Category Archives: Religion

Another Last Supper

“MaryLou. The Last Supper.”  My sister pointed out a traditional print hanging on the wall near the table in a private home in Merida Mexico where she and I we were participating in a cooking class.  I immediately took a photo of the print.  My sister knows I collect photos of artworks depicting the Biblical Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples.  I have found interesting versions in all kinds of places.I found this one in the city museum in Sydney Australia in 2010. It was created by aboriginal artist Linda Syddick. The U shapes at the bottom represent the twelve disciples.  The one for Judas who betrayed Jesus stands out from the rest since it is a different color and facing a different way. Jesus is serving the disciples billy tea instead of wine and damper a kind of Australian soda bread. I photographed this Last Supper made out of sand in Sedona Arizona on a family visit there in 1990.Steffi Lee one of my grade five students in Hong Kong in 2004 made this version of Da Vinci’s Last Supper for a project I assigned when we were doing a unit on the Renaissance in our social studies class. last supper tamarindo costa ricaI found this wooden engraved one in a Catholic Church in Tamarindo Costa Rica.

houle parfleches for the last supper

Parfleches for the Last Supper by Robert Houle at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Parfleches for the Last Supper is a series of twelve artworks by Robert Houle that is part of the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Houle has designed a traditional parfleche (a bag for sacred objects) for Jesus and each of the twelve disciples who were present at the Last Supper. Note the black one for Judas and the white one for John in the bottom row.I photographed this colourful wool tapestry version of the last supper at the front of a small church on Waya Island in Fiji where we attended services one Sunday morning in 2011. I saw this copper version of the Last Supper by Albert Gilles on a visit to a gallery in Quebec City in 2015. This one was discovered on the wall of a noodle shop in Kyoto Japan.  Jesus and his disciples are enjoying some ramen noodles. 

Other posts……….

Parfleches for the Last Supper

A Black and White Religion

Inspiration in Fiji

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Another Creation Story

mayan creation story

Mayan creation story depicted in a mural by Fernando Castro Pacheco

While touring the Governor’s House in Merida, Mexico I saw this painting showing the Mayan story about the creation of human beings.  I discovered there are many versions of the story called the Popol Vuh but each recounts how the gods of the sea and sky first created mountains to separate their realms. Then they filled the world with animals and birds and fish and plants. They tried to make people from mud and then from wood but neither attempt worked out.  Finally the world experienced a great flood and after it was over the gods managed to successfully fashion people from corn.  

Creation – a watercolor by Diego Rivera 1931

Although Mexico’s famed artist Diego Rivera is more well-known for his large murals I found this water-colour illustration of the Mayan creation he did in the Library of Congress collection. The gods of the sea and sky are shown as serpents. You can see the mountains and animals and fish and birds and plants the gods created each depicted in separate sections of the painting. Most, like the jaguar and palm and lobster are native to the area in which the Mayan people lived. I am wondering if the two figures lying down beside the man and woman are the unsuccessful wood and mud versions of human beings the gods tried first. 

It is always interesting to learn new creation stories and compare them to the one in the Christian Bible which I grew up knowing. 

Other posts…….

Common Threads- Creation Stories

Was North America Created On the Back of A Turtle? 

Athena and the Creation of the Spider

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Chreaster Really is a Word

One year when we were living in Hong Kong we didn’t come home to Canada at Christmas time but decided to fly back at Easter instead because our son was going to have a leading role in a Winnipeg production of Jesus Christ Super Star and we really wanted to see him perform.  Since we hadn’t been here for Christmas we got together with our family for what I dubbed a Chreaster celebration.  We marked Christmas and Easter at the same time.  I gave the children and their partners both a stocking and an Easter basket filled with gifts.  I even wrote a newspaper column about our Chreaster celebrations. 


Poinsettia and Lily photo by Sandy Keeton from the blog of the Saint John XXIII Catholic Parish in Perrysburg, Ohio.

I thought I had invented the word Chreaster but to my surprise I saw it in the headline of an article in The Washington Post this past week.  The columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. refers to Chreasters as people who only attend church on Christmas and Easter.  

Dionne says probably the Chreasters show up at church on holidays because they enjoy listening to familiar Christmas music and perhaps want to rekindle memories of their childhood.

He’d prefer to think they are people who have given up on the institutionalized church but still want to believe there is a transcendent being who creates beauty.  They still hope for a world where love and justice are the norm.  

I think a belief in a creative spirit and a hope for a better world is what motivates most good people in their daily life whether they never attend church, attend every Sunday or are Chreasters. 

Other posts…….

Indoctrination or Teaching? 

