Category Archives: Art
lives of religious and non-religious people, as Pope Francis urges us to
After all of the research that I have been conducting on cell-phones for my articles “A Call for Cellular Change” and “Choosing Cellular Competition– A Sweet Young Ting or a Virgin Mobile”, this video from a Thai cell phone provider really had an impact.
As wonderful as that message is, it bears consideration how I got that message. It was an intriguing post from a Facebook friend who I have only briefly met once ”in real life”. So in reality, I was inspired by a cyber-connection. But to use a Doug Coupland conceit from his seminal book Generation X (1991) , it would be a mistake to rely on an internet “Air Family” as opposed to maintaining real relationships.
Philosophically, I think that everything in moderation as well as keeping in mind the important things in life–relationships are better maxims than Keep Calm and Disconnect to Connect.
|[Detail of mosaic at St. Ignatius of Loyola Church, New York City]|
On May 20, 1521, a 30 year old soldier named Inigo de Loyola who was serving in the Viceroy of Navarre’s army to defend against an attack by the French on the city of Pamplona. Although the Spanish army was outnumbered, the vain and haughty Inigo wanted to fight on. But a cannonball shattered one of Inigo’s legs and broke the other and he needed to be carried home to his family castle in Loyola.
It was a long convalescence over several months, and Inigo had nothing to do but read. Inigo preferred the Sixteenth Century version of soap operas–Romance novels, but there were none to be had. All his familial castle had was a book on the life of Christ and a hagiography (book on Saints’ lives).
Inigo had complications with his convalescence. His leg was set but did not heal, so it was necessary to break it again and reset it, all without anesthesia. The procedure was unsuccessful and attempts to make Inigo battle ready failed and left him with a permanent limp that ended his military career. Moreover, Inigo’s health declined and doctors told him to prepare for death.
Ignatius grew worse and was finally told by the doctors that he should prepare for death.
Desperate, Ignatius began to read the religious books. This vulnerable state made the once haughty Inigo to be open to the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God. The more Inigo he read, the more he considered the exploits of the saints worth imitating.
Inigo noticed that that after reading and thinking of the saints and Christ he was at peace and satisfied. Yet when he finished his long daydreams of his noble lady, he would feel restless and unsatisfied. The Society of Jesus (a.k.a. Jesuits) consider this to be the beginning of Ignatius of Loyola’s conversion and his techniques of spiritual discernment which he later incorporated in the the Spiritual Exercises.
So it could be said that it took a cannon ball to get Ignatius of Loyola’s attention.
Personally, I am satisfied for less dramatic experiences of the divine than being struck by lightning, a cannonball or other such theophanies. But the Spirit works in mysterious ways.
Ascension Thursday is the close of the forty day celebration of Easter. Some dioceses have moved marking this Solemnity of this feast to Sunday. To better celebrate the wonder and mystery of this event of salvific history, we can turn to art.
The Seventeenth Century poet John Donne tended to take an intellectual approach to spirituality in La Coruna. (1618). The section dedicated to the Ascension offers conceits which prepares the person for acting in faith:
Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sun, and Son,
Ye whose true tears, or tribulation
Have purely wash’d, or burnt your drossy clay.
Behold, the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which He treads upon;
Nor doth he by ascending show alone,
But first He, and He first enters the way.
O strong Ram, which hast batter’d heaven for me!
Mild lamb, which with Thy Blood hast mark’d the path!
Bright Torch, which shinest, that I the way may see!
O, with Thy own Blood quench Thy own just wrath;
And if Thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.
While Donne was raised as a Catholic, he converted to Anglicanism in his adulthood. The verses reflect this sentiment as it uses quitessential Catholic symbols,such as light and dark, as well as the sacrifice of the innocent lamb. But the final verse emphasizes the personal rather than communal aspect of faith.
