Tonight's episode of CNN's Finding Jesus concentrates upon John the Baptist. Unfortunately, I don't have cable, so I'll have to wait until the video is posted online. In the meantime, since the Baptist is on my mind, I thought I'd share some pictures I took of a few of the exhibits from the San Antonio Museum of Art that depict John. Enjoy! (P.S., I recommend this museum if you're in or near San Antonio. Great collection of local art as well as solid collections of Greek and Roman artifacts.)
My five favorite films of 2014 are as follows:
(5) The Fault in Our Stars: Gut wrenching, emotional roller-coaster of a film, but quite insightful as regards how we humans approach death and dying.
(4) The Grand Budapest Hotel: It's a Wes Anderson film. That's about all I need to say.
(3) Gone Girl: Creepy, disturbing, but unique.
(2) Noah: I'm interested when Hollywood tries to retell stories from the Bible. This one was done quite well. Far better than Exodus: Gods and Kings.
(1) The Book of Life: Beautiful story regarding death, memory, ancestors, and tradition with amazing animation. The narrative invites children younger and older into a world of colorful imagination.
Top honorary mention: The Giver. Films I didn't get to see, but that I imagine may have been added to this list include Birdman, Dear White People, Interstellar, Selma, and I'm sure a handful of others. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a film or two I watched that I forgot, but the fact that those listed came to mind easily says a lot about their impact.
James McGrath shared that Bart Ehrman shared a video of his talk from the "Jesus and Brian: Or, What have the Pythons Done for Us?" hosted by King's College London last June. This led me to dig a little and I found that King's College has posted videos from the conference on their YouTube page. Scholars such as Joan Taylor, Helen Bond, Steve Mason, Amy-Jill Levine and others gave talks, so this should be as educational as it is entertaining!
Today I noticed for the first time that the main doors to La Trinidad UMC have wooden symbols of the Gospels on them. I took some pictures to share:
On pp. 23-26 of Francis Watson's Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective he discusses these symbols. He states that the earliest depiction of the Gospels, which borrows imagery from Revelation 4:6-7, and are based on the opening lines of the Gospels, derives from the writings of Irenaeus of Lyon:
Watson shares that Augustine of Hippo continued using these images, but he went a different direction that Ireneaus:
Watson affirms Augustine's rational for departing from Irenaeus:
I highly recommend the whole discussion, but I'll let you read it. What I want to highlight is how our congregation's building mixes the older imagery of Irenaeus with the revised of Augustine. I don't know the rational for this. The congregation has been in existence since 1876. Our current building's cornerstone dates to 1921. We are part of the Methodist tradition and our congregation has been distinctly Latino all these years. If any of this factors into the decision to use the mixed imagery, and someone knows why, let me know.
Mt. = human
Mk. = eagle
Lk. = calf
Jn. = lion
La Trinidad UMC
Mt. = human
Mk. = lion
Lk. = calf
Jn. = eagle
Mt. = lion
Mk. = human
Lk. = calf
Jn. = eagle
This weekend someone shared this picture on Facebook. The artist is unknown (though if someone does know, please tell me), but it does a fine job of capturing the message of the Book of Job. It is Job in the spotlight suffering as his friends stand comfortably in the shadows trying to theologize his condition. This story remains a powerful metaphor for everything from the errors we make as individuals trying to understand the suffering of others to communities judging other communities without offering a helping hand—many of the responses to Ferguson have been this way where people wax eloquently about why Ferguson has suffered without asking what it is that the rest of the country might do to bring relief to the suffering of communities like Ferguson.
For the longest time God's response to Job at the end of the book was bothersome to me. Annoying. Escapist. It felt like a politician was speaking rather than a Creator. But I've come to see the Book of Job as a far better, truer theodicy than that of most apologists. The Divine Voice doesn't give us the answers we want because the answers we want wouldn't actually explain the complexity of human suffering. There is no skeleton key answer.
The National Gallery (London, UK) has posted a ten episode series on YouTube discussing the art they posses that depicts John the Baptist. Whenever I go to an art gallery or museum with art of the Baptist I take a picture, so I am quite excited to have found these videos. If you're interested they can be watched here.