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Art: From a Place of War

By Sharon
Fujimoto-Johnson

We're being inundated with images of
destruction and death in the Middle East. And yet from a place of war, come also
images of life. Art is an act of creation--the
antithesis of destruction and death. A dab of paint, a filled canvas, a
paintbrush are no match for bombs and guns, but through art, we process, we
hope, and we heal.Today, I highlight artwork from Lebanon,
Israel, and Palestine--all of which depict trees, a universal symbol of life and
growth:

"Wadi Habesor Acacia" by Ron Gang

Ron Gang is drawn to the resilient acacia
tree from which the biblical Ark of the Covenant was made. It is said that a vow
taken under the acacia tree may never be broken. "There are more levels of
reality than just politics," Toronto-born Israeli artist Ron Gang says. "If we
lose sight of the beauty around us, what is the value of living?"

   
"Landscape" by Sohail Sameir
Salem

A young Palestinian artist who lives in
Gaza, Sohail Sameir Salem is currently concentrating on themes, such
as children, the human being, and freedom.

"Trees" by Miriam Benhaim

Born in Romania, Miriam Ben Haim now lives
and works in Tel Aviv, Israel. She creates some of her artwork on paper made
from the desert near her home, a technique that reflects a deep connection to
the land.

Untitled Oil on Paper by Mohammed
Abusall

Born in a refugee camp, Mohammed Abusall
lives and works in Gaza. His work explores the Palestinian love of the land and
the realities of separation and exile.

"The Oak" by Joseph Matar
Joseph Matar seeks to capture the poetic
beauty and hope of Lebanon in face of oppression and violence. Matar has been
called a "great humanist." He calls himself "a messenger of love and of light,
being one of the many children of the sun."

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech,
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Sooner or later all the people of the world will
have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this
pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be
achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict, a method which rejects
revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is
love."
 
Artists who create in a spirit of love for
humanity move us in the right direction.

Down, Religious Right Groups Lie, Role Over

Today, the Center for American Progress reports that:

Focus on the Family has mailed brochures to more than 90,000 Missouri homes, arguing that stem cell research under the Missouri ballot initiative would exploit women by luring them into dangerous egg donations. The brochure, "Women's voices against cloning," quotes several women's organizations to show "the risks that this measure [Missouri ballot initiative] poses to women's health." The Progress Report spoke with several of the women's organizations quoted in the brochure who said that Focus on the Family misrepresented their positions and they disagree with the organization's aims to ban stem cell research. Judy Norsigian, author of Our Bodies, Ourselves, said that while she has some concerns about the somatic cell nuclear transplant (SCNT) technique, she is actually "very supportive of most embryonic stem cell research."

This follows a disturbing trend among right wing religious groups, one of not checking their facts and even mispresenting reality.

For example, the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures states that the opponents' argument, that supporters of the Stem Cell Initiative "have a 'profit motive' for wanting to pursue stem cell cures, is false and absurd. The truth is, the major medical institutions involved in stem cell research in Missouri - such as the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Missouri - are non-profit institutions."

Yesterday, the Colorado Springs Independent reported that Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals attacked the Christian Coalition. Why? Because according to him (not the New York Times) the Christian Coalition twisted words. According to his associate pastor, "he was saying the Christian Coalition is not a reliable source of information for Christians." Ouch!

And finally, the Columbus Dispatch reports:

By Thursday, [GOP] state Chairman Robert T. Bennett knew the party had been caught red-handed and issued an apology to the victim, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democratic nominee for governor. But the scurrilous mission had been accomplished: Let the whispering campaign begin.

The attack had nothing to do with records or resumes or policy. It was brutally personal – and a lie. The message the GOP had asked its followers to spread across the Ohioscape is that Strickland and his wife are gay, never mind their nearly 20 years of marriage.

In yet another perversion of religion, the state party hired a conservative Christian to do the dirty work, using a computer at party headquarters to spread the rumor via e-mail to "profamily" conservatives. Gary Lankford, headmaster of a Christian home school, started in early July as the Ohio GOP’s "social conservative coordinator."

That's four recent examples. Whether a person is progressive or conservative, sloppy research and deliberate dishonesty hurts the cause of faith. As became clear in Ralph Reed's Georgia defeat, decent folks with faith-full traditions of honesty and good work are beginning to see in the endorsement of Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, and Restoration Ohio a dogged reason to doubt.

