. . . are the devil's workshop.
Marshall McLuhan would love these! (Hat tip: Jennifer Emick)
From the inventor, Russian designer Dima Komissarov:
Nowadays TV-set is not longer accepted as a mere reciever - it had transformed into a cult object, the thing we can watch and interact with for hours, the source of our knowledge and inspiration. If you accept this statement with humor, as a matter of fact - go after our new design of TV remote - remote control combined with beads (remobeads). Now you can shift between channels effortless - just slightly pressing the beads. The beads are glowing, so you can easily see them in the darkness. As an option you can add a sound - enjoy listening to your favourite mantras while switching the channels.
"Creativity is the supreme mystery of life," said Russian existentialist Nikolai Berdyaev, and judging from the number of times people ask artists where they find their inspiration, it is a riddle in little danger of being solved.
Nonetheless, the Web does afford us unprecedented access to the creative process in real time. While this might be most familiar from the blogs of authors or filmmakers, it is also increasingly the case among fashion designers.
In fact, over the past week jewelry designer Anne Maa has been offering an informative look at spiritual creations on her Cool Stones blog. Be sure to check out her "crosses and metals" series for a glimpse into the work of making art!
The problem lies in how judges apply the legal principle of "the best interests of the child," a standard that a number of courts believe includes the child's spiritual development.
In the case of Rachel Bevilacqua, her sin was participating in gatherings of the Church of the Subgenius, a pop art parody of conformist religion. One of its key sayings, in fact, is "f*ck 'em if they can't take a joke."
Well, the judge in this case didn't laugh. When he found out about Rachel's participation in Subgenius activities, he embarked on a lengthy inquisition as to what exactly Rachel found funny. As is evident from this partial transcript, he saw her involvement with the Church as a sign that her professed belief in Christianity was a lie--and that she was actually participating in a satanic sex ritual.
The court particularly objected to Rachel's performances at X-Day, an annual gathering that marks the prophesied end of the world in 1998. The pendant above is the X-Day symbol, which makes parodic references to the year 1998, doom (but whose?), the inversion of the infinite, the ancient swastika and the surrealist pipe of Subgenius icon J.R. "Bob" Dobbs.
Because of her connection to the Church of the Subgenius, the judge removed Rachel's son from her custody and ordered both her and her husband to undergo psychological testing.
Halfway through the work week and getting a bit worn out? Many churches try to help by holding a midweek prayer meeting, which gives people a chance to connect, encourage and recharge.
While the midweek meeting particularly thrives within more conservative churches, that is not always the case. The picture above shows a rosary used in Wednesday meetings at San Francisco's Ebenezer Lutheran Church, a feminist community of faith. The gold figure on the end is a woman, but it is not Mary or a saint--this is a Goddess Rosary.
At herchurch.org, the Church provides an extensive explanation of the theology behind the Goddess Rosary, from female metaphors of the divine to reconstructionist Christian feminism. It also describes in depth the midweek rosary prayer meetings, where people recite this variation on the "Hail Mary":
Hail Goddess full of grace.
Blessed are you
and blessed are all the fruits
of your womb.
For you are the MOTHER of us all.
Hear us now
and in all our needs.
O blessed be, O blessed be. Amen
CONTROVERSY EXTRA: Although the Goddess Rosary has been around for a while, it has recently become a cause celebre among more traditional Christian sites in the blogosphere. Is the use of goddess imagery in Christian feminism "rank heresy"? If the problem is borrowing from "pagan" imagery, is mainstream Catholicism's devotion to Mary any more orthodox? And is laughing at people and calling them "kooky" the hallmark of Christian love?
I report. You decide.
This piece on the revival of Christian geocentrism has sparked the usual snark within the blogosphere. But regardless of the shaky science, here at the B of G we're hard-pressed to deny the pop appeal of these geocentric knick-knacks. So let's gear up to fight convention wherever it may lie--Copernicus is the new Pope!
about satanic symbols and the Catholic Church*, but these guys aren't. According to the documentary Rape of the Soul, images embedded in Catholic art exert a subliminal influence that leads to "deviant sexual behavior." Says writer-producer (and devout Catholic) Michael Calace,
Artists from DaVinci to Botticelli have embedded subliminal images into their art for centuries. . . In this case we found penises on crucifixes, anarchy symbols, swastikas, demonic faces and in modern works even the word 'sex' encrypted into the images. The works in question include modern artists' work currently on the covers of missalettes and hymnals that at this very moment sit in the pews of churches throughout the U.S. and on children's religious teaching aids.