Another distinctive feature of Donne’s literary style are his metaphysical conceits. which uses imagery in an extended metaphor to combine vastly different ideas into a single notion. Hence, the ascension is likened to both a strong Ram to break down the door of faith to heaven and as a mild lamb in a blood sacrifice to show the path.
Three hundred and fifty years later, Salvador Dali painted “The Ascension of Christ” (1958) as Jesus is rising toward an energized and electrified heaven.
Dali’s surreal style of juxtaposing images one would not ordinarily associate in order to create a deeper meaning requires going beyond a rational exposition of faith. But Dali’s depiction is not devoid of reality, as the prominent feet would have been the last thing that the Apostles who witness the Ascension would have seen.
Dali attributes the inspiration for “The Ascension of Christ” to a cosmic dream that he had in 1950 full of vivid color where he saw the nucleus of an atom. Dali was an ardent atheist but he later re-embraced his Catholic faith (perhaps after an exorcism) but Dali often fused his conceptions of Christianity with science. Dali realized that the nucleus was the true representation of the unifying spirit of Christ. This nuclear mysticism is meant to connect everyone.
Dali’s “Ascension of Christ” does have some incongruities. Dali was inspired by the atom but it looks like a sunflower or perhaps a stylized depictions of the sun. Dali was often intrigued with continuous circular patterns like a sunflower floret as it followed the law of logarithmic spiral, which Dali explained to Mike Wallace in 1958 was associated with the force of spirit in chastity.
While the dove ready to descend from the clouds seems like an allusion to the Pentecost liturgically celebrated in 10 days. But why is Gala (Dali’s wife and artistic muse) peering out from the clouds? In other Dalian religiously inspired paintings, Gala represented the Virgin Mary. Historically, the dormition of the Theotokis happened long after Christ’s ascension into heaven. However, Mary is often considered the Queen Mother of Heaven and as the resurrection transcended time and space, it could show the Mother of God weeping at her son’s departure from the Earth from her prospective place in heaven.
Other aspects to appreciate in Dali’s depiction of Christ’s glorified body ascending to heaven is his hands and feet. Aside from the positioning of the foot, notice how the soles of his foot were soiled, as reminders that our Messiah walked among us. Also the Jesus’ fingers are curled, which lends some visual drama to the painting but combined with with electrified heavens hints at power.
Whether we are spoken to by Donne’s metaphysical conceits or dazzled by Dali’s depictions of nuclear mysticism, the Ascension of Christ into heaven is a foretaste of what the faithful may expect in our eventual heavenly home.
After being Blinded with Science from the East Anglia hockey stick fixed data about the Climategate anthropogenic Global Warming, it is apropos to celebrate this years Earth Day with sardonic skepticism.
With this in mind, here is a poetic gem dedicated to Gaia that was penned by Nobel Peace Prize Winner (2007), subject of the Oscar Winning Documentary (2007) , Grammy Winner (2009), Emmy Winner (2007), Webby Winner (2005) and the 2000 Presidential Election Popular Vote Winner former Vice President Albert Arnold Gore, Jr.
One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun
Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune’s bones dissolve
Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly
Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning’s celebration
Take their leave, unmourned
Horsemen ready their stirrups
Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung
The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools
Despite his bleak climate change poetry, it is a miracle that Al Gore is around on Earth and deriving a $100 million personal profit from the sale of CurrentTV to Al Jazeera. Gore had predicted in 2008 that the North Pole Ice Cap would be completely melted by the end of 2012.
Of course these evocative verses have a different feel as they were recited by Glenn Beck and cohorts on Beck’s “Elegant Eliminations” Tour.
Did either version release your second chakra?
of Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the American Revolutionary
War. It was fought on April 19, 1775
when 700 British troops followed a secret order to capture and destroy military
supplies reportedly stored by the Massachusetts Militia at Concord.
colonials had received word of this impending crackdown by the British and had
moved most of the supplies elsewhere.
