Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Windows on the world (434)

London, 2018


Susanna and the Brotherhood of Our Lady - Wilderness.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Reconciliation: commission4mission exhibition

‘Reconciliation’ is an exhibition by commission4mission artists in the Chapel of Christ the Servant at Coventry Cathedral (1 Hill Top, Coventry CV1 5AB) from 10 March – 12 April 2019. Cathedral opening hours: Mon to Sat – 10 am to 5 pm (Last entry for visitors is 4 pm), Sun – 12 noon to 4 pm (Last entry is 3 pm). Private view: Saturday 9th March 5-7pm

‘Reconciliation’ is a group show by commission4mission artists. The title and theme for the exhibition can be understood in terms of reconciliations that are emotional, political, personal, biblical, national, communal etc.

Revd Jonathan Evens, commission4mission's secretary says: 'Our artists have reflected broadly on the theme responding with imagery that ranges from various forms of embrace, through pardoning and connections to aspects of the Life of Christ including Annunciation, Crucifixion and Glorification. Contemporary issues addressed include conflicts in the Middle East and plastic pollution. There are also images of Coventry Cathedral itself, emphasising its reconciliation ministry. A mix of abstract and representational imagery has been created, utilising ceramics, collage, digital illustration, drawing, painting, photography and sculpture.'

The exhibition includes work by Ally Ashworth, Hayley Bowen, Harvey Bradley, IrinaBradley, Valerie Dean, Mary Donaghey, Jonathan Evens, Maurizio Galia, Michael Garaway, John Gentry, Clorinda Goodman, Laura Grenci, Deborah Harrison, David Hawkins, Anthony Hodgson, Eugenia Jacobs, Mark Lewis, David Millidge, Lucy Morrish, Irene Novelli, Janet Roberts, Henry Shelton, and Peter Webb.

'The Last Supper', a sculpture by David Millidge is inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci's iconic Christian masterpiece. However, it is not about Judas or betrayal. It is about the journey of religious tolerance.
The disciples in this Last Supper are all identical figures but decorated with a thin veneer of symbols and images representing different faiths (ceramic transfers).

David says: 'If we are to continue living in a world where wars, conflicts, prejudice and persecution remain on the decline, we must continue to break down the barriers that divide us with acceptance and respect for the different faiths that we live by. My sculpture portrays an optimistic vision of a future where all ideologies sit side by side in harmony.'

The faiths represented, approximately in order of affiliated members are: Christianity, Islam, Atheism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Taoism, Bahaism, Confucianism, Jainism, and Shintoism.

Mary Donaghey's contribution also images a reconciliation yet to be realised. In one area of her painting, armaments are piled resembling a bonfire with monetary notes of the major countries dealing in the Arms Trade. This is ready to be used in the igniting of it all. Nearby, Israeli soldiers are welcoming displaced Palestinians into new houses, the fence being down. An Iranian prison is open, prisoners emerging. A Syrian hospital is supplying prosthetic limbs, skies clear, nails being shovelled into a hole in the ground. The offending leaders of these countries also behave with compassion towards their present victims.

Former Bishop of Barking, David Hawkins also addresses contemporary issues with his mixed media pieces: 'Carrier bags have become the latest culprits in the war on pollution, with two million being purchased every minute across the globe. Back lit by the sun, they become angels of death and destruction. Our Celtic forbears saw God’s activity in the mundane of everyday life – in our century, even in carrier bags.'

The Angels of Death pictured in these images feature in Old Testament stories which foreshadow the forgiveness and reconciliation to be found in the death of Christ.

Similarly, Michael Garaway's 'Friday Process - Mark' also focuses on the significance of Christ's crucifixion coming as it does from a series of four which present in graphical form the symbolic 'hardware' related to Christ's suffering and death, as described in the Gospel accounts.


Glenn Kaiser - Presence Of The Lord.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Creation care

Here is the reflection I offered at St Martin-in-the-Fields during yesterday's Choral Eucharist:

Animals and plants were first domesticated across a region stretching north from modern-day Israel, Palestine and Lebanon to Syria and eastern Turkey, then east into, northern Iraq and north-western Iran, and south into Mesopotamia; a region known as the Fertile Crescent. This was in the Neolithic Period, also known as the New Stone Age.

