Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage. I try to present incidents from the news which call for outrage, in order to help with keeping it alive. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."
But I am giving the Furies a week off – at least from me. In "The Resistance #40" (in TomCat's Open Thread for March 1 and also on the YouTube GQ channel), Keith covered exactly the kind of atrocities I try to cover, covered more of them than I would have room for, and covered them in a fiery icicle-dripping tone (oxymoron, yes, but I stand by it) that I can't begin to match in print. So I am sending the ladies over to him to follow up on those incidents, while I indulge some of my passion for art.
Now, of course, we all know there are two kinds of Christians, real ones and fake ones. And probably some of us know there is another way to divide Christians where both divisions contain both realies and fakies, and that is liturgical or non-liturgical. "Liturgy" comes from the Greek words for "people" and "work," though today we think of it mostly as doing church services with the same words every time, or verbal ritual. Probably the Catholic Church is the most liturgical on the western side (as opposed to the orthodox denominations), keeping its verbal ceremonies in obsolete languages long after they are obsolete, and keeping them always the same. But it's not just verbally that Catholics are liturgical. We like movements (ever been to a Catholic service and wonder whether you had accidentally read "catholic" when it was really "calisthenic"?) and we like objects. In that way, a new ager focusing energy through a crystal or a wiccan focusing on a tarot symbol is also being liturgical.
During Lent (which started Wednesday), one liturgical exercise that a Catholic (or anyone who wants to) can do is called The Way of the Cross (or the Stations of the Cross or the Via Crucis, or the Via Dolorosa). You will see around most Catholic churches a series of picture, fourteen in number, often seven up one side and seven down the other, showing incidents which happened before, during and after the Crucifixion. It's the same 14 incidents everywhere, at least since about 1588, and there are some prayers that are traditional, but the idea is that you can go round them and contemplate each one, and so do a mini-pilgrimage.
Sometines they will be outdoors (there is a remarkable outdoor set in Colorado's San Luis Valley), and it is an outdoor one that made me want to share this today.
Coexist House at this point is a vision for a new ecumenical landmark in London, England. But they have coordinated with people and institutions in Washington, DC, to "build" a (mostly) outdoor Stations of the Cross from existing art.
This unique exhibition—held in 14 locations across Washington, D.C. — will use works of art to tell the story of the Passion in a new way, for people of different faiths. The Stations weave through religious as well as secular spaces. In this pilgrimage for art lovers, viewers will travel across the District, from the United Methodist Building adjacent to the Supreme Court, to the National Cathedral. Instead of easy answers, the Stations aim to provoke the passions: artistically, spiritually, and politically.
I won't show an illustration of every station, but the fourteen works selected for this different incidents are:
Jesus is condemned to death by the mob
The United Methodist Building
Ndume Olatushani 'Disrupting the Cradle to Prison Pipeline ' 2017
Jesus takes up his cross and begins his journey
West Potomac Park
Lei Yixin, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 2011
Jesus falls the first time
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
George Segal, Depression Bread Line, 1991 and Leonard Baskin, The Funeral Cortege, 1997
Jesus meets his mother
Vietnam Women's Memorial
Glenna Goodacre, 1993
Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
Marine Corp War Memorial – Iwo Jima
Felix de Weldon, 1954
Jesus falls for the second time
National Gallery of Art
Barnett Newman, Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani, 1958-1965
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
First Congregational United Church of Christ
Leni Diner Dothan, Dead End, 2017
Jesus falls the third time.
Church of the Epiphany
Michael Takeo Magruder, Lamentation for the Forsaken, 2016
Jesus is stripped of his garments
Timothy Schmalz, Homeless Jesus, 2013
Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart at Georgetown University
Altar Cross, 17th century
Jesus dies on the cross
American University Museum
Fernando Botero, Abu Ghraib 73, 2005
Jesus is taken down from the cross
St. Sophia Orthodox Cathedral
Jesus is laid in the tomb
Washington National Cathedral
Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea
Some of these choices, I think, are obvious, but most are anything but, and some are so striking they just grab the imagination and won't let go. Here is a link to the page which provides a small picture of each, explains the rationale for each choice, and gives the hours, a map, and a short podcast for each. Everything you'd need to know. For those here who are not Christian or not liturgical, hopefully you can still appreciate the art, and perhaps the inspiration the art is intended to evoke. I am not trying to proselytize, but to share.
Let me end with an image of the face of Jesus which I have found to be extremely moving; I have often tried to describe it (usually eliciting responses like "yeah, yeah, whatever." I don't think it can be described; I think it has to be seen). As far as I know, the only place it can be seen is in a book by Frederick Buechner called The Faces of Jesus, which contains over 150 photographs, all but about a dozen of which were taken by Lee Boltin, who holds the copyright. I think showing one out of about 140 (with full credit) constitutes fair use here. Beyond here, maybe not so much; if you want to share it beyond here, I'd appreciate you having your friends come here to see it. The original, by an unknown sculptor, is in a private collection. The book is still in print in paperback, about 3/4 of the size of my hardcover. The images range in time from about the 6th century to yesterday, in space from all over the world, in artistic ability from children's refrigerator art to great masters, in medium from bronze through stone, wood, tapestry, and paper, to almost anything you can think of, including one sliding steel door. I hope that at least some others here will appreciate seeing this one.
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4040239