Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One of My Art Projects...

I have a very large white table that used to be my grandmothers. It is a very nice sturdy piece that has been around for years. The design is basic and contemporary but I want to alter it. Currently it's finished out in white formica, but I plan to decoupage it.

I am thinking about covering it with all the old trail maps I've kept the past few years, along with hand written trip stories, poetry, my favorite photographs, etc... It would be a conversation piece and have personal history attached to it that is meaningful. I also think I can make it very beautiful to look at by embellishing it with natural things.

Another option that popped into my head that I briefly entertained would be offensive to my Christian friends and family, but it's art and sometimes art is offensive. I could take pages of the bible and completely cover the table in the more choice verses and stories that we atheists often laugh about, find atrocious, or argue with Christians over. But I'm not sure if I want Ben reading that stuff just yet. I may find some other smaller piece of furniture in the future for that project. I think there could be a market for arty altered furnishings. Anyone have a piece of furniture they would like me to alter?

13 comments:

Kazim said...

I don't see the problem with Ben reading the Bible. As I just mentioned, I read him the Noah's Ark chapters just a few nights ago at bedtime.

Lynn Kinsey said...

My dear sister, tolerance is not just a Christian virtue;-)I just feel that it is wrong for any group of people who believe in one thing, to get together to make fun of another group that believes in something else. To me that breeds hate, not tolerance, and has nothing to do with Atheism or Christianity. It has to do with a broad form of humanism that belongs neither to the secular or religious society. It would kind of be like me making a bold statement about how much I hate and feel the need to make fun of Jews. I don't really feel the need to do that. They believe what they believe and that is okay. If I am going to change the world, I am not going to do it by singling out one Religious group. See what I mean? Yes, you touched a nerve! ha ha But I am not mad about it at all. It got me thinking about it;-)By the way, I think it would be really sad of you to change that table. I love that table:-( Changing it would be like vandalizing her memory. KWIM?

Ginny said...

The table isn't so great looking. It's old and worn and needs refurbishing. I know we sat at this table a lot during our childhood and it will still be the same table. I don't think turning it into an art piece is vandalizing GM's memory...after all she was a great artist! It's a well loved table.

As for covering it in bible pages, I know you would find that offensive but I only briefly entertained the idea. However you and I come from very different perspectives since I find religion a harmful social problem and you don't. Plus I don't think of religion as a sacred cow that can't be openly questioned and criticized.

And Russell, the story of Noah's ark is tame in comparison to much of the bible. Come on...no five year old needs to be subjected to all the blood and violence the bible condones. I hope you are not reading any of THAT stuff to him!

Sharon said...

Ok, mom steps in here...I KNEW that the Bible-page decoupage idea was going to stir up trouble! I was just sitting back waiting for the shit to hit the fan.
Lynn is right..making fun of someone's belief's is not right, even if you believe that their beliefs are dangerous. Questioning and criticism are not the same thing as poking fun. Two different things, completely.
Question and criticize all you like, just don't belittle. Your idea of using the pages of the Bible would be a form of "belittling", since you wouldn't be using it as a tool to teach about the religion, but something to look at and say "see, how wrong that passage is, or how violent, etc...".

As for covering the table, if it is truly damaged in appearance, than I suppose there isn't any real reason not to cover it up. Grandmomma did her fair share of decoupaging years ago. I think she even did a couple of tables. Small ones.

As for Russell reading Ben Bible stories, you all read them or at least heard them, and I don't think any of it warped either one of you.
I was read them, or read them myself, and I don't ever recall thinking "oh, how awful or violent these people were". Well, I take that back...the stories of the lions eating the Christians did sort of turn my stomach. I felt so sorry for the people being thrown in there to be killed and eaten. Now *that* was a bit too graphic for a child. But, Noah's Ark wasn't an awful story...but I remember thinking how on earth did they get ALL those animals on that one boat??? And how did they get them all to "get along" with each other in such close quarters? I guess I was just too much into the realism of things and didn't go along for the "ride' of the story.

Lynn Kinsey said...

