The blog for the gocek.org Christian Symbols site.
|Christian bookmarks (Mon, 26 Dec 2016 01:39:00 +0000)
I can't say I read print media all that much. I mean, always on the internet, but less often with a book. In any case, I found a cool site for free, printable Christian bookmarks.
|The empty tomb (Tue, 22 Nov 2016 04:17:00 +0000)
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.
Ahhh, the empty tomb, possibly the greatest metaphor of the New Testament. Victory over death on the "first day of the week", a reference to the Genesis creation story (so, Mark's story is a metaphor for Gen 1).
Is there an interpretation of the empty tomb apart from Jesus literally walking out under his own power? We sometimes hear of the theory that the body was simply stolen by zealous followers, but that seems like the work of a weak movement that would not have stood the test of time. Rather than getting hung up on trying to figure out what happened after Jesus died, let's concentrate on how Jesus lived.
If Jesus walked out of the tomb, what does the promise of everlasting life mean for the rest of us? Supernatural interpretations suggest Jesus will return in glory (the "second coming"), out of the clouds with God's trumpet, and that's when we'll rise from our graves (a wording that causes many denominations to prohibit cremation). But the New Testament is about the resurrection of Jesus, right then and there. What do the rest of us get now, and what do we have to wait for? I look for the metaphor (in this and most Bible stories), for one such as I who will not literally walk from his tomb to meet with survivors.
A large stone is rolled away and an angelic figure appears with an announcement. These are metaphors for exposing some hidden knowledge, such as the very understanding of resurrection. Mary (the mother of Jesus) gets her "annunciation" from an angel. The disciples on the mountain get knowledge from a glorious voice. Here in Mark, the scared disciples who just lost their leader see an angel. But none of us have ever seen an angel. (No, we haven't.) It's a metaphor. The story is trying to teach us something, not just tell a story.
Jesus died, but he lived a life that allowed his connection to his followers to remain. They realize they should not look for Jesus in the cemetery; they should live as Jesus taught them.
The connection to Jesus was so strong the followers were able to pass on that connection to others, and so on, leading all the way to today's Christians. It took a short while (three days, a symbolic passage of time used in other stories) for his followers to "get it". Live a life that allows your connections (and they are divine connections) to survive you.
The NT goes on to predict the second coming after which "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain" (Rev 21:4). Yes, the tomb is empty and death is conquered, but this story can be used in our daily lives. We will all lose loved ones, but don't look to their tombs for solace or wisdom. Look for the connection that remains of your lives together.
|Historical posts (Sun, 06 Nov 2016 01:46:00 +0000)
Here are old posts:
Site with Christian resources (Sat, 10 Sep 2016 12:00:00 GMT)
Check out http://www.messiah-of-god.com/ with its list of Christian resources.
Zoecarnate list of Jesus-infused sites (Fri, 01 May 2015 12:00:00 GMT)
Check out http://zoecarnate.com/ for a huge list of Christian-oriented web sites. The list is a bit dated so some links may be defunct.
Denominations that suppress art (Sat, 07 Jun 2014 12:00:00 GMT)
Most Christians, I think, take it for ganted that music and art are integral parts of our religious lives. I don’t mean to make a Biblical statement; every word of the Bible is up for interpretation, so the fact the Psalms refer to music and instruments does not necessarily mean we should have praise bands at every church. However, Christian practice has evolved to include music and art in most houses of worship, and that has been the case for centuries.
Still, there are several denominations known to suppress music and art, usually with a Biblical justification. Often, this traces back to the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." Also, 1 John 5:21, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
I figured I would try to develop a list of the denominations that suppress art. Even on the general web sites that summarize denominations, it was difficult to find in each case how a denomination uses (or does not use) music and art. I finally did track down a web page from someone who had done some of the work for me. This site appears to be the work of Kenneth Sublett of Tennessee and is associated with "Piney Christian Research", but I haven’t determined the significance of "Piney".
Before you click, be warned the home page for this researcher succumbs to Godwin’s Law (http://w2.eff.org/Net_culture/Folklore/Humor/godwins.law), in the very first sentence. This web site is a fundamentalist manifesto that inexplicably capitalizes the first letter of many words. The site is technically plain, so have no fear of viruses or pop-unders.
At this bottom of this page (http://www.piney.com/MuIndex2.html), the following denominations are listed as having rejected (currenty or in the past) the use of Music ("music" is capitalized for no apparent reason): Apostolic Christian Church, American Presbyterian Church, Baptists prior to the 19th century and some modern Baptists, Catholic church for 1250 years, Church of God groups, Church of Scotland, Church of the Brethren, Eastern Catholic Church, Gospel Hall, Irish Presbyterian Church, Islam, Mennonites, Methodist Episcopal Church, Old German Baptist Brethren, Primitive Baptists, Quakers, Reformed (Calvinistic) church of North America, Restoration churches until the mid 1800s, Serbian Eastern Orthodox, The Established Church.
CreationSwap (Fri, 13 Dec 2012 12:00:00 GMT)
A cool media site for church web sites, newsletters, etc. Free and fee-based content. CreationSwap (http://www.creationswap.com/).
My email discussed on Ask an Atheist radio show (Fru, 13 Dec 2012 12:00:00 GMT)
I emailed comments to the radio show and podcast, "Ask an Atheist". My comments touched on my frustration with atheist activists who put a lot of effort into defining the gods in which they don’t believe. Their response focuses on the common belief by theists that God is a supernatural magician, and laws are passed with that understanding, so that is what atheists must respond to. I also commented that Jesus would rather see atheists working for peace and justice than Christians dozing off in church, so I think there is a lot of common ground for Christians and secular humanists in America. Listen to the podcast, especially starting at 42:42. Ask an Atheist S19E11 (http://media.askanatheist.tv/aaapodcast/AAA_S10E11_Podcast.mp3).
John Bell and his Christian Art Gallery (Fri, 26 Oct 2012 12:00:00 GMT)
John Bell of Orange County, California provides this Christian Art Gallery (http://jrbell.com/index.html). John combines painting, 3D graphics and digital photography to attempt to remind visitors who God really is, what he has done for us, and to encourage and reassure Christians in their faith.
Parish Magazine Swap Shop (Tue, 27 Sep 2011 12:00:00 GMT)
Roger Stapenhill wrote to me about his site, Parish Magazine Swap Shop (http://www.parishwindow.co.uk/). Mostly links and text items, rather than artwork, but a great, free site for parish newsletter authors.
Royal Wedding, Anglican Letdown (Wed, 4 May 2011 12:00:00 GMT)
At the royal wedding of William and Kate on April 29, 2011, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the world to his "house", that most prominent Anglican venue known as the Westminster Abbey. This was an opportunity to show off Anglicanism (http://www.anglican.org/), the English ancestor of the American Episcopal Church (http://ecusa.anglican.org/). The spectacle left us wanting more of Harry and Pippa, but it was not a good day for the Church of England. The archbishop’s unkempt hair and eyebrows were distracting, and one of the female "chaplains" (nuns) sitting next to Will and Kate has been the object of internet jokes about her Reeboks (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/royal-wedding/2011/05/03/royal-wedding-ninja-nun-wore-trainers-for-comfort-115875-23103960/). Finally, although 65% of churchgoers and 40% of full time clergy in the Church of England are women, no vested, female clergy were visible during the ceremony. Even the choir was all male. It is unimaginable that it was a simple oversight; no, the archbishop knew what he was doing. OK, so it wasn’t the archbishop’s job to look pretty, but the exclusion of female clergy was offensive.
UPDATE - John Hall of Westminster Abbey wrote me to point out Canon Jane Hedges. I still think the controversy over female clergy in the Church of England is unfortunate.
