Thursday, October 30, 2008

James Dobson, Fear, and American Politics

Now I have avoided speaking of politics here because...well...there is too much of it going on out there anyway. But, though i am not a voter, I am appalled at some of the stuff that is coming out of the religious right and the republican camp. James Dobson is a prime target especially after this insanity was published. Below are not my thoughts but those of Jim Wallis. I have read the letter and it is utterly disturbing. It ranks up there with the racist republicans caught on video in PA. This is an embarrassment.

James Dobson’s ‘Letter From 2012 in Obama’s America’
by Jim Wallis 10-29-2008
James Dobson, you owe America an apology. The fictional letter released through your Focus on the Family Action organization, titled “Letter From 2012 in Obama’s America”, crosses all lines of decent public discourse. In a time of utter political incivility, it shows the kind of negative Christian leadership that has become so embarrassing to so many of your fellow Christians in America. We are weary of this kind of Christian leadership, and that is why so many are forsaking the Religious Right in this election.

This letter offers nothing but fear. It apocalyptically depicts terrorist attacks in American cities, churches losing their tax exempt status for not allowing gay marriages, pornography pushed in front of our children, doctors and nurses forced to perform abortions, euthanasia as commonplace, inner-city crime gone wild because of lack of gun ownership, home schooling banned, restricted religious speech, liberal censorship shutting down conservative talk shows, Christian publishers forced out of business, Israel nuked, power blackouts because of environmental restrictions, brave Christian resisters jailed by a liberal Supreme court, and finally, good Christian families emigrating to Australia and New Zealand.
It is shocking how thoroughly biblical teachings against slander—misrepresentations that damage another’s reputation—are ignored (Ephesians 4:29-31, Colossians 3:8, Titus 3:2). Such outrageous predictions not only damage your credibility, they slander Barack Obama who, you should remember, is a brother in Christ, and they insult any Christian who might choose to vote for him.

Let me make this clear: Christians will be voting both ways in this election, informed by their good faith, and based on their views of what are the best public policies and direction for America. But in utter disrespect for the prayerful discernment of your fellow Christians, this letter stirs their ugliest fears, appealing to their worst impulses instead of their best.
Fear is the clear motivator in the letter; especially fear that evangelical Christians might vote for Barack Obama. The letter was very revealing when it suggested that “younger Evangelicals” became the “swing vote” that elected Obama and the results were catastrophic.

You make a mistake when you assume that younger Christians don’t care as much as you about the sanctity of life. They do care—very much—but they have a more consistent ethic of life. Both broader and deeper, it is inclusive of abortion, but also of the many other assaults on human life and dignity. For the new generation, poverty, hunger, and disease are also life issues; creation care is a life issue; genocide, torture, the death penalty, and human rights are life issues; war is a life issue. What happens to poor children after they are born is also a life issue.

The America you helped vote into power has lost its moral standing in the world, and even here at home. The America you told Christians to vote for in past elections is now an embarrassment to Christians around the globe, and to the children of your generation of evangelicals. And the vision of America that you still tell Christians to vote for is not the one that many in a new generation of Christians believes expresses their best values and convictions.

Christians should be committed to the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of America, and the church is to live an alternative existence of love and justice, offering a prophetic witness to politics. Elections are full of imperfect choices where we all seek to what is best for the “common good” by applying the values of our faith as best we can.

Dr. Dobson, you of course have the same right as every Christian and every American to vote your own convictions on the issues you most care about, but you have chosen to insult the convictions of millions of other Christians, whose own deeply held faith convictions might motivate them to vote differently than you. This epistle of fear is perhaps the dying gasp of a discredited heterodoxy of conservative religion and conservative politics. But out of that death, a resurrection of biblical politics more faithful to the whole gospel—one that is truly good news—might indeed be coming to life.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

This past weekend Karina and I had the opportunity to visit Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. They have a pretty phenomenal collection. Thursday I had picked up a book about Christian Boltanski and so was surprised to see his work at the museum. From what I understand he was born to a Catholic mother and Jewish father who divorced during the war. He was hidden in the floorboards as an infant to be protected from the Nazi's. His work deals with memory and the Holocaust often appropriating images of Jewish children, adding a single light source and adding some type of base that ends up forming a type of altarpiece. They are haunting and moving.
This is another of my favorite pieces. This large piece by Chuck Close is a photo-realistic painting. The texture, down to the pore, is amazing.

