Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oprah trumps Michelangelo

If you're in the Boston area, come on by for the inaugural Hansen lecture that I'll be giving at Gordon College this coming Monday, October 28th: "Visual Heresy: Imaging the Father in the History of Art."  Here are the deets, and here is an abstract:
While the acknowledgment of art’s capacity as "visual theology" is a welcome development, this lecture suggests that art as theology is not necessarily good news.  What are the ways that art has promulgated damaging theology?  A chief instance of such visual heresy may be depictions of God the Father as a bearded male - which proliferate in the second millennium in Catholic, Orthodox, and less so in Protestant spheres. The spread of such images corresponds exactly with "univocal" developments in late medieval theology upon which many recent thinkers pin the blame for the rise of an independently "secular" world.  Should images of the Father be given a share - even the lion's share - of this blame?  Responding to recent feminist protests in Russia, this lecture concludes with more promising avenues of paternal depiction, stewarded especially by the evangelical visual tradition.
In other words, Oprah (who recently said that "God is not a bearded guy in the sky") is, at least on this point, more theologically correct than disconcertingly vast swaths of the Christian art historical tradition.

Hope to see you at Gordon!

2 comments:

Sancrucensis said...

Sound interesting? Are you going to get into the whole "ancient of days" justification for old man depictions?
"As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool..."

millinerd said...

Best interpreters of that, in my opinion, seem to suggest it was Christ, not the Father.