Monday, August 18, 2014

How L.A.'s Islamic Art Shows Might Expand Our 'Middle East' Vision

By Carolina A. Miranda
George Awde, Untitled, 2013, inkjet print. Image courtesy of the artist
CALIFORNIA---A series of exhibitions scheduled to land in Los Angeles starting in September should help open some minds. The Los Angeles/Islam Arts Initiative (LA/IAI), led by the Department of Cultural Affairs, will bring together nearly 30 cultural institutions in the L.A. area to stage exhibitions and events that will tell the story of Islamic art around the world. This should offer some perspective on the culture of a region whose politics and traditions are often oversimplified, when they aren't serving as a source of outright caricature. The initiative will consist of dozens of exhibitions, screenings, lectures and symposia covering topics as varied as decorative objects, contemporary art, folk traditions and architectural photography. [link]

Mobilizing Against Black Masses

By Father Roger Landry
A Religious Black Mass will be conducted as a public event to help educate the public about Religious Satanism.
OKLAHOMA---As Catholics in Oklahoma valiantly rally to stop a Sept. 21 Satanic “black Mass” at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall, there’s much that those outside of the Sooner State can do to augment their efforts. In May, I was part of a large group that assisted Catholic students successfully to shut down the May 12 re-enactment of a Satanic mass on the Harvard campus. The first thing we did was to frame what was happening in terms by which Catholics and non-Catholics alike would be motivated to support us. For non-Catholics, we tried to convey that the Eucharist is the most sacred reality of Catholic life and worship. To desecrate the Eucharist is at least for Catholics equally revolting to our sensibilities as would be the burning of the Qu’ran for Muslims or the defacing of the Torah for Jews — outrageous actions, we stressed, for which a venue at Harvard would never be given. [link]

An Intriguing Connection: Hinduism and Yazidism

Yazidi temple in Lalesh
INDIA---A painting in the manner of Indian calendar art on the wall of a Yazidi temple in Lalesh, Northern Iraq. The Yazidis, facing attacks by IS militants, are a Kurdish-speaking minority in Iraq. Their religion is said to have similarities with Hinduism. They worship Melek Tawwus, or the Peacock Angel. Photo: Eric Lafforgue. [link]

Jewish Jesus and Identity Theft in Renaissance Art

By Bernard Starr
"Christ in a Landscape" by Jan Swart Van Groningen.
About 1530-1540. Collection of Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal
In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, "Inside every Christian is a Jew." But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus --even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I conducted for my book Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew. Recently I've discovered that some people firmly state that Jesus was Jewish but at the same time deny it. [link]

Sacred Verses Lead to Differing Opinions on Tattoos in Judaism

By Hank Arends

There was a day when tattoos mainly were on sailors or bikers. Rabbi Daniel Aronson of Temple Beth Shalom in South Salem said — like other faiths — there are divided opinions in Judaism on receiving tattoos. "When people see Rabbi Klaven's expressions of Jewish pride and commitment engraved on his body — yes, there are others — many undoubtedly question whether Jews, let alone rabbis, are permitted by Jewish law to have tattoos." Aronson answered with "it depends." Some point to Leviticus 19:28 prohibiting the "marking" of one self. Others say that scripture had to do with idolatrous purpose or images of God. The rabbi noted, "In short, whether Judaism permits tattoos is a legitimate matter of debate." [link]

Hank Arends is a retired religion/community events writer for the Statesman Journal who writes a weekly column on religion. He may be reached at or (503) 930-9653.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Moroccan artist Batoul S’Himi carves the geopolitical maps of the world into pressure cookers and meat cleavers. Her visually stunning works were recently featured at Rose Issa Projects in London, where she is represented. S’Himi began exploring this idea well before the Arab Spring, and today continues to transform these recycled objects of daily life into tools of resistance. You can find her work in the collections of The National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution and the Barjeel Art Foundation in the United Arab Emirates. As the world boils, Batoul S’Himi's "World Under Pressure" (above) is my NEWS OF WEEK.

Janmashtami: Devotees Celebrate Lord Krishna's Birthday

By Sangeetha Seshagiri
Devotees try to form a human pyramid to break a clay pot containing curd during the celebrations to mark the Hindu festival of Janmashtami in Mumbai. Janmashtami, which marks the birthday of Hindu god Krishna, is being celebrated across the country. Reuters
INDIA---Devotees are celebrating Janmashtami on Sunday to mark the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna is regarded as the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The lord was born to king Vasudeva and Devaki of Mathura at midnight on the eighth day of the Shravan month in the Hindu calendar. Devotees also observe Dahi Handi and Rasa Lila as part of the celebrations. Dahi Handi is celebrated based on the legend that Krishna would steal butter from gopis (milkmaids) of Vrindavan. To celebrate Dahi Handi, an earthen pot filled with buttermilk is placed at a particular height. A human pyramid is formed to break the earthen pot. This festival is very popular in Maharashtra. [link]