UPDATE - The CoE now allows female bishops.
Marian cross (Wed, 2 Mar 2011 12:00:00 GMT)
I guess I should not be suprised that there is a such a thing as a Marian cross. View it as a simple representation of Mary (the mother) at the foot of the cross. A Marian cross was also used for the coat of arms of Pope John Paul II, displayed on his casket.
Halloween and Christians (Tue, 24 Oct 2010 12:00:00 GMT)
There is a lot of content on the web about the ways Christians react to Halloween. Most of it seems to be in articles laden with keywords that attract traffic. In other words, one can write a web article simply with the desire to provide information, or one can write a web article to attract search engine hits. I think that most articles for Christians about Halloween fall in the middle. Halloween is the topic that Christian web authors love to hate. Halloween is all about the occult and devils and such, but boy, do those keywords attract traffic in the fall. Here is one web article that I found to be especially well written, although split into multiple pages to increase advertising exposure. Christian Alternatives to Halloween (http://christianity.about.com/od/holidaytips/ss/halloweenaltern.htm).
The Artist, The Word: An Exploration of the Creative Spirit (Tue, 24 Aug 2010 12:00:00 GMT)
This exhibition (http://www.crescentavalleyweekly.com/religion/08/20/2010/congregants-find-art-and-scripture-at-museums/) is led by the Rev. Anthony Keller from St. George’s and Cal State Fullerton (California, USA) art history professor Joanna Roche. Their intent is to bring religious and art enthusiasts alike to different museums to observe specific paintings and talk about their relation to certain scriptures.
A flag for the Kingdom of God (Sun, 16 May 2010 12:00:00 GMT)
I have been studying and thinking lately about the notion of the "Kingdom of God", and I ran across the web site of Scott (http://kingdomofgodflag.info/index.html), who is promoting the idea of displaying a flag representing the Kingdom. I think the competition of flying a national flag with a Kingdom flag is problematic, so I don’t think I’ll be flying such a flag, but it does not appear that Scott is trying to make any money off this, so give it a look.
If you know what this symbols is, contact me! (Sat, 14 Nov 2009 12:00:00 GMT)
Take a look at this unusual upside down L with dots.
Comment from Paul on Sun, 02 Jan 2011 05:40:59 GMT:
Yes, this is definitely a Masonic symbol, albeit a humorous one, and relates to the Degree of Master Mason.
Comment from Gary on Wed, 24 Nov 2010 02:15:09 GMT:
Comment from jrhirsch on Mon, 15 Nov 2010 09:32:10 GMT:
Two Ball Cane is allegedly a pun for Tubal Cain which is the secret password of a third degree mason, a master mason.
Noah, his ark, and the modern search (Sun, 06 Sep 2009 12:00:00 GMT)
Maybe someday, some explorer with too much time and money on his or her hands will find a big, old shipwreck on Mount Ararat in Turkey, traditionally believed to be the place where Noah’s Ark came to rest. But I do not believe that DNA tests will reveal African giraffe droppings mixed with North American bat droppings. However, once the DNA guys admit that they can’t scientifically prove the Book of Genesis, the Noah’s Ark traditionalists will accuse the rest of us succumbing to a USA Democratic Party led, socialist conspiracy. But I digress.
For all the latest news on efforts to locate the actual Ark of Noah, see NoahsArkSearch (http://www.noahsarksearch.com/). With respect to art, you’ll find many examples of ancient drawings here related to the Old Testament story.
Same sex marriage (Sat, 18 Apr 2009 12:00:00 GMT)
A week or so ago, three teens were being rowdy on a suburban street in a town near my home at 3 am. A "Mr. Scott" walked out of a nearby house with a handgun and crossed the street to confront the teens. Two teens ran away, but Mr. Scott killed the third, claiming self defense. The courts will sort it out, but Mr. Scott has received some support from the public as a sort-of protector of the neighborhood.
Contrast that with the claims that same-sex marriage and same-sex couples destroy the institution of marriage and the sanctity of family neighborhoods. You’ve all heard those claims, but they’re silly claims. My marriage will not be affected by NY Governor Paterson’s plan to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
It is a concern to me that while traditional marriage rights have been based for centuries on spiritual and family values, same-sex marriage rights are being based on fairness. That seems a bit different. Fairness may be sufficient, but is it a slippery slope? We’re already hearing noise from polygamists now that many same-sex hurdles have been crossed.
But even if polygamy were to be legalized, that’s less of a threat to me than some whack-job "Mr. Scott" with a gun, blowing me away because I make too much noise when I take out the garbage late at night. It’s a stretch to claim New Testament justification for prohibiting same-sex marriage. Popular support for prohibiting same-sex marriage is as meaningless as popular support for slavery in the 19th century. I just don’t see the downfall of society in all this. Let’s be fair. Pass the same-sex marriage legislation.
Iconographic Themes in Art (Sun, 28 Dec 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I have been blogging elsewhere, for my local newspaper’s web site, but their FTP site is down today, so I am finally getting back to my personal site. I doodled into a search engine and finally came up with a nice, academic site about iconographical themes from mythology, the bible and profane sources (http://www.xs4all.nl/~schuffel/english/index.html). You have to see it to get it, but trust me, this is a very intelligent site. I have pointed you to the English language page, but the original Dutch page has additional themes, so be sure to click there and grope around even though you might not understand the Dutch.
Presidential candidates and the arts (Wed, 29 Oct 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I looked on the web sites for McCain (johnmccain.com), Obama (barackobama.com) and Nader (votenader.org) and looked for "the arts". McCain doesn’t have much to say, and a Time Magazine web article suggested as much, and the implication was that McCain is too busy with other issues to think about the arts. Obama has extensive information that is fairly easy to find. Nader has a lot to say about television programming. I wish that someone at a debate would have asked McCain or Palin about the arts, because they probably would have been flummoxed and it would have been funny to watch. One more thing, I am not a 100 percent Obama supporter, but his comments on spreading the wealth have been blown out of context. I’m sure McCain supports veterans’ benefits and Social Security, and what does he think they’re about if not the redistribution of wealth?
Is Sarah Palin a Christian symbol? (Fri, 17 Oct 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
John McCain’s pick as vice-presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, has Christians around the USA rejoicing. And yet, the US is at war, the economy is in the toilet, illegal immigrants are streaming across the border, health care is unaffordable for many, and I’m not convinced that our voting systems are more robust in 2008 than in 2000 when, as you’ll recall, the election was decided by the Supreme Court. But at least we have Sarah to rail against abortion and gay marriage, because that’s what’s important, if you can believe Christian talk show hosts and bloggers (other than me). It may be of little consolation, but abortion rates continue to decrease and gay marriages will suffer the pain of divorce just like hetero marriages. So, let’s consider the wide range of issues when voting in November.
Comment from Haji on Fri, 10 Jul 2009 08:09:02 GMT:
While pundits have speculated for weeks over who John McCain would choose as his running mate, the maverick McCain managed to keep it a closely held secret until this morning, when he unveiled his choice: Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, Washington outsider, mom to five children, and a very enigmatic woman. Recently, the news wires are buzzing about the Sarah Palin Runner's World interview. The Sarah Palin Runner's World interview is getting attention especially since the news broke just after it ran that Palin Quits, as governor of Alaska, same as the Palin Vanity Fair spread. Some claim it's so she can concentrate on a Palin 2012 run for President. To read more about this topic, please visit http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2009/07/08/sarah-palin-runners-world/
State of the art church webcam (Tue, 16 Sep 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I’m not a member, but it turns out that one of the most well done digital presentations of a church on the whole internet originates from my own geographical area. The Church of the Assumption (http://assumptionfairport.org/) has all its sermons online along with a 24/7, streaming video+audio view of the sanctuary. The webmaster has kindly responded to my own questions about how it’s all hosted. Very cool.
