oxymoron67: (Default)
I mean, clearly the child is being coached. But, Huzzah! for spreading hate!

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] mountain_hiker at ... yeah
oxymoron67: (Default)
I changed my mind about what I wanted to do today.

I found out that The Cathedral of St. John the Divine had recently finished remodeling (after a fire). So I decided, this being Holy Week and all, that I should go see it. Really, Friday, being Good Friday, would be a bad choice to visit a church for sightseeing purposes, so today was the best day for it.

Next to the cathedral is a small park where the Peace Fountain is located. It's an interesting statue, with lots of smaller carvings and statues around it. Some are dedicated to people or concepts. One small installation was Noah's Ark. Neat.

The outside of the place is imposing. The cathedral is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge. It's apparently the largest cathedral in the world. After taking pictures of the outside, I went in. They suggested a donation of $5. Fine by me.

I spent two hours in the cathedral and on the grounds, though mostly in the cathedral itself.

It is in the main part of the cathedral, there were side altars, dedicated to various groups of people: firemen and victims of AIDS, for example.

Then, behind the altar are several side chapels, dedicated to various saints, including St Ambrose, St. Martin of Tours and St. Columba. St. Columba's chapel was, to my mind, the most interesting. The altarpiece looked like it was done by Keith Haring, the man who did the artwork for the AIDS charities. The chapel was white and the stained glass was an interesting grey and blue.

The stained glass in general was amazing.

Another highlight is Poets' Corner, which has plaques celebrating various American writers. It;s primarily dedicated to poets, with people like William Carlos Williams, John Greenleaf Whittier, Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatly, and Sylvia Plath (among others) memorialized there.

But not everyone memorialized there is a poet, unless Mark Twain, Edith Wharton and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote poetry.

They may have. I don't think they did, though.


After that, I left.

Understand, I love cathedrals. They just feel like sacred spaces to me. I sat down to just bask in the feeling, and just stare amazed at the beauty of the place, twice.

The cathedral didn't have pews. It had sturdy wooden chairs. Not extremely comfortable sturdy wooden chairs. I'd've preferred the pews.

Still, a staggeringly beautiful place. It's a bit of a jaunt to get to... it's in Morningside Heights, off the beaten path, though I saw one of the tour bus companies drop people off there, so clearly people visit.
oxymoron67: (history)
My sisters, mom and I went to see Vatican Splendors last Wednesday.


The exhibit started with a three minute introductory movie, which, frankly, wasn't really necessary, but, whatever. After that, we went tot he first part of the exhibit, the early church, which included finds and inscriptions from what is believed to be from St Peter's tomb.

The second part deals with the early Medieval period, and the art commissioned by the popes, focusing on Pope John VII. Highlights here include a reliquary and a portrait of Madonna and Child. (There were four or five of these in this exhibit.)

From here, we move to the Renaissance and the rebuilding of Rome and St. Peter's Basilica. Mire Madonna and Child paintings, including a beautiful painting of the Madonna reading to the Infant Jesus. (I like the Madonna and Child paintings where they show affection for one another.)

Following the Renaissance, we move to the Counterreformation and the Council of Trent, which includes many Baroque works. The vestments of important cardinals and popes were included here.

At this point, we have moved beyond paintings and statuary. Furniture and various items for the mass are included.

Next up, the missionary section, which includes a Korean Madonna and Child and various letters to the Vatican from around the World (some from the 16th Century).

The main part of the exhibit ended with portraits of many popes and the gift shop. (I bought magnets!)

However, here in Pittsburgh, an added hall was added. This hall contained religious items from various Catholic and Byzantine Rite churches in the Pittsburgh area, including crosses and other items from former bishops of Pittsburgh.

Overall impression? Wonderful. Things I noticed

1) All of the Madonna and Child paintings they sent out were very beautiful: both of them looked like they care for one another.

If you've seen Madonna and Child paintings, you know how uncommon this is. Normally, they aren't making eye contact. Mary is supposed to look serene, but she actually looks kind of bored, and Jesus looks like a creepy miniature adult.