The Christian consequences of the war


As Christianity Today points out: It can be easy for Western Christians to tune out violence in the
Middle East. It can seem to be both intractable and unending, while the
grievances on either side extend decades, even centuries, into the
past. Yet, the dimensions of any conflict in the region can affect
Christians differently. Lebanon has the largest percentage of
Christians of any country in the Middle East, and fighting between
Hezbollah and Israel in the country affect Christians differently than
in Gaza, where Hamas and Israel are also fighting. To understand how
locals view the current conflict, we've solicited and collected
articles from several Christians in Lebanon, Israel, and elsewhere.
We've also brought together other recent stories on Arab Christians
from around the Middle East.Adventists have a long tradition of living and working in Lebanon.
There is much to understand and advocate for in this conflict. Reading Christianity Today's thoughtful articles provides a perspective that broadens the consequences of this conflict and leaves little room for Adventist silence.  Or we just spend our time trying to figure out Daniel eleven again?

Thoughts on the Lebanon Crisis

By James
Standish

My daughter Shea put her leg
up in the air on Sunday and said "I'm selling my leg." I
looked at her, and asked "how much?" She giggled and said
"two cents." "Only two cents? Shea, do you know what your leg
is worth?"  She looked at me as seriously as a two year old can
as I said "Sweetie, I wouldn't take all the money in the world for
your precious leg!" As we banter back and forth, an image from a news
story comes to mind.

The story described the
scene in a Lebanese emergency room where a mother held her baby's hand up
for treatment. The baby's hand had four little bloody stumps where her
precious little fingers had been shorn off by a piece of Israeli shrapnel. Does
that Mother feel the same way about her daughter as I feel about mine, I ask.
And if so, why am I sitting in silence?

Those shooting rockets
indiscriminately into Israel
are involved in unmitigated evil. But they are stateless terrorists supported
by pariah nations. They make no claim to respect human rights. They do not
claim to be democracies. And they do not receive large amounts of arms and
funding directly from the United States. Israel
is a democracy, Israel
claims to respect human rights, and Israel's
ability to survive and wage this war is dependent on the funding, the armaments
and the unquestioning diplomatic support of the United States. With that
unquestioning support, Israel
is inflicting horrendous destruction on Lebanon and the Lebanese people
– 40% of whom are Christians.

Some may argue that the
Lebanese deserve to have apartment blocks turned to rubble with men, women and
children trapped inside and no chance of rescue because Israeli jets supplied by
the United States bomb anything moving along the roads; that they deserve to
have humanitarian supplies blocked; that they deserve to have their hospitals
bombed, their villages destroyed, their infrastructure obliterated, their
airport destroyed and their ports blockaded. The population deserves this, some argue, because the Lebanese government could not control Hezbollah. This claim completely ignores the weakness of the Lebanese government and the
fragility of the society. Have we already forgotten that the nation was in a
state of civil war, and then was dominated by Syria until recently? That Lebanon has a
democratically elected government free from Syrian control was considered a
miracle – until this assault. Do the Lebanese boys and girls, men and
women, deserve to have their homes, their villages and their nation destroyed?
What moral decadence would presume to even ask the question?

We are Christians who reject
the evils of war. And yet, as our tax money is used to inflict this intolerable
suffering on the Lebanese we are largely silent. This will be counted against
us. It is our nation that is funding this war – to the tune of $500 for each
Israeli per year. It is our nation that is supplying the weaponry – as I
write U.S. jets are
delivering munitions to Israel
to re-supply their bombers. It is our nation that is the one and only country
rejecting calls for a humanitarian cease-fire. How can we remain silent and
call ourselves moral? If Ellen White spoke against the Civil War – a war
to "make man free" – how can we remain silent in this war
that is nothing more than a tit for tat escalation for six decades of brutality?

Mahatma Gandhi said it well
when he stated that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world
blind." The problem in the Middle-East is not that the two sides are so
different – rather it is that the results of their actions are so much
the same. The extremist Muslims believe that if you harm a Muslim, they must
inflict punitive revenge in any way they can – on children, on the
elderly, on civilians – it matters not. The Israelis, with our support,
are proving just as capable of punitive destructions wrought on innocent
civilians in their villages, in their apartment buildings, in their cars as
they attempt to flee the fighting. Indeed Israel has destroyed a budding
democracy which had the strongest economic ties to her in the region, and it
has done this in a matter of weeks. And so they go, round after round after
round of brutal reprisals - evil repaid with unspeakable evil – one precious
eye for another.

