A Shibboleth Is Not A Speech Impediment, Part 1

Answering such crucial questions as “Which Madonna does Googlebot like best?”

Here I try to tie together some ideas drawn from both Christianity and Eastern spirituality, as well as the cyber civil rights movement. It’s not all cerebral stuff. For your trouble you will be rewarded with a video clip of Count Floyd (of Monster Chiller Horror Theatre fame), and Joan Baez will serenade you with “The Cherry Tree Carol.” There’s also a Madonna tie-in. Continue reading

Miranda Hart and Agnosticism

The funniest Miranda Hart clip ever isn’t from her own show, but from Hyperdrive where she plays a supporting role…

It’s the year 2051 and the dominant faith appears to be agnosticism. So when Diplomatic Officer Chloe Teal (played by Miranda Hart) reunites with her old flame, he asks her to rekindle his (non) faith through the miracle of song:

This clip made me laugh more than anything in recent memory. Trying not to overthink it, but how many people do I know (including myself on a bad day) who have “hazy feelings of spirituality” which are quickly overshadowed by empirical reasoning? Lots of folks.

What if agnostics weren’t so namby-pamby, but they actively proselytized? Then (as the song goes):

Run to the streets
Tell everyone
He might have made the trees
He may have made the sun…

From Hyperdrive s02e01, “Green Javelins.”

Was Picasso Spiritual? Part 3

I closed Part 2 by saying that it would be easy to subject Picasso the man to a variety of political and spiritual tests — some of which he might fail. But this doesn’t negate what’s spiritual in his work, to be discovered through a careful process of selection.

Have we then settled the question of whether Picasso was spiritual? No, we’ve only scratched the surface! In art, it’s the question and the asking which are often most important. Answers are dull and tend to tamp down enthusiasm for further research. The quest to understand art, spirituality, and life is endless!

What we have discovered is that there’s a spiritual pathway through Picasso’s works. Because his works are so numerous and diverse, we each have the luxury of creating our own personal pathway through them.

To critics of Picasso I would freely admit that the pathway I have chosen is intensely personal. One could just as easily assemble a gallery of his least likeable and most self-indulgent works — an undertaking for which I have no patience.

To those who were determined from the outset that we should judge Picasso harshly and find him unspiritual I would say this: He was an artist, not a spiritual figure. To locate spiritual elements in his work is not to elevate the man beyond his faults, nor to suggest that he should be emulated as if he were a saint. Artists are explorers, and it makes sense to look for what’s valuable in their explorations, what reflects lasting truth. Continue reading

Was Picasso Spiritual? Part 2

I ended Part 1 by suggesting that in his ceramics Picasso was moving toward simplicity and timelessness. This is a side of Picasso not sufficiently appreciated: one who admires the qualities of Greek and Egyptian art and takes joy in emulating it, making it a part of his own oeuvre. Not a mere nod to the past, but a genuine recognition that the past remains with us.

The public has a limited tolerance for complexity, and tends to fixate on certain facets of an artist’s work to the exclusion of others. Some of what’s good about Picasso may be hidden in plain sight because it fails to jibe with our expectations, and so goes unnoticed. If our stereotype of Picasso is that of the cubist, distortionist, and painter of exotic nudes, viewing his ceramics and linocuts reveals a quite different picture: Continue reading