Folks familiar with the history of such claims will recognize one of the experts quoted in the film: Wilson Bryan Key. In the 1970s, Key wrote a series of books exposing subliminal sex messages in ads and art. Key's most well-known work is Subliminal Seduction; had he stopped there he might have enjoyed more long-term influence, but the sequels Media Sexploitation and The Clam Plate Orgy often bordered on self-parody, if not bizarre obsession.
Plus ca change . . .
*The upside-down cross is not only used in satanism, but is also a visual reference to St. Peter, who according to tradition was crucified upside-down.
Q: What do Bunker Hill, Gettysburg and Elvis Presley's Jungle Room all have in common?
A: They're all federally recognized historic sites!
Yep, that's right. Yesterday Graceland, Elvis Presley's stately manor, officially became a National Historic Landmark. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and Presley's ex-wife Priscilla flew in to mark the occasion with an elaborate ceremony, which will no doubt help boost
business at this flagging tourist trap public awareness of Graceland's importance to our nation's history.
While this is indeed a moment that should lead all of us to reflect on how our lives "changed irreversibly because of Elvis" (quoth Norton), the event also reminds of the superficiality of honors accorded in the secular realm. For a sign of real devotion, we need only look to the work of the man pictured above.
As this story from The Hindu relates, Gajarajan is an Elvis fan in India who has made Presley an object of religious devotion. He first garnered international attention in the mid-90s, when he placed a picture of Elvis next to other gods in a Hindu shrine. Elvis, Gajarajan claims, was a reincarnation of the divine warrior Karna. Now Gajarajan is working toward construction of an Elvis temple.
Mojo Nixon was right--Elvis truly is everywhere.
The hottest thing going in Fort Lauderdale this month is no doubt spring break. But if you could pull yourself away from the surf and suds for a minute, you'd find there another attraction that at one time was a national phenomenom:
The treasures of the Pharoah Tutankhamun are touring again, and they'll be in Ft. Lauderdale until April 23rd, followed by stops in Chicago, Philadelphia and London. The first time this exhibit was in the U.S. it spurred a national craze--people flew in to Washington DC from around the country to stand in lines that went around the block.
Today it still draws crowds, but even so it's not exactly emptying the beach.
Perhaps that's a good thing. Now instead of ooohhing and ahhhing about all the gold, folks are engaging these relics on a deeper level, looking at them for what they say about ancient life and even modern faith.
New times bring new perspectives. For example, here's an article in today's Winston Salem Journal a rabbi notes the coincidence between the exhibit's current run and Passover this April. The author raises questions few discussed openly during Tut Tour I, such as whether we should celebrate goods built on slave labor.
By contrast, here's a classic video from the 1970s, offering a nuanced analysis of commercialization:
Remember Jim Bakker? In the 1980s, he was arguably the world's most successful televangelist--not only did he bring in millions of dollars a year, but he had his own broadcasting satellite and built Heritage USA, an opulent Christian theme park and residential community.
His empire fell, however, when the local paper exposed a major scandal: Bakker's ministry was paying hush money to a church secretary he had pressured into sex. External audits soon revealed a host of other financial irregularities, and Bakker went to jail.
Upon his release, Bakker built a new ministry on the foundation of his personal repentance. In prison, he said, God taught him not to focus on money and worldly things. Now . . .
Well, as I saw this morning when I discovered The New Jim Bakker Show on cable, now he peddles Christian jewelry.
With friends like these . . .
Last Sunday, I posted a couple screenshots of Christian jewelry from South Park. Last night's latest season premier satirized another religious group: Scientology, which made South Park the target of its wrath because of this earlier episode.
When you think about Scientology, jewelry is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Tom Cruise, e-meters, the galactic warlord Xenu trapping souls in volcanos--whatever its faults, Scientology sure isn't boring. It also has a long history of taking action against critics, from lawsuits to boycotts to, alas, apparently arranging the departure of South Park's beloved Chef.
Beyond all this, Scientology has a fascinating array of spiritual images. Its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, used traditional religious icons to link Scientology the realm of faith, while giving them a slight twist to make them his own.
