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Art, Sex, and Censorship—Washington Style

Art, Sex, and Censorship—Washington Style

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
Given the complex and sometimes sordid blending of religion and sexuality in this culture, the debate morphed significantly in late November 2010—just after the elections, be sure to note—from sex to religion. That is to say, from a debate about the virtues of exhibiting a show devoted to gay and lesbian sexuality, into a debate about obscenity, blasphemy, as well as varying perceptions of religious offense in a religiously diverse democracy such as our own.

The Super Bowl As Epic

The Super Bowl As Epic

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
No, this year the story really was in the game. That seems relevant to anyone interested in the curious and complex trajectories of the sacred in contemporary American culture. As Gary Laderman has argued, in his book Sacred Matters, professional sports, to the degree that they contribute to our contemporary cult of celebrity, are bearers of profound spiritual resonance. But they are also highly complex choreographed events, what the student of religion is trained to see as ritual.

How Hard The Hearing

How Hard The Hearing

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University….
In an interview with Mother Theresa, not long before she passed away, the topic of her own prayer life came up. The interviewer clearly wanted to know how a real spiritual adept prayed–and with such apparent spiritual efficacy. Her answer showed her to be a true adept: “Mostly, I just listen,” she smiled. I’ve been thinking about that strange confluence–of praying, speaking and listening–as I’ve watched current events continue to unfold in Egypt (and Yemen, and Tunisia) in the past week.

On Self, the Spirit and Creativity

On Self, the Spirit and Creativity

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr.
Deren was born in Kiev, but was raised in Syracuse, New York. She studied literature, especially the Symbolist poets, first at Syracuse University, then later at NYU and Smith College. It was in New York that she got involved both in radical politics and in modern dance. Even then, it would seem, Maya Deren understood art to be a form of radical politics and an experiment in radical religious vision. She eventually landed on film as the medium best suited to her own expansive visions, and she began making a number of important short films in an explosively creative period that began in 1946 and lasted until roughly 1951.

Three Faiths, Yes, But Out of How Many?

Three Faiths, Yes, But Out of How Many?

The show, which has been assembled entirely out of gorgeous manuscripts from the Library’s own vast holdings, is intended to offset the more regrettable interreligious energies unleashed by this so-called (and somewhat poorly named) Mosque Controversy. The exhibit is designed to remind its visitors that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share a great deal, and it manages to do so while avoiding seeming preachy, or by cheating to making things seem rosier and more peaceable than in fact they are. Instead, the show offers the visitor a remarkable walking tour through sacred geography, religious history, and even the history of the technologies of the written word.

The Tapestry of Artistic Convictions

The Tapestry of Artistic Convictions

Burchfield also began to try to paint sound, especially in scenes taken directly from local nature, where the trees are depicted almost as if they are vibrating with the hum of the katydid and lyric birdsong. He was fascinated by the world, not just the human world (born and raised in Ohio, he moved to Seneca Falls, NY, near Niagara Falls, in 1925… hence the long interest in loud nature and big sound).