A brief analysis of Reformation art (Sun, 10 Aug 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
It interests me to compare Protestant art with Roman Catholic art, just to see if they are different. So, let’s review a bit of the 1920 exploration of the state of the world during the 1500s, "The Age of the Reformation" by Preserved Smith (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18879). Smith notes that Martin Luther was a contemporary of the painters who were then and continue to be regarded as the greatest masters (da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and the like). Smith continues:
Art was already on the decline when it came into conflict with the religious revivals of the time. The causes of the decadence are not hard to understand. The generation of giants, born in the latter half of the fifteenth century, seemed to exhaust the possibilities of artistic expression in painting and sculpture, or at least to exhaust the current ideas so expressible. Guido Reni and the Caracci could do nothing but imitate and recombine.
And then came the battle of Protestant and Catholic to turn men’s minds into other channels than that of beauty. Even when the Reformation was not consciously opposed to art, it shoved it aside as a distraction from the real business of life. Thus it has come about in Protestant lands that the public regards art as either a "business" or an "education." Luther himself loved music above all things and did much to popularize it, -- while Erasmus shuddered at the psalm-singing he heard from Protestant congregations! Of painting the Reformer spoke with admiration, but so rarely! What could art be in the life of a man who was fighting for his soul’s salvation? Calvin saw more clearly the dangers to the soul from the seductions of this world’s transitory charm. Images he thought idolatrous in churches and he said outright: "It would be a ridiculous and inept imitation of the papists to fancy that we render God more worthy service in ornamenting our temples and in employing organs and toys of that sort. While the people are thus distracted by external things the worship of God is profaned." So it was that the Puritans chased all blandishments not only from church but from life, and art came to be looked upon as a bit immoral.
Comment from pronaosrc. on Thu, 13 Dec 2012 07:09:58 GMT:
At this time the Catholic religion was in power, taikng advantage of their followers by using them for money and sex. People felt like they had to belong to the Catholic religion because this was all the knew about and the church had God on their side.As we have heard many of times this unit; The Renaissance was a time of great change in culture as well as thought and reasoning. Luther was one of very few people to question the church actions. He voiced his opinion and gave the rest of the world another option to follow. After the invention of the printing press his thesis spread and people gained more knowledge giving them choice. With this newly gained knowledge the people were able to see that they were taken advantage of. The people did not stand for this and fought for their own rights and freedoms which became the Protestant Revolution!
Old chestnuts at church (Sun, 29 Jun 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
A few months ago, a song came on a contemporary Christian radio station ("The Message" on XM satellite radio) that immediately seemed a step above most of the pabulum I hear. When the refrain kicked in, I realized I was listening to How Great Thou Art, an 1886 hymn written in Sweden by Carl Boberg. Of course, any denomination’s repertoire will include old and new works, but this fun hymn is not in my church’s hymnal. On a related note, our wonderful organist / music director gets a few Sundays off per year, and on those days I sneak out of my pew and strap on an acoustic guitar. Over a few years, the rector and I have developed a small set of hymns that we can mix and match according to the particular date that the organist is away. It’s all stuff that the congregation knows well enough to sing with just a few guitar chords to set the tempo. When I heard HGTA, I knew I needed an excuse to slip that in, hoping that enough old geezers would know the tune. We held an outdoor service today to transition into the summer season, and the organist was away, and our church secretary slipped some sheet music into the bulletin and it all came together! I would say that our congregation is pretty "progressive", whatever that means, but it was fun to crank out the oldie but goodie.
Comment from liulizhenz on Sat, 08 Dec 2012 05:22:39 GMT:
From Depths of Woe is a great hymn, and really a basic Lutheran hymn. We sing it at Emmaus regllaruy. Like many of the historic chorales, and like many of Dr. Luther's own hymns, once it is learned, it has lasting appeal and staying power. The strength and interest of the tune coincides with that of the text.
Logos related to the 60th anniversary of Israel (Wed, 14 May 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
The anniversary of the founding of Israel is in the news this week, and there is, of course, an official logo (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3446000,00.html). While looking for this, I first came across an artwork competition (http://israels60thbirthday.com/artwork-competition/) that "commemorates the Nakba". Gary learns a new word. The Nakba, according to the web site, means "catastrophe", is used with the phrase "almost the Holocaust", and refers to the suffering of Palestinians. It’s not clear if Nakba commemorators blame Jews specifically, or if Palestinian suffering is what Americans refer to as "collateral damage."
Clarification, June 30: When I wrote (above) that of course there’s an official logo, I was being sarcastic. These days, every newsworthy event is accompanied by an official logo, and sometimes that seems silly to me. Also, some people outside the Middle East don’t always acknowledge the depth of suffering felt by both Israelis and Palestinians, and some use euphemisms like "collateral damage". I referred to that sarcastically as well, because in fact, I agree with Sam (below) that both sides feel pain. Thanks for the responses!
Comment from samder123 on Mon, 23 Jun 2008 09:42:47 GMT:
hi the israel and palestine president should take good decisions to stop the war.
http://www.christian-drug-rehab.org Christian Drug Rehab
Comment from samder123 on Mon, 23 Jun 2008 09:40:21 GMT:
hi both israel and palestine people are suffering due to war.
http://www.christian-drug-rehab.org Christian Drug Rehab
Comment from Craig on Fri, 20 Jun 2008 01:45:06 GMT:
Forgotten Symbol of Jesus - the Jewish symbol adopted by Christians.
The economics of the art world (Sat, 12 Apr 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
This post is slightly off the track of commenting on specifically religious art, but the topic is important to serious patrons of the arts, no matter how much you spend on art or music. This blog post by Greg Sandow (http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/2008/04/defending_flanagan.html) describes "Baumol’s dilemma", which is that arts organizations don’t really improve their productivity like the rest of the business world. Automobiles can be made more efficiently today than in the past, but a painting can not be hung more efficiently, and a symphony can not be performed more efficiently. Unfortunately, costs for arts organizations rise, and Sandow shows that costs rise faster than organizations can raise ticket prices. It has long been known that orchestras cannot fund their budgets with ticket sales, and that they need donations and other funding to balance their budgets. Today’s problem is that the percentage funded by ticket sales is falling. Orchestras need to raise more and more of their funding through external channels. There are differences of opinion on whether, say, major arts organizations will fail, but is there a limit to fundraising? Do arts organizations get to a point where they simply cannot reduce their costs, cannot become more productive, cannot charge enough for tickets, and cannot attract more donors and grants?
Battlestar Galactica piles on the religious themes (Sat, 5 Apr 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
The new season of the SciFi Network’s Battlestar Galactica (http://www.scifi.com/battlestar) began last night. The hated Baltar is acquitted at a trial but is whisked away to a safehouse full of the equivalent of houri, that is, Islam’s heavenly virgins, often promised as the reward for a suicide bomber. Baltar preaches against the notion of polytheism, in favor of the One God, and Baltar is credited with a miracle following a scene of self sacrifice. Baltar’s guardian angel, Six, smiles knowingly. A shrine has been erected that looks Orthodox Christian or Hindu. Starbuck beats up her boyfriend and two armed guards to emphasize, to the president, Starbuck’s own visions of paradise. We remain clueless as to how an advanced society lost track of a planet and became polytheistic. This was the best show on TV for a season, and now I gotta watch it, but Season 4 promises to be a long and winding road.