Wings, the cross, the sacred triangle--click around Scientology's jewelry page for brief explanations of how such symbols have been given new meaning in this new world faith. The U.S. Navy (!) has more. You'll even find jewelry not meant to be worn by the masses, such as the following gold bracelet reserved for people who, like Tom Cruise, have reached Operating Thetan Level VIII.
However, what you won't find explained on this site is why Hubbard designed the Scientology "S" as a fish hook.
This picture of a cross dangling above a Bible is not taken from a Christian art film. It is actually a scene from The Notorious Bettie Page.
What's a nice cross like that doing in a film about this iconic pin-up girl? As the LA Times relates, Bettie Page is actually a born-again Christian who served as a counselor for the Billy Graham Crusade! Expect the film to use Bettie's life to explore the tension between sex and religion, not just as a matter of personal conscience but as an issue in public morality.
Can a believing pin-up girl wear her cross without shame? Well, here's a single evangelical guy who celebrates his celebate obsession with Bettie in her prime, and he thinks it's great that Bettie put the "carn" in "incarnation." Bettie herself has had more ambivalence, but today at 82 she seems to have accepted her peculiar path. Since she's the one who lived it we'll let her have the last word:
"Being in the nude isn't a disgrace unless you're being promiscuous about it," she said. She added with a laugh, "After all, when God created Adam and Eve, they were stark naked. And in the Garden of Eden, God was probably naked as a jaybird too!"
Well, it has more beads--108, to be exact--but if it's just more beads you want, you can always buy a bunch of other rosaries. No, what makes these mala special is the source from which they're carved.
Like any number of spiritual movements throughout history, Tibetan Buddhism incorporates reminders of mortality in its rituals & beliefs. Modern-day skull chic reflects a similar impulse, and lest certain folks think this is a sign of rampant paganism, it would be good to remember that Christianity itself has a long tradition of skull & bone devotion. In fact, this site sells a Christian rosary carved from Tibetan skulls.
Ain't ecumenism grand?
Today Chicago dyed its eponymous river green.
Today, bars in New York opened at 9 a.m. so people could get lubricated before the big parade.
Isn't it time we put the "Saint" back in St. Patrick's Day?
Here's a piece of jewelry attempting to do just that:
--a green-beaded rosary with a St. Patrick medal.
But that's not the half of it. Once you learn his hidden teachings, the revolutionary message of Saint Patrick will deeply stir your soul. In fact, it might even change the way you think about your life.
Too bad I can't tell it to you, because I'm about to go out for green beer!
Yesterday I posted on Korean/American taoist medallions in anticipation of an upcoming game between the two countries in the World Baseball Classic. After all, it would take a miracle for Mexico to beat the U.S. in the last remaining qualifier for the semifinals.
And then Mexico beat the U.S.
How could this have happened? In retrospect, I should have realized that Mexico had a secret weapon: milagros.
Milagros--"miracles"--are religious charms that help make wishes come true. With the help of this traditional feature of Mexican folk art, the players could pray to be more swift of feet and sure of hand.
Then again, maybe it's just karmic revenge for the dubious call reversal in U.S.-Japan that handed the game to the Americans.
Well, at least until Saturday. By beating Japan 2-1, Korea has for the moment forestalled the elimination of the U.S. from the World Baseball Classic.
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the B of G. The answer appears in the pins and medals in this post. As we noted in an earlier post, the Korean flag features an image of the tao, the Far East's sacred symbol of dynamic unity.
If the U.S. and Korea should meet in the semi-finals on Saturday, which will prove to be the dominant force in the great ying-yang of sports? Well, since Korea has so far been impossible to beat, chances are that the U.S. will yin.
As illustrated by this chart from the latest issue of Seed, the star patterns we see in Jewish, Islamic and Bahai design reflect how simple rules can give rise to complex patterns, such as the Sierpinski Triangle (lower left) and Koch curve (upper right) fractals. The intrinsic bond between faith and geometry has fascinated religious philosophers for centuries, from Pythagorean mysticism and the Kabbalah to Islamic design and the Gospel of John. In fact, as we'll be exploring more in depth on my other site, the word "logos" can be translated both as "word" and "ratio."
In a very real sense, when jewelry designers plot a curve or angle in their meticulous designs, they are engaged in a time-honored sacred act--one that not only gives people a way to express their particular spiritual identity, but points toward a deeper unity we have yet to fully grasp.
Readers interested in a more in-depth discussion of this theme should definitely click here.
Words fail me. Just watch this latest video from You Tube . . .
