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Illustrations: Visualizations of Faith

02.02.18 | Religion and the Arts

Illustrations: Visualizations of Faith

    This year’s Robert C. Stuart Lenten Series, entitled "Illustrations: Visualizations of Faith," explores the various ways in which faithful people have translated a largely text-based religion into images.

    From ancient graffiti to icons to illuminated manuscripts to more conventional pictorial references, Christians throughout the ages have sought to express their faith in pictures. Unlike the modern, unfiltered high-definition digital snapshot, these representations of the Bible seem less concerned with being "true to life" than with expressing a deeper "truth for life" contained in the Gospel.

    Luminaries from the fields of biblical studies, theology, and the visual arts will lead highly visual sessions that review the history of their style of interpretation and encourage our cathedral community to expand their own palate of ways to embrace and share faith.

    On Sunday, February 18, American Benedictine monk, scholar, and executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) in Minnesota Columba Stewart, OSB, will speak on the art of ancient manuscripts and their preservation, and the virtual reading room of the HMML, which includes manuscript images from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and India. HMML also houses The Saint John's Bible, the first handwritten and illuminated Bible to have been commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.

    Priest and cartoonist the Rev. Jay Sidebotham will join us on February 25. He is the director of RenewalWorks, a ministry of Forward Movement that focuses on helping growth and vitality to Episcopal parishes. He is also well known for his funny, apt cartoons about church life as well as for his animation work on the television series Schoolhouse Rock!

    On March 4, Texan-Pakistani Islamic calligrapher Sana Naveed Mirza will talk with us about how the practice of calligraphy is both an artistic as well as a spiritual practice. A calligrapher since the age of 14, her work has been commissioned worldwide. Recently, she designed and made the colossal inscriptions and arabesque decorations in the Masjid Al-Noor mosque in Houston.

    Chinese artist He Qi will visit with the Cathedral on March 11 in conjunction with a showing of his art at the Hines Center on March 9. He paints contemporary, Asian-influenced Christian iconography. He is currently an artist-in-residence and visiting scholar at Claremont School of Theology, CA (CST) and a distinguished visiting professor at the Art Institute of Renmin University of China (RUC), in Beijing.

    Our final speaker in the series will be Margaret Mitchell, M.A., Ph.D., the Shailer Mathews Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, where both Dean Barkley Thompson and Canon Vicar Art Callaham are alumni. Her studies center around the literary and religious cultures of the earliest Christians, as well as the intersection of text, images, and artifacts in the formation of early Christian culture.

    The Lenten Series will take place in two sessions each Sunday during Lent in Reynolds Hall. During the 10 o’clock Dean’s Hour, each week’s guest will give a 45-minute lecture on his or her particular area of interest. Later, over supper, directly following The Well service, our guests will return for a less formal interview-style conversation with Dean Thompson. Childcare will be available during both the morning and evening sessions.