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October 30, 2006

Comments

francis 03

Looks to me like Jesus is about to drop the Bible on that poor woman!

Ellen

Jesus would have had a Torah scroll back when He was alive.

hedwig

Jimmy,
I would not be surprised by the interest and respect from our separated brethren.

Years ago, citing the Civil Rights Act of 64, I decided to remove myself from forced union membership for religious, i.e. conscientious objector" reasons
Since the union was supporting positions antagonistic to our Catholic beliefs,
I could no stomach being a member. I was not alone in this desire, but, when
it came time for others to submit their rationale, I was the only one.
One dear colleague stated wistfully, " You don't understand. You have the backing of the entire Catholic Church behind you. I only have my church over on 'Smith Street'". That always stuck with me. What a blessing it is to have 2000 plus years of magisterium and history and tradition supporting me..not to mention the sacraments. May I never take it for granted. This gal had a church recently founded with no weight to it, in her eyes. So she reneged and continued
union membership.

Radical Catholic Mom

I am encouraged by your experience.

Alan

Hi Jimmy:

I met you at GodBlogCon and second everything you said - the focus was definitely on our commonalities and learning from each other. I said more in comments on a previous post but to everyone who reads Jimmy's blog, he did us Catholics proud using his great sense of humor along with the depth of knowledge he exhibits on this blog.


Mark

"De gustibus non est disputandem", I guess. I'd prefer a little Sacred Heart of Jesus or Divine Mercy any day. With all that plastic they could have produced thousands of them ...

SDG

Looks to me like Jesus is about to drop the Bible on that poor woman!

Jesus would have had a Torah scroll back when He was alive.

I'd prefer a little Sacred Heart of Jesus or Divine Mercy any day.

Yikes.

Jesus IS alive, for starters.

As for Jesus having a scroll rather than a bound book -- ever seen a Pantocrator icon?

There is ample precedent in traditional sacred art for incorporating contemporary cultural elements in this way. There is a valid point to be made by such an image: The word of God, even in a black leather-bound Bible of this sort, does come to us from the hand of our Lord.

I'm sure these remarks (at least the first two) were just meant as absurdist humor, but I would hate for any of the Protestant organizers and/or participants of this event, who offered Jimmy the right hand of fellowship in such an encouraging way, to read this and take these rather disparaging/dismissive comments as indicative of a general Catholic attitude problem toward anything Protestant qua Protestant.

I realize the convergence of these remarks may be accidental, but I have to say the cumulative effect makes us seem petty, narrow, insecure and waspish.

Personally, I'm quite impressed by the image, and by the willingness to make such a bold artistic statement on a Protestant campus, in defiance of any pious Protestant qualms about Catholic fondness for images, and by the willingness to engage a sacred subject in such a boldly stylized and symbolic way.

This isn't a nice, familiar Jesus-knocking-at-the-door picture safely bound in a wooden frame to make it ordinary "art." This is a creative spiritual statement that in spirit has much in common with Catholic and Orthodox sacred art, and it should be respected and honored as such.

francis 03

I do appreciate the art, especially the shadows. My attempt at humor was more about where the pedestrians were standing at the time the picture was taken.

francis 03

And correct me if I'm wrong, but Jesus is dressed there as the Lamb of Revelation, right? I think that's something of a traditional touch, but it's still cool to see.

SDG

My attempt at humor was more about where the pedestrians were standing at the time the picture was taken.

Yes, I figured -- and it IS a funny comment, because at this particular moment in this particular shot it DOES look like Jesus is about to drop the book on the woman. :)

It was more the accidental cumulative effect of the various posts, reinforced by the absence of positive comments, that I wanted to draw attention to, rather than any one post (yours least of all).

And yes, you're right that the outer red over inner white is traditional attire for Jesus in sacred art, and it is neat to see attention to a point like that.

Nathan

Jimmy,
Is there any video or audio of the event that we can watch or listen to somewhere?

Great to know of the nice reception you received there and hope there will be others 'doors' in the future that will open for Catholics with our seperated brethern!

Michael

Jimmy,

Thank you for mentioning our blog, Evangelical Catholicism, during your interview with Hugh Hewitt. Very kind of you.

Peace and blessings.

Paul H

I don't even understand what Realist's comment means. Sorry, Realist, but that one went over my head...

Jim Johnson

To me, Jesus looks like a zombie. While looking at the Pantocrator icon link, I noticed it made a reference to Jesus as teacher and not, as the mural seems to indicate, just a hand-off to the people. This highlights the main issue between Catholicism and Protestantism - where did the bible come from? Church or "leather bound fell out of the sky mentality".
Many of the conversion stories I've read indicate the "AHA!" moment came when they realized that THE CHURCH gave us the BIBLE and not the other way around.

