Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Review: Holy Ground: A New Approach to the Mission of the Church in India

I just finished reading Holy Ground: A New Approach to the Mission of the Church in India, a survey of contextualized church architecture in India by Jyoti Sahi. 

Sahi adds his own insights, as well as background information regarding the historical context of the architectural styles.  The text is accompanied by scores of black and white photos.  The first four chapters deal with the historical background of how colonialism has affected the church in India and its image among Hindus.  The other six chapters deal with indigenous architectural styles, as grouped under specific themes: ashrams, prayer rooms, the church as a teaching aid, etc.

The premise for Sahi's survey is that church architecture is an outward expression of the church's theology.  He begins by affirming that inculturation is based on the Incarnation itself, and as a result, church architecture can “[intensify] the senses of the worshipper, so that ultimately God is experienced as incarnated into the life and physical being of the worshipper” (16).  He also stresses that artistic creation is “itself our way of of worshipping God – what in Indian spiritual tradition is called the individual's sadhana (devotional path or search)” (17).  Sadly, however, Sahi concludes that “enthusiasm for an Indian type of Church... has changed a great deal [since its height in the 1960's] and is apparently a spent force.  There seems to have been a growing sense within the Indian church over the past fourteen years that other concerns [poverty, etc.] have a priority” (13). 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Visual Arts Contextualization in the Bible, Part 4

Today I'd like to focus on an idea that I recently read about in The Temple and the Church's Mission  by G. K. Beale, and secondly in an article entitled “Jerusalem as Eden,” by Lawrence E. Stager (Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2000). The idea is this: that the motifs and symbolism of Israel's temple, like the temples of its pagan neighbors, were based on the idea of a primeval garden. If this is the case (and it seems to be, at least in part), then it is another way in which Israel borrowed artistic and theological concepts from its neighbors in order to show the truths of Yahweh.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Visual Arts Contextualization in the Bible, Part 3

The cherubim are a class of angelic beings mentioned in the Bible, and in various ancient Near Eastern cultures. They are identified in the Bible first as guardians of the tree of life (Genesis 3:24), or simply as being in Eden (Ez. 28:13-14). In later passages they are depicted as guardians of the throne of God (Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Kings 6:23-28; Ex. 26:31; Ez. 1:26, Ps. 80:1, 99:1; Is. 37:16; Dan. 3:55), or are described as being modes of transport for God Himself (2 Sam. 22:11; Ps. 18:10; Ez. 10:18-19).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Visual Arts Contextualization in the Bible, Part 2

Last week, I began this series on the contextualization of visual arts in the Bible by comparing the Israelite Tabernacle with Egyptian war tents. In this post, I'd like to continue the discussion by moving on to Solomon's Temple (which shared the same basic layout and many of the same visual motifs with the Tabernacle), and its similarities to a Hittite temple in Syria called ‘Ain Dara.