2) All of the saints portrayed here looked unhappy. As I've said before, if I were a saint, I think I'd be happy.

3) The portrait of Benedict XVI was very nice. Clearly it was done when he was younger as he didn't resemble Emperor Palpatine.

The exhibit leaves Pittsburgh in a week or so, moving to Fort Lauderdale. It's excellent.


Oct. 23rd, 2010 06:51 pm
oxymoron67: (history)
Today, I went to The Museum of Biblical Art or MoBiA.

It's a very small museum right off Columbus Circle on 61st St.

The price of admission is a very reasonable $7. Of course, it only has two galleries, so it can't charge what, say, the Metropolitan Museum of Art can.

Still, it was fun and it only took a little over an hour.

When I first got there, they asked me to take a survey about how I heard about the museum and what made me visit and how many other museums I'd visited this year.

We got to talking about museums because I visited every museum they had listed this year except one, The Guggenheim, and I was there in 2009. I've also visited several museums they didn't mention, so I included them. The docent and I talked about advertising and museums and what piques people's interest.

For doing the survey, I got the official book from one of their past shows.

The main reason I went to MoBia was A Light to the Nations: America’s Earliest Bibles (1532-1864), an exhibition highlighting the museum's collection of rare and antique bibles.

It was so very cool!

Included were many multilingual bibles, including one in Greenlandic, one in Massachusetts Indian (a language now extinct), Dutch Creole, Mohawk, and Cherokee. Of the Amerindian languages, Cherokee is the only one with its own alphabet, so it was especially neat to see it.

There were a few multilingual Bibles, including one in four languages, were each page had four columns, and each column was a different language. Latin... Arabic... and two I didn't recognize.

However...this was a tiny exhibition. It was in a very plain room with white walls, with some information on the walls. I felt that they could have done more with it, like, perhaps people reading excerpts or a powerpoint slide show that could have shown more of their collection.

Still, fun.

The other space was given over to The Wanderer: Foreign Landscapes of Enrique Martínez Celaya Martinez Celaya is a contemporary artist whose work is very much influenced by the Bible.

It was interesting.

It's funny how visiting all these museums has affected my perceptions of things like usage of space and, here specifically, the genre of art. This was an exhibition that would have fit in wonderfully at either MoMA or The Museum of American Folk Art.

The most striking work was the one all in red with a lightning strike. When I looked at the blurb, I saw that the materials used included blood.


But it made for an interesting painting.

As I left, I bought the catalog for the rare Bibles exhibit (it was only $5!).

A neat way to spend some time.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Jim Daly, leader of Focus on the Family, an arch-conservative group which believes that LGBT persons are icky at best, has posted a screed a=on CNN telling us all why we shouldn;t blame Christians for the bullying of LGBT people.

Here is the second paragraph:
It has been suggested by some that Christianity itself is to blame for these tragedies - and that is its own separate tragedy. The train of thought goes like this: Churches and organizations like the one I lead, which believe Scripture places homosexual activity outside of God’s design for human sexuality, are responsible for the bullying of gay students and, by extension, their deaths.

This train of thought? It's accurate. Why? You denounce LGBT people, casting them out, labeling them as unclean or unwanted or hopelessly broken or in need of accepting that you way is the only right way so neener-neener. Since you have already minimized/demonized/questioned the humanity of LGBT people, others who think like you figure that it's okay to attack them. They're not really part of the community, so they're the enemy.

That's what your bigotry does.

As provocative as that narrative may be, and it certainly has ginned up quite a lot of controversy of late, it is not accurate. Not only is Christianity not to blame for attacks against gays and lesbians, when properly interpreted and practiced, it is the cure for and solution to the mistreatment and abuse of anyone, for any reason.