Most of the rebellions leadership also fled Boston.
fighter leader were informed that the
Red Coats were going to march, word needed to be spread to their
supporters. This midnight ride was
popularlized by Longfellows 1861 poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul
by sea” was also spread by Samuel Prescott along with William Dawes.
notification allowed the Minutemen to be prepared for the Red Coat’s raid. Captain John Parker lined up about 80 troops
on Lexington Green (the town’s commons) in parade formation to take make a show
of political determination but not
prevent the march of the British.
Parker famously said “Stand your ground; don’t fire unless fired
upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
|Memorial to Captain John Parker on Lexington Green, Mass.|
colonialists were warned by a British officer on horseback to disperse and
perhaps to “Lay down your arms you damned rebels.” Captain Parker ordered his militiamen to
leave and go home, but that order was not clearly heard and Minutemen were slow
|The Dawn of Liberty, Henry Sandham (1886)|
shots were fired at sunrise in Lexington.
After 237 years later, it is unclear what happened on Lexington Green,
but Parker’s militia swears that they did not shoot first. The shot may have come from the crowd
assembled watching the stand off between the Red Coats and the Minutemen. Nevertheless, the British Regulars charged
with bayonets and released a devastating volley. Eight Massachusetts Militiamen
were killed and they fell back as they were outnumbered. One Red Coat was slightly injured
militiamen defeated three companies of King George’s forces. The outnumbered Red Coat regular forces fell
back from the Minutemen in a pitched
battle in open ground.
bridge that arched the flood,
April’s breeze unfurled,
embattled farmers stood,
shot heard round the world.
since in silence slept;
conqueror silent sleeps;
ruined bridge has swept
stream which seaward creeps.
bank, by this soft stream,
a votive stone;
may their deed redeem,
our sires, our sons are gone.
made those heroes dare
leave their children free,
Nature gently spare
raise to them and thee.
Emerson Concord Hymn (1837)
British forces retreated to the safety of Charlestown. Many Massachusetts
Militiamen blocked the narrow land access where the British troops were
garrissoned and started the eleven month seige of Boston.
As the Easter Octave has come to an end, and most of our baskets are empty from the confectionary delights which celebrated the Feast of the Resurrection. So it may be a good time to highlight the winner of the Washington Post’s seventh Peep Diorama competition.
Leslie Brown and Lani Hoza of Charlottesville, Virginia cooked up a tongue in cheek memorial for the loss of a beloved mass market treat: ”Peeps mourn their Peeps: Twinkie Rest In Peace”.
This dirgeful diorama also honors other tasty treats involved in the union killing of Hostess in November 2013.
It is unclear what relation the Peeps were to Twinkie the Kid.
But in the spirit of Eastertide–the Twinkie will also be resurrected. Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. bought the rights for Twinkies for $410 million. Dean Metropoulos is renowned for repositioning tired brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon. The problem with Hostess is that the bankruptcy wiped out Twinkie manufacturing and distribution. They promise that the Twinkies and other snacks will return to store shelves by the summer 2013.
Until then, we can appreciate the Peeps diorama. After all, if one hasn’t consumed a Peep for a day, it is so stale that it will seemingly last forever like Twinkie, so it well suited for diorama art.
h/t: Washington Post
Now that people in the District of Calamity have recovered from their Easter basket sugar comas as well as the elation over Bryce Harper hitting two homers to secure the opening day win for the Washington Nationals, it is a good time to consider Easter epicurean art in the form of political peeps.
Peeps are a marshmallow confection produced by Just Born candies from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since 1953. The Peeps are formed in the shape of chicks and bunnies and are often associated with Easter.
As the victorious warriors of the basketball court advance to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament, it has sparked some hermaneutical introspection.
A Converse perspective adopts the Athletic Department’s enthusiasm.
It is no wonder that the Marquette Men’s basketball program has a 24 game winning streak, considering the loyalty of its fans, as shown by sell outs of the Bradley Center and the energy exerted in the student section. One small detail that belies Marquette’s Ignatian charism is the one word sentence “Pray”.