I Want To Be Like Anna

Violence in Christian Families

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Violence in Christian Families

Illustration by Rocco Fazzari

Violence and abuse are no strangers to people in Christian families, in fact the rates of violence and abuse in Christian families may be higher than in the general population.  That is one of the thought -provoking points in a talk given by Dr. Val Hiebert, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence University College.  Yesterday I listened to her lecture called Shattering the Holy Hush:  Domestic Violence and Christianity. val hiebert providence college Dr. Hiebert suggests that the problem of violence in Christian families may have its roots in the largely patriarchal evangelical church which assigns power and leadership almost exclusively to men and instructs pious women to be submissive to men.   Hence women are encouraged to submit rather than admit to the violence  their fathers, husbands, brothers or even grandfathers inflict.

Dr. Hiebert says the evangelical church tends to put intact, happy families on a pedestal and anything that would disrupt that vision is surrounded by a kind of ‘holy hush.’  The phrase ‘holy hush’  as a descriptor for the church’s attitude towards domestic violence was coined by New Brunswick researcher Nancy- Nason Clark who has published more than a dozen books about violence in Christian families.  

Dr. Hiebert points out that in the geographical area where her university is located virtually every evangelical church is led by a male pastor.  It leaves the listener wondering whether statistics about violence in Christian families would be different if more churches were led by women? 

I’ve given you just a glimpse into Val Hiebert’s talk, hopefully enough to convince you to listen to her lecture yourself.  Dr. Hiebert wants to end the ‘holy hush’ around violence in Christian families. Listening to her ideas and then talking about them with others is perhaps one way we can help her to do that. 

Other posts………..

Laughing At the Suffering of Others

Hot Wives and Christian Leaders

A Grandmother’s Heart

More Visible But Not Equal

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The Christmas Story

I took these photos that tell the story of Jesus’ birth when we visited the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The great cathedral designed by Antoine Gaudi in 1886 and scheduled for completion in 2026 features statues depicting the nativity narrative on its front facade.  The pieces were created by a variety of artists.God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a young woman named Mary.  The angel told Mary she was a beautiful person inside and out and that she would soon become pregnant and have a son named Jesus. Mary was officially engaged to a man named Joseph and she told the angel, “I’m not even married.” The angel reassured her and told her Elizabeth, who was Mary’s older cousin was also pregnant. Immediately after the angel’s visit Mary went to stay with Elizabeth for three months. Mary gave birth to her son in Bethlehem where she and Joseph had traveled to take part in a census. Sheep herders camping in the area were visited by singing angels who sent them to Bethlehem to see the newborn baby. When Jesus was a little older a band of astrologers also came to visit him and bring him valuable gifts. 

Other posts……….

A Pregnant Mary and a Mary With Knives in Her Heart

Mary’s Childhood

The Family of Jesus Portrayed in a Controversial Way

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A President’s Funeral And A Statue in Hong Kong

 Rev. Russell Levenson gave the homily at President George Bush’s state funeral on Wednesday.   The Bush family pastor described how just before the former president died his good friend James Baker who had been his Secretary of State and his White House Chief of Staff stood at the foot of the President’s bed and rubbed his feet for about half an hour.  “The president smiled at the comfort of his dear friend,” Levenson noted. The pastor then went on to say that as he witnessed Mr. Baker serving the former president in such a practical and caring way what came to mind was Jesus washing his friends’ feet just before his own death.  Jesus told his friends that he was setting an example for them.  He was serving them the way they needed to serve others. 

Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet by Esther Augsburger

The pastor’s remarks reminded me of a beautiful statue at the International Christian School in Hong Kong where I was a teacher for six years.  It was created by Virginia artist Esther Augsburger. The statue shows Jesus washing his friend Peter’s feet. It stood on a podium just above the main entrance to our school to remind all who entered that serving others with care and compassion was the most important mandate Jesus gave to his followers. What a different world we would have if that was the top priority of all government leaders. 

Other posts………

Mennonite Nuns

I Want to Be Like Anna

Thoughts on Refugees

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church in praia da luz

The Catholic Church in Praia da Luz, Portugal

church of the holy cross sedona

Church of the Holy Cross Sedona Arizona

Buddhist Temple in Laos

church in Vik

Lutheran Church in Vik Iceland

Christ Temple in Hong Kong

Hindu Temple in Fiji

grace mennonite church

Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach 

The Sagrada Familia Cathedral – Barcelona

Maori Meeting House in New Zealand

Bahai Temple in Chicago

Procession Chapel in rural Quebec

Runaway Bay United Church Jamaica

The Santa Maria Del Flore in Florence Italy

Westminster Abbey London

Other posts……….

Worshipping with Quakers


Common Threads – Buddhism

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