Category Visual Arts

Curiosity, Holiness, Science: An Homage to Eve

A recent scene at my neighborhood pool: It’s closing time and the lifeguards are rolling the tarp off its big spool and laying it out across the water. A 3- or 4-year-old boy bolts away from his mother at the gate leading outside and squats down poolside, gazing intently as the tarp unfurls. His mother calls to him, “O.K., let’s go!”

All he does in response is reach his hand out so he can touch the tarp as it moves under his fingers. His mother may as well be a million miles away.

I am smiling to myself at the whole scene, don’t even realize my smile shows until I approach the gate and Mom says to me, smiling herself now, “It’s so interesting!”

“Of course it is!” I respond. “And it’s so interesting that it’s interesting to him!”

She vigorously assents to this and we both laugh, marveling at the insatiable, seemingly undiscriminating curiosity of the young.

But re...

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Oh, the Troubles I Seen: A Photo Essay on Labor and Toil

Short of being completely disabled or extremely young or elderly, we must work. From the lowliest worm to the sparrow to kings and queens, we have to get after our daily labor.

In one form or other, we bring the vegetables in from the fields, the meat from the plain, the water from the river, going about our appointed tasks to keep ourselves fed and hydrated.

Call it Darwin’s first imperative: Do what we must do to get food and liquid down our gullets; survive for another day.

Farmer Taking Banana Crop to Market, Uganda, by Robert Muckley

Here in the West, we often conflate work with life itself—as our passion, our very identity, with a not-always-clear demarcation between it and the other forces of family, romance, leisure, recreation that make competing claims on human time and energy (in civilized places, that is, like Canada, or Europe…).

Or we apply the “work ethic” to all of life in vaingloriou...

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Intrusion From Time Past: A Review of “45 Years”

We spend perhaps unconscionable amounts of our adult lives marveling at the passage of time, continually shocked at the zip line that seems to have transported us from our 20s to 50s and beyond in a long breathless moment when our eyes were apparently closed.

“Last time I saw you…” we begin, lowering our hand to toddler height as we come upon the suddenly grown children of friends and relatives we see only sporadically. And the kids smile politely, despite having heard the identical prattle a thousand times before.

British director and screenwriter Andrew Haigh gives this and other aspects of time a provocative, novel twist in his current (third) movie, 45 Years, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a long married couple living out their retirement years in apparent contentment.

The film appears to be a slow-moving art house talkie but actually presents a rapid series of psychological and...

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The Bible Under the Bridge

A Bible, abandoned, tattered, weed-strewn.

Found by Houston-area artist and photographer Patrick Feller as he climbed along a bank to get pictures of an old railroad bridge crossing Interstate 45.

He had taken a different route when returning up the bank, through an overgrown area with thick vegetation and debris that suggested to him previous occupation by “those who had found some sort of shelter in the shade of this thicket.”

The Bible was open, stiffly, to Joshua 18, a brief chapter in the Old Testament describing the division of land to seven tribes of Israel which had at that time not received their allotment.

Joshua sent surveyors out to document the land, then cast lots to distribute each section, every tribe thus getting its due of God’s bounty.

Someone had presumably been reading of this in the shade of a bridge, some 7,000 miles from where the events described in the book had taken pl...

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The Tragi-Comedy of “The Big Short”

Seeing the movie adaptation  of “The Big Short” last night transported me back to a decade ago, when I made a regular habit of leaving my road bike in the garage and hopping instead on my upright city bike to cruise my hometown. Cycling is much like walking in giving you slices of life and peeks into windows and garages to take a measure of Americana. The slices just go by faster.

I can distinctly remember the internal commentary going on in my mind at the time as I moseyed in leisurely fashion through typical middle class neighborhoods of well-appointed tract homes, of the three-and-four-bedroom variety, with double garages on relatively small lots. They were workers’ homes, “owned”—at least until the banks stated reclaiming them—by plumbers and teachers and shop owners and radiology techs...

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