Rapping Pastor with Bling
Believers the world over seem to have relatively little trouble discerning the mind of God. Google's Adsense, however, exists on a noumenal plane that seems to defy the dictates of pure reason. Below is screenshot of a Christian youth minister's blog to which Google helpfully appends ads for Wiccan jewelry.
Must have been the keywords "Blessed be"!
This week saw the beginning of the new HBO series Big Love, a
soap opera serial drama portraying the lives of a Mormon polygamist family.
The message of the show is pretty simple: if you think marriage is tedious, well, being married to 3 people is three times as tedious. Whether this is truly transgressive TV we'll leave for others to decide. Personally, we're sticking with Passions.
But that isn't to say that Big Love is completely without interest. Whatever its success in crossing the line, for a program ostensibly about a Christian faith the show has a distinct lack of actual crosses used as decorations in worship, the home or personal adornment.
This is not an oversight. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints actively discourages using the cross as a spiritual symbol. According to LDS leaders, the Church focuses on the resurrection of Jesus, not the means of his excruciating death. As one popular explanation goes, we don't honor JFK by wearing rifle jewelry.
So what kind of symbols do we find on LDS bling? Take a close look on the watch on the left & you'll see one that is well nigh ubiquitious: the Angel Moroni, the divine messenger who revealed the long-hidden Book of Mormon to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
The makers of this watch tout it as the ideal gift for young LDS men, though chances are the recipient won't be using it to keep track of dates with multiple wives. Under pressure from the U.S. government, the Church officially stopped the practice of plural marriage way back in 1890.
Birds are singing, buds are blooming, people are jogging--even if spring hasn't sprung it is surging, and with it comes anticipation of one of the world's oldest and most influential holiday celebrations.
No, not Easter. Eostre!
Neo-pagans around the globe have succeeded in reviving ancient celebrations of the Vernal Equinox, the formal start of spring. As the Venerable Bede documented in his Ecclesiastical History, Eostre is the Anglo-Saxon goddess whose Eosturmanath, or "Eoster Month," the Christians copied to make Easter. Today this pagan holiday is often known by its Germanic name, Ostara.
The Ostara necklace featured today is a nice example of holiday jewelry designed to highlight the holiday's theme of rebirth. The purple will be familiar to anyone who celebrates Easter, in which purple is the hallmark color signalling the turning toward new life. Lotus blossoms underscore rebirth, as the flower rises from the mud toward the sky.
While neo-paganism might not be standard fare in the mainstream media, it has produced a wide array of jewelry, much of it made right here in the godsfearing USA. Besides this pendant from North Carolina's Rosemary Thornton, check out this pendant from Balsamic Moon or, for unabashedly open pagan devotees, these Ostara earrings by Dryad Designs.
And don't forget the sacred eggs and bunnies!
Where can you buy religious jewelry in Manhattan? Actually, in more places than one might think. Canal Street, the East Village and Broadway below Macy's are only a few hot spots where it abounds, from inexpensive mass-produced trinkets to hand-crafted exotic designs.
But when people want spiritual bling, probably the last place they'd go is Times Square, until recently America's most notorious crossroads of iniquity.
Nonetheless, nestled amidst the neon lights, musical theaters and theme restaurants there stands Manhattan's largest Christian bookstore, which thanks to its new owners is expanding both its floor space and its stock of "Christian doodads."
And therein lies the tale. As the store manager explains in today's NY Daily News, "the biggest change in this business" in recent years "is the availability of so many products besides Bibles." Testa-Mint candies, Bibleman comics and yes, Christian jewelry now fill Timeless Treasures & help keep it in the black.
First the porn shops flee when Times Square gets Disneyfied, and now its long-embattled Christian store is expanding? It sure is hard out here for a pimp!
A little while back we talked about the Buddhist ritual of creating--then destroying--a mandala made of sand. The video below shows a snippet of the destruction ceremony.
Plenty of people have tried to sell their soul on eBay, but as the Wall Street Journal reports, DePaul University student Hemant Mehta gave this old saw a twist: he offered to sell his salvation. For every ten dollars of the winning bid, Mehta, an atheist, would attend an hour of church.
Mehta's creative bid for attention has given rise to a fascinating blog. It turns out that the winning bidder, Jim Henderson, is a Christian & a former Christian minister, but rather than trying to save this admitted atheist Henderson is using Mehta to help save Christianity. In exchange for the winning bid of $504, Mehta is attending a range of churches, then offering his critiques on the web.
