“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. I found this wooden engraved one in a Catholic Church in Tamarindo Costa Rica.
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.
Parfleches for the Last Supper
A Black and White Religion
Inspiration in Fiji
Filed under Art, Religion
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.
Common Threads- Creation Stories
Was North America Created On the Back of A Turtle?
Athena and the Creation of the Spider
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.
Indoctrination or Teaching?
I Want To Be Like Anna
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. 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.
Laughing At the Suffering of Others
Hot Wives and Christian Leaders
A Grandmother’s Heart
More Visible But Not Equal
Filed under Family, Religion
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.
A Pregnant Mary and a Mary With Knives in Her Heart
The Family of Jesus Portrayed in a Controversial Way
Filed under Art, Religion, Spain
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.
I Want to Be Like Anna
Thoughts on Refugees
The Catholic Church in Praia da Luz, Portugal
Church of the Holy Cross Sedona Arizona
Buddhist Temple in Laos
Lutheran Church in Vik Iceland
Christ Temple in Hong Kong
Hindu Temple in Fiji
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
Worshipping with Quakers
Common Threads – Buddhism