I would say that Focus on the Family's constant work to obstruct or prevent even the discussion of the bullying of LGBT kids in school is not curing anything. Seriously, from what I've seen of their arguments, Focus on the Family's (and this gentleman leads that group) logic goes like this:

1) Bullying is bad
2) Being LGBT is bad
3) Bullying the LGBT community... that's pretty much okay.

If there is a single golden thread woven through the Bible and the faith it informs, it is this: when it comes to human rights and how we treat each other, no person is superior or inferior to the next.

Yet, every time you and yours get the chance, you promote the idea that being LGBT is sick or twisted or evil an, therefore, that those people are somehow less worthwhile that you are.

So, to violate the dignity of another person, in any form or fashion, is to contradict the very basis of Gospel-centered living. And to suggest that an orthodox understanding of Christianity encourages abuse against homosexuals is a sad misreading of the very tenets of the faith.


This is basically a rewording of "love the sinner, hate the sin." As I, and many others, have said elsewhere, everyone remembers the hate part, no one remembers the love.

I'd also add something about how even the most devout Christians cherry-pick what they consider important from the Bible. Since these folks don't care for gay people, they choose to highlight the idea that homosexuality is wrong.

I would point out that Jesus said the wealthy will almost certainly not find the rewards of Heaven, yet I'll bet our author here is quite rich.

In case you think I'm wrong about Focus on the Family, here is they're 'you can pray away the gay' website. And here are their thoughts on anti-gay bullying.

Essentially, their thoughts? It's a gay plot.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Sundays at noon on the local PBS station, the program Sunday Arts airs.

This show had guided me to all sorts of exhibits, both in museums and in other public spaces. The past two weeks, it has highlighted exhibits at The Museum of Biblical Art.

I'm now intrigued, and will probably go. Maybe even this weekend.

When I first saw The Museum of biblical Art, I was interested, but a little scared that it would be like The Creation Museum, which I may visit if I'm ever in Kentucky, but I find it frightening. Why? Here's a blurb:

The state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Majestic murals, great masterpieces brimming with pulsating colors and details, provide a backdrop for many of the settings.

If it were a museum focusing solely on illustrating the Bible, I'd be all for it. That could be a lot of fun and thought provoking. But this... this feels wrong. Mostly because Creationism is bad science and, frankly, not very good religion either. I've read the Bible and I know that archaeology has shown that some of the historical parts are accurate, parts of the Bible are clearly not meant to be taken literally.

Revelations, for one. Malachi for another.

But even Genesis. The first story in Genesis is the creation story. The second story in Genesis is a different creation story.

Notice, I am NOT saying don't be a Christian; don't find comfort in the Bible and its stories... I am saying that it shouldn't be taken literally.

Anyway, The Museum of Biblical Art looks like a thought provoking way to spend an afternoon.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I went back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today... I wanted to see the recently-renovated Classical Near East Art, the Habsburg Silver Service, and the Tibetan Arms and Armor exhibit.

I started with the Near East galleries. Persia, the Hittites, Assyria, Babylon, the Levant: all represented here. It's a great exhibit and one I didn't finish, well... because..
Odd things happened here )
Still it was a great display, and I'll go back and finish it sometime.

After that, I went to find the Habsburg Silver Service, which was commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa for her daughter Maria Christina on her wedding day. To get there, I had to go through the European Decorative Arts galleries. I'm going to return and just spend a day there : it's all about furniture, dining ware, vases, personal items. It was neat just passing through.

The Silver Service was HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. And it wasn't the entire set. The service had been auctioned off, and it had taken a while for it to be reassembled. It was also a beautiful service.

But that's not surprising: Viennese craftsmen and artisans of the time were amazing.

Near the silver service, the Museum was showing a special exhibition of some of its paintings from the Hudson River School of painting. I love the Hudson River School, so I went over, and they were beautiful. I found the one of the ship floundering in the icy waters to be especially stunning, because I don;t usually associate that type of painting with the Hudson River School.

Finally, I made my way over to the Tibetan Arms and Armor exhibit. I went through a few galleries, and thought that I; had been through it, until I turned a corner. There was a special room. I guess the other galleries were Far East arms and armor.

