Wednesday, June 16, 2010

when icons collide, history's longest war

boy, do people get riled up when you talk about religion (politics, money). it's like you're always doing something right or wrong and have to hide a bunch of stuff. me too, i felt lots of times when my thoughts went against dogma i'd be struck by lightning. that's simply part of the preacher's (and chaplain's) kid's existence.

true, when i was six, we did steal parents' cigarettes and smoke them in the furnace room of the church basement. and my father caught me about the same time pilfering from the collection plate. not to mention the time he marched up the grocery aisle to where i was stashing candy bars in my pocket.

all because of this i had to give up lying and thieving. both make me feel bad about myself, even if the temptations haven't lifted after a lifetime.

watching lectures on the northern renaissance last nite, i wondered, influenced by so much christian art, in what the power of this religion lay? to people of other persuasions it seems full of blood, betrayal, battle. a series of stories, not the stuff of a religion. yes, all the major religions have these elements, spread ultimately by fire and the sword, even buddhism with it's zen ninjas. they're meant to protect you and help you sleep peacefully. more often they've led to most destructive wars in history. (the present no exception.)

the last time i read the first four books of the new testament, two things struck me. first, each of the books detailed a different person: the healer, the warrior, and so on. you could take elements from each and create the christ fit for you. this gives the icon universal appeal. second, the poet-performance artist set up the show and wrote the script. when he rode the donkey into jerusalem, he sent his point man ahead to arrange the scene. he knew his old testament backwards and forwards and cut his cloth to fit history.

it's the drama and poetry of his work we experience today. other reasons have been given for the success of christianity - it gave a central place to women and focused on the family, from which all theater descends - however, what a great piece of literature gives is an image you can't forget. think of the old book: jonah in the whale, david whirling his sling, delilah slicing off samson's hair. and none has been as powerful as men hung on a cross.

i hope i have been worthy of your attention and not offended. all things to do with our visions of ourselves must not be refined without expecting hoots and boos.
here are recent pictures from mt. hough. you can find all forms of art and moments in history up here: