Monday, October 15, 2012

artist shoots holes in her Bible

When I was doing a Master of Fine Art degree, I was required to present a paper about semiotics to a contemporary theory class …. I had procured a large, black Bible of my mother’s which she had ‘retired’ because it was so heavily annotated she wasn’t able to read it any more and I’d nailed it to a wooden target, of the type hunters shoot at for practice. I set these against a tree in my aunt’s orchard and shot at them three times with my father’s rifle, blasting the pages of the Bible apart … My (non-Christian) classmates were shocked when I showed them the results, as they knew I was a Christian … I learnt a great deal from it and it generated one of the most constructive dialogues in that class. I wanted to simply say that it is not the book that is sacred per se but the living word that is in me, that changes how I live and how I treat my neighbour. (Betty Spackman, A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch, 35)

This is a fine example of the power of art to engage theology. The theme is so intellectual – semiotics and I would rush to footnote and read. Yet Betty places this within her lived experience, of nurture and growth. And in so doing, raises many important questions regarding a theology of revelation in regard to Scripture. Where is sacred found? In words of text or witness of life?

Posted by steve at 11:39 AM

4 Comments

  1. “I wanted to simply say that it is not the book that is sacred per se but the living word that is in me, that changes how I live and how I treat my neighbour.” (Betty Spackman, A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch, 35)

    Amen to that!

    Comment by Maureen — October 15, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  2. I’d wonder if it was the insult to Christian Scripture that shocked her classmates, or the insult to her mother?

    Comment by Tim Bulkeley — October 15, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

  3. Tim,

    That’s really, really interesting Tim. I had been reflecting earlier in the day – asking where is the mother in Luke 15? What does she think, feel, act as the story unfolds, the prodigal leaves and returns?

    So easy for Western, individualistic kids, to “shoot” holes in the past, to think they need to reinvent everything, all traditions. At what price the relationships and legacy of the past?

    So in light of the author – Betty, I would say no ie author intent! But in light of “reader response” yes!. And I say this knowing your response to author response.

    steve

    Comment by steve — October 15, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  4. For my slightly different questions and answers about Luke 15 see: http://bigbible.org/mothergod/3-2/#4 all comments and such welcome, do ask your question there, Steve, see if we can begin to stir up some conversation :)

    Comment by Tim Bulkeley — October 17, 2012 @ 5:55 am

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