Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do The Burka!

So this post requires me to dive into the messy world of politics for a bit. As a tourist though, not as a resident, as I've made clear again and again that I don't like to get involved in it. But I can describe it. Or at least try to.
You see, in Europe the debate about Islam has been building up. There are those that feel that Islam doesn't belong in Western society. They feel that it is backward, that it oppresses women, that it is a cruel system that not only condones but even encourages violence. Our own by now famous and infamous politician Geert Wilders even went so far as to call it not a religion at all but nothing more than a political ideology.
On the other side of this discussion are those that say that Islam cannot be reduced to a fixed set of characteristics like that. They argue that a fringe group of radicals is being mistaken for the largest group of members. They even say that this "mistake" is intentional, so as to create an idea of an enemy that needs to be defeated. It is thought that this imagined enemy can then function as a way to bring together people to persecute members of this perceived threat as a scapegoat.
It can all get complicated, where sometimes the allegations of those who try to fight Islam are actually being reinforced by representatives of the religion itself. When its enemies claim that it is a violent ideology they might use video footage of Muslims that say themselves that it is the sacred duty of all Muslims is to fight the infidels. This makes it very easy of course to mistake the testament of a few for an absolute statement. This, in turn, gives the anti-islamists some empirical ammunition again.
Embedded in this discussion is also the question about what Islam really is. Is there truly an absolute Islamic tradition or are there only Islams existing side by side? In the case of the burka, a piece of cloth that is supposed to cover the entire face of a woman save most of her eyes, this is being highly debated. Is it part of Islamic tradition or is it just a cultural practice that got picked up somewhere along the way? Recently in the Netherlands the anti-islamists approved a law banning the burka from the public space. Officially the reason was mainly safety. But the message underneath might be that Islamic tradition must always be subject to state interests. This however assumes that the burka is indeed a part of Islamic tradition, even though it is deemed such by outsider political forces.
This is a very very long road to what I want this post to be about. It’s also a long way to justify it’s religious significance, since arguably this is about culture and not religion (from a secular point of view, I'm actually not sure if the difference between the two can accurately be upheld). Where there is political and religious controversy of course there is also mockery. And this mockery is also bad. Very. Very bad. Oh Lord how you spoil me with such sweet suffering! So delightfully unbearable! Ladies and gentlemen, with great pride do I give you this golden turd of a video from my very own country: Do the burka!

I must once again thank Roel for bringing this to my attention. May Allah bless you my friend! ;)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bob Siemon Design

I picked this one up from Colleen McDannell's Material Christianity book. Mr. Siemon was mentioned in it and described as a Christian jeweler dedicated to quality just about as much as to the gospel. Mr. Siemon sure seems to make some pretty things!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Last Supper Butter Sculpture

When I wrote of the many faces of Jesus and how he is being used by many as a political tool, one of the more unexpected identities that popped up was Jesus as a butter sculpture. I looked more into this. It is a contribution to the Iowa State Fair of 1999 it seems by a butter sculptress called Norma Lyon. My hat to you ma'am!

Here's a little article on her.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jesus Hanger

A quick autobiographical one today. I saw Jesus at a flea market. 1€. I couldn't resist.

Hmmm. By the look of things, I might have better spent that one euro on fixing my wall.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wisdom Tree Games

So, in a post about the Nintendo Entertainment System game Spiritual Warfare, I already touched upon the game development company Wisdom Tree. This company develops video games with a strong Christian message that aims to offer a religious alternative to the secular games. They have a hard time doing this though, where at best they seem to produce uninspired knock-off versions of classic games. This still puzzles me, for somewhere I'd expect the devoted religious armed with rich mythology and ruthless dedication to excel at it. Yet it stops short at the "here, we tried, like it or not" level. Partly perhaps because people might buy it anyway since "it's Christian!" This already might secure a public, making it easy to sell your product, no matter what that product is. Without the grinding competition of a larger marketplace then, products might not get polished into perfection. Game developers might reason somewhere along the lines of "nothing to worry about, so why bother?" Another problem might be estrangement. This Christian development company does not seem to look (closely) at what it is they are imitating, perhaps thereby severely underestimating the art and craft. Add to this a bit of cultural isolation, enough to assume that kids will enjoy being presented with bible excerpts when they are included in a fun quiz that is part of an "exciting" quest, and you have some great ingredients for epic failure.

So let the banquet commence! I only added a few Wisdom Tree games, since there are quite a lot out there. But these ones made me particularly happy.

I wonder what happens might he run into the Jews in Space.