Then I hit the gift shop and left.

A great way to spend an afternoon.
oxymoron67: (history)
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Thomas freaking Jefferson.


I am sick and tired of the religious rights twin memes of "He didn't really matter" combined with "well, he wasn't a fierce a supporter of separation of church and state.

1) He didn't really matter? He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and one of the great intellects of the Revolutionary Generation (I would put Jefferson, Madison and Franklin as the top tier.) The "Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness" thing that so many say is in the Constitution? It's not, and it's Jefferson.

Jefferson arranged the Louisiana Purchase and sponsored the Lewis and Clark expedition (which was considered a failure by many in its time). That expedition was the basis for America's claim if the Pacific Northwest.

Further, he and John Adams, friends then bitter enemies and rivals then friends again, engaged in an exchange of letters, probably the most important such communication in American history. There is so much of value there.

Also, he helped establish what is now the Democratic Party.

I'm not saying he was a saint... slavery, after all, but you cannot say he was unimportant. Jefferson remains one of the standouts of the Revolutionary Generation, which gave us so many important people.

2) Separation of Church and State
Dear God, yes, he was an advocate of this. Why? He was a disciple of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was, among other things, a reaction to the religious wars that tore Western Europe apart in the 17th Century. Catholic sovereigns were able to expel/murder their Protestant subjects at will, and vice versa... not to mention what both sides did to the Jews.

Heck, several colonies were created as havens for those suffering from persecution: Massachusetts for the Puritans, Pennsylvania for the Quakers, Maryland for the Catholics and Rhode Island for those persecuted by the Puritans.

The idea of calling America a Christian nation would be anathema to Jefferson.

Just as an example: the first Thursday in May is The National Day of Prayer. You might remember that last year, when President Obama merely issued a announcement proclaiming the Day of Prayer, the religious right went crazy. Many of them took it as proof that Obama was a super-secret Muslim.

Or something.

Anyway, here is what Jefferson said about government sponsored days of prayer:

Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.

In other words, NO to government sponsorship of such things.

A few more quote by Jefferson on religion:

Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor - over each other.

It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.

Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to God alone. I inquire after no man's, and trouble none with mine.
oxymoron67: (snoopy)
I decided to go to the Museum of American Finance today. It's housed in the former headquarters of the Bank of New York, and may be Smithsonian affiliated. It's only $8, and totally worth it, but we'll get back to it.

The bus left me off right at Trinity Church on Wall Street.

I'd wanted to visit Trinity for years, so I stopped there first.

The church itself is beautiful. Even the men's room had stained glass windows.

The altar is gorgeous. The doors have scenes from the Bible carved on them and, right next to the church is the old cemetery. Among those interred there is Albert Gallatin, signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of the founders.

As I walked from Trinity to the museum, I walked past the Stock Exchange and the Federal Building. I took photos (they will be posted). It was about four or five block walk.

Then I came to the Museum of American Finance. It was cool! I saw two exhibits: one on financial scandals since 1792, including Credit Mobilier, Teapot Dome, and the original Ponzi scheme as well as WorldCom and the current one.

The 1792 scandal involved a friend of Alexander Hamilton's and hardened Thomas Jefferson's mistrust of stock exchanges and speculation.

After that, I went through the history of American money exhibit. It included beaver pelts and clam shell, and moved on to colonial notes to notes printed by states and banks, to early federal money and Confederate. It discussed standardization.

Neat exhibit.

The third exhibit I walked through was about the development of credit and the credit collapse of 2008. Again, neat.

The gift shop was nice, but pricey. I picked up two books, though. Also, your cost of admission gives you a 10% off coupon at the gift store. So, check it out.

Finally, on my way home, I came across a French family who were lost in the subway station. I told them which train to go on, and where to get off. It was cool.

So, I visited a national monument, a museum, I walked by two iconic places in NYC and I got to practice my French. All in all, a great day.

