden in his ring. Only here, the message is hidden in the picture.”

The boy immediately moved to the next painting on the long wall, as he now began to really pick up on what his grandfather was explaining. “What about this picture, Grandpa? What is the secret message in this picture?"

“Well, what do you see there?” Bob asked.

“I see the big building with a dome and all the people standing around it, looking at it. And I see beautiful, pink trees. And there are bright streams of light coming through the windows of the building.”

“That’s right! And those are, indeed, most of the important elements of the painting, Timmy. The big building with its beautiful surroundings represents government. Mr. Renquest noted that the gulliworms were very enamored with government. And so he painted them as mesmerized by the light and the impressive architecture of the great building."

"What is 'enamored and mesmerized,'" Grandpa.

"Well, those terms mean that the gulliworms were very attracted to the government. Mr. Renquest noted that the government made them feel safe." Bob explained further.

“But, notice one more element in this painting, Timmy. Look at the high fence of iron rods which surrounds the grounds and the gulliworms inside,” Bob continued. “And notice the great iron gates and the large, heavy lock on the gate." Bob, pointed out the padlock to his grandson. "See," he continued, "the lock on the gate is locked."

"With this element of the painting, Mr. Renquest was saying that the gulliworms were easily trapped through their confidence in government. And so, he paints them, here, as unaware that their personal freedom had been taken from them as they stood entranced before the great building.”

Now, Timmy was getting really excited about discovering all of these secret messages in what he had thought were just pictures. And so, he ran to the next painting in line. His bright, blue eyes began searching every detail of the painting. “And what about this one, Grandpa, what does it say.”

The old man moved up beside the boy in front of the painting. His loving smile gradually faded with the pain which this picture brought to his more experienced mind. “This is a hard one to explain to a little boy, Timmy. Let’s go on to the next one.”

“No, Grandpa! I can get it. I know I can,” the boy pleaded.

“OK,” Grandpa acquiesced, “but this one is very sad.” Bob hesitated for a moment, still debating the wisdom of revealing this painting to a 9 year old. But eventually he said, “OK, tell me what you think is speaking to us from this painting.”

The boy was still lit up with excitement. And now, he was totally focused, and all about the business of discovering the hidden message. After a moment of study, he said, “Well, the gulliworms are picnicking in a very nice park. And they are all sitting on blankets. And the men are lighting the fires. And it looks like, over there at the edge, the trees of the park are on fire.”

“You have a very good eye, Timmy. Anything else?”

“No, but I don’t understand why no one is trying to put out the fire in the trees. It is going to burn up their beautiful park.”

“That is exactly right, my boy. And that is exactly what Mr. Renquest was trying to say in this painting.

"Notice, around each picnic blanket, all of the gulliworms are the same color." Again, Bob pointed to the details of the painting. "Around this blanket they are black, around this one white, and around these blankets red and brown and yellow.

"And also, notice that they are only engaged in conversation with those of their own color who are sitting on their blankets. Each group has their backs toward all the other people in the park. And do you see anyone smiling?”

“No,” Timmy confirmed to his grandfather, now with a very serious look on his own face.

“That’s right,” his Grandpa continued, “the park is a very beautiful and pleasant place. But, the people there are not actually happy. Those fires which are burning by the various groups represent their resentment of the other groups in the park.

“And the men who are lighting those fires in each group represent another observation by Mr. Renquest. He saw how easily evil men in his time could bring the gulliworms to this frenzied anger toward each other.

"And, the burning park shows the result of that resentment. The message of this painting is that the bad men weilding the torches were actually also destroying the beautiful park. But, the gulliworm’s resentment of each other prevented them from working together to stop those evil men and save the park.”

“Do you think the park burned up, Grandpa?” Timmy quietly asked, now fully immersed in the story of the painting.

Timmy’s Grandpa paused for a long moment to recover a steady voice. Then he said, as the edges of his own eyes began to burn with tears, “Well, don’t fret, Timmy. Parks have a way of growing back – eventually.”

“Grandpa, can we do some more? Mr. Renquest was pretty smart. I want to see what else he said in his secret messages.”

“Sure, Timmy. Mr. Renquest was, indeed, a pretty smart fellow. Maybe we should do the rest of this wall. And they have a book in the lobby that will interpret all of his paintings for you. We’ll get one on our way out. Would you like that?”

“I’d love that, Grandpa!”

“OK, then.” Bob confirmed.

“Grandpa,” Timmy asked, as they moved to the next painting on the wall, “are there still gulliworms around?”

“Oh yes, Timmy, there are always plenty of gulliworms around.”

The End

(From the article, "Interpretations” )

"When we look beyond the small panoramas of the daily tedium, we realize that, indeed, the Apostle John had it right. In his writings, he portrays life in terms of Light and Darkness, and the tension which exists between the two.

We now know the meaning of the apostle’s analogy. The Light represents an accurate perception of reality, or truth - especially God’s truth. The Darkness represents a false perception of reality, or delusion - especially the delusions authored by Satan. So, the idea is that our perception of reality is defined by one or the other of these views.

Thus, either the divine voice interprets reality to our mind, giving us a true perspective on the circumstances of life. Or, the satanic voice interprets our reality with a deceptive alternative view, so that we no longer see reality correctly - as God sees it.”

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From the very beginning, deception has been the defining characteristic of the Darkness. Ever since Adam and Eve, the tactics of deception have been practiced on an unsuspecting and naive humanity. And still, we fall for them, the same old tricks.

We listen to the half-truths, the lies confidently told, the empty promises, the“spin.” And then we just go along cluelessly in the bliss of our own gullibility – as though all that seems right or good really is.

"And if the light that is in you be darkness, 
how great is that darkness? - Jesus