Thursday, February 16, 2006

Black History Month

My sixth grade teacher Mr. Paterson at Parkside Elementary School in San Bernardino California was a black man teaching in a white neighborhood in 1977, a pretty rare thing even then. He also was a Pastor, preaching on weekends. He had our class memorize Dr. King's "I Have A Dream Speech". Dr. King's life and words have no doubt changed our world for the better, and has even impacted my life. But my sixth grade teacher did more for my sense of justice and the need for all peoples to be treated with dignity then Martin Luther King, Jr. I had a giant of justice in my classroom everyday.

"Artists as Reconcilers"

International Arts Movement is hosting its 2006 15th Anniversary Conference next week in New York City. I'm really looking forward to what should be a very interesting conference. The keynote line-up is impressive, and the organizers must be applauded for selecting the like of Miroslav Volf author of "Exclusion and Embrace" and professor of Theology at Yale Divinity. I picked up "Exclusion & Embrace a couple of years ago, and continue to go back to it. Volf's theology is a deeply personal exploration into the call and costs of a Gospel of reconcillation. I'm eager to hear what he has to say to artists and the role we play in the Gospel as reconcilers. Other guest include; poet & chairperson of the national endowment of the arts, Dana Gioia; two time emmy winning actress Patricia Heaton from "Everybody Loves Raymond" and founder of IAM, painter, and member of the National Council of the Arts; Makoto Fujimura! There is still time to register to the conference.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pennyroyal Caxton Edition of the Holy Bible

Stepped in to borders books the other day to pick up a book on Adobe's "Audition" software for sound recording, and found a book on the clearance rack for $9 dollars, a paperback version of the Pennyroyal Caxton Edition of the Bible! I first heard of this Bible back in early December when I went into Manhattan to pick up our visas for India. We had a few hours to wait till we could pick them up, so on a whim I called the American Bible Society offices which are located on 61st and Broadway right off Columbus Circle, to see if we could get a tour of their rare books collection, and low and behold they said yes! Pastor Nash and myself were given a personal tour of the second largest historic Bible collection in the world, second only to the collection held at Cambridge. And one of the Bibles that caught my was the Pennyroyal Caxton, illustrated and designed by the artist Berry Moser. This was a recent publication, the newest in their collection of rare Bibles, and the price tag of the copy they showed us was a $30,000 edition one of fifty copies, on handmade paper with original drawings a book that took over four years to create, done in the same tradition of those who created the illuminated Bible's in the middle ages, with true craftsmanship and artistry. And what artistry there is in Moser's work. Catharine Madsen described it in her article in Crosscurents entitled A Terrible Beauty by saying:"No artist since Rembrandt has handled biblical subjects with such intimate confidence and such trust in the unbeautified human face; no illustrated Bible has so rooted itself in the modern sensibility." And I would whole heartedly agree. I've often hoped for an illustrated bible to share with my children, that would awaken their imagination to the wonders of the text, and away from the cheap plasticization of disney like sensibilities. Something that will stir their souls, even haunt them, anything but trivialize. Moser has taken the risk and through his illustration made the Bible both utterly strange and more strangely familiar. And I found my large paperback (10x17in) on clearance for $9.00 bucks! Something very disturbing about that which I wont get into now. You can purchase a Trade Edition of the Caxton edition for $250.(first edition) or a second edition Trade for $120 here or individual prints. or keep your eyes on the clearance racks, you never know what you'll find.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Screwtape Letters

Went in to the City to see Max Maclean perform in an adaptation of C.S Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters". The performance was at theatre 315, a new space owned and operated by the Salvation Army. it's located between 44th and 7th Ave. right off of time square. The city is always a charge, we drove in this time and parked right outside the Lincoln tunnel, and walked our way through the theatre district on a rainy night, ended up buying little black umbrellas from some Nigerian folks on the street corner. You can always count on being able to get your incliment weather essentials on the street if ever you forget to bring your own. Things were still clipping along even with the weather. We actually ushered for the show, the director is an aquaintence of mine, and we got an email mentioning the need, and we were happy to oblige. Enjoyed the show, the material is deeply layered but, the ideas, the arguments great reading, theatrically challenging. Bringing the monologues to some type of physical life proved tough, but for the initiate, lovers of Lewis were no doubt pleased with the offering. And Max Maclean seemed entirley suited for the role. Great voice.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tommy Lee Jones & Flannery O' Conner

In December, Barry Pepper talked about the influence of the Bible and the works of Flannery O'Connor on The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, written and directed by Tommy Lee Jones. Now Jones himself discusses the subject in the Boston Globe:

Flannery O'Connor matters to this movie first because Jones wrote his cum laude thesis at Harvard on her. Second, family members of the film's coproducer, Michael Fitzgerald, are executors of O'Connor's literary estate. ''So we both knew our O'Connor rather well, and it was just a natural approach for me."

''O'Connor is important to the way this movie is constructed," he continues. ''What you do is you consider some so-called religious thinking without the didacticism of the classical approach. You look for the allegorical intentions of what we're taught in the Bible, and then find some way to have it revealed or expressed by common experience. You'll find this happening over and over again in O'Connor, who was a rather classical Catholic thinker who wrote about nothing but backwoods north Georgia rednecks."

''Ecclesiastes is essential to the movie as well," he says. ''It has to do with the passage of time. You want to start thinking as an actor that the past, the present, and the future are occurring simultaneously, and God requires an accounting of all three."

And on this NPR interview Jones says:

People ask me to describe Huey Calloway, the character you just heard, and I've found it convenient to describe him as a Buddhist soul in a Calvinist world, and I haven't yet thought up a catch phrase for Three Burials, but it has something to do with the consideration of the mechanics of faith.

And from there he starts talking about Flannery O'Connor again.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Thursday, February 02, 2006

kids, cricket and trains through the night

Attended the dedication of a new prayer hall in the village of Nandigama. About 120 kids and 8 widows and their children live here. Most of the children’s parents are poor farmers, some only have one parent and can’t afford to raise them, some have no parents at all, orphans. This is a great place, the widows each have their own little apartment, and are allowed to live here till there children are all in school. There was quite the celebration, once again we were ushered in to the complex with showers of flowers petals. And the highlight of the day was the baptism of 38 people. While here we took photos and biographical information from each child and compiled them into a database with a sponsorship card. After two weeks back at Zarephath we were able to have over 60 kids sponsored from the home. Also got to play a hybrid game of baseball/cricket with the boys, they had a much easier time hitting my baseball pitches than I had hitting their cricket bowling. That night we left Khammam for a two day trip to Chennai, formerly known as Madras. Took an overnight train departing at 12:30am and we arrived around 11:00am. What a trip, ended up getting after the steward in our train car, he sold our reserved beds before we boarded the train. Our group of 11 were standing in the little isles of the train, in the dark with our luggage, wondering where we were going to sit, let alone sleep for the night. I chased the steward down and demand that he evict those who were occupying our bunks, we went back and forth with one another, but he eventually found bunks for all of us. My guess is that double selling bunks is a common practice on these trains. The train was quite an experience, now I feel like I’ve really been to India.