Also, there was a children's program going on: a man dressed as Alexander Hamilton was leading families through the place.
oxymoron67: (peanuts)
The Employee Non-Discrimination Act is up for a vote.

Despite the fact that religious institutions are exempt from it, the Catholic Church weighs in

Unsurprisingly, it is opposed. After all, what would the world be if we couldn't hate the queers?

Also, let's go further. Why should this applies just to us gays? Why shouldn't divorced people lose their jobs, or non-virgins. Those are sexually-based sins as well.

And adulterers? Why not fire all their sorry, cheating asses?

I've stopped defending the Church because I realize that I can no longer do the mental gymnastics required to be queer in a church that hates queers.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I seem to be focusing on the stupid this week.

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, claims that chickens injected with female hormones cause homosexuality.

I guess we queers should be happy he's not blaming us for the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

So, don't feed your boys hormone laced chicken (which is apparently no longer available in Europe or the U.S. anyway).

Also, this theory doesn't explain lesbianism.

In the past, Iranian clerics have said that eating pork causes homosexuality (though I can't find the quotes).

So, eating pork and chicken makes you gay. For heterosexuals, I guess beef really is what's for dinner.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Stephen Baldwin is in money trouble and is accepting donations.

Allegedly. This could, I guess, all be a fake out.

And, clearly, because he refuses to take acting jobs with "excessive sex and violence" (or perhaps he's simply not offered any roles), he is just like Job, the man who God allowed Satan to test in the Old Testament, taking everything from him, leaving Job sitting on top of a pile of dung.

Yet, Job maintained faith as was restored to wealth, health and joy.

As others have pointed out, God really did mellow out after he became a father.

So, Stephen Baldwin, by turning down acting jobs, is just like Job, who lost his family and home because of a bet between Satan and God.

To save him, we need to DONATE to him! That's right, send him money! You would think as a tedious born again (and there are many Born Again Christians who are not tedious) and conservative, he would reject this sort of charity, preferring to stand on his own two feet.

I can also think of far better charities than Stephen Baldwin.
oxymoron67: (Default)
The state Senate of Georgia just passed a bill which would outlaw non-consensual implantation of microchips in a person's body.

Among the witnesses was a woman who claimed that microchips had been implanted in her nether regions by the Defense Department and these microchips emitted painful electric shocks. Further, her co-workers could activate the microchip(s) using their cell phones.


This is like when I was working at the Proust Archives at the University of Illinois, and came across a letter where Proust mentioned that he was taking both amphetamines and barbiturates and wondered why no one could understand him.

It's funny when I'm not involved!

Only two senators voted against the bill.

But is Georgia just hopping on a bandwagon? Virginia, Missouri and California are also working on similar legislation.

I wonder how much of this is because of the whole "mark of the devil" thing from the Book of Revelations. While I don't have specific names, I DO know that some evangelicals believe this.

You know, I've read Revelations, and most of its symbols are actually about 1st Century Rome. I also wonder what St. John (the alleged author) was smoking when he wrote the thing.

Of course, according to some evangelicals, when Greece joined the EU in 1981, that was proof that the Rapture was nigh. According to Revelations 12:3, a giant dragon with ten horns blahblahblah. Those ten horns? The member states of the EU.

I'm not kidding. People actually thought this. Imagine how upset they were when Spain and Portugal joined. Some tried to fit the then-twelve member EU into the prophecies of Revelations, but eventually they just gave up.

I wonder how many of the people that believed the EU thing are convinced that Obama is really a Kenyan sooper-sekrit Muslim.
oxymoron67: (history)
Yes, I should be getting sick of the same subject line... but I'm not.

Besides seeing a play yesterday, I went to The Rubin Museum of Art. The Rubin specializes in the art of the Himalayas, so Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, parts of Northern India and ... Mongolia.

One of these things is not like the other... one of these things just doesn't belong....

When you walk into the Rubin, after you check your coat and packages, you go down three stairs and on your left is the restaurant, so the entire first floor smells like curry.