Why would Henderson make what some Christians think is a Faustian bargain? In short, he thinks that mainstream evangelism is ineffective and offputting. Instead of getting evanga-blingy with WWJD or Round Tuits (don't ask), Henderson is focusing on how Christians can "be more real, more aware and generally less weird."
Here at the BofG we respect Henderson & Mehta's mission of mutual understanding & heartily wish them the best, but we must also admit to some degree of reservation. After all, if purchasing a soul for God succeeds in eliminating evangelistic weirdness, we're going to have a devil of a time coming up with ideas for this blog!
The latest press release from Lia Sophia observes that one of the hot trends in jewelry for the coming season will be shapes inspired by global cultures--the reason, no doubt, that they include among their flowers and jade the cross necklace pictured here.
The phrase "Lia Sophia" may sound like it has spiritual roots, but the real story is somewhat more mundane. Until recently, this jewelry analog of Tupperware or Amway used to be called "Lady Remington." Remember Victor Kiam, the guy who liked the Remington shaver so much he bought the company? Years later Victor's son took over, and the younger Kiam disliked the shaver biz so much he sold the big R to Rayovac.
Nonetheless, he decided to keep Lady Remington in the family, albeit under a different name. Although the new name of the company sounds spiritual---Sophia in Greek means "wisdom" and often has mystical connotations--Kiam the Younger actually renamed Lady R after his two daughters, Lia & Sophia.
In other words, it's like a corporate version of King David and the self-willed Absalom, another son who didn't particularly like razors!
Lord Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god who was the subject of one of yesterday's posts, is often described today as an ancient "superhero," a description that well suits his role in Hindu sacred epics. However, if you are a fan of American movies--in particular, Indiana Jones--you may have heard of another superhero from the Hindu faith.
The picture above may look like authentic Hindu art, but it is actually a prop from Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom. The figure to the left is Sankara, a venerated Hindu philosopher (c. 8th century BCE) who in a famous story met Lord Shiva while traveling to the holy city of Varanasi.
And here is where the movie goes Hollywood on Hinduism. According to tradition, in the meeting Shiva and Sankara discuss theology, after which Sankara utters five eloquent slokas (prayers) and goes on to become India's foremost exponent of a rational and scientific faith, laying the foundation for an India unified by peaceful persuasive discussion. In the movie, Sankara acquires five magic rocks that give him mystical superpowers in the fight against evil.
Sure, that's not exactly faithful to the source, but did anyone really want the film to end with Indy & his arch foe debating nondualist Vedanta theology?
In any case, the movie does have one accurate touch: embellishing Shiva with jewelry. One aspect of Hindu deities is that they embody creativity, and Hinduism represent this quality by adorning statues & pictures representing the gods in ways that are positively divine.
This morning we looked at the ouroboros, a historic symbol of the cyclical nature of life. As the news from India illustrates, however, the recurring cycles of our history are not always peaceful, let alone something to celebrate.
Yesterday, worshippers gathered at the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi, India's holiest city, to honor the Hindu monkey god, Lord Hanuman. Explosions rocked the temple and surrounding areas, killing at least twenty and wounding dozens more.
The leading suspect in the bombing is an Islamic terrorist group. Hindu nationalists blame the government's recent "soft" policies--the subject of this recent BofG post--for emboldening these terrorists to strike.
The roots of the violence go even deeper, however--this is but the latest instance of a recurring cycle of Hindu/Muslim violence--violence that often centers around sacred shrines.
Why so many attacks on temples and mosques? A fundamental reason lies in an unlikely source: the law of charity. Many sacred sites in India have long been embroiled in competing legal claims, with each side claiming the site was long ago irrevocably dedicated to their own religious purposes. With the secular law failing to resolve the matter in the group's desired way, some see violence as the only way to restore the rule of law.
In Book V of the Hindu epic Ramayana, Hanuman helps his monkey army free a distant captive by building a bridge across the Indian Ocean. If only he could build a bridge between the warring parties in this seemingly intractable conflict of laws!
In 1864 a German chemist named Friedrich Kekule was struggling to model the molecular structure of benzene when one day he fell asleep and dreamt of a snake swallowing its own tail. Kekule woke up with a start, realizing that he had his answer: the atoms in a benzene molecular joined together in a circular chain.