Terrorism art exhibit suspended (Tue, 11 Mar 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
So this Iraqi-born faculty member of the Art Institute of Chicago hacked a computer game. The game originally featured Americans killing Iraqis and hunting Saddam Hussein. The original was hacked by al-Qaeda to feature Islamists killing Americans and hunting (apparently the current) President Bush. Then this art teacher hacked the hack to feature himself as the killer of Bush. The game was exhibited as art at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY (a few hours drive from me). But someone complained (go figure) and the Feds got involved and the exhibit got suspended by the college, presumably while they figure out, well, something, God only knows what they are figuring out. The art teacher is crying "censorship", and of course, everyone involved in this incident is brainless. See this web page (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/07/AR2008030703445_pf.html)
The un-Christianity of political campaign spending (Tue, 19 Feb 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
It has occurred to me, good Christian that I am, that the giant sucking sound I hear is that of political candidates vacuuming up money that could be used to alleviate suffering and promote justice. Not just presidential candidates, but candidates at all levels. One could argue that candidates promise to do good things if elected, so the spending of campaign money is justified in the end. I could go along with that if the campaigns practiced some moderation, but it’s hard to imagine any candidate doing so much better than the others that he or she is worth the obscene expense. It’s not that I’m naive enough to think we really know how to alleviate suffering, or that money not spent on campaigns would instead be used to promote justice, or that I could do better, but hasn’t the line of moderation been crossed? If only a candidate would admit it, that would be a start. This is an art blog, but my previous posts about protest art got me thinking about campaign promises, so if you really need an art link, try this comment on political campaign art (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-sartwell5jul05,0,7953028.story?coll=la-opinion-center)
Images of political protest (6th in a series) - ArtThreat (Wed, 13 Feb 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
Wow, I might have to end this series of posts, because I found a very slick web site (http://www.artthreat.net/) devoted to art and politics, and there’s little hope of me reporting anything about protest art not already covered by ArtThreat. For me, a discussion of protest art is much more interesting than, say, adding Christian symbols to my database. Political protest topics are important to me because they are important to Jesus. The art of political protest is a religious topic because it so often touches on human rights and government sanctioned violence, etc. The struggle is the glory.
Added some angels (Sat, 26 Jan 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I added some angel images today, go to the main page and search for angel.
Arun Gandhi and Godwin (Sun, 13 Jan 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
It turns out that Arun Ganhdi, grandson of Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi, lives in upstate New York, USA, just a few miles from my own home. Who knew? Well, Ganhdi is in the news because of a blog post (http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/arun_gandhi/2008/01/jewish_identity_in_the_past.html) for the Washington Post. Gandhi attempted to comment on the Holocaust and (not surprisingly) stirred up controversy. A guy like me can write anything and be ignored, but even I don’t tackle the Holocaust (and I skate on thin ice with just this slight reference). Famous people should know better, and I refer you to Godwin’s Law (http://www.godwinslaw.org/), which explains that such comments are effectively inevitable in any online discussion.
Writing transformational songs is harder (Mon, 7 Jan 2008 12:00:00 GMT)
I find it difficult to sit with a pen or keyboard with the intent of writing an overtly Christian song. I don’t think that the problem is with my faith. I think my struggle is trying to tell a story or make a point and then combining that with a what-would-Jesus-do statement. It either sounds forced or cliche. I have complained in this blog a couple of times that most Christian contemporary music (CCM) that gets airplay is "separational" in nature, meaning that it confirms a Christian’s beliefs by implying that we are a special segment of society. It’s not that I don’t believe that; Christianity is hard, and it’s OK to take pride in being a Christian (well, a little pride). But my songwriting background has been in a non-commercial area that is more "transformational" in nature. I want to make a point, and I don’t just want to put a Bible verse to music. Bible verses are nothing without an interpretation to fit one’s own situation. Maybe it’s controversial to say that the Bible needs believers to be important, but that’s actually an Old Testament notion (I’ll look for a reference for that). Certainly, not all my songs make a profound point, either by design or because my writing attempts often collapse into rubble. But I think Jesus provides a path for us to walk here on Earth, and writing that "Jesus loves me", while true, does not point me to that path. Finally, when I do feel like a song (mine or another’s) makes a point but without an overt Jesus reference, I often see Christian values anyway. Can an anti-war song be other than a Christian song? Can a "support-the-troops" song be other than a Christian song? I guess I should just go with the flow.
Comment from cihovice on Sat, 22 Sep 2012 08:16:00 GMT:
Every man has to give an account to God in the day of jueegmdnt of every idle word he speaks so you need Yahshua to erase your bad words and give you his new living way to be holy. Everyman who has the hope of eternal life purify's himself and those who are mocking don't know what they will miss and what punishment they will get for continuing in dark world ideas.Awake to right thinking and sin not With his help of course, the eternal awaits you!!!
The Ministry of Rock and Roll (Sun, 25 Nov 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (http://www.rockhall.com/) in Cleveland last weekend, and I enjoyed it. A dichotomy, though, seems apparent. Rock and Roll has always been viewed as an art form that expresses rebellion against "the establishment". A film at the Hall shows, among other bits, Bruce Springsteen talking about how rockers are misfits. But, in order for us to honor rockers and the history of rock, we need to make up rules. We need to define the art form so that we can decide which artists are creating Rock and Roll. And then there’s the parallel with modern Christianity. Jesus was the ultimate rebellious radical, but we Christians spend so much of our time defining Christianity and enforcing the rules.
On a lighter note, I visited the Hall with a large family group, and we debated all weekend about which artists should or should not be inducted. Madonna, Mellencamp, Yes and the Dave Clark Five seem to fit the current mold and are on current ballots. Tull, the Doobies and Ronstadt seem to fit. With Van Halen in, can Bon Jovi with Richie Sambora be far behind? Black Sabbath, but no Alice Cooper? Do we really keep Cher out when The Clash, The Ramones and Patti Smith all put together won’t sell as many records? How far from inductee Paul Simon’s "The Boxer" is Peter Yarrow’s "Puff" (PP&M will never get in)? Did the Monkees not bear the burden of being America’s answer to no less than the Beatles?
Abortion (Mon, 12 Nov 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
Where does the notion of "pro-choice" come from? Many women in my society and around the world are abused and repressed. They don’t choose their behavior. When they get pregnant, it’s not because they failed to choose the right birth control method, because they had no choice. Abortion is the alternative to exposing babies to their pain. The fathers don’t attend the childbirth classes and drive to the pre-natal appointments, so months of pregnancy are no fun. The pro-choice community ignores the babies and treats abortion as some sort of female liberation. The pro-life community ignores domestic abuse and equates abortion with murder. I hate the idea of abortion, and yet, does Jesus look into the bruised face of a beaten woman and tell her to cherish her miracle of life? Certainly, most pregnancies are not the result of abuse, but we if can’t stop all abuse, we must deal with it.
Comment from tomcurise0 on Thu, 04 Sep 2008 06:18:36 GMT:
i think abortion is not correct policy to break the pregnancy. the pro-life community ignores domestic abuse and equates abortion with murder. may women in this society and around the world are abused and repressed.
Comment from Eileen on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 20:16:02 GMT:
Hello. I love your site, but I find the no hangers symbol completely obnoxious. To post non-Christian symbols on here is one thing, but to post a symbol so incredibly offensive to Christianity is just, well, offensive to the extreme.
A symbol promoting abortion is not religious unless you worship Satan, and is DEFINITELY not Christian. Please refer to the Didache if you want to learn what early Christians believed about killing infants in the wombs of their mothers. Thank you.
Comment from Gary on Sat, 14 Feb 2009 16:06:09 GMT:
Acknowledging that I (web site author) have read this comment.