I enjoyed this museum, but I probably won't go back often because, well, I lack the cultural background to really understand a lot of the artwork.

Like Western art, much of the art here is religious. I know very little little about Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or even the Nestorian Christian traditions. This limits my ability to interpret the works, so all I can do is look at them and think "Oooo... pretty" or "That strikes me as odd" or "Hey, I just saw that guy back there, I wonder why."

See, in the Western tradition, when I see, say, a Madonna and Child, I know that's what EVERYONE painted for like three hundred years or so, and how to analyze it. (Mary is always serene and Christ always has the face of an adult. Look in the background for a portrait of the patron of the artist.)

Or I can say "That's St. Agatha, so those AREN'T bells. They're her breasts."

Anyway, the Rubin

I saw two exhibits there.

One was Visions of the Cosmos. This is a really cool exhibit about creation myths and cosmology across not just the cultures represented at the museum but also in the Western tradition. It was wonderful. This was worth the trip. The artwork was breath-taking, the explanations clear.

The other was From the Land of the Gods, Art of the Kathmandu Valley. This was also interesting, especially the discussion of how the various ethnic groups there contributed to the development of the artistic styles. But, here I was struck with the whole "It's an interesting piece, but I can't place it in its context" thing.

Still, fun to look at.

Then I visited the gift shop, picked up a biography of Kublai Khan and some funny postcards to send to relatives
oxymoron67: (reading)
It is alas protected now, so I can't link to it.

However, I can still discuss the main topic: the rise of "Scientism" as a religion: as in a belief in science precludes a belief in God.

The reality is that it doesn't, however, that's not what I'm going to focus on.

One of the arguments this article (and lots of anti-science people) makes is that the Nazis were absolutely committed to science without conscience because of their views on Darwinism, and this is why we need religion: to give us ethics.

This argument doesn't quite work. While Hitler may have twisted Darwinian theories to fit his twisted worldview, the fact is, he and his Nazis only exploited Xenophobic feelings that were already present. The anti-Semitic, anti-Romany and anti-homosexual feelings were reinforced by the Christian faiths that were present in Germany (and Europe) for hundreds of years. These feelings were not new, nor is the concept of a government using them to its own advantage.

To jump up and down and say that Darwinism played an important role in the Holocaust without acknowledging the role that religion played in fanning the flames of the hatred that the Nazis exploited is to ignore the central lesson of the Holocaust: that ordinary people mostly didn't care that their neighbors were being hauled away and slaughtered because those neighbors were different.

This whole "different" = "evil" was, for a long time, wholeheartedly supported by religious authorities (for an example read about Bartolomeo de las Casas). In fact, it wasn't until 1938 -- well after the Nazis were in power, that Pious XI published his Syllabus against Racism -- aimed at the Nazis, but the cultural damage had already been done. One encyclical doesn't balance against hundreds of years of tradition.

So, yes, discuss the role that Darwin;s theories had in the Nazi belief system, but don;t deny that the Nazis were able to accomplish what they did by the racist tradition that were promulgated by the various Christian faiths at the time.
oxymoron67: (Default)
And came across this. (Thanks to the folks at Sadly, no.)

Let's look at the Ten Commandments of a Conservative Bible, shall we?
Fun under the cut. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
I know I've been talking a lot about politics lately, but this amused me...

Tennessee state senator has affair with 22 year old.

As I've said before, a messy private life doesn't mean that a person can't be a good public servant. A private life is just that.

However, this gentleman, Paul Stanley, opposed Planned Parenthood because he didn't believe in sex out of wedlock. He believes in abstinence-only education. He tried to block gay couples from adopting.

He said "And just because I fell far short of what God's standard was for me and my wife, doesn't mean that that standard is reduced in the least bit."

But it sort of does. If you proclaim yourself as a standard bearer for what you envision as God's standards, you have an obligation to live up to them. Otherwise, you weaken your own argument.

At least he's not blaming the media, a la Palin.

He has resigned.


oxymoron67: (Default)

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