Thus did modern science meet ancient religion. The whirling, self-consuming snake in Kekule's dream was the ouroboros, a symbol of the cyclical nature of existence. Alchemy, gnosticism, hinduism, Christianity--as if to demonstrate the reality beneath the archetype, the ouroboros recurs across a wide array of spiritual beliefs. It also makes for rather striking jewelry.
Why is the ouroboros in our thoughts here at the BofG? Because it happened to be the subject of today's email from About.com's page on alternative religions! If you are fascinated by religious imagery, you can assure yourself a daily dose by subscribing to site's symbol of the day.
Now if only dreaming about an ouroboros would help me figure out how to stop the endless cycles of mailing list spam.
While the mission of the BofG is primarily to celebrate spiritual adornment, we are always open to the voice of prophets exhorting us to reflect upon our sins. Especially when the prophets are funny.
Above is a screenshot from The McPassion, a short parody of religious commercialism by award-winning filmmakers Rik Swartzwelder and Benjamen Hershleder. The premise: imagine if McDonald's had a done a tie-in with Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, a film marketed to Christians in much the same way as a secular commercial blockbuster.
The McPassion shoots at several targets, from the implicit anti-semitism of Gibson's blockbuster (McM's knife-wielding mohel is a blend of Friday the Thirteenth and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) to the ubiquitous use of kids as a
marketing gimmick reminder of Christ's love for his little ones to--ta da!--our universal penchant for religious tchotchkes. Above, a happy child wearing a McCrown of Thorns enjoys french fries in the shape of a eucharist . . .
while these two images tout a DaVinci Code Decoder Ring and a McDonald's version of the trendy Kabbalah red string bracelet. Want to see more? Until April 15, it's available for free viewing at themcpassion.com.
And while you're there, you might want to check out the discussion section, where the filmmakers generously include critiques that the film is simply anti-religious & anti-Christian. I'd post my own thoughts on this, but I have to go buy some Narnia jewelry before it sells out.
Oscar has sorted the sheep from the goats, and throughout LA the sound of horns in traffic is drowned out by weeping and gnashing of teeth. But for best supporting actress nominee Michelle Williams, the only thing worse than losing the Oscar might have been earning a nomination.
Why? Because according to some, it may have cost the poor girl her soul!
The problem lies in the movie in which Williams chose to play a virginal bride: Brokeback Mountain. A film about gay cowboys may have won praise among more liberal folk, but to the principal of Williams' Christian alma mater her association with this movie is nothing short of an abomination. Quoth Jim Hopson, the principal of Santa Fe Christian high school:
"Michelle doesn't represent the values of this institution. We would not approve of her movies and TV shows (including the teen drama “Dawson's Creek”). We'd not like to be tied to 'Brokeback Mountain.'"
For certain Christians, this open condemnation of Williams is serious stuff. In the New Testament the only unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which many believe is apostasy. Within this community, to be a believer and then fall away into open worldly unbelief is not merely backsliding. It can be a sign that the person was never truly a member of the church--the bride of Christ.
What does this have to do with the Blingdom? Glad you asked!
Perhaps the most incisive portrayal of the spiritual politics of Christian high school is the movie Saved!, the source of "Christian Jewel" pin pictured here. In the film, "Christian Jewels" is the name of the Christian girl band that is the ultimate in-crowd at the local Christian school, and receiving this pin is a sign that you are indeed one of Jesus' most chosen few. However, when one of the group's members seems to lose her faith, her Christian Jewel pin is taken away--and with it, the certainty that she was ever one of the elect.
Like Michelle Williams, the writer/director of Saved! is a Christian high school graduate. While many Christians also condemn him, at least one teen interviewer at Christianity Today actually thinks this movie "nailed it."
Having attended public school myself I'll leave this debate to the experts--what I really want to know is how to find a way to add this unique piece of movie bling to my collection. Good thing for me that "unpardonable sin" doesn't refer to breaking the Tenth Commandment!
Oscar is coming like a thief in the night. One nominee shall be taken and the others, left behind. How shall we prepare our hearts for his coming?
By looking at some of Hollywood's heavenly bling, that's how!
To the left is the mysterious pearl tattoo from The Rapture, a film by Academy Award nominee Michael Tolkin. Starring Mimi Rogers and a fresh-from-Yale's-English-graduate-program David Duchovny, The Rapture examines the second coming of Christ & how it affects people's lives.
