Ceramic Arms

11 MILES / 11 PHOTOS — people and things that caught my eye while trekking through Chicago one sunny afternoon.

I took this shot while looking through the window of a Christian gift shop.  Normally, I would delete an image like this because the reflection off the window is too distracting.  That’s one reason to carry a polorizer filter which would have eliminated the problem.

Actually, the glare gives this image a dreamy, silky, other-worldy feel, a lot like the ceramic statues of Joseph and the toddler Jesus.  Notice the lovely white skin.  Chestnut hair with highlights.  Straight, strong teeth.  Clothing fit for royalty.  Really?

I get that artists create what they imagine.  In a broader sense, we project ourselves on the objects of our devotion and adoration.  When the late Japanese artist Sadao Watanabe depicted Jesus, he created images with indigenous Asian features.  I’ve held in my hand African woodcuts of Jesus’ black head.  I’ve seen pictures of Jesus with the characteristics of an Alaskan Inuit created, of course, by an Alaskan Inuit.

Our perspective of God, of Jesus, and of other holy figures, is derived, in part, from the experiences and realities of our own cultural context.  That’s appropriate.

But other times, maybe not.  A few weeks ago, presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich appeared before the National Rifle Association. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R07gcUhKKGc

He gave a five-minute speech that included this remark: “The right to bear arms comes from our creator, not from our government.  It is one of the inalienable rights alluded to in our Declaration of Independence . . . Far fewer women would be raped, far fewer children would be killed . . . and far fewer dictators would survive if people had the right to bear arms everywhere on the planet.”

I’m not out to abolish the NRA.  However, I am in favor of much tighter gun controls.   I am not anti-Newt.  I know he loves this country as I do.  I respect a politician who has pursued academic studies at a graduate level, as he did at Tulane University.

I’m not sure, however, what adjective best describes his statement.  I’ll settle on “absurd” for now.  I wonder why he didn’t give any examples of Jesus living out the right-to-bear-arms-mandate.  Certainly, Jesus, who was closer to the Creator than most of us and relentlessly hounded by a big, intrusive government, would have had something to say about armed resistance and the inalienable right to protect ourselves, our property, even our lives at all costs.  What is the answer to the pressing question: What Would Jesus Pack?

Enough.  We all project inappropriate and misplaced attributes on the Divine, the Ultimate, the Holy One, the Source.  That’s why we’re called human and not God.  Let’s just hope we learn to kill each other less often; eventually, not at all.


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