Magick, Christianity, and searching for unrelated terms to see what comes up (Sun, 19 Aug 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
Of course, it’s not all that uncommon to find an article that mentions both witch’s "magick" and Christianity, but I was still surprised to find this elaborate web site (http://groups.msn.com/ChristianCraft) intended for those who seriously practice both at the same time. As an experiment, I concocted two terms that seemed unrelated: driveway sealing and knitting. I pumped them through a search engine and got 364 hits in return. I’m not saying that the magical Christians are the product of a random combination of philosophies. I suppose they’re sincere. And yet, think of any two things, and someone out there is fanatically involved with the combination. But don’t call them fanatics; my house is currently being picketed by United Driveway Knitters Local 132.
Images of political protest (5th in a series) - The Mother of God wanders through Poland (Sat, 7 Jul 2007 12:00:00 GM)
From an article by Anna Niedzwiedz in the latest newsletter of the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester (http://www.rochester.edu/college/psc/CPCES/). Poland is mostly Roman Catholic, and the Virgin Mary is universally revered, including the existence of "Marian" cults. The most famous image of Mary in Poland is a painting on wood, darkened by candle smoke, known as the Black Madonna. References to the icon date to before the year 500, and the image is said to have been painted by St. Luke on a table made by Joseph, the carpenter stepfather of Jesus. The icon now hangs in the monastery of Jasna Góra (Bright Mountain) in Czestochowa.
In 1966, the RC Church in Communist Poland planned to exhibit a copy of the icon in every parish in Poland, for one day each. This was known as the "peregrination" of the copy, or the wandering of the Mother of God. As the processions and cult-like veneration increased, the Communists seized the copy. Poles refer to this as the imprisonment of Mary. An empty picture frame was then transported around Poland for five years, i.e., a frame representing a copy of the icon. The empty frame is said to have generated more spiritual and anti-Communist fervor than even the copy would have.
The hot new arts book (Sun, 17 Jun 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
The hot new title in the arts world, the subject of various public conversations, is "Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life", edited by Tepper and Ivey. This book looks at audiences and participation, as well as the art itself, and has a chapter on art’s relationship with religion. There is a long review at ArtsJournal (http://www.artsjournal.com/league/2007/06/engaging_art_the_next_great_tr.html) with a link to the publisher’s page.
Large, free photo repository (Mon, 03 Jun 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
The Stock.XCHNG site (http://www.sxc.hu/) provides thousands of photos for a free registration. Check the SXC licensing agreements, but the images are generally royalty free and include many religious images, such as photos of churches.
Comment from sardagh on Sat, 22 Sep 2012 05:53:31 GMT:
I'd say that is a pretty good guieildne to follow. Birthing a child does not make a person a parent anymore than wearing a pair of sunglasses makes a person cool. One has nothing to do with another.I often refer to my daughters. In fact that is exactly what they are, even though the oldest two have a dad from my wife's previous marriage. I've been there dad for since before at least the youngest can remember. I don't have a problem sharing the truth. I also don't want to take away anything from our relationship either. I appreciate your honest open post. Your son is a gift from God, and God's blessed him with the parents He selected for him before the foundations of the universe.
Fair use of copyrighted material (Mon, 07 May 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
The "fair use" of copyrighted material is always of interest to web site operators, and there is a web site devoted to the topic (http://fairuse.stanford.edu/).
Images of political protest (4th in a series) - students, armbands, US Supreme Court (Mon, 16 Apr 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
In 1969, three public school pupils in Des Moines, IA wore black armbands in school to protest the Vietnam War. The students were suspended and subsequently sued the school district. Lower courts dismissed the lawsuits, upholding the right of administrators to exert control when fearing disruption. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissals, upholding the rights of students to speak peacefully and undisruptively, even when effectively disobeying administrative directives. The fear of disruption was ruled insufficient to deny free "pure speech" rights. See Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist. (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=393&invol=503)
Funny church signs (Thu, 12 Apr 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I found a web page with funny church billboards (http://ship-of-fools.com/Signs/signs/index.html).
Almost Easter, and transferring cassettes to CD (Mon, 07 Apr 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I told my wife I was sad, and she asked why, and I said that I had heard that Jesus died yesterday, that it was in all the papers. She scolded me not to joke about that. But I’ve been slacking off on my blogging and I figured I should write something, anything. I have been busy with transferring piles of high school concert cassette tapes from the 1970s, to my hard drive. These tapes were provided by alumni friends. It’s a tedious task, and not exactly relevant to a Christian Symbols blog, but I encourage you to keep track of these things while you’re still in contact with your friends, and before they discard their recordings.
Images of political protest (3rd in a series), the Islamic veil (Mon, 19 Mar 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
University of Pittsburgh professor Carol McAllister investigated the evolution of longstanding Islamic societies (http://www.umc.pitt.edu/pittmag/sep96/s96classesh.html), such as Bedouins, from egalitarian collectives to capitalist groups led by a few powerful individuals. Although the societies have always been patriarchal, the women traditionally "stuck together" and maintained some autonomy and decision-making authority. Recently, the economic evolution eroded this autonomy. In response, women turned to "sexualized femininity"; they decorated themselves to assert a place in the modern community. However, rather than achieving power, the women were objectivized by the dominant men. The women became dependent on men or a particular man, rather than on their community of sisters. Most recently, modern Islamic women have turned to veiling as a means of asserting their purity and place of honor in society. The veil, then, is a symbol of protest against sexual objectivization. This is occurring even in Islamic societies that did not traditionally require veils. While Western women blame their uncomfortable, calf-stretching shoes (http://www.wilk4.com/humor/humorm196.htm) on male designers, McAllister sees women at the root of objectivization.
My first guitar teacher (Mon, 5 Mar 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
My first guitar teacher, Kevin DeFrance, passed away on March 1 at the age of 47. Oh what a time we had, Kevin trying to teach me Hot Rod Lincoln. See the the funeral home web site (http://www.newcomerfamily.com/). A memorial concert will be held 1-8 pm at the California Brew Haus on March 25, 2007, with a $10 donation toward a scholarship fund.
Comment from Jim Seeger on Sun, 05 Oct 2008 13:19:59 GMT:
I just learned of Kevins passing. I worked with Kevin when he was in THE ROBIN STEEL BAND. My thoughts and prayer are with him and his family. He was a fantastic guitar player and a truly good person. I'm so sorry he is gone. He will be missed.
May peace be with him and his family.
Comment from Johnny G on Mon, 28 Jul 2008 04:34:22 GMT:
Kevin and I had a number of things in common. We are the same age. We both played guitar in numerous bands. We also shared the same musical tastes. Kevin was an incredible guitarist and musician. He never settled. I have always respected him and his musical talent. The guy could play practically anything he wanted. He was that good. I'm sure he is still playing and impressing the angels that gaze in amazement. Rock on Kevin...
Comment from Alan Felds on Thu, 12 Jun 2008 02:25:44 GMT:
Kevin is dead? I didn't want to learn about it from the Internet. I was the first roadie for Twin Image. Kevin was an excellent guitarist. He didn't like me telling him that he looked like John Oates.
Blogger jailed for insults to Islam (Sat, 24 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
In a chilling affront to basic human rights, an Egyptian blogger was jailed for four years for comments deemed to be insulting to Islam and officials. See the CNN story (http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/22/blogger.jail.reut/index.html).
If you know what this symbols is, contact me! (Mon, 19 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
Take a look at this unusual eleven pointed star with knives (http://www.gocek.org/christiansymbols/images/star11.jpg).
Comment from Gary webma on Fri, 17 Dec 2010 02:34:33 GMT:
UPDATE 1 Feb 2010 - Steven (http://yahwehist.ning.com/
) wrote to point out that the eleven pointed star indeed has (rather obscure) astrological uses, and that the Statue of Liberty stands atop an old fort in the shape of an eleven pointed star.