Sound like an unlikely topic for a Hollywood film? No doubt it is, and the story behind the tattoo is even more unusual. We see it when a woman undresses during a menage a quatre! Mimi Rogers, bored with her dead-end job & the casual hedonism of LA, asks about the image, and we learn that it is taken from a dream that many have begun to experience, a dream that leads them to believe that Jesus is returning soon.
The symbols in the tattoo are key images from Christian scriptures. The Pearl of Great Price refers to Christ and Kingdom of Heaven, and a hand is extending an invitation for all to believe. Rays of light come from the celestial city, the last trumpet sounds, and the dead are rising from their graves to be judged.
Bright lights, uncanny music, special garments, people marching duly to judgment--yep, sounds like Oscar night!
EXTRA: Michael Tolkin also did another movie on spiritual values, called The New Age. In this film the main characters turn to new age spirituality & open a clothing shop called Hipocracy. It's another intriguing movie from Tolkin, worth watching not only for its spiritual sophistication but a stellar performance by Adam West (!) as Peter Weller's soulless playboy dad.
Alas, Tolkin's spiritual avant garde did not reap box office gold, but The Rapture did have a successful second life when it was not so subtly remade as the blockbuster Deep Impact, the story of how people react to the coming of a comet that crashes into earth.
How was that a sequel?
Should Christians wear mohawks & spike-studded jackets? That's the topic this week in the New York Times Styles Section.
In an article headlined "Rebels with a Cross," an array of experts sound off on so-called "extreme" Christian fashion. Some say that they are following Jesus, the ultimate rebel. Others think "the rebellion is quite superficial." Rebel or traditional, everyone is welcome here at the BofG!
Well, maybe except for the guy who thought being a punk Christian meant wearing a mullet.
EXTRA: One professor quoted in the article offered this cutting critique of the trend:
Dr. Smith compared the romance of rebellion to the middle-class fascination with hip-hop culture. "Spoiled suburban white kids act like rappers, and there is a real connection to something, but really it's not what their lives are fundamentally about," he said. "Their lives are about wanting to go to Duke University."
I am soooooooooo busted.
The word "Tiffany" is derived from the Greek "theophany," or "appearance of God." The link between these words is perhaps nowhere more apparent than the Shearith Israel synagogue in New York, which Louis Comfort Tiffany helped design.
The picture to the left is one of Tiffany's famous lamps--in this instance featuring a lotus design, itself a reference to an important religious symbol in eastern religion. For more on Louis Tiffany, his connection to Tiffany's and the role of the Jewish community in popularizing his work, check out this article prompted by a new exhibit of Tiffany designs.
"Please, Lord, don't let the woman selling the Jesus pancake on eBay actually be related to me."
That's the prayer of writer Susan Reinhardt when she discovers that her sister has gone from selling millionaire bling to miracle blini. Though Reinhardt's heavenly appeal went unanswered, at least it gave her a fun topic for a column. For more on sacred short stacks, click here!
A few days ago on the B of G we featured a nine-pointed star tattoo designed by member of the Baha'i faith. A Baha'i blog has followed up on this post with another creative photo & a description of what the star means.
Don't want a tattoo? Here's the same symbol on a pendant once offered at 95 Prayers.
Hip Hop is the postmodern spiritual, an authentically American blend of rhyme, rhythm and redemption. Thus it is only fitting that the Smithsonian is collecting turntables, boomboxes and other hip hop "artifacts" for a permanent exhibit.
While some may be wondering what this means for hip hop's future, here at the B of G we just want to make sure that that the Smithsonian does not forget its spiritual bling!
But what to include? Hip hop is full of religious riches, from its narratives of personal deliverance to its many symbols of personal faith. To help the Smithsonian in its sacred quest, here is a list of a seven things to look for when collecting hip hop's holy relics.
6. A message of love for humanity
5. Relics from revered martyrs
4. How Beautiful Are the Feet . . .
3. Symbols of the Protestant Work Ethic
2. Sacred Time
EXTRA: Want to see more spiritual bling from throughout hip hop history? Check out the source for several of the pictures linked above: Minya Oh's Bling Bling: Hip Hop's Crown Jewels.
EXTRA: If you would like to see a particular symbol or piece of spiritual bling on the B of G, leave a comment or drop me a line. Likewise, if you make spiritual jewelry or know someone who does, feel free to send me a catalog or link so we can tell the world!