It is arguable that this is the period of human history that is described by the creation story told in Genesis 2.4b-9, 15-17. Ernest Lucas notes that Eden is located at the place where the Tigris and Euphrates rise – which is in the upland plateaux of Turkey and that the word ‘Eden’ may come from a Babylonian word meaning ‘plateaux’. He also notes that Genesis 4 tells of a descendent of Adam called Tubal-Cain, who was the first person to use metal to make things. That means that Adam must have used only stone implements. Genesis 2 tells us that Adam was a gardener and that he tamed animals. All of which adds up to a picture of Adam as what we would call a ‘New Stone Age man’.

This is the point in history when human beings begin, by a combination of social organisation (sociality) and individual creativity (development), to have a choice about how we behave ethically. Prior to this point human beings had been hunters, migrants dependent on the movements of their prey and participants in the natural ‘kill or be killed’ processes of a nature that is ‘red in tooth and claw.’ However, as human beings developed agriculturally and socially, the killing of animals and other human beings was no longer essential and ethical choices become possible.

So, the biblical creation stories locate the image of God in the ability of human beings to be consciously social and creative. Albert Wolters comments that: “Adam and Eve, as the first married couple, represent the beginnings of societal life; their task of tending the garden, the primary task of agriculture, represents the beginnings of cultural life." (Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview)

In speaking of Genesis 1, Wolters suggests that: ‘There is a process of development and evolution as the earthly realm assumes, step by step, the contours of the variegated world of our experience. On the sixth day this process is completed with the creation of [human beings], and on the seventh day God rests from his labors. This is not the end of the development of creation, however.’

Creation, once made, is not something that remains a static quality. ‘There is, as it were, a growing up (though not in a biological sense), an unfolding of creation.’ ‘Although God has withdrawn from the work of creation, he has put an image of himself on the earth with a mandate to continue. The earth had been completely unformed and empty; in the six-day process of development God had formed it and filled it – but not completely. People … now carry on the work of development: by being fruitful they must fill it even more; by subduing it they must form it even more. [Hu]mankind, as God’s representatives on earth, carry on where God left off.’

Human development of the created earth is societal and cultural in nature. We are to use our organisational abilities in community and our creativity to cultivate creation (to make it fruitful) and to care for it (to maintain and sustain it), just as God told Adam to work the ground and keep it in order. As God’s image bearers we have a responsibility to care for and work with the good environment God has created.

God’s first words to men and women, were that they would rule over ’the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’ in a way that reflects his own image. Not just God’s power, but his unselfish love, mercy and tender compassion. We have been given a special task – to look after the rest of what God has made (Genesis 1: 26–28; Gen. 2:15). This is not an optional extra for a few keen environmentalists, but a fundamental part of what it means to be human.

Today we are seeing massive climate change and increased destruction and pollution of creation. We are treating God’s gift badly and it is the poorest in our world who will suffer most from that reality. Tragically, our rule over creation has been characterized by cruelty, greed and short-sightedness, but this was clearly not God’s intention. If we desire to obey God, then we must look for ways in which we can be good and responsible stewards of the natural world by reducing our environmental impact and raising awareness of the environmental challenges we face today as a global community.


Bruce Cockburn - If A Tree Falls.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Two poems on poets: David Jones and Dylan Thomas

Here are poems on two poets; the first about the art of David Jones and the second on the poetry of Dylan Thomas.

Windows into the divine

Supple sensuous sinuous pencil lines combine
with sketchy swathes, swatches
and blotches of aqueous colour,
minimal modelling merging near and far,
present and past on shallow space.
Glass chalices, open windows,
flowers and thorns, still life and landscape.
The Eucharist - one reality in the form of another,
heaven in ordinary - frames and forms his making –
all human making - sacramental signification,
inutile and gratuitous; graceful, playful,
light and loving, abundant and affirming.

If we attend, the waters are freed,
aqueous light floods static subjects
as fluid flecks, flurries and washes of colour
suffuse, invade, imbue and inform;
playing freely on forms creating flux,
confusing boundaries, circling round transparent images,
blending, merging all - the wood and the trees -
bringing all within imagination’s reach.
The spiritual shimmering, shining through the material,
the universal in the particular -
seeing with, not through the eye -
for to pay attention, this is prayer.