Paul H

I don't even understand what Realist's comment means. Sorry, Realist, but that one went over my head...

But what's even more mysterious is how I managed to comment on Realist's comment, before Realist posted his comment. :-) It appears that Typepad has messed up the comment timestamps somehow, as I actually made my comment after Realist's comment.

Inocencio

Realist,

Your march on the wide smooth decline is not towards Heaven but you have time to turn around.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

David B.

That is the first concrete wall that rocks!!! :-)

Esau

And the Convergence begins as we march to our religion-free Heaven!!!!

Realist,
Get 'REAL' and read the testimony of the Fathers of the Early Church. Their writings give further testimony to the Faith of the Apostles and to the divine person of Jesus Christ -- not the 'mythology' that you and your cohorts have reduced the Bible to; which, I add, have come only after over 2000 and some years following the time of Christ!

If Christ was not the only begotten Son of God and was merely one of several hundreds of God's sons and daughters as you have put it previously, and that the passages you read in Scripture are but stories comparable to myths, with several of the books of Scripture being arbitrarily manipulated by their story-tellers; then I pray that the 'god' you believe in will have mercy on your soul and that he can save you in the end.

As for me, I submit myself to the One True Faith along with all the Common Corps of Christendom for God the Father has given all judgement to his Son, and Christ delights to have his holy saints partners of that honor and at the day of Judgement to have them sit with him.

Realist

And the Convergence begins as we march to our religion-free Heaven!!!!

Paul H

Is there any video or audio of the event that we can watch or listen to somewhere?

Please check out the following post on American Papist for a link to Hugh Hewitt's interview of Jimmy at the GodBlogCon event...

http://www.americanpapist.com/2006/10/amp-shout-out-to-jimmy-akin-and-hugh.html

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

Hate to say this, but the mural reminded me of Oral Roberts' claimed vision of a 900-foot-tall Jesus. No offense to the school or anything; I guess it was the image's (apparently) elongated legs that did that. Though, granted I'm looking at a photo which might present a distorted view of the mural.

Oh, and I also like the traditional white and red garments.

In Jesu et Maria,

icatholicus

Could just as well be any other Biblical figure.

SDG

Hate to say this, but the mural reminded me of Oral Roberts' claimed vision of a 900-foot-tall Jesus. No offense to the school or anything; I guess it was the image's (apparently) elongated legs that did that. Though, granted I'm looking at a photo which might present a distorted view of the mural.

Actually, I think the truth may be the opposite: The image is probably meant to be viewed from a more "distorted" or extreme angle than the one seen uin this picture. Closer to the wall, e.g., where the pedestrians are standing, the lower half of the image would appear more foreshortened, and the arms would appear to be extending the book directly toward the viewer.

Realist

Paul H.,

First I apologize to the group for this double commentary since it violates Jimmy's new Rule 1 but I wanted to answer your question about Convergence.

With respect to the potential convergence of religions, see the articles of James Somerville posted at http://www.theosophical.org/theosophy/questmagazine/mayjune2000/exclusivism/ and http://www.theosophical.org/theosophy/questmagazine/julyaugust2000/somerville/

Two important observations by Somerville:

1. "The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when."

2. "Religion can bring us to the verge, to the brink, but like Moses, who led his people to the Promised Land, but could not enter in, there is no place for religion in the world to come. Religion is our vehicle for the journey. Once arrived, it will be left at the door."

JohnD

//I decided to remove myself from forced union membership for religious, i.e. conscientious objector" reasons//

Hedwig, I did the same thing recently. Boy, was it easy to cut and paste multiple sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on issues from the sanctity of life to coercion. :)

Now my dues go to the National Right to Life Education fund, per the allowances of a "religious objector".

SDG

Could just as well be any other Biblical figure.

???? Well sure, I guess -- if you discount centuries of convention in Christian artwork. And once you do that, the same could be said of countless Catholic images of Jesus.

To anyone with any familiarity with Western sacred art, or even much Eastern iconography, this is obviously Jesus. As has been observed above, even the red-over-white attire reflects traditional representations of Jesus.

SDG

Realist,

Where did Somerville get the time machine he used to make these "observations" about the "world to come"?

Oh. I see. It's not really an "observation" at all, is it? Just another pretentious cluck talking through his hat. Like you.

Esau

Realist,
Where did Somerville get the time machine he used to make these "observations" about the "world to come"?

Oh. I see. It's not really an "observation" at all, is it? Just another pretentious cluck talking through his hat. Like you.

SDG,
Didn't you hear? 'Realist' and his pals went on E-BAY and won the auctions for the 'Tardis' from the Dr. Who Series as well as the DeLorean from the Back-to-the-Future Movies and are thus able to travel back and forth into time and space! ;^)

[Apologies...I couldn't help it =^) ]

Tim J.