Openly questioning and criticizing is one thing. But getting together in groups to make an evening of ridiculing or mocking others for fun is another. A much more harmful social problem in this world is intolerance of others I think. Religion may be wrong in many peoples minds, but for billions of people including Buddhists, Christians, Muslims the like, they take great comfort in it and are happy with it. There will always be extremist groups that taint the positive aspects of a certain faith, but there will always be that in just about anything I think. There will never be an eradication of world religions. I don't worry as much about that though as I do about what our politicians are doing to screw up our government. That is a very pressing problem. Anyway, I think you are right about the table. If it looks run down, and I know you are very creative, maybe a bit of decoupage would be cool. What about pressed wildflowers? Oh I am sure the possibilities are endless! What about putting new Formica on it?

Ginny said...

Openly questioning and criticizing is one thing. But getting together in groups to make an evening of ridiculing or mocking others for fun is another

Lynn I know you've been upset in the past by the idea of atheists getting together in groups because you thought we were doing it just to make fun of others, act intolerant, etc..but this isn't usually what happens when we get together or why we gather.

Atheists get together for all sorts of reasons, not much unlike any other groups of like minded people who gather. Not once have I or anyone else I know who is an atheist said we hate Christians privately or publicly.

We are not teaching intolerance or hatred towards anyone. We are simply stating our point of view and often having to defend our right to have that point of view.

Most of the time when any of my friends who are atheist get together religion doesn't even come up in our conversations.

I personally don't make fun of people, just bad ideas and faulty bible passages. I see a difference between people and dogma. I do understand where you are coming from though.

And mom no worries, Lynn can voice her opinion all she wants, it's okay with me. I don't feel upset or angry or threatened or any other negative feeling. She is fully entitled to feel and say what she wants regardless if we agree or not. I don't think shit has hit the fan lol, so everyone can put their popcorn away! ;)

Lynn Kinsey said...

Lol, I love your style of writing Ginny. You really are funny and need to write a book someday;-)

Ginny said...

Thank you my sister. I've often thought about writing a book. Maybe some day...

Kazim said...

I was read them, or read them myself, and I don't ever recall thinking "oh, how awful or violent these people were". Well, I take that back...the stories of the lions eating the Christians did sort of turn my stomach. I felt so sorry for the people being thrown in there to be killed and eaten. Now *that* was a bit too graphic for a child.

Sharon, most kids aren't read the creepier Bible stories, but believe me, there are much worse things than Christians being thrown to lions. Actually, I don't think there are any Biblical stories about that at all; what you are thinking of is later history of the Roman empire.

However, there are a lot more stories that indicate some pretty nasty violence. To throw out one example, take the story of Genesis chapter 34. A man named Shechem falls in love with a daughter of Jacob. He sleeps with her, thereby "defiling her." Then he asks his father to get Jacob's permission to marry her.

Jacob tells Shechem that he cannot marry his daughter unless his whole tribe gets circumcised. Not just the one asking for marriage, but the whole tribe. So they consent; then, while the entire tribe is lying around in pain after cutting off their foreskins, Jacob's sons lead an army to kill the entire tribe -- unarmed and in pain.

Those are the good guys.

But, Noah's Ark wasn't an awful story...but I remember thinking how on earth did they get ALL those animals on that one boat??? And how did they get them all to "get along" with each other in such close quarters? I guess I was just too much into the realism of things and didn't go along for the "ride' of the story.

Really? It didn't bother you a little bit that every person on earth except for eight, and every kind of animal on earth except for two, died by drowning? Even babies?

Lynn Kinsey said...

It is an interesting viewpoint, Russell! I actually was bothered by that as a child. I remember thinking how awful to be washed away in a boat, and the urgency of it all.

The stories of the Bible are very vivid. I don't think it is good reading for a young child unless it is one of those kids versions. But even then, you think about how Joseph's brothers threw him down a well to kill him, and it is kind of hard to explain to a three year old!

But then again, look at Struwwelpeter. That's pretty scary and was read to German kids for bedtime stories. Pauline and the Matches was particularly unnerving.

Back to the main point, though, I think it a tragedy to not expose children eventually to all world religions. Faith or lack thereof is something that usually won't manifest until they become adults. I think harm is done when parents purposefully try to indoctrinate their children with their own beliefs, while rejecting others.

I rather enjoyed religion class while growing up. But I really learned a lot when I took Art History. I may take a world religion course again.

Chris said...

Kazim is correct. There are no stories in the Bible about Christians and lions. Daniel was thrown in the lion's den, but that was well before Jesus and Christians.

Kazim wrote:

Those are the good guys.