The Institute also had a nice collection of Rauschenberg prints from the 60's and 70's. The lovely Karina Stander in the fore studies the headlines as transferred to these prints.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Threshold Series

These are a few more of the threshold series from this semester. These images are from a local self-storage place.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Threshold Series

Ive posted a few more from my recent adventures around Grand Forks. One of the unique things about GF is that much of the architecture seems unchanged from the 60's and 70's. There are a good number of retro signs that I have begun to photograph here as well. Someday soon I will try to pull them together into a post as well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Threshold Series

It has been a while since I have had time to get out to shoot but I managed to get out 3 times this week (despite having to wear a boot for a stress fracture). These are a few shots from my Thursday afternoon adventure.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ludwig Kirchner and Die Brucke

One of the artists that I have enjoyed looking at recently is Ernst Ludwig Kichner (1880-1938). Kirchner was the leader of the small (Kirchner, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Erich Heckel and Fritz Bleyl), but potent, Die Brucke in Munich during the German Expressionist movement. Translated, Die Brucke means “The Bridge” symbolizing the revolutionary transition from the present to the future for the arts. Following the Fauves originating show in 1905, Die Brucke emerged one year later with faith in youth to move beyond the reach of traditions that had grown dull, particularly Impressionism and Neo-impressionism, which no longer carried meaning in the rapidly accelerating technological society of the early 1900’s. (It is interesting to note that both major German groups of this time, Die Brucke and Der Blaue Rider take an anti-technological critique while the Italian Futurists praised the technological advances). By rejecting Modernisms technological climb, many artists of the period (Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse to name a few) picked up non-western art of Oceania and African origin. This primitivism allowed new techniques and subject matter.

One of Kirchner’s central pieces is titled Self-Portrait with Model begun in 1910. With a violent color palette the artist stands central, cropped on top, bottom, and left side with the model sitting in the background. Kirchner’s prominence is suggestive perhaps of the centrality of the artist ego as well perhaps in an analogous form for the generalized role of the all artists. As we try to read into the colors we are confronted with the model figure in the background. What is the relationship between the two? What is her state of mind? Is she a muse or victim? Kirchner stands naked save for an unbuttoned robe as he holds a phallus like brush dipped in red paint. Notice also he is turned away from his model as she averts her eyes, chin down slightly, uneven shoulders, arm stretched across her body with her knees drawn together. Is this a position of fear? Anger? Abandonment? Shame? A combination of all? Has she been violated by the artist? Could this be a metaphor for the task of the artist?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stephen Shore Video

This is a great introduction to one of the most influential photographers of the past 30+ years. Shore was a key member of the New Topographics movement of the 70's and exhibit at the George Eastman Gallery in 1975.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Better Way by Ben Harper

This song and video captured me a few years ago. To me, I hear it as a call to the missional church. As the video goes along, you see a revolution growing. Anyway...a fabulous song.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Next week Tuesday is my first exam in art history which will cover the social factors and developments of modern art as well as a the major artists and their work. Needless to say preparations for this is taking much of my time (resulting in fewer posts of any substance). Once the test is over, I will return to photography and begin some research on the New Topographics. I am working on two paper proposals for conferences and a paper on the New Topographics for the art history class.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Threshold V

The top two shots are from Sioux Center Iowa, the third and fourth is from Thompson North Dakota, and the bottom from Grand Forks ND.

Again, these are JPEG thumbnails without any cropping or adjustments. Essentially they look rather poor next to the final products.

One of the things that I have been reconsidering, is the amount of foreground. My instructor is not as keen on the shots where the implied horizon bisects the image, but it seems to cause an interesting effect that I have not yet teased out in visual understanding. Many of the New Topographers do use this generally discouraged manner of shooting but for their work and purpose it was/is necessary. I've not decided or come to a conclusion about it for my own work.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Life In A Northern Town by Dream Academy

Life In A Northern Town

Its funny how this song stands out from my childhood. That northern town always appeared in my imagination as a windswept North Dakota...where I now live. The song is still as beautiful and haunting today as it was to me as a child.