Bernini’s Portrayal of The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa

Bernini Ecstasy of St Teresa s

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 3 s

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 2 s

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 93 s

The artist Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini created the “Ecstasy of Saint Theresa” for the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

If you’d like to know more about the artist or the artwork, here are two related Wikipdedia links:

Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini on Wikipedia

The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa on Wikipedia

I also recommend Simon Schama’s Power of Art DVD (Disc 1) episode on Bernini that can be obtained from Amazon, Netflix, or other movie outlets.  Some of the photos in this post are from that episode.

I am an art critic who avoids stretching for interpretations.  I look for the plain meaning.  I find it hard to view this work of art and to focus only on the religious.  Bernini seems far more focused on the sensuality and mortality of the body.

(Click on the images if you wish to view them individually or larger.)

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 6 s

The Golden Arrow.

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 7 s

To a common eye, how can the boy not be perceived as part angel and part cupid?  The arrow is pointing toward her center.

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 4 s

He is above her at the moment of her altered emotional state.

To understand an artwork, it’s important to understand its intended context.  In this artwork, Bernini, who was equally an architect, also designed the contrasting darker walls, columns, and environment around his white sculpture.

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 92

If you want to know the era and type of architecture, it’s Baroque.  But the term Baroque, and similar categorizations, do little for me to understand the merits of a specific work of art.  It’s like saying a song is in the genre of rock n’ roll.  For any real fan of music, that alone tells us very little.  It’s a broad category.  It does little to help us distinguish gold from fool’s gold.

I try to evaluate artworks both within their time period and beyond their time period.  And regardless of the historical wishes of the patrons who commissioned this work, it appears Bernini was intent on portraying ecstasy – regardless if the ecstasy came from spiritual or sexual, Heavenly or Earthly, or tactile or cognitive sources or stimulations.

The sculpture is a congress of the spiritual and the sexual.  The sculpture may often confuse those who wish only to see the spiritual.  And the sculpture may put a knowing expression on the faces of those who have experienced the sexual, the physical – the rush of tactile, emotional, and coital intoxication.

The sculpture has been placed above a floor where death is clearly below . . .

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 8

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 9

. . . and light is above.

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 94

And between death and light, Bernini may be suggesting there may be moments of ecstasy worth saving and remembering.

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa 91

Bernini Ecstasy of St Theresa

Ecstasy of St Theresa Chapel Bernini m

© All rights reserved by the respective artists.

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79 thoughts on “Bernini’s Portrayal of The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa

  1. 12:50 PM CST

    …yes, it is a fact that most early/mid Renaissance artists were held hostage through patronage by the Church; but this did not preclude the artist in abject servitude to the Church State from liberating (albeit by subterfuge) the clearly blatant sensuality we can now affirm in their works.

    Bernini was among the first really great master sculptors who strayed beyond the religiosity into the secular mythological themes of his greatest works. Sensuality did not escape his dynamic forms.

    Even early Renaissance Masters, like Matthias Grünewald, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer and countless others, could not escape the latent sensual and erotic nature of their works.

    For readers who would like to delve deeper into the philosophical and Symbolist implications of the complex interrelationships between art, sensuality and death, the French writer Georges Bataille has some fascinating insights in his seminal book (double entendre intended), “Death and Sensuality” (translated, 1986)

    J.B. 8/30/09

    - – - -

    OneMoreOption: Thank you very much for the valuable, poignant recommendation.

    Like

    • Just because her body expressions may look sexual, does make it so. Her body is doing whatever physically possible expressions it can to try and handle being touched by God. I’m not all that religious but I don’t think it’s about her having an orgasm. Perhaps, Bernini’s own personal experience that was even remotely similar was one of a woman having an orgasm, therefore he used that as some sort of reference. But I think her body is too limp to even be sexualized. In the end, I think what he was trying to emulate transcends any carnal climax; something like a Nirvana experience. I know there are a lot of hidden sexual innuendos in religious art, but I don’t think this is one of them. That’s not to say Bernini didn’t like to make sensual art.

      - – - -

      OneMoreOption: Joe, thanks for your comments. The construction of your first declarative sentence is awkward, and I’m guessing you meant to say “doesn’t make it so.” I don’t know whether Bernini intended comparisons to sexual ectasy. But seeing how sculptures can take months or years to create, I’m guessing the existing pose and expressions were exactly what he designed.

      Like

      • @ “Joe”
        4:45 PM CST

        Quote :

        …”But I think her body is too limp to even be sexualized.”…

        Sorry, but “sexualized” is exactly what it looks like to me; “me” being just one more old man projecting, I suppose…

        Quote :

        …”I know there are a lot of hidden sexual innuendos in religious art, but I don’t think this is one of them. That’s not to say Bernini didn’t like to make sensual art.”…

        He did it all the time; sometimes subtle, other times not so subtle. The example here is not so subtle…

        …It would appear you’re having an attack of ambivalence; it seems you are unable to make up your mind, given all the qualifiers.