This is also similar to the Ukrainian Coat of Arms.
Comment from night-hawk on Wed, 17 Mar 2010 11:29:22 GMT:
I would suggest that this image represents 'Pentecost'. Judas Iscariot had despaired after he betrayed and delivered Christ to Herod/Pontius Pilate; he hung himself.... then there were 11 apostles, hence 11 points. The object above the 11 pointed star looks like a stylized dove descending to the 11 pointed star. The ring enclosing the star perhaps represents the walls of the 'upper room' where the apostles were gathered awaiting the return of Jesus.
Comment from allenk32 on Sun, 27 Sep 2009 16:27:02 GMT:
I think the Eleven Pointed Star is the realization of the spirit, and the wisdom which comes from the realization of the spirit. It would stand to reason because the five pointed star represent the epiphany; the seven pointed star represents the gifts of the spirit; the nine pointed star represents the fruits of the spirit.
Contemporary images of Christ (Fri, 16 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
"In every age, from the first century until now, the urge to recreate the image of Jesus seems to have been irresistible." See this page (http://www.thewords.com/gallery/seeingchrist/).
Images of political protest (2nd in a series), BlessedCause.org (Tue, 06 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I came across Jen Shroder’s BlessedCause site (http://www.blessedcause.org/) while looking for sites oriented toward using images to protest. The BlessedCause site is text-oriented, but effectively uses images with the text. The site began as a mother’s protest against the marginalization of Christian values in public schools. On the one hand, Shroder is a bit of an extremist who writes that, "By the time I got pregnant, ALL of my friends had already had at least one abortion." Well, that’s quite a clique, and Shroder blames these out-of-wedlock pregnancies on Planned Parenthood and public school sex ed. On the other hand, Shroder mostly avoids the disparagement of others; she simply wants to teach her values to her child without being disparaged and she wants to have a say in public school curricula when she feels school policies hurt the ability of parents to raise their children. Shroder tends to pick and choose her references to support her beliefs, but she makes some good points about reverse discrimination toward Christianity in America. Images are grouped on this page (http://www.blessedcause.org/TOC/Christian%20Art%20Sculpture.htm).
Comment from Gary, for on Mon, 29 Jun 2009 23:21:08 GMT:
Jen acknowledged seeing this post but I accidentally deleted it, sorry. Thanks for visiting. - Gary, webmaster.
Book review, "The Sound of Light" by Don Cusic (Sat, 27 Jan 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
After a year of reading through half-chapters at a time, I have finally finished this epic work describing a history of Gospel and Christian music (see this web site http://www.doncusic.com/). This is a history book, after all, so much of its 500+ pages give dry facts and figures. But the attraction of the book is as a single source for a description of how music evolved with Christianity over 2000 years, and particularly how music has played a role within American Christianity. Finally, in the Conclusion chapter, Cusic describes the three types of contemporary Christian music (CCM) (with credit to Apostles of Rock by Howard and Streck). Separational CCM proselytizes to non-believers, encourages believers, or praises God. Integrational CCM attempts to provide a wholesome product that integrates with mainstream culture, rather than as a product for a separate subculture. Transformational CCM exists for the sake of art, and often challenges and confronts listeners with uncomfortable truths. By far, most CCM produced and consumed today is of the separational type. The implication is that we Christians generally want comforting support for our beliefs, while thinking of ourselves as separated from secular culture, and without wanting to be challenged. Recording artists are happy to provide us with the product we demand. In my opinion, though, Jesus is integrational and transformational!
Battlestar Galactica revisited (Tue, 23 Jan 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
The second half of the season has begun for Battlestar Galactica (http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/). The writers are digging deeper into the polytheism of the humans and the monotheism of the Cylons. How the bulk of humanity embraced paganism (a regression, in my opinion), and how the manufactured Cylon robots came to believe in a supreme being that is apparently non-human and non-robotic, have never been explained. It’s a mystery to viewers how the "final five" Cylons could be revealed to D’Anna (Lucy Lawless) in a pagan temple built centuries before the Cylons were even invented. The final five could be compared to the prophets of real life religions, although since D’Anna has been killed off, no one knows who the final five are and these prophets have revealed nothing about the nature of the Cylon god. Viewers assume that the final five were invented by other Cylons, but why their identity is hidden to Cylons is, for viewers, again incomprehensible. At least in "real life" we can argue about our interpretations of our religions; our God chose to hand down at least some information. We can only hope that the Battlestar writers get their act together, because the presumed departure of Lucy Lawless from the cast is another disaster.
Images of political protest (1st in a series) (Thu, 18 Jan 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I was thinking about possible topics for this blog and wondering about imagery that would be meaningful to terrorists, many of whom these days are religious extremists. That would be relevant for this blog, but I am concerned how coverage of such a topic on my part might be supportive of terrorism (which is never my intent). In any case, I came across this coverage of an exhibit at the Tate Britain art gallery (http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/wallinger/) in which artist Mark Wallinger recreates a series of displays by anti-war activist Brian Haw. So, rather than terrorist imagery we have anti-war imagery, which is not an opposite exactly, but you can imagine how I came across the latter while pondering the former. Furthermore, journalist/blogger Lee Rosenbaum (http://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/2007/01/in_case_you_were_wondering_whe.html) wonders about the scarcity of American political art, particularly within museum exhibits and particularly with respect to the Iraq war. While Rosenbaum cites some sources, it is not clear that such exhibitions do not exist just because Rosenbaum has not found them in New York City, but her point is worth exploring.
Symbols added for religions of the world (Tue, 02 Jan 2007 12:00:00 GMT)
I added a dozen symbols for various religions of the world such as the crescent and star of Islam. I also added brief descriptions of many religions in the glossary. Please feel free to point out errors or inconsistencies. I tried to provide historical information without editorializing or stereotyping.
Followup on Saddam's execution (Sat, 30 Dec 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
I was a bit off target in my prediction that the Saddam execution would be public, and I have to give credit to anyone involved in the decision to get it over quickly and privately. News sites are leaking various execution scene photos and videos as this day wears on, and news organizations are falling all over themselves to assure us that ongoing coverage will remain tasteful. But the concept of tasetful coverage of an execution is certainly an oxymoron, and I remain generally opposed to capital punishment. With respect to the purpose of this blog, I still claim that the whole episode is essentially a combination of artful dances by all involved.
Comment from pauleyholm on Sat, 08 Dec 2012 10:45:21 GMT:
Nice try! And you don't need all that profanity that's why I like your blog. It's like a breath of fresh air and that's really needed out here in blogland!.-= Lisa @ Boondock Ramblingsb4s last blog .. =-.
Comment from socialpoli on Sat, 08 Dec 2012 01:55:53 GMT:
The Christian community has a lot of years track record to overcome. We have presented sub-standard for so long, and CLAIMED it to be a better alternative' when in fact it's a load of crap with a little melody. What we've learned is, that customers don't come back. Better fleece em while you can . . . you may not get a second chance. It's hard to overcome that to actually TRUST God . . . especially when we've (as a whole) presented Him in a second rate manner for as long as commerce has ruled the world.Fan or not, South Park , Family Guy , etc that can be had for free online is brilliantly put together. They can give it away because they know they're customers will return for a fix, even if they have to pay for the primo' stuff on occasion. Priming the pump as it were, because they know that down the line, it increases the dollar flow.