Tsk, tsk, Realist... Heaven? The World to Come?

Aren't these very outdated notions for such an advanced mind as yourself? Or do you have your own definitions of these terms which are totally foreign to common usage?

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

To correspond more fully to classical conventions for the colors of the clothing of Jesus: the tunic would be red, the mantle worn over it would be blue.

This image could pass for a Moses just by exchanging the Bible for stone tablets.

It could pass for a St. Peter if you put keys in his hands.

It could pass for a St. Paul if he were holding a sword together with that Bible.

However, my strongest objection to this image is that Jesus gave us no writings. He commanded no writings. Rather, he told his Apostolic Church to teach. It is the Church engaged in inspired teaching that eventually turned to writing those teachings down.

To me, putting what looks like a modern-style, black, leather-bound, red-edged Bible in the hands of Jesus is a very Protestant image. This image-- to me-- is clearly not a Catholic piece of art.

Veronica

"To me, putting what looks like a modern-style, black, leather-bound, red-edged Bible in the hands of Jesus is a very Protestant image. This image-- to me-- is clearly not a Catholic piece of art."

What surprising negativity. Personally, I don't have anything to complain about this image of Jesus other than the long legs, which, as SDG mentioned, is most likely due to the perspective in regards to the passerby.

SDG

[EDIT]Fr. Stephanos[/EDIT], I absolutely agree that the image has Protestant culture stamped all over it, that it is not a "Catholic" image.

But is that reason to "object" to it? Many Protestant hymns are redolent of Protestant culture, but their essential message can easily be accepted by Catholics, and certainly need not be "objected" to.

So Jesus himself gave us no writings. The Bible is the written word of God as He is the living Word of God. Jesus and the Bible are inseparably connected. It is his word.

Furthermore, to the extent that the church gave us the Bible, what is the church? The body of Christ. Thus, Jesus does give us the Bible, through his body the church. We might want to expand upon the image, but I see no reason to "object" to it. As is often the case here, we believe something more, but not necessarily something else.

I think you overstate your case when you suggest that the identity of the figure could easily be switched to Moses, Peter or Paul simply by changing the paraphernalia. For one thing, so what? How many Catholic images are open to the same sort of observation?

For another thing, I disagree. I've seen countless images of Moses, Peter and Paul, and I've never seen one that looked like this. Moses especially has a different look; so does Peter. This figure looks like Jesus. You could ID it from a head shot alone.

Blue and red garments are also traditional for Jesus, but it is not hard to find distinctively Catholic/Orthodox type images showing him dressed as he is here. Examples: 1 2 3 3 4 5 6 (EDIT: Link to last image repaired)

Interestingly, here's one in which he is wearing red over white -- with blue in between!

Michael

I think Father's point is that the image reflects a protestant sola scriptura theology - the belief that God (Jesus) gives us a book and expects us to figure it out for ourselves - the Bible being sufficient for that purpose.

Maureen

As a piece of art, it's very interesting and thought-provoking -- or should that be devotion-provoking? :) As a piece of public religious art, it beats most.

All in all, I'd say that however much it cost, it was money well-spent, for something which will be loved for years to come.

Marco Polo

Doesn't he look like the 'zombied'-out version of the guy who played Jesus in Jesus Christ, Superstar?

Kenny

Jimmy,

I've lived within a few miles of Biola University for most of my life but it was only recently that I learned from where the name was derived. Although the name has become a proper noun in usage, there was no founder named Mr. Biola or anything of that sort. It was originally an acronym. Bible Insitute of Los Angeles.

I'm so glad to hear that everything went well and that you did not encounter any anti-Catholicism. Wish I could have heard you speak but I had no idea this was going on there.

Kenny

Ellen

Oh I like the image, I like it very much. I was being pedantic about the scroll, SGD (love your movie reviews) and am all for good sacred art wherever we may find it.

Martin

I'm impressed. I expect a protestent bias to protestent art as I would from Catholic art though the discussion brings to mind a visit to an out of state church were the Lectionary was kept in front (or was it to the side) of the altar as the priest made a verbal point of the word of God being Jesus in our midst too. At the time I remember wondering if he was too protestent or was I too "catholic" when it made me uncomfortable.

SDG

Thanks, Ellen! I'm sorry if I was too sensitive on behalf of the image. I've heard non-Catholics make similar comments about culturally anachronistic Catholic sacred art, so the response just leaped to my fingers.

Oops, somehow I mixed up Tim J's and Fr. Stephanos's posts. Sorry, gentlemen. (I've corrected my post above. :-))

I think Father's point is that the image reflects a protestant sola scriptura theology - the belief that God (Jesus) gives us a book and expects us to figure it out for ourselves - the Bible being sufficient for that purpose.

