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Art: PBS Series, "Art in the 21st Century"

By: Sharon
Fujimoto-Johnson

How does contemporary art address the idea of spirituality? In the first season of the PBS series, "Art in the 21st Century," one program was dedicated to exploring this question through the work of five contemporary artists:

  • Beryl Korot harnesses the power of modern technology to create a space for reflection and intimacy.
  • Ann Hamilton, an experimental and tactile artist, explores the creation of art using bubbles.
  • John Feodorov seeks to blend his Native American heritage and humor.
  • Shahzia Sikander's paintings explore the balance between Islam and life in America.
  • James Turrell has devoted his life to capturing the ethereal properties of light and its powers to evoke transcendence and the sublime.

This series is now available on DVD and VHS, but the web site itself provides a wealth of photo galleries and video clips and is definitely worth exploring. There is also a companion book to the series:

In it, Lynn M. Herbert writes, "The realm of
the spiritual is... a
place where we are encouraged to explore the unknown."

Art itself remains relatively unexplored in Adventist circles--or so it would seem to me. Do you agree? Where is art in Adventism? How might we explore the spiritual in visual arts? And how might the creation and appreciation of art enrich the spiritual experience? Who is God as Creator and Artist? These are some of the questions I'm interested in exploring in the art-related posts on this blog.

A Brief History of Gay Adventism

"Nothing in the world is quite like growing up a Seventh-day Adventist and then discovering you are gay.We have always been taught that Christianity and being gay don't go
together. This dilemma can be devastating to gay Seventh-day Adventists who find themselves in the torment of reconciling their sexual
orientation with religious teachings." Learn the history of Kinship International.

Mr. Cox Brings It Home

Regarding the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Adventist Pulpit writes: "At a time when many are pushing for a more prominent public display of
the 10 commandments I think it is valuable to see religous leaders
seeking to do more than just show the commandments, but live the
principles of the faith by calling for an end to US sponsored torture."Preach it.  And so should every American pastor.

Adventist Leadership Misses Torture (Statement)

Given these official, voted statements by the Seventh-day Adventist church:

A Statement on Tolerance


Religious Minorities and Religious Freedom: A Statement of Commitment and Concern

On Being Transformed in Christ—An Affirmation of Christian Values and Quality of Life

A Seventh-day Adventist Call for Peace

and Adventist best-seller The Man Who Couldn't Be Killed:

"His face was swollen from the beating the
night before. His legs throbbed from standing through endless hours of
interrogation. . .his persecutors thought they had taken away Mr. Wong's religious freedom."

Why did the Seventh-day Adventist church NOT join the significant statement in today's New York Times by the non-partisan National Religious Campaign Against Torture?

Or maybe those Baptists, Evangelicals, Sikhs and Nobel laureates Pres. Jimmy Carter and Elie Weisel are just getting too wimpy.

Just about a month ago, Senator John McCain reminded Adventist leaders that leadership is tied to moral standing.

"Citing recent problems at the Abu Ghraib
prison in
Iraq, McCain, himself a survivor of torture as a prisoner of war in
Vietnam's infamous 'Hanoi Hilton,' said the nation must do better:
'Because we hold others to a standard, we must be even more scrupulous
in our own affairs. This does not mean that America has always been
perfect. Nor does it mean that we are perfect today. But we must strive
for perfection, whether it means interrogating enemy detainees in
accordance with our values or treating immigrants as individuals
possessing of certain basic human rights. Only by acting in accordance
with our values can we further the interests we seek abroad."

Senator McCain has called for an end to American torture. And he backs up his words with works.

Perhaps the remnant leadership should do the same.
If only the Adventist Peace Fellowship wasn't so works oriented. Just showin' everyone up.

Essential Reading

Monte Sahlin's blog on religion, values, and contemporary issues gives readers a quick digest of information relevent to the Adventist context.

His quick summary on how the Da Vinci Code functions within postmodern religious discourse gets well beyond the usual platitudes.

Monte writes:

"The idea that the largest religious establishments in the world today
are corrupt and have engaged in massive cover-up over the years is
entirely believable to the average person. It has already been proved
to them in contemporary headlines. If you must teach your children that
they most not entirely trust the youth pastor or parish priest, then
why should it seem strange to wonder if basic doctrines are somehow
untrustworthy?"

Commenting

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Art: Spring 2006 Cover

By: Sharon
Fujimoto-Johnson

 

When we took on a complete redesign of Spectrum around eight years ago,
Bonnie Dwyer, editor, and I were intent on incorporating more visual art into the
magazine, beginning with full-color artwork on each cover. Clearly I'm biased,
but I happen to think that Spectrum continues to be a visually-attractive
magazine. It will be a pleasure to post here from time to time on art-related
topics, such as the art in each new issue of Spectrum, Adventist artists, and
the broader world of Christian art.The cover art for the Spring 2006 issue is
an old photograph taken by Arthur Maxwell, who is best known as "Uncle Arthur" of the classic children's
book series, The Bible Story and Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories:

This photo of Arthur Maxwell's sons,
Malcom and Graham, was originally used on the cover of an early edition of
Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories. (Incidentally, storytelling continues in the Maxwell
family. Several other
Maxwells
, including Graham, are now writers as well.)