Followup on the Pope and Islam (Fri, 01 Dec 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
Having commented earlier that the Pope should have known better than to repeat statements from Byzantine emperors about Muslim behavior (September 18), I should follow up now by noting that the Pope’s recent visit to Turkey seems to have calmed the mood of the Muslim-on-the-street (http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/12/01/turkey.pope.papers.reut/index.html). That’s a good thing, although the Pope accomplished that pretty much by simply avoiding provocative actions. It was good to hear the Pope’s call for repect for Turkey’s Christian population, which traces its origins back to Mary herself (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_the_mother_of_Jesus). On the other hand, Episcopalian leader Schori has taken some flack for refusing to fall into an interviewer’s trap when asked if Jesus was the only path to God (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1211587,00.html), so it will be interesting to see how much flack the Pope takes for stating that Catholics are not trying to convert anyone (http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/12/01/turkey.pope.ap/index.html/). Schori stated that she does not limit God by asserting that there is one and only one path, even if her own path is typically Christian.
New site software might change symbols ordering (Sun, 26 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
I changed the way the symbols page does localization, i.e., displays the page according to the language requested by the brower. The text strings and symbol descriptions are now in files that are separate for each language, and there is no easy way to order the lists. However, the intent of the search button is to allow users to find what they need. In any case, return visitors may notice that the symbols are ordered differently than before. Also, I changed the search textbox to better handle special characters.
NEA report correlates arts participation with community involvement (Fri, 17 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
A publication of the National Endowment for the Arts entitled The Arts and Civic Engagement (http://www.arts.gov/pub/CivicEngagement.pdf) reports that "arts participation overwhelmingly correlates with positive individual and civic behaviors." People who attend classical and jazz concerts are more likely than non-attenders to volunteer in their communities. Arts participants are even more physically active than non-participants. How, um, Christian of us. On the down side, young adults are reported to be less arts-active and slightly less community-active.
Technology popularized gospel music (Tue, 14 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
It is interesting to recall that at the end of the 19th century, rousing revival meetings were popular. When the meetings ended and the souls wanted to keep singing, they bought sheet music for their home pianos. In the early 20th century, the phonograph record and radio changed the music industry which had previously made its money from books. The new devices popularized music in a new way, and American gospel music was in the thick of that development. See Cusic (http://www.doncusic.com/).
The art of capital punishment (Tue, 07 Nov 2006 12:01:00 GMT)
The dichotomy of modern American politics is that conservatives tend to protect fetuses and kill criminals, while liberals tend to kill fetuses and protect criminals. Be that as it may, America played a role in Saddam’s death sentence in Iraq, and this promises to be the most widely viewed execution in history. One might expect restraint by mainstream television networks, but the execution will undoubtedly be streamed "live" onto the web and available through satellite feeds. WWJD? There are Bible-based arguments supporting both sides of the capital punishment debate. The fifth commandment seems clear, but that’s not what Jesus quoted on the cross. In general, Jesus accepted his corporeal fate; society has its way, and then God has God’s way.
What’s art got to do with it? A great deal of art will spew forth from this execution. Wait until you see the inevitable photo of the sun rising gloriously behind the gallows. Songs will be written. Hollywood is mobilizing. Political speechwriters will spin, as political speeches have always been more art than truth.
This conversation is important, but hideous. There is such a thing as "bad art", and we’ll surely see some as a result of Saddam’s execution. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in Iraq over the last few years, and Saddam’s will be one more. Some argue that this violence makes Americans safer, but this violence does not bring anyone closer to God. When Saddam’s day arrives, embrace something pleasant that day and thank God for it. Allahu Akhbar.
This blog is now available as RSS 2.0 (Mon, 06 Nov 2006 12:01:00 GMT)
The RSS feed for this blog is now operational. You can read the blog from the gocek.org web site, or you can "subscribe" with an "aggregator" such as the free and open-source FeedReader (http://www.feedreader.com/). The XML icon in the right hand column is linked to the subscription file.
Jesus would want a new arts center (Thu, 02 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
Many communities occasionally consider arts-related construction, such as arts centers, museums, auditoriums, etc. These venues can represent a large investment relative to a community’s resources. A new school auditorium can be a major project for a small town, and a mid-sized city can spend tens of millions of dollars on a 2000-seat venue. Recent reports suggest that the justification for new venues is typically related more to modernization than to size. In other words, existing venues are big enough, but upgrades are needed to support modern arts productions and to complement or encourage other development. The argument against new venues is often, simply, that the old venues have served well for years and have historical value.
Jesus, though, was the quintessential radical who overturned the tables and ultimately destroyed and rebuilt the temple. There is a lot of mixed symbolism in that statement, but I don’t think that we can suppose that Jesus would be stuck on the status quo. Communities always need to consider the priorities of the day, and an arts center won’t always bubble to the top. Just the same, I don’t think that Jesus would require us to wait for world peace and an end to hunger before we improve our access to fine art. Venues do eventually get so old and outdated that, regardless of history, they hinder current artists and need to be replaced.
Community leaders should be responsible with public projects, but should also recognize the worth of art.
Danish cartoon lawsuit dismissed (Fri, 27 Oct 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
The Danish courts rejected a lawsuit accusing a newspaper of intentional mockery by printing caricatures of Mohammad in early 2006. See the story. (http://hotair.com/archives/2006/10/26/danish-judge-dismisses-lawsuit-over-mohammed-cartoons/)
Contemporary Christian pop music (Wed, 11 Oct 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
I’m a fan of the notion of Christian songwriting, but I’m not always "moved" by the contemporary Christian music (CCM) getting airplay these days. I suppose that CCM writers are forced by studios into formulaic productions, as are country and pop writers, since listeners "vote" with their CD purchases and the typical listener continues to buy generic praise music. Praise songs have their place, but if CCM writers are finding novel ways to praise God, the studios are still producing only the same ol’ same ol’. I want to hear personal stories; I want to hear a singer "testify". The danger for the studios is that fewer listeners identify with an intensely personal story than identify with generic praise, so it’s easier to sell generic praise songs. Sometimes I want my faith and my practice to be challenged. As for artists, I like Carolyn Arends. (http://www.carolynarends.com/)
Battlestar season begins tonight! (Fri, 6 Oct 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
I watch just a couple of TV shows, and one of my favorites begins a new season tonight. Battlestar Galactica (http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/) offers, among many novel elements, a view of religion in the distant future. The writers believe that after additional centuries of human development, we revert to a form of paganism. On the other hand, the season opener has the Cylons (robots) referring to a monotheistic God while in the presence of humans. Religion played an important role in several past episodes, but not necessarily in a what-would-Jesus-do sense. Religious notions were presented, and then everyone went back to secular decision making. Still, it’s miles beyond anything shown by, say, the Roman Catholic "civilians" depicted on the Sopranos.
Historical factoids (Tue, 3 Oct 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
Paraphrasing Cusic, the hymns we sing regularly in church these days, even long beloved hymns, came to us after the American Revolution. Some of the melodies are older, even medieval, but the sophisticated lyrics were generally applied after 1800. During colonial times in America and Europe, it was not typical for congregations to sing from music books with advanced instrumental accompaniment, as it was not common for parishes to own large collections of hymnals like those we find in the seatbacks of today’s churches. Back then, congregational singing was led by a trained musician who usually chose "call and response" songs or rounds that were set to known, often secular melodies. With those repetitive song forms, a congregation could quickly learn refrains in response to verses sung by the leader. Prior to colonial times, Martin Luther and his colleagues wrote hymns and planted the seeds of participatory singing. For centuries before and after Luther, even when music was important to worship, the music was provided by trained musicians and the participation of parishioners, aside from listening, was not central to liturgical practice. In part, the use of music and other art was considered a distraction from worship, and some modern Christian denominations retain this belief. As for the use of art prior to medieval times, consider that Christians were persecuted for the first few centuries, so one would suppose that congregations didn’t bellow out "Onward Christian Soldier" with Roman soldiers outside the door. Cantors and rabbis sang in the Jewish temples, and Christians inherited some practice from Judaeism, but the gradual break from Jewish worship practices left Christians with a need to redevelop the whole notion of using art to support worship. That took centuries.