No, that is your interpretation. They were just the guys. What they did here was clearly wrong, which is why they were rebuked in verse 30.

I find it fascinating that atheists can not stop thinking about and talking about God. Like Carl Sagan's novel "Contact" is about the search for God. It is like there is a need within us to conceptualize something beyond ourselves even if negatively.

Sharon said...

Well, Russell, you are probably right about the time frame of the "lions and Christian's story". I do have this memory of seeing a page of one of the Bible story books of mine that showed this pitiful-looking man and woman shrinking back from this opening with bars on it, and lions being on the other side...I guess this entire memory is of an incorrect story taken out of context. At any rate, it did make me uncomfortable.

The "ark" story did bother me, as far as everyone that didn't get on the ark drowning. It was not one of my favorite stories in my books.

Since I hardly ever read the Bible, nor had it read to me, I was blissfully unaware of the other awful atrocities meted out by various groups to each other. Most of the time I did not understand a word that was quoted from the Bible during Sunday School or during "church".
You have to realize that I went to Sunday School, but rarely went to "church". It was mostly a social event in my mind.
It wasn't until I was an adult that I paid much attention to the tenets of religion. I still enjoy the heck out of the service at my old Episcopal church in Ft. Worth during Christmas and Easter...great music, beautiful flowers and great pagentry.

Kazim said...

Lynn:

Back to the main point, though, I think it a tragedy to not expose children eventually to all world religions. Faith or lack thereof is something that usually won't manifest until they become adults. I think harm is done when parents purposefully try to indoctrinate their children with their own beliefs, while rejecting others.

I think Ginny and I pretty much agree with that. We're not telling Ben to be an atheist, but at the same time, I'm not shy about telling him my opinion on the subject when he asks. And since I'm the one reading the Bible to him, he does ask.

Ben has said to me "Is God real?" and my answer is always "Some people think he is."

Chris:
Those are the good guys.

No, that is your interpretation. They were just the guys. What they did here was clearly wrong, which is why they were rebuked in verse 30.


By whom? By God? No. Does God bother to punish people who slaughtered an entire city for the sexual dalliance of one guy? Certainly not. In fact, God endorses this kind of behavior in many other passages. See, for example, Deuteronomy 20:10-14, where the people are instructed to deal with enemies by murdering every last man, but saving the women to keep as their unwilling wives.

No, the only "rebuke" comes from Jacob, who is simply worried that Shechem's relatives will retaliate against him. But this fear is unfounded: Not only does God then protect Jacob and his sons, but he also terrorizes the other cities into not bothering them, and then God helps Jacob found Israel.

To put it mildly, I've heard much better morality plays than that one.

I find it fascinating that atheists can not stop thinking about and talking about God.

Let me correct that statement: Atheists frequently talk and think about religion. Because while God may or may not be real, religion as a social phenomenon most certainly is real. And its effects on society are very real. If there were not so much continuous religious discussion in the public sphere, then there would be no need to assume the label of "atheist" at all. You never meet an aleprechaunist, because major presidential candidates do not fight to prove that they have the most credibility with leprechauns.

Like Carl Sagan's novel "Contact" is about the search for God. It is like there is a need within us to conceptualize something beyond ourselves even if negatively.

Carl Sagan was making a statement about belief and evidence. Carl strongly hoped that we would find signs of other intelligent life in the universe, and he wrote fiction about it as well as founding real projects to detect alien signals. Despite all this, however, he never stooped to pretending that he knew for certain that extraterrestrials truly existed, and he explicitly denounced UFO "true believers" in his non-fiction writing.

Sharon:
Since I hardly ever read the Bible, nor had it read to me, I was blissfully unaware of the other awful atrocities meted out by various groups to each other. Most of the time I did not understand a word that was quoted from the Bible during Sunday School or during "church".

Your experience was probably the norm. The unpleasantness that also exists in the Bible is generally swept under the rug and ignored in Sunday school.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I paid much attention to the tenets of religion. I still enjoy the heck out of the service at my old Episcopal church in Ft. Worth during Christmas and Easter...great music, beautiful flowers and great pagentry.

That's the thing: I think social rituals are nice and can be enjoyable. It's not the parties and friendship that I object to in religion. It's the way that religion pushes claims that don't make sense as true, and the way that it inspires an artificial need for "us vs. them" exclusionism.