July 25, 2007
July 27, 2007

July 26, 2007

MUSLIM MALAYSIA?

There's an interesting debate going on in Malaysia over the recent assertion by the deputy prime minister that Islam is its official religion and it's a Muslim country -- just in case you needed a reminder that the religious freedom and church-state separation we enjoy in the U.S. is not universal.

* * *

ON GREAT ART AND IDOLATRY

The other evening I finally had the opportunity to visit the magnificent Bloch Building, the controversial new addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

Bloch_3Whatever you think of the exterior (it's really growing on me), the interior space is simply stunning.

My wife and I were with friends that evening, and later we talked some about the role of religion and art and whether this kind of expensive space functions as a sort of temple to which art worshipers come on a pilgrimage to pay homage to the art and the artists.

I haven't figured out quite what I think about all of that, but I am both moved and a little discomforted by the idea that in such museums and galleries we may have created something slightly idolatrous. Or, if not, at least something that should give us pause about idolatry and what we worship.

I am not very well educated in great art. I've never swooned even when I've seen world-famous paintings in museums in such places as Paris. And yet I certainly am attracted to particular paintings and to other works of art, from music to architecture. But I think of art not as an end in itself but, rather, as a vehicle for giving us the opportunity to think and feel beyond ourselves.

I will have to return to the Nelson again and again before I've clarified my thinking about art, idolatry and religion. But I'd be interested in hearing about your own experiences when you visit such secular shrines.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

Comments

Dave Miller

Yes, yes, yes, Bill. Very interesting comments today on art and idolatry. In the Christian tradition, at least, we've gone back and forth on this with very heated iconoclastic controversies over the years. At what point does a work of art cease to be transparent to the great mystery which it is meant to convey and, instead, become an object of devotion itself? That's the fine line where the controversy seems to lie.

As I understand it (someone will correct me, I'm sure!) Muslims, just to be safe, have drawn the line entirely on the iconoclastic side.

Dave Miller

A further thought...does anyone listening in here know something about art history in the Muslim world? Or know of a resource about it?

Patricia?

Dolores Lear

Museums of Art, and Holy Cathedrals, are temples that are built by Humans, not by GOD. Churches are not, the temple or house of GOD. LIFE is the temple of GOD.
Where did our pictures of God, Man Gods and Angels, rites, ceremonies, and holy books come from? Art and Fallen Humans? Some pictures of God had a Human body, without features of a face. Why? Because GOD is not Human?

Yesterday the bloggers were disputing the meaning of 'Thou Shalt Not Kill', and where this Commandment started, before the Jewish religion of Abraham.

Luthers's Small Catechism.
"The Bible".
7. What is the Bible?
The Bible is the Word of God.
8. Who wrote the Bible?
Holy men of God wrote the Bible. The Prophets wrote the books of the Old Testament and the Evangelists and the Apostles wrote the books of the New Testament.
9. Why is the Bible the Word of God although it was written by men? The Bible is the Word of God because these men wrote it by inspiration of God.
10. What does "by inspiration of God" mean? "By inspiration of God" means that God the Holy Ghost 'moved' the holy men to 'write', and 'put into their minds', the very 'thoughts' which they expressed and the very 'words' which the wrote. (Verbal Inspiration.)
11. Whose word, then, is every word of the Bible? Every word of the Bible is God's 'word', and therefore the Bible is without error.
12. For what purpose did God give us the Bible? God gave us the Bible to make us "wise unto 'salvation' through faith which is in Christ Jesus", and to 'train us in holy living'.
13. What use should we make of the Bible? We should diligently and reverently 'read and study' the Bible, 'listen' attentively when it is read and explained, 'believe' it, and 'live' according to it."

The Lutheran Small Catechism is used by boys and girls, 13 years old, in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in their Confirmation studies before they join the church. It tells them the way they should believe about God. They are baptized as babies, but are not members until confirmation.
(Confirmation is an interesting word. Could that mean brain washing?)
Luther's Catechism also has explanations of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, The Lords Prayer, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, The Office of the Keys and Confession, and, The Sacrament of the Altar.
Is this what it means to train up a child in the ways they should go?
I know the Catholic Church has Confirmation also. Do other Protestant religions have it, or just Lutherans?

Without High Tech Knowledge, how do all the people on the planet today, learn about GOD, the Force that made the Atom and the Electro-Magnetic Force and all Life as we know it, seen and unseen? This should be common Science knowledge today, but it is not called GOD.
High Tech Science and Religion are about the Creator GOD of LIFE, and, the Supernatural/High Tech Gods in Human form, who are the creators of Life on Earth.
The God in many forms, that is worshipped on Earth, with many pictures and icons that depict humans, is not GOD. Has the face of GOD ever been seen on Earth? Does the Creator GOD have a face? Could a Human with face ever Create the Atom and the Electro-Magnetic Force? When did Humans, start calling Humans GOD? After the 'Fall', when the High Tech Knowledge of the Human Colonization was lost?

Are we ready to give up mouth worship, by Body Birth Unequal Humans, that kill each other, make nuclear bombs and pollute their Eco System in the name of GOD?
Are we ready to return to being Equal Pure-bred Human Caretakers of All Life on Earth, as it was in the Beginning of High Tech Pure-bred Human Life on Earth?

