Wednesday, September 29, 2010

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 11: the lifting of hands and voices

Bishop T. D Jakes

Lord we lift up our, we lift up our, we lift up our hearts to you.
Lord we lift our praise.
Lord we lift our praise.
Lord we sing to you.
Lord we sing to you.
Lord we magnify.
Lord we glorify.
Lord we lift you up.
Lord we praise your name.
Lord Holy Holy Holy Lord.
Come on and glorify Him tonight.
Just sing a song out of your heart.
Sing a song out of your heart.
You’re not here to be entertained. We’re here to entertain God.
Just sing to God right now.
Let this sweet sound go up to heaven to him.
Lift up your voices all over this place
And just sing out of the abundance of your heart.
Sing out of the abundance of your heart.
Just let it lift up to God.
God we love.
God we magnify.
Lord we praise you, Lord we lift you up.
Lord we glorify your name.
Glory Glory Glory
Holy Holy Holy

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

god is not a burger king

Vintage Burger King logo

Nothing against God, and definitely nothing against Burger King, but God is not a Burger King.

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 10: the hands express emotion

Emotion, in its journey from the soul of the brain outward through the body, is expressed through the movement of muscles. In fact, it’s impossible to express an emotion without moving muscles: the muscles of the limbs, the muscles of the face, the muscles of respiration and digestion with which we speak words and wail. The human vocal apparatus – the lungs, the larynx, the mouth, etc. – gives voice to emotion, but the hands also speak the language of emotion with a vividness of their own in something akin to a voice. Rage may seize the muscles of the agitated hands, drawing the fingers into punching fists. The muscles of the hands press the palms together thoughtfully and the hands make the voice of an arrow.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 9: scoring a point and pointing

Photo: Unknown

This morning at the gym, a plasma screen television caught my eye. In general, I try to avoid looking at them – usually it is a stupid commercial and, besides, I should be looking where I’m walking – but the image was too alluring to pass up: a field of bright green grass dotted by miniature figures in red and yellow uniforms. The screen seized my attention, dazzling me for a spell. My eyes were pulled toward it like a nail toward a magnet. A soccer player had just scored a goal. He held an arm up victoriously and, drawing the muscles of his mouth and his neck into a sort of joyful scream, pierced the sky around his head jubilantly and repeatedly with a single pointing finger.

worshipful movements of humans through space: a preface to the essay

Self portrait based on
the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph
for man in adoration

After the terrible earthquake in Iran in 2003, a photograph appeared on the front page of the paper. You have probably seen, if not this exact photograph, a photograph almost like it: a man kneels on a pile of rubble, rubble which once was his home, sitting back on his heels, half screaming, half crying, shaking his fists at the sky. A similar photograph appeared after the recent earthquake in Haiti: a woman on a pile of rubble, aiming her open mouth and her hands toward the sky. The gesture struck me as uniquely human, an instinctual response to epic devastation. It was more than emotion. There was an upward quality to the gesture suggesting a conversation with the sky or with something in the sky. It felt like God had dragged a giant rake of destruction across the garden of the Earth and in response to this calamitous scratching, humanity stretched its arms and its voices heavenward like seedlings to the sunlight. What was this universal gesture and what did it mean, if it meant anything at all?

Monday, September 20, 2010

pillow project

Illustration: W. W. Denslow

I am thinking of reproducing this illustration by W.W. Denslow, also the original Oz illustrator, in fabric, perhaps felt. The text would be machine embroidered. The brickwork and the smaller lines of Humpty could be either stitched in fine thread or else painted. The panel would then be turned into a pillow. When I was a child I used to trace characters from coloring books onto satin panels and embroider them with colored floss. Looking through the sewing basket my grandmother gave me and finding those old satin panels gave me an idea to try it again.

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 8: a rosary is a soul utensil

A rosary, on the one hand, is nothing more than a string studded with beads and baubles. On the other hand, it is a cosmic connection. This is the essence of the rosary: it is a bridge between the earthly present and a higher, more sublime realm.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 7: the ecstatic surrender

Photo: 2010 Earthquake in Haiti
Life Magazine

One partly cloudy Sunday in Port-au-Prince, not long after the epic earthquake, a photograph was taken of a throng of congregants as they prayed and chanted beside the tall pile of rubble that once was their cathedral.

heavy chance of rain

shoes by Christian Louboutin

She looked toward the rainclouds through the open door of the cafĂ© and said, “It’s not going to get any better.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 6: a genuflection is a stapling

Saint Jerome
by Georges de la Tour

Of sitting, kneeling and standing, kneeling is the most precarious and most difficult to endure. When you are kneeling, you don't forget that you're kneeling. A genuflection stops you in your tracks and freezes your existence. It staples you to the present, only for a moment, then releases you. At the moment of genuflection you are nowhere else but in a state of genuflection, falling from a standing position onto a precariously buckling leg.

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 5: short silent film of a muslim man praying

Photo: Muslim Man Praying
Public Domain

A black-and-white man stands with his hands behind his ears. His thumbs are placed behind his earlobes and his fingers are splayed open like collecting horns receiving an invisible broadcast. His mouth moves as he speaks but only the sound of the projector clacking can be heard.

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 4: mass

Photo: Nynashamns Kyrka
Hakan Svensson

I go to Catholic mass maybe once or twice a year, for Christmas and funerals mostly. When I was growing up, I went every Sunday and on holy days of obligation. Mass was almost as familiar to me as going to school. I went to mass as often as I rode my bike around the block. Now I go so infrequently that I see it from a different perspective, an outside point of view. Last week, when I was at mass, it felt like I was pointing.

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 3: a new religion

Photo: Sky-pointing Grackle

Prayer – like speech – spills forth from humans instinctually, so a society without worship, like a society without language, is difficult to even imagine. Imagine, nevertheless, you are an explorer who discovers a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And on this remote island live a religionless people. As implausible as it sounds, when you ask them about churches or idols or bibles or sacred rituals, the natives give you blank stares. Now imagine introducing into their culture a new ritual, a ceremony of bodily pointing, a turning of the face toward some image or some object, some worshipful choreography. Would you call it a religion?

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 2: a pointing

Egyptian Hieroglyph
Man in Adoration

A man stands on a street corner poking his finger into the air with fervor. His intentions are unclear. He is either using his finger to call attention to something in the sky or else he is doing a kind of dance. Religion can be seen in this way. There is the thing that is pointed to and the thing doing the pointing.

worshipful movements of humans through space, part 1: the human arrow

Photo: Sun Worship in Monatana
Charles M. Russell

Humans hurtle through space making elaborate worshipful movements. As they hurtle, they point their bodies in endlessly intriguing ways. The human body is like an arrow: the tail of the arrow is the soul and the tip of the arrow may be directed with surprising flexibility toward things in its vicinity, earthbound objects like crosses or banners or monuments or books or carpets or clergy or idols. The human arrow is also easily directed toward faraway, more mysterious objects like the sky or the planets or the sun.