And it is this evil that leaves a precious little
baby girl in an emergency room without electricity, with her hand held aloft by
her mother with four little bloody holes where four precious little fingers had
been only moments before. And here I am, with my little girl, knowing that my
tax dollars went to pay for the bombs that blew the fingers off that little
girl and my silence is facilitating the next round of
barbarism.

Also found under the headline: hell freezes over

Heat makes Pat Robertson a global warming "convert"

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said Thursday the wave of scorching temperatures across
the United States has converted him into a believer in global warming."We
really need to address the burning of fossil fuels," Robertson said on
his "700 Club" broadcast. "It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are
melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air.

Now that's good news - it looks like we're headed for a tipping point in positive change in the attitude of some Christians and climate science.  But it also reveals how some make up their minds - not taking the time to read the science journals, but rather, just feelin' it. Wouldn't it be great if our remnant Geoscience Research Institute started really caring about creation, too?

Art: Wassily Kandinsky

By Sharon
Fujimoto-Johnson

"Blue is the truly celestial color.... Black is like the silence of the body after death, the close of life."
-Wassily Kandinsky

Russian painter and art theorist Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
is considered to be one of the principal founders of abstract art.

Between 1896 and 1911, Kandinsky experienced an artistic metamorphosis, which led
him to form the group Der
Blaue Reiter
(the blue rider) with Franz Marc and other fellow expressionist artists, with the purpose of expressing the spiritual through art.

One of
Kandinsky's most famous paintings, "Der Blaue Reiter," depicts a figure on
horseback cloaked in blue. To Kandinsky, the sensations evoked by
color created a spiritual experience.

Kandinsky wrote in On the Spiritual in Art, a book that
had a profound influence on twentieth century art, "Blue is the
truly celestial color. It creates an atmosphere of calmness--not like green,
which represents an earthly self-satisfied stillness; it creates a solemn,
supernatural depth."
 

In a 2004 address, art critic and professor Donald Kuspit
reflected on Kandinsky's book and concluded that it
is more difficult than ever to be a spiritual artist
. The question, Kuspit said, is "whether contemporary artists have the emotional capacity that Kandinsky had--whether they are willing to go through the emotional struggle he went through."Have you read Kandinsky's On the Spiritual in Art?  If so, what are you thoughts on the book? Would you agree with Kuspit that being a spiritual artist today is more challenging than ever?
 
And if you haven't read On the Spiritual in Art and would like to, you candownload it as an e-book, read
it online
, or purchase
a hard copy at Amazon.com

But I bet that teacher knows what 1844 means

According to the July 31, 2006 Kampala Monitor:  "A Senior Five student of Katikamu Seventh Day Adventist School last
week became the latest victim of teacher brutality. For failing to
complete a class assignment, she was caned, injured, and eventually
admitted to hospital
." I'm sure glad we passed that new doctrine against evil spirits so that folks wouldn't have to be afraid anymore.

Hey leadership, sometimes folks have physical problems, not just metaphysical.  Please don't let our educational system in Africa become an example of brutality.

Adventist bloggers continue to ponder Pastor Boyd

Sherman at Adventist Pulpit points out what happens when "When a Mega Church Disowns the Republican Party."

He writes, "Pastor Boyd, Thanks for reminding us that Christianity is not
synonymous with American Nationalism, but don't let us vacate the
public arena. The world needs the witness of the true Christ."

Adventist media watcher, Ron Corson, sees only politics, not religion, and attacks what he sees as "over the top generalization" and concomitant divisiveness.

And seminarian Trevan Osborn, actually writing before the Times article, candidly ponders the fine line of pastors and politics. "I am a Democrat. I agree with their stands on most issues and don't see
myself changing anytime soon. Yet, if I like a Republican candidate
better than the Democrat, I'll vote for them. Just because I'm a
Democrat does not mean I'm obstinate, close-minded, and unwilling to
change my mind on an issue. I can say the same things about most other
Democrats and Republicans. We need to move past the idea that just
because we consider ourselves a Democrat or Republican we can't
embrace, accept, and appreciate those who view things differently."

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