VeggieTales religious references removed for NBC version (Wed, 27 Sep 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
The version of VeggieTales seen on NBC on Saturday mornings is edited to remove some religious references. See the VeggieTales comment (http://www.bigidea.com/company/news/tv_statement.htm). It’s hard to imagine that any negative comments resulting from religious scripts would result in anything less than good publicity for all involved, and the show itself is widely considered to present unusually positive messages for kids.
Links to other forums (Sat, 23 Sep 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
Since I don’t get many visitors to my own forum, I might as well mention a couple others aimed generally at Episcopalians. The Yahoo group EpiscopalChurch (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/episcopalchurch/) contains both casual and deeply academic discussions, but it’s in a strict text format that isn’t as easy to use as the newer EpiscopalForum (http://www.episcopalforum.org/). The new forum is still in its early stages, but uses a nicer visual and threaded format.
Art and Episcopalians and Catholics, oh my! (Fri, 22 Sep 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
Martin Luther and other early Protestants brought music and art (http://www.doncusic.com/) to Protestant churches and services at a time when many felt that art was a distraction from worship. A minority of Christian denominations (http://www.adventist.org/) today continue to shun art and music. The Roman Catholic church has long supported the musical and visual arts. Although I wouldn’t give up my progressive Protestantism for anything, I sometimes miss the historic throes of the RC church in which I was raised. The intricate organizational and political workings from the Vatican on down supply endless fodder for writers around the world. Cases of misconduct by clergymen are exasperating even for non-Catholics, but the machinations we observe while the RC church grinds through those cases are fascinating. One can imagine that the grindings will lead to a better church and a better world. By contrast, I see less fruit borne by the modern throes of the Episcopal Church USA; every possible outcome of the sexuality debates (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_78017_ENG_HTM.htm) leaves most Episcopalians dissatisfied and the struggle grinds on.
Further news today is that we can read the first blog written by a Cardinal (http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/, Seán of Boston).
My diocese wins court case against local parish (Wed, 20 Sep 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
See the newspaper article (http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060920/NEWS01/609200406/1002/NEWS). My home parish’s diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester (http://www.rochesterepiscopaldiocese.org/, EDR), closed All Saints church of Irondequoit, NY (near Rochester) in 2005 over non-payment of the parish’s "apportionment" (dues) and generally protesting the policies of the EDR and the Episcopal Church of the USA. Mostly, the All Saints complaints were focused at the ECUSA’s consecration of am openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. Yesterday, the EDR won in court. As is typical with ECUSA churches, the court verified that the legal owner of the church property and records is the EDR, not the parish. For my own part, I am generally satisfied; if you disagree with your church’s policies and beliefs, you won’t find salvation in the courts.
The Pope apologizes (Mon, 18 Sep 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
The Pope has apologized (http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/09/20/pope.islam.ap/index.html) for quoting a 14th century emperor who accused Muslims of violence, presumably apologizing to avoid further violent reprisals by Muslims over the Pope’s comments. The Pope’s intent in making the original comments is difficult to fathom. After Muslims rioted over cartoons in Norway (http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/05/12/denmark.alqaeda/index.html), wouldn’t the same or worse be expected when the official leader of a billion Catholics quotes such statements? Certainly, it’s ironic for Muslims to react to accusations of being violent by attacking Christian churches. However, one supposes that most of the violent Muslims are not reading the Vatican Times; they’re reacting to what they’re told by a few extremist Muslim leaders. Those few Muslim leaders will interpret Islam in a way that justifies violence even without Western leaders adding fuel to the fire. It is right for the Pope to participate in world events, but this reaction should have been foreseen.
On the completeness of the symbol descriptions (Sun, 17 Sep 2006 12:04:00 GMT)
I acknowledge that many descriptions are incomplete, and I add text as I get reliable information. Some visitors object to me referring to Christian symbols when some symbols are borrowed from other religions, and were sometimes in use before the birth of Jesus. For each such symbol, there is a history behind its inclusion into Christian practice. I am very receptive to efforts to educate me, and I do not exhibit ignorance just to irritate you, so please keep that in mind when you contact me.
On the grammatical correctness of "Christian Symbols" (Sun, 17 Sep 2006 12:03:00 GMT)
I acknowledge that it may be more precise to refer to many of the symbols on this site as symbols used by Christians, rather than as Christian symbols. However, I view this more as a grammatical issue than as a spiritual or theological issue. If I fix the grammar, I won’t be as visible to search engines, since visitors tend to search for Christian symbols.
On the encouragement of idolatry by a symbols page (Sun, 17 Sep 2006 12:02:00 GMT)
I believe that all artworks presented here are representational in nature. A picture of Jesus is not actually Jesus, and we don’t worship the picture, but the representation can be helpful during worship. We can admire the picture of a saint while attempting to follow the saint’s example. We can reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice while holding a crucifix. Art has long been important in many Christian denominations without diluting the divinity of Jesus.
I recognize that some people (Christian and otherwise) do not share this view of the role of symbolism, and those others may see the symbols as sinful distractions from proper worship. Although those others make up a tiny minority of Christians, I recognize that majorities aren’t always right. Even though www.gocek.org (http://www.gocek.org/) presents information on topics other than Christian symbols, and even though the symbols pages accept remotely served links to third parties, it is my intent to accurately portray the pages. If you think that viewing the symbols is sinful, then you shouldn’t view them. You weren’t tricked into coming to the Christian Symbols web pages (http://www.gocek.org/blog/default.aspx). I do welcome your comments, especially if you think that you arrived at the web site due to some misrepresentation.
Christians who see symbols as sinful tend to be labeled as fundamentalists, for their views on symbols as well as their additional views on other topics. They tend to see much art, religious of otherwise, as sinful. I don’t mean to sound derogatory. If you have read this far, you can imagine how we are traveling down a path into interpretive shades of gray. For every Bible verse interpreted in a way that proves the sinfulness of symbols, there is a verse that can be interpreted to prove the validity of symbols in Christian worship. Ultimately, there are disagreements on the interpretations. In my opinion, the Decalogue simply does not prohibit the use of art in worship. For more discussion on this, look up "idolatry" at en.wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/).
Comment from ken long on Mon, 23 Jun 2008 08:04:41 GMT:
The use of symbolism in churches and temples shouldn't be regardered as idolatry or idol worship.
The Bible as a symbol (Sun, 17 Sep 2006 12:01:00 GMT)
If you want to get picky, the Bible can be seen as a symbol. The Bible was not literally handed down by God. Although most Judeo-Christians ascribe the inspiration of Scripture to God, the Bible is a human-consumable representation of beliefs and practices, written by humans for humans. Even if you argue that the Ten Commandments were handed down directly by God via stone tablets, we can still say that God was limited to providing the commandments in a human-consumable form, and we humans are left to interpret them. God chose to give us written commandments rather than an instinctive understanding of the commandments.
In my opinion, Jesus came to earth as a human to set an example for a human way of life. It’s OK to be alive and human, even though we are sinful. And it’s OK to use symbols to focus our attention on giving to God that which is God’s (Luke 20:25).
Speaking of pagans (Sun, 17 Sep 2006 12:00:00 GMT)
The word pagan is primarily used to refer generally to non-Christians who were usually informal polytheists, and not to anything that remotely corresponds to, say, modern neo-Pagans such as Wiccans. Without a doubt, much symbolism used by Christians was adapted from early earth-religion practitioners (if that’s even an accurate term). I am not completely ignorant of pagan and Pagan history and I do try to be accurate and open-minded.