Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

Exciting news! My blog has been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! Thank you so much to Helen Elizabeth at Good Woman for selecting my blog among those considered to be worthy of the Sisterhood! Continue reading

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The Song of Miriam

 

Miriam by Anselm Feuerbach (1862); oil on canvas,  102cm x 81 cm. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Miriam by Anselm Feuerbach (1862); oil on canvas, 102cm x 81 cm. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Since first reading the story of the Exodus in the Bible I’ve been fascinated by Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, who has several tantalizing mentions in the biblical texts. She is the first woman named as a prophet, yet there is no record of any prophecy by her. In Jewish midrash, a type of imaginative interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, Miriam is said to have foretold the birth of Moses as the deliverer of the Hebrews from Egypt. The root of her name may mean bitterness, perhaps because she experienced the bitterness of Egyptian oppression. She is also associated in midrash with Puah, one of the Hebrew midwives, whose name is interpreted as embodying qualities of both sensitive tenderness and rebellious assertiveness. Continue reading

Answering the Call

The Calling of Saint Matthew, 1598–1600 Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi), Oil on canvas; 322 x 340 cm Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome

The Calling of Saint Matthew, 1598–1600
Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi),
Oil on canvas; 322 x 340 cm
Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome

Have you ever been called by God? That may seem like an outrageous question to most of us. Who, me? Called by God? How could that be? How would we even know if we were called? Most of us probably don’t hear a voice from heaven as Jesus did at his baptism, or as Samuel did in his sleep; if we did we might think something was seriously amiss and seek help and medication asap!

However, our calling can happen in far more prosaic ways. We see an example of this unexpected occurrence in The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio, the bad boy of Baroque art. Though prodigiously talented, Caravaggio (1571-1610) was a brawler and a murderer who died alone while on the run from the law. He was nearly forgotten until the twentieth century, when his genius and influence on the artists of his day was recognized. His use of extreme realism and chiaroscuro, or the contrast between light and dark, give his paintings an immediacy and drama that are instantly recognizable. He also had many imitators, known as the Caravaggisti, which we saw an example of in a previous post.      Continue reading

Eve, Mother of All?

(Warning: this post departs from the usual serious meditative art and scripture and instead veers off somewhat into the whimsical.)

Today’s challenge from WordPress Daily Post  is to pick up the nearest book, find the third complete sentence on page 82, and work it into a posting. Fun, right? Except that I had to cheat a little since the sentence in the book nearest to me was:

“The assistance khoregoi ‘bought’ in this way will have been of two principal kinds: that of men who were choral professionals, probably not composers of music, poetry or dance themselves, but skilled in their execution and in the difficult business of forging good order, discipline, and the much sought-after grace of choral eukosmia.”  (The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia, Peter Wilson)

Yeahhhh…I don’t think so. Try again:

“The word for ‘create’ is the same as the word used in the Bible for the creative power of God (Gen 14:19, 22) and in extrabiblical texts for the creativity of Semitic mother goddesses.” (Women in Scripture, Carol Meyers, ed.)

Now this I can work with! The sentence comes from the entry for Eve, so my next challenge was to choose from the abundance of images of Eve, which proved to be a knotty challenge indeed. Why, you ask? Well, firstly, I’m not a biblical literalist so I don’t ‘believe’ that Adam and Eve actually existed or that Eve was created from the rib of Adam! Secondly, I’m a feminist (yes, I used the F-word!), so I find the whole story of Eve as promulgated in our culture to be problematic, you know, the whole apple thing and the way it has been used for centuries to justify patriarchal notions of male dominance. So although there are several famous images of Eve, such as her creation from the sleeping Adam in the Sistine Chapel:

Creation of Eve, Michelangelo; Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Creation of Eve, Michelangelo; Sistine Chapel Ceiling

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Who are you?

In searching for an image of John the Baptist preaching, I had difficulty choosing from the plethora of paintings available (just do a Google search and you’ll see what I mean). My goal was not to find the painting by the most famous artist, in which case I would likely have selected this one by Leonardo da Vinci.

Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci; 1513-1516; Oil on walnut wood; Louvre, Paris

Saint John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci; 1513-1516; Oil on walnut wood; Louvre, Paris

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