Tag Archives: Animal Symbols

More than 16,000 Visitors!


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Dear Visitor:

We’ve topped the 16,000 visitors mark!

We have been receiving hundreds of new first-time visitors each week and each day brings dozens of new first-time visitors.

We thank you also for your comments and e-mails. We have created a special anonymous e-mail address that you can use instead of your personal e-mail, if you want to share a comment on this blog. You can now comment and remain anonymous. Just use cathmar.anonymous@gmail.com  in the e-mail space on the comment form (all comments are moderated and may be edited).

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The Fides Team

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Naughty Nun!!!


You've been a very naughty nun! Yes, you have been!

The United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops denounces Sr Elizabeth Johnson’s book,
Quest for a Living God,
as “Distorting” and “Misleading”
Why
is it required reading in our schools and institutes of ministry and
theology?!?!?

Everyone has an opinion and there’s “free speech” under certain rigid circumstances, even if free speech may not permit honesty or the best interests of the common good. But where do we have to draw the line?
Does everyone have the guaranteed right to say anything at all about anything? Almost everyone writes books today on practically every subject…and a lot of it is trash, we admit, but what if some of the trash leaks into places where it can make a wrong impression? Like schools and colleges? What then? Shouldn’t educators be held to a very high standard of honesty, accuracy, integrity.
What about people in the public eye? Public figures. Teachers.
Professors. Spokespersons? Don’t they have a special responsibility to exercise care and discretion? Don’t we…shouldn”t we hold them to a higher standard because of their visibility? Well, that’s all good ‘on paper.’ And in our permissive, liberal, licentious culture of lies, greed, self-centeredness, and spiritual death everyone jumps on Satan’s  bandwagon.
This is just as true for nuns and priests as it is for tabloid authors.

Naughty Author/Nun Johnson

In a recent statement the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has condemed a book written by a female religious, a Roman Catholic nun, a “sister of St Joseph”, Katherine Johnson, who teaches at Fordham (Yeah, the Jesuit university. Surprised?). The bishops’ statement is clear: the book is “misleading” and it “distorts Catholic teaching.” The USCCB committee goes on to say the statement was issued publicly due to the book’s departure from Catholic theological tradition as well as “the fact that the book is directed primarily to an audience of non-specialist readers and is being used as a textbook for study of the doctrine of God.” This is expecially insidious, since the students using the book do  not have the knowledge that allows them to discern the distortions and departures from revealed Truth.

In my academic career I have been exposed to quite a few “nutty professors” who expose “green,” poorly prepared [adult] students to far-fetched, even revolutionary ideas–one might say irresponsibly–by citing authors or even requiring books by authors who, like Johnson, are may not be “authorized” or “approved” and may be expressing their own “distorted” ideas. This is even more disturbing when such teachings occur in Catholic education institutions right under the noses of some widely acknowledge “liberal” and permissive bishops! This raises the questions that have been raised for many years now, since nuns have been turned loose on the world, their advanced degrees paid-in-full by religious orders, and their questionable obedience and allegience to the Church, even to the God they allegedly serve. Nuns have become persons in and of the world in too many ways–the only thing that might separate them from other careerist women is that they might live in a community of women, and even that is not true in all cases.
We’d like to hear from you on the question of “Wotz a nun?” Leave a comment. See our post on “Smoke of Satan,” too!

Read more on this at Commonweal
And on the USCCB site at Quest for Living God
And Cardinal Wurl’s Statement on Johnson’s book.


God’s Ape: A bit of fun trivia


Curious George

“For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel…Thus is the Devil ever God’s ape.”

Although this is a quotation attributed to Martin Luther, I tried to incorporate it into a recent homily but it didn’t work. So rather than stuff this interesting note into a folder “For Future Use,” I thought I’d share it here.

There’s a much older tradition of monkeys that finds a curious ancestry in Jewish lore. Monkeys and apes are generally symbols of base passion, particularly lust, in Western art.

Fall of Man (Foggini)

Giovanni Battista Foggini’s 17th century bronze sculpture “The Fall of Man” shows not only the serpent dangling from the Tree of Knowledge tempting Adam and Eve, but also a monkey seated behind the tree eating an apple (circle). Foggini may have gotten the idea from Jan Brueghel the Elder, whose 1612 painting “Garden of Eden” features a monkey prominently, or from a c. 1410 “The Garden of Eden” by an unknown artist in Frankfurt. A century earlier, Martin Luther had famously referred to Satan as “God’s ape,” building upon the then-popular view of monkeys as unintelligent animals that simply mimicked primitive human behavior, similar to how Satan tries in vain to mimic the Creator.

A monkey dressed as a court jester sits with a ball-and-chain shackling its legs in David Teniers the Younger’s “Prodigal Son” (1640), representing the son’s immorality and infidelity. In Eastern art, monkeys often torment the Buddha (as they do Christian saints), and several Frida Kahlo self portraits feature monkeys, no doubt referencing the artist’s passion. The title alone of El Greco’s 1577-9 work, “An Allegory with a Boy Lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool,” identifies the tradition of identifying monkeys with loose morals.

Like many other symbols from different faiths, monkeys found their way into Jewish art. According to some scholars, notably Rachel Hachlili in “Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in The Diaspora,” monkeys may appear on some of the walls at the synagogue at Dura Europos. In his seminal “Dreams of Subversion in Medieval Jewish Art and Literature,” Marc Michael Epstein, professor of religion and Jewish studies at Vassar College, notes that monkeys were among the animal depictions adorning the walls of the 17th century synagogue in Hodorov (modern day Ukraine).

In “The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies,” Martin Goodman, Jeremy Cohen and David Sorkin add that monkeys are among the animals depicted on seals found “at Israelite sites dating primarily from the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E.” A 1309 edition of the

Monkey

Pentateuch with Rashi’s commentary from Brussels by Joshua b. Elijah (cited in Norman Roth’s “Medieval Jewish Civilization: An Encyclopedia”) features an illustration, which covers nearly the entire page, of a seated scribe holding a dog on his lap facing a monkey.

In another illustration, a monkey’s motion of pouring porridge also parodies the angel causing rain to fall, and “speaks to the medieval idea, found in the bestiary, that the ape (a simian) is ‘simia humanis,’ the semblance of a human.”

Fr Curious

It is against this larger tradition of monkeys that Margret and H.A. Rey created Curious George, the inquisitive monkey many will know from the Reys’ children’s book series, which was begun in the 1940’s. Since there is no literal Jewish content in the work of the Reys, many readers might be surprised to learn there is any Jewish significance to Curious George. But the playful monkey has been the subject of recent shows at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and The Jewish Museum, owing to the Jewish identity of his two creators.

Share with us any trivia you might have on animal symbols in religious art or literature. Leave a comment if you liked this post.

Imitating God
God of all names and all love, give us hearts to include all that you are willing to include, to forgive all that you so easily forgive, and to join you in doing something truly “new” on this earth.


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