A Londoner of Protestant upbringing,
Catholic subscription, and of particular
Welsh and English stock.
A Christian modernist chasing connection
through heritage and lineage,
interlinking, interleaving past and present;
like iconographers' writing images,
David Jones opened windows into the divine
in Harrow-on-the-Hill, Capel-y-ffin,
Pigotts, and Portslade.

Dylan Thomas was more at home with Blake and Vaughan than Marx and Proust

Dylan Thomas was more at home
with Blake and Vaughan than Marx and Proust.
He had one foot in Eden, the other in Babylon,
one hand on the Bible, the other under bedclothes,
knowing the actual world’s deplorable sordidness
and the invisible world’s splendour.
One who didn’t believe in God
wrote poems in praise of God’s world,
knowing the godhead, the author, the milky-way farmer,
the first cause, architect, lamp-lighter, quintessence,
the beginning Word, the anthropomorphic bowler-out and blackballer,
the stuff of all men, scapegoat, martyr, maker, woe-bearer.
In the beginning was the word, the Christ-word,
the word that from the solid bases of the light
abstracted all the letters of the void.
He, on top of the hill in heaven, wept whenever,
outside that state of being called his country,
one of his worlds dropped dead,
vanished screaming, shrivelled, exploded, murdered itself.
And, when he wept, light and his tears
glided down together, hand in hand.
So, the Christ was dipped breast-deep in the descended bone.
The one child who was priest and servants,
Word, singers, and tongue.
The Christ born thorny on the tree,
whose blood touched the crosstree.
This was a saviour, rarer than radium,
commoner than water, crueller than truth;
children kept from the sun, assembled at his tongue
to hear the golden note turn in a groove,
prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
in the jails and studies of his keyless smiles.
This was a saviour, the serpent’s
night fall and the fruit like a sun.
The flesh we break, the blood we let,
were born of the sensual root and sap;
his wine we drink, his bread we snap.

See for the inspiration of this poem, which incorporates phrases from Thomas' poems and prose as well as Andrew Sinclair's Dylan The Bard.

Dylan Thomas - Altarwise By Owl Light.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Windows on the world (433)

Port de Pollença, 2018


The Specials - Ghost Town.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Review: Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-33

My latest review for Church Times is of Magic Realism: Art in Weimar Germany 1919-33 at Tate Modern.

Two of the artists included, Albert Birkle and Herbert Gurschner, were part of an under-recognised strand of artists at this time (including, in the UK, Eric Gill, David Jones, Winifred Knights, Stanley Spencer, and others) for whom religious iconography did retain spiritual significance, and who produced work that was both original and modern as a result. One of many interesting aspects to this exhibition, and the earlier linked “Aftermath” exhibition, is that the curators have recognised this and reflected it as part of the rich tapestry of modernism, instead of overlooking it on ideological grounds, as others have in the past.

This new recognition on the part of curators is also apparent in Bill Viola / Michelangelo: Life, Death, Rebirth at the RA which explores resonances in both artists’ treatment of the fundamental questions of life and its meaning. As Ben Quash pointed out today at a study day on Art & Theology, an exhibition that aims to journey through the cycle of life by taking us closer to the spiritual and emotional power of the art works is a relatively new development in curation.


David Bowie - Where Are We Now?

HeartEdge Introductory Day: St John’s Parish Church Hamilton

The most recent HeartEdge Introductory Day took place in Scotland at St John’s Parish Church Hamilton

As is usual on these occasions, the programme began with Sam Wells speaking about biblical approaches to money and the ways these impact on mission and ministry. Liz Crumlish, Co-ordinator for the Path of Renewal in the Church of Scotland, Doug Gay, Lecturer in Practical Theology at University of Glasgow, and George Whyte, Principal Clerk of the General Assembly of The Church of Scotland, gave responses to Sam’s presentation.

The mood lightened with the opening bars from the Heart and Soul Swing Band who shared their music, in addition to sharing about their ministry which is providing new musical resources to Church of Scotland congregations while raising funds for the Church of Scotland HIV Programme

More examples of the 4 Cs followed as we heard about Coffee, cake and colouring at St John’s Hamilton, The Wild Olive Café at St George’s Tron, Hyzone Youth Project – Hamilton’s Youth Project, and Drama Kirk at Hamilton Old Parish Church

The day ended with reflections from Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of The Church of Scotland.