Another symbol of the University is the school seal with the strange Latinate motto “Numen flumeneque” It translates to “God and the [Mississippi] River.
|Stained Glass of Marquette Seal, Sensenbrernner Hall, Milwauke, WI|
The motto has more meaning when one understands Père Jacques Marquette was a Jesuit missionary who, along with Louis Jolliet, was one of the first Europeans to explore the northern portion of the Mississippi River in 1673. Marquette’s alacrity with languages came in handy in his mission to spread the gospel to various indigenous tribes in the new world (a.k.a. “New France”) as he worked with the Hurons, then had good relations with the Illinois tribe as well as when he explored.
Aside from Père Marquette, the school seal incorporates imagery which honors St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (a.k.a.the Jesuits). The diagonal red and gold bands honors heroes from Ignatius’ lineage who achieved valor in battle. In addition, the wolves in the coat of arts symbolize the generosity of the Loyola family that even the wolves found something in the kettle to feast.
In 2002, Marquette University adopted the tag line “Be the difference” as it challenged the Marquette community to be leaders to make important contributions, which echoes the Ignatian attitude to be “contemplation in action”
Marquette athletic teams have gone by several monikers. Originally, they were named “the Hill Toppers” due to their topography. In the 1920s, they were nicknamed “the Golden Avalanche” for their football prowess by sports writers. Other teams were informally tagged “the Blue and the Gold”. The name that really stood out was the Warriors, which all Marquette teams sported from 1954 to 1994, including the infamous 1970 NIT Champions and the 1977 NCAA Champion basketball teams under Al McGuire.
Aside from a proud record for Marquette basketball, the University has the knack for choosing colorful and charismatic coaches. The 2013 jerseys bear patches to Al McGuire as well as Rick Majerus, who played for the Warriors (or warmed the bench as he would put it), was an assistant coach and head coach before moving on. This is Buzz William’s fifth season at Marquette. Williams takes a humble but persistent approach with his team. Williams recently observed:
That’s just another Marquette game. We’re not good enough to blow anybody out. We’re just good enough to get blown out. And if we can turn it into a fight and make it ugly, then it probably trends toward helping us the most. What you saw is a microcosm of our culture.
It may be synchronicity but this humble, determined and gritty approach approximates the Jesuit ideal.
Marquette basketball has produced some great pro players of late, including Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat) and Jae Crowder (Dallas Mavericks). But aside from their atheletic excellence, Marquette student athletes have stellar graduation rates. Marquette athletes have a 91% graduation rate, compared to 78% of the whole student body.
In 1994, Marquette University President hastened a change from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles, allegedly so that the Warriors could be unisex, but what is more likely is that the machinations were to be politically correct and to sell more licensed sportswear. Even today, Marquette basketball games are punctuated with spontaneous cheers “Let’s go Warriors!” instead of chanting up the unremarkable “Golden Eagles”.
While the Willie Wampum cartoon Warrior was obviously offensive to modern mores, Marquette University crafted a Warrior consulting with various Indian tribes that bespoke honor and valor in battle, much like Ignatius of Loyola’s black robed religious warriors.
This is Marquette University basketball’s third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen, and first advance to the Elite Eight since 2003, where they were roundly beaten by Kansas. There is the possibility that there might be a rematch between the Jayhawks and Marquette in this year’s final four. Rather than be haunted by the past, it is better to be calm and ahoya on.
Win or lose, Warrior or Golden Eagle, may the imprint of Marquette to be the difference in the world. But if it helps, the Elite Eight game is being played in the District of Calamity (sic).
|Pere Marqutte Statue by Gaetano Trentanove (1896)|
The Wisconsin contribution to the Congressional collection is none other than Père Jacques Marquette. It used to be in Statuary Hall but now is displayed in the Congressional Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol. Perhaps that omen will bring some luck to keep the Blue on Gold on route to the Atlanta Highway for the Final Four.