Thursday, April 19, 2012

Billy Sunday

Sometimes those preachers could get hot and they'd boil for the Lord. One such man was Billy Sunday. A baseball player gone public revival leader, he is said to have been quite the figure. No theatrics too theatrical for this popular figure. I think the images speak for themselves. Billy Graham is obviously the heir to this (this) Billy's throne.

 Devil might have some slick tricks but Billy's got a chair!

 Ain't no crowd to tough for Billy!

 Climb it!

 The man knew his theatrics!

What is it with this guy and chairs?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dispensational Charts

Some Christians believe that the end of the world is near, that first the elect or church of true believers will be raptured, after which seven years of tribulation will follow under the rule of the Antichrist, after which Christ will return and reign on earth for a thousand years. This is usually referred to as Premillennialism, expecting the return of Christ before the thousand years of peace. There's also Dispensationalism, when more than one phase in human history (or should I say Biblical history) is recognized. Together neatly they are called Dispensational Premillennialism. People that believe this actually worked it out in neat charts. I love these charts because they are minutely detailed and carefully drawn out, rationally organized intricate maps of an event that is quite hard to imagine will ever take place outside of a certain Biblical frame of reference. The charts really look like step-by-step instructions on how to fix your radio.

Man of the hour seems to have been Clarence Larkin who made these and countless others of illustrations like them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Franz Anton Mesmer

Before I talk about Mesmer, I'd like to celebrate the one year existence of this blog. Yaaay! Attracted more traffic than I thought (since my hope was a million a day but my more realistic expectation was zero). Nice to see that that's approaching 150k hits now. Although sometimes I fear the end is near. And then I'm not talking about the rapture but about this blog. But we will see, sometimes I do seem to still come up with inspiriation.

Inspiration such as when someone says to me "oh, that's just mesmerizing!" and I ask (in stead of reacting to the marvel) "do you know where that word came from?" It's a reference to Mesmerism which is in turn the invention of Franz Anton Mesmer. At a time when such new things as magnetism were being discovered, this man thought he'd try and use this for therapeutic means which is also known as animal magnetism. He devised enormous metal tubs that he connected people to and put them in some sort of trance and his subjects were reported as having all sorts of visions and of course Mesmer could cure them. So was Mesmer a gifted healer, a misguided man of hope or a charlatan? Who the hell cares, the guy devised enormous metal tubs, hooked people up to it and it didn't even occur to them that this might be funny! Now thát's hilarious!

 Mesmer doing his thing without any tools. Yeah baby I like it raw!

 Tub action.

 Picture of the legendary tub itself. Not sure where this is.

 For those curious cats who want to build a tub of their own.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mormon Missionaries

Oh ladies and gentlemen sometimes I don't know why I blog about anything else but Mormons. One of the first things that really knocked me off my seat was photographs of happy Mormon families that were clearly compositions. I think it was even one of the first entries on this blog. But a year later and nothing has changed, I still think Mormons are among the best of the religious artists out there. The pictures of the Mormon missionaries depicted as having a meaningful conversation with strangers, really reaching out, really making them see things differently, there is such innocent hope that speaks from these pictures.

 This one made me laugh so hard. Is it wrong? I don't know.

 Have you seen this person?

 Compositions like this are just art!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Passion Rotterdam

No, not about Mel Gibson's movie. It's about a local production, The Passion, provided by the Dutch Evangelical Broadcasting Community with some support from the Roman Catholic Church and the Dutch Protestant Church. It was huge and spectacular. 1.7 million people watched it on television, more than 10% of the total Dutch population. I read nothing but praise about the technical aspect and the delivery. The artists were all local celebrities. Personally, this is an instance where two loves meet for not only am I fascinated by popular expressions of religious sentiment, I do have a weak spot for Dutch local artists too. There is something pathetic and familiar about it that strangely warms my heart just as much as Christian sentiment is able to. If Christ doesn't feel strangely familiar to me then at least the Dutch artists certainly do. And here they are, celebrating the story of my buddy Jesus!

But what do I see? In 2012? Nothing but criticism from both the secular and the religious sides it seems. Most striking is that the secular side is complaining about this story being portrayed irreverently. What! If anyone the secular side should be able to recognize that the idea of religious integrity is suspect at the very least. Either the non-religious have not yet completely emancipated themselves from religious sentiment or they abuse an idea of religious integrity to bash a type of popular entertainment that they can't stand, for of course it is the intellectuals that complain about this. Most likely a combination of both.

But even from the theological side I hear complaints. Really? Well go ahead and dig your own grave with complaints for shovels then! If popular culture is seen as something that can only corrupt religion then pretty soon that religion will be over and done with. I would like to see how someone from the United States would react to this European type of criticism. "Are they crazy?" My fictional evangelical American friend might ask. "The Gospel should be told and made heard, whatever it takes," he would argue. I guess the US has more of a tradition of catering to popular sentiment, making use of popular entertainment and modern media. Also in the US the religious emphasis seems to be more on experiencing religion than subscribing to a set of beliefs. The reasons for things growing differently in the US and in Europe are many but the bottom line is, if the EU clergy isn't going to wise up they might keep an eye on the classifieds ads printed next to their angry letters in the newspapers.

Trailer of the show.

The whole thing can be seen on the website:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Christian Art: Jason Jenicke

Sometimes I see them. These mothers. They have a baby and for some reason they believe that this is a unique and remarkable achievement. That this little creature - oh isn't he just adorable - came out of them. Oh yes folks can you believe that, isn't that something? Isn't that something you never saw happen before? No it happens all the time. Yet these self-content mothers have this arrogant glow about them like they just performed a miracle and the world owes them a favor or at least all the respect it can conjure up. These hell-creatures usually pop up in front of you in bike traffic, in a quiet coffee place or next to you on the train, where they will loudly proclaim their love for their baby at the slightest hint of this baby crying. At a much higher volume than this baby crying too. Horrible terrible creatures with an overestimation complex, if such a thing exists.

It is exactly this narcissist glow that the artist Jason Jenicke in my opinion nailed in his depictions of Mary, mother of Jesus. I don't care if your son is the Son of God though, the gloating still annoys the hell outta me!