Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hunky Jesus Contest

An annual Easter contest at Dolores Park, San Francisco organized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. This is footage from the 2011 edition.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jesus was a...

What I think is interesting is that Jesus seems to have been a lot of things. I've read things like Jesus was a vegetarian, Jesus was gay, Jesus was a woman, etc. Jesus seems to have been a lot of things, but above anything he seems to have been and still is a favorite political tool. It also calls into question if anyone is able to say anything with certainty about this figure on a more theological level, since the judgments that are given in all sincerity not only differ but also occasionally seem to contradict each other radically. In contrast, I also tend to laugh when yet another study is being published about "who Jesus really was". I think we will really see those types of studies as long as the figure is of any interest to a large enough group to make the sales fly. For the moment it seems he can be anything and everything. I'll include a snapshot of some of the prime results you get when you enter "Jesus was a" on Google to better illustrate all of this.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Christian Art: Danny Hahlbohm

"Arms of an Angel"

 "Home at Last"

 "Precious Ones"

"Seek my face"

"Power of prayer"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Heaven's Gate

This video makes me think about a lot of things but above all I wonder if "Do" was able to blink. I posted this a day before I write this and figured that I didn't do this post justice without saying something about the background of Heaven's Gate. It was known as a new religious movement in the nineties or more commonly as a new age/ufo cult. When the Hale Bopp comet was spotted in space during that decade the leader of the religious group figured that that in fact was an alien spacecraft that would come to pick up those who were ready for this transition to the next level of existence. In order to make that transition however the old "vessel" had to be disposed of, that vessel being the human body. A mass suicide was conducted in 1997. They made several tapes before doing this to document their story.

I was actually looking for the Heaven's Gate exit statement video, but I couldn't find it anymore. If you do have a link, please share!

Armor of God PJs

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Family Bible

A part of Colleen McDannell's book Material Christianity deals with the Family Bible. From what I gather, this book is meant for a lot of purposes, but not for the purpose of being read. It is big. Huge in fact. People store things in it, like money or dried fauna for instance, write the family tree in the appendix in the back, read about all the animals mentioned in the Bible in a biological appendix, but the book is too big to really sit down and comfortably read. This is not a custom I am familiar with but I'd like to see one of these big boys in the flesh (or should I say in the paper?).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mormon art

 Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail

 The First Vision

 Moroni Appears to Joseph Smith in His Room
Elijah Appearing in the Kirtland Temple

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gospel MIDI

Midi (short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files are very small files that contain musical score. They can be played on computers, where software is used that contains sounds that correspond to the instruments that are programmed in the midi files. So lets say you write a midi score for an organ, when you play that back, the software will play the score back using sounds that emulate an organ, to the best of its abilities. It really really reduces music to its formal essence, because there is no soul playing it back. It's just the computer running the script. This format then, seems to be used a lot for Gospel tunes. I first noticed this when I heard it playing in the background of the Chibi Jesus website. I have included only a couple of examples here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver

Proverbs 25:11 (KJV): "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book: Toying with God by Nikki Bado-Fralick and Rebecca Sachs Norris

Nikki Bado-Fralick and Rebecca Sachs Norris. Toying with God. The World of Religious Games and Dolls. Baylor University Press. Waco, Texas, 2010.

While searching the internet for blog inspiration I came across this book, Toying with God, by Nikki Bado-Fralick and Rebecca Sachs Norris. Immediately I knew I had to have it! My birthday was coming up so I sent my sister on a mission and she got it for me. Thanks sis!
To be honest, what I didn’t expect was an academic book. But it is. I don’t know why but I expected it to be a tongue-in-cheek journalistic journey through the wonderful world of religious entertainment. Probably the topic just put me on the wrong track. In fact the authors themselves point out this tendency to underestimate the topic when they say that “when we started to research this book, we were told by many [...] that the study of religious games and dolls was not proper scholarship.” (p. xii) A prejudice I very much fight against yet still seem to hold myself. Nice glass of cold water in the face to begin with.
All the better for the academic character I’d say, since I like it best when a book cares to ask questions and seeks answers to those questions about the nature of what it is dealing with rather than to just give a freak show like overview of things that are out there. Yet, and this is turning into a bit of a mantra in all of my book reviews, it is at the same time a great source of inspiration. Lets get this out of the way first. Ladies and gentlemen, gather round and behold! The spectacular world of religious toys and games, such as Fulla the Muslim doll, Holy Huggables and Mormonopoly! You will not believe your eyes as you look up Yes ladies and gentlemen, even though it is a book with serious analytical aims, the material it analyses is just too juicy not to enjoy.
Now then, what about the analysis? First a word on method. I am not completely sure, but this book seems to be somewhat immersed in theory that aims to expose dualistic ideas that are taken for granted to be cultural agreements. This is not exactly my academic cup of tea. First because the factual basis for an analysis with such an aim usually tends to be suggestive, which makes the actual worth of it debatable. Second, and more importantly, because it can turn the cultural product that is under scrutiny into a political tool with which to prove a point. The political agenda then can take over and mute what is being examined. Colleen McDannell in her book Material Christianity carefully avoided this trap but Bado-Fralick & Sachs Norris seem to occasionally fall victim to it.
The authors take on different perspectives throughout the book. Sometimes they seem (pop)culturally pessimistic when they write for instance “[We agree] with Postman [who says] that the ability to think deeply and rationally about a subject is hampered by superficial education and media geared toward novelty and easily digestible sound bites.” (p. 28) At other times the authors take on a more relativistic perspective, when they state for example that  “Children seldom stick to scripted actions in play, no matter how solidly both they and the script are rooted in religious values.” (p. 54) The ambivalence of their judgements is actually enjoyable. It adds some depth to the book, something the authors themselves, along with Postman, might take as a compliment.
I just highlighted some of the themes the book touches on but it is far more rich. Perhaps this is simultaneously both its strength and weakness for although the depth is enjoyable, at times the matter seems to be buried under theory. Still I enjoyed the book very much, it encourages critical thinking about the subject, and the the fact alone that it showed me the way to the Noah and the whale bible toy will make me forever grateful.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Judaikitsch: Tefillin Barbie

Turns out Fulla the Muslim doll has a friend from across the border. Meet Tefillin Barbie!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spiritual art: Diane Tremblay

 "The angel Vehuel"

 "Mournful walks"


"Sandra and her angel Lehahiah"