I disagree. I don't think you can read so specific a theology into or out of a stylized image of this sort. All the image really says is "Jesus gives us the Bible" -- and that's true.

Protestants may well look at the image and think "Jesus gives us the Bible, and that's all we need" -- but the image itself doesn't say that. Catholics meanwhile are free to appreciate the image for what it does say, while reserving the right to point out what is also true that the image doesn't say. (No image says everything that is true.)

Esau

(No image says everything that is true.)

Actually, SDG, I'd respectfully disagree.
I think the Crucifix would be one such image.

Esau

Uhhh... Is there a reason why all of a sudden, everything became italicized???? Whoa!

SDG

Actually, SDG, I'd respectfully disagree.
I think the Crucifix would be one such image.

Poetically that may be true, but not literally. Even a crucifix needs the whole interpretive context of sacred tradition to be intelligible. We need to be told who it is that is on the cross and what it means. Otherwise it's just a depiction of a horrible death.

Uhhh... Is there a reason why all of a sudden, everything became italicized???? Whoa!

Yep, you missed the "i" in your close italic line. I've fixed it. :-)

SDG

P.S. Just to add to the above point, Mrs. Decent Films just added an even more salient observation regarding the non-completeness of the truth of a crucifix:

A crucifix attests Jesus' Passion, but in itself it does not attest his Resurrection.

In fact, some over-scrupulous Protestant sentiment objects to the crucifix precisely on this ground, that it emphasizes Jesus' suffering but not his glorification.

So, before we look at an image like this and too quickly object "This shows us only Jesus giving us the Bible but ignores sacred tradition and the Magisterium," we would do well to reflect that all images, even our own most sacred images, attest only part of the truth.

This image is no different. What it affirms, by itself, is true; that it is not in itself complete is no objection to the image itself, or to the truth it affirms, but only to the fragmentary system (sola scriptura) that isolates that part of the truth from other complementary truths.

Esau

A crucifix attests Jesus' Passion, but in itself it does not attest his Resurrection.

In fact, some over-scrupulous Protestant sentiment objects to the crucifix precisely on this ground, that it emphasizes Jesus' suffering but not his glorification.

Good point! But, I've got to say that the same can be said about the cross as well. So many Protestant Christians love the cross because it symbolizes the Resurrection, but tend to concentrate solely on the joys of this 'victory' won by Jesus over death and tend to gloss over the 'passion', the 'suffering' that needed to take place beforehand.

In other words, they tend to want to jump straight to Easter Sunday while skipping the necessary sacrifice that needs to take place on Good Friday.

I think this might be one of the reasons why the Wealth and Health Gospel is so popular.

You've got some great insight there, though; both you and the Mrs.! God Bless!

P.S. Thanks for fixing the 'i'! =^)

Kevin

Well I just love this discussion more than the mural. Reading the many responses I see where both SDG and Jim Johnson are coming from. On one hand it is good to see the usage of imagery among what SDG terms as "comtempory art" amongst our separated brethren without fear of its mere exsistence leading to idolatry and on the otherhand is all the imagery relating what is truly orthodox which Catholics can agree with?

What was the intension of the artist? Does the giving of scripture (regardless of its form, book or scoll) imply 'sola scriptura' doctrine or does it simply mean "hey you come and get to know me (Jesus) read about me".

Overall I see this artwork as a good thing and moving forward for our separated brethren. The shackles of Puritanism need to be removed in American Evangelicalism and one way to do it is artistic expression like this mural.

Kevin

There is a daily bible devotional magazine called Our Daily Bread used by many non-Catholics and some Catholics yet for the first 1500 years of Christianity Our Daily Bread meant the Eucharist. SDG yes we can be overly critical but I'm of the opinion we must stay true to the fullness of faith given us and when language or imagery is blurred or deliberately misrepresenting than we are called to correct it or reject it as not an accurate presentation of our Christian faith.

Emily

Hi. This is long past when you visited our school. I actually remember you from GodBlogCon that year : )
Right now at Biola there is a debate going on about our mural, and this post was linked. It is encouraging to find someone outside of Biola who likes it. Many students do not like it, in fact, for several of the same reasons given above in the comments.
In answers to inquiries, here is information about the artist:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_Twitchell
All of his portraits are oddly proportioned, that aspect is not meant to be a commentary on Jesus or anything.

I am glad that you had a good reception here. So everyone knows, although Biola is a protestant school, not everyone here is protestant. There is a significant number of people who are not: Anglican Catholics, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Messianic Jews. It is always good to remember to not generalize about such a large group of people : )
I appreciated your positive feedback on our school and conference, and hope you continue to participate in GodBlogCon in coming years.

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