For many of us who grew up in Adventist
homes, Maxwell's books are familiar icons of an Adventist childhood, much like Fri-Chik or Pathfinders. In this issue of Spectrum,
Lynn Neumann McDowell writes that "Uncle Arthur may well rival Ellen White as
the most influential author in Adventism."
 
And speaking of Ellen, an article by artist John Hoyt in the current issue
features James and Ellen as the American Gothic couple:

Adventist Media Finds Bizarre Bedfellow for Ten Commandments Day

By: Alexander Carpenter

On May 6 and 7, Adventist media—including 3ABN, Hope Channel, and Amazing Facts—teamed up with Ron Wexler and a group of right-wing religious broadcasters such as Pat Robertson to restore
the Ten Commandments’ role in American public life.

More than 3.2 million dollars were spent just by 3ABN and ASI, hundreds of thousands of books were printed, and more than seventeen hours were broadcast during the weekend. What was behind all this and who is Ron Wexler?

In late 2005, Ron Wexler (a developer of Israeli real estate for right-wing Christians) and Pastor Myles Munroe (Bahamas Faith Ministry International—a Pentecostal organization) organized the Ten
Commandments Commission. Their stated objective was to elevate the importance of the Ten Commandments by placing monuments, plaques, and symbols throughout North America. Originally, the commission had settled on February 5 as Ten Commandments Day.

Something happened and Munroe was removed from the leadership. Blackie Gonzales (Son Broadcasting, a couple of VHF stations in New Mexico) replaced him as chairman of the Ten Commandments Commission board of directors. The main focus of the Ten Commandments Day is the promotion of little fake gold pins in the shape of the Decalogue that allow people to show their commitment to God’s law. See several videos on the Ten Commandments Web site that encourage people to purchase these pins for $14.99 each, plus $6.95 shipping.

According to Wexler, an orthodox Jew, as interest grew, the Ten Commandments Day was moved back three months to Sunday, May 7, 2006. Wexler says:
"We literally have not been able to keep up with the incredible response we’ve gotten over the last few weeks for our Ten Commandments Pins.

Some folks at Daily Kos think the whole thing is an attempt to make money. As Tatarize points out:
It is worth $14.95 right? Wait, at the bottom of the page there is a
distributers link for the wholesale price…$5.50. That’s a 270% markup. Then they want $6.95 for shipping USPS Media Mail which actually costs $2 for a package that size.
Didn’t Moses smash the Ten Commandments? What was that over? Oh yeah, religious leaders and people celebrating a golden religious icon.

And some folks in the world of Adventist media jumped on this bandwagon. View the proclamation
here.
And see Pacific Press and Signs of the Times’ book here;
3ABN’s book here; Amazing Facts’ book here;
Ten Commandments bookmark here; Hope Channel’s book here; and Mark Finely’s book here. Finally, North American Religious Liberty Association offers a Ten Commandments CD here.

During the three-hour special program
on the denomination’s Hope Channel, Pastor Brad Thorp and Gary Gibbs, president and vice-president, hosted Ron Wexler and Blackie Gonzales. During the interview, Wexler shares the usual restorationist
shibboleths about how weather and homosexuals are running amuck because the Ten Commandments aren’t in certain courthouses. Be sure to see the thousands of petitions that Hope collected from Adventist churches.

Wexler provides further "reason" to restore the Ten Commandments (and buy his pin).As the fury of hurricane Rita is about to hit the shores of Texas just 3 weeks after the disaster left Katrina, people of faith must be wondering…it was revealed to me that in numerology, the numerical value of the Hebrew letters that make up the name Rita + God is equal to 620. The number of all the Hebrew letters that make up the Ten Commandments is.…620! Is there a onnection?

What? Why is the Adventist Church advertising this guy’s wacky agenda?

Well, what became of all this? According to the Washington Post, many Adventist are wondering, as well. Apparently, there are a lot of books left over.

And here is a chat room
where conservative Adventists dutifully wonder where the "first day"
folks were when it was time to spread the word about the Ten Commandments.

Or was it all about making a buck?

Here
Alan Reinach, head of the North America Religious Liberty Association—West, admits that it all "turned out to be largely a non-event."

Were we used by Ron Wexler? Who spearheaded the Church’s coordinated jump onto this bizarre bandwagon? Was the Ten Commandments Commission just an attempt to make money off of pin sales?

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