With a High Tech Knowledge translation of the Christian Bible and Myth, The High Tech Truth can prove, that Eternal Physical Life is for Living Humans, not for the Dead Humans. Is there Life as we know it, After Death? Proved by Who?

mel

Anyone else questions Delores' sanity?

Dolores Lear

mel.

Everyone does, but family and friends put up with me. I have been at this for 36 years and still keep going.

To me the reality of LIFE since we have High Tech Knowledge of Pure-bred Birth, and Colonization of planets explains the Truth of the Bible about Higher High Tech Nature Birth Human Beings, and Lower Body Birth Lower Nature Human Beings.

So far no luck, but I hope it is known soon, before we blow up our Home planet believing in a Human God that created the Universes.

Although the Human Man Gods that Colonized Earth and Jesus, will come back Alive in Human Bodies, to save us with their High Tech Knowledge and spaceship, before we completely Kill all Life on Earth.

Jesus' Agape Love

Dolores Lear

Dave.

There are pictures of Mohammad without face features, but I do not think Muslim/Islam has any pictures of GOD or God. No one has any pictures of GOD, who cannot be seen by Humans.

Patricia

Islamic art has a rich history, Dave, and does exist and is recognized as art. The human form is not supposed to be depicted for worship, which is the universal "banned" standard in Muslim countries. To do so would create icons.

Otherwise, the admonitions against the human form get confusing. Mainly because different eras and different religious leaders have allowed and advocated for varying interpretations of the religion. There are beautiful old texts illustrated with pictures of Mohammad and the human form does appear in the art.

I think it's fair to say, though, that the Muslim countries have concentrated on art that tends more toward architecture, caligraphy, and the decorative arts. The intricate designs have a specific name that means they are an homage to Mohammad.

They do allow galleries to house the ancient art. One of the most extraordinary experiences is the museum in Cairo, which houses all the King Tut materials and other incredible works. I have never seen a modern gallery that was painting oriented, but was instead, decorative arts. Perhaps someone else knows what the rules are.

An example of how the rules differ....When I was small and we lived in Saudi Arabia, which is very strictly Muslim, I was not allowed to take a doll into the country because it was considered to be iconic. Neither were we allowed to take photographs of people, for the same reason. Those rules still hold in the strictest countries. The minute I say that, however, I can think of all kinds of instances where the rules were broken. There were black-market babydolls and photographs taken.

Patricia

I have met with and talked to Dolores, Mel. She is quite sane and also very intelligent. She simply has found her own unique belief system and has a passion for it.

In Joseph Campbell's words, Dolores has found her bliss. Not a bad thing to have found at 85. Kudos to her for maintaining a website, developing her writings, and for having injected purpose into each day.

Mary Behr

Dolores does have a sense of humor about herself. Good for her.

Dave wrote: "At what point does a work of art cease to be transparent to the great mystery which it is meant to convey and, instead, become an object of devotion itself? That's the fine line where the controversy seems to lie."

I suppose anything can be distorted (it happens all the time in this scarred and scarring world) to be an end instead of a transparent means to the great mystery. Perhaps that's why the first Commandment warns Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. I think we have God given talents which we can use to become "all that we can be" and contribute to the world we are given. All things can be transparent to the great mystery if perceived with true balance. After my second cataract surgery next week, I hope to see more clearly. I'll have to practice on the balance. :)

Thanks,Patricia, for the input on Muslim art. We can be enriched by all human forms of art. Robert L. Stevenson: "The world is so full of a number of things/I think we should all be as happy as kings." loosely quoted from memory.

Jon Rutherford

I doubt there is such a thing as idolatry. Whatever may seem to be an object of idolatry may, I think, be instead just a pointer to something, for want of a better term, "beyond." And worshipers or "idolaters" may or may not be aware that that's the case. In the final analysis it wouldn't make a difference. The object of worship would remain the same.

Dolores Lear

Patricia and Mary.

Thank you for your comments, and to All for putting up with my long posts.
Before this new understanding happened to me, I was a staunch Missouri Synod Lutheran, for 50 years, like Ron.
Hope we can all make it to, Eternal Physical Life Ater Birth and Jesus' return, soon.

Jesus' Agape Love.

Just Thinking

... "whether this kind of expensive space functions as a sort of temple to which art worshipers come on a pilgrimage to pay homage to the art and the artists."

Only people who tithe to PBS would be art worshippers; so you should flush them out with a peek at their checkbooks.

I love that badminton shuttlecock lawn ornament shown on the right side of the picture--that's real art.

Patricia

This is really a fascinating subject that you and your friends hit upon, Bill. Since we now believe that most of the earliest primitive art began as a means to invoke the Gods or please them, if the art has developed into a God itself, then it has certainly come full circle.

That said, I think it's unfair to pin all the "iconography" charges on art. We build temples to all kinds of objects. The Field Museum and other natural history and science museums elicit that same awe, when you walk into them. I mentioned the Cairo Museum. When you walk through that entrance, you are met by giant ancient statues of a pharoah and his queen and gorgeous objects from "pagan" civilizations. I had a child who thought that all railroad and auto museums were somewhat.....holy. And I have to remind myself that the KC Central Library was once a bank. I feel the nature of the facility contributes to a reverence for books. I suppose it once created a reverence for money.

Incidentally, is that new KCStar structure any kind of shrine to journalism? : )

Patricia

P.S. The remark about PBS contributors is funny, JT. I'm hiding my checkbook from you.

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