There is more to say about the phenomenon of Bible Man, but more on that later.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Edward Hicks - The Peacable Kingdom

I so very much love this picture. First, it's cute where lions and lambs all get along. And on top of that, I think I know what makes them mellow together. Look at the eyes on the lion and the leopard there! They might be drunk on love for the Lord but they look like that's not all they are drunk on.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crystal Christ

Today I was with someone who wanted to buy a mattress. So we went to a bed store, you know, the type of store that sells mattresses, sheets, duvets, beds, those sorts of things. But who do I find tucked away in some corner of this store? Yes you guessed it! But He was wearing some funny clothes today. His cross was made of crystal (really folks, it's glass). I looked for this "crystal" Christ online just now. I couldn't find this one, I'll have to go back and buy it sometime, but it does seem that there are a lot of crystal christs out there all the same.

Oh one is Swarovski in there! That actually mightn't be glass.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Ten Commandment Boogie

Another tip I got, from Geert this time. Thanks Geert! Just when you think you've seen it all, you're looking at a dancing clown!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Der Jesus Tanz

Ah yes, Germany. Home of the likes of Luther and Schleiermacher. Such a rich Christian tradition, arguably the intellectual heart of Christendom ever since the reformation. So what is the status nowadays? What gems of theology, moving and deep, has this country recently blessed us with? Well...

Toll, na? :) I gotta thank Roel and Boudewijn for bringing this to my attention. Thanks guys!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Anne Hutchinson

Life in the early English colonies on the American continent was tough. Because of nature giving the settlers a hard time, but the settlers were giving themselves an even harder time sticking to a hard-line Puritanism. Tongues being burnt, public shaming, it was a time as violent as it was religious one might say. And then up stood this rebel, Anne Hutchinson. Not a cultural rebel, oh no, a religious rebel, following instructions straight from God. She defied Puritan ethics on theological grounds and this must have been by no means an easy battle. She was put on trial, and this trial became infamous. Ever since she is looked up to as a woman of strength standing her ground in an almost Martin Luther like way. Standing proud in defiance of false theology, in defiance of the Devil's lies! A symbol of independence, strength and purity. Yes you can feel the twist coming, a romantic personification of ideas, making her a choice tool to depict them with.

Oh hey and what do you know, she was brutally murdered by Native Americans because the Dutch mistreated them and they took it out on Anne. Yeah, that's typical Dutch culture for you alright! The Almighty God sure did put her in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christian Art: Nathan Greene

Mmm baby this is the stuff! Unapologetic sentimental Christian art oh yeah! Now I did have a slight deja-vu with this, and indeed I was right about that hunch, where Rami had sent me a tip before with one of the works of this man. Thanks again Rami! I included this one in this current post too, along with some other breath taking beauties that this man his wrist has managed to bless us with.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Jesus Hot Air Balloon

And as an afterthought to that last afterthought, guess who I found floating through the air!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jesus Balloon Sculpture

So as an afterthought to the last post I did, I want to talk about something related. In my quest for visual evidence I came across this, a Christ carrying the cross balloon sculpture. What better medium to express the passion with?

It is not everyday that I think about this particular medium, so if the English term for it is not balloon fold or folded balloon and that is just a crude one-on-one translation from my own native language, please enlighten me. Thank you Alexia for pointing out that it's called a balloon sculpture. Also, nice kitschy painting there in the background!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Clowns for Christ

And what a year it's been. So far this blog generated more traffic than I had expected. I thought things shifted gear towards the end of 2011, but that turned out to have more to do with Christmas than this blog. Oh well, that's alright, I still like all the visits that I am graced with. All the more this new year I say! You are all welcome.

So what about this new year? Will it be the year of the apocalypse? One can only hope. But in the mean time, let's kick it off with a big hit. I read the book Authentic Fakes by David Chidester a while ago, dealing with religion and popular culture in America, as the subtitle betrays. Not a bad book I'd say, sometimes his theories seemed a bit far fetched, but that's also part of the fun of course. However, it was not by the content but by the cover that I was struck most. Not so much judging it by it though, as being bewildered by it. I saw two clowns. If you are anything like me, and if you are reading this then probably you are, you hate clowns. Maybe hate is not the right word, somewhere between terrified and distrusting is perhaps a better way to put it, regarding clownhood as the gateway to fascist regimes. But here were two clowns staring at me. This was half my startle. The second half came when I saw what it said on the bus to the back of these two criminals: Clowns for Christ.

It's very ironic that one of the few posts that does not make me laugh but in fact I find to be deeply deeply disturbing is one about clowns.