        You really should check out the Bataille book I recommended; his cogent insights on the clear relationships between both death AND sensuality would quickly mitigate your ambivalence.

        - – - -

        omo: James, good to hear from you again.

        J.B.
        4/11/10

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      • @ “OneMoreOption”
        8:25 PM CST

        …Been posting at Huff a lot; forming a little cabal of petition signatures…Several of us are not happy with their censoring practices…We’re flaming the fires of dissent…

        Fearless Leader
        4/11/10

        - – - -

        OneMoreOption: Good for you. Every lit bit is all we can do.

        Like

  2. I recently returned from a trip to Rome. I remember standing at the foot of this sculpture in absolute awe. I spent almost a week in Rome, and I had time to see almost every major sculpture this man created. His work is staggering to behold.
    The Rape of Persephone will bring you to tears

    Like

  3. Pingback: An Identity Piece: Queen George, St. Theresa, and the Body of Agony « Hysteria!

  4. This piece is purely Catholic. The Protestant Reformation and the Albigensian Heresy along with Gnosticism were all about the spiritual realm over the physical. The Puritan movement came out of the Albigensian movement which believe all human sexuality was bad, only the spiritual realm was good. The Catholic belief in Michelangelo and here in Bernini is that the body is a metaphysical symbol and is ‘good’–that physical reality is linked and mirrors spiritual. The ecstasy of teresa of Avila is explored in her writings and is a spiritual experience of deep prayer and union with God. It shows how closely the human experience of sexual love mirrors the spiritual–it is all good.

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  5. I just wanted to mention how much I appreciated the above post. When everyone gangs up on the Catholic Church on sexuality, one must remember that within the proper context (marriage) sex is considered one of God’s greatest gifts. The Church has no problem with sex except that it be within a holy union and that man and wife enjoy each other’s bodies to the full. This is not possible if one has multiple partners as it is no longer an exclusive relationship and parts of the ectasy of exclusivity are lost.

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  6. PS and I forgot to mention that where husband and wife enjoy physical ectasy. Spritual ectasy is being lauded by Bernini in that God visits those who seek him spiritually whether they are married or celibate nuns. Prayer is a very gorgeous experience and very loving–I don’t know why more people don’t try it.

    Like

  7. @ “Janet”
    5:15 PM CST

    Quote :

    …”The Church has no problem with sex except that it be within a holy union and that man and wife enjoy each other’s bodies to the full. This is not possible if one has multiple partners as it is no longer an exclusive relationship and parts of the ectasy of exclusivity are lost.”…

    “Holy union” ? “Ectasy (SIC) of exclusivity ?

    Unbelievable. Sad and pathetic.

    Still the old ridiculous patriarchal cant being shoved down our throats. It is both absurd and delusional to persist in this fairytale propaganda that attempts to dictate what should constitute “holy” and how we must put constraints on our natural desires.

    Quote :

    …”Prayer is a very gorgeous experience and very loving–I don’t know why more people don’t try it.”…

    Well, you need to know “why more people don’t try it”. Badly. It’s because they choose to remain sane. Relatively speaking, of course. When you grow up, you learn there is no Santa Claus. Maybe fun when you were a kid; tragic if you’re an adult and still believe the myths and lies you were told when you were a kid.

    You’re an adult now. (Well, I guess you’re an adult). Deal with it.

    We now live in the 21st century. Time for the “Roman Catholic Church”, and ALL the other phoney and delusional “religious” hocus pocus voodoo orthodoxies to go away…real permanent like; and time for you, Janet, to get real, get a life and join us evil heretics in the 21st century…

    It’ll be far less suffocating; a whole new world for you, full of joys and a personal singular enlightenment you have clearly denied yourself, or have been denied.

    J.B.
    6/17/10

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    OneMoreOption: :-) You’ll notice I held my tongue, but I thought the odds were you would respond.

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    • @ “OneMoreOption”
      8:25 PM CST

      …Yes I noticed; and much burden doth ye lay upon my shoulders…I feel Saintly…think I’ll pen a poem…

      “…Help not for the slightest benefit,
      Lest ye prone to over vent…”

      ~Sir James
      6/17/10

      Like

  8. Dearest dear James,

    I only logged back on here to look again at the close up of the beautiful sculpture. And much to my surprise — I am being sarcastic here since you can’t hear me — you dear chimed back with the same old tired arguments. We live in an open society with open ideas, why does it bother you some much that many, I repeat, many people subcribe joyfully to the teachings of the bad old nasty RCC. I am a grown up. I love Sex. I am married and my husband and I are both happier than larks that we don’t have to worry about that child silly stuff like whose in bed with who etc. and I always have a lot of fun making exclusive and passionate love to him. So why does that so obviously bother you. I dare say someone else might need to grow up a little…

    PS

    “The Church is a perpetually defeated thing that always survives her conquerers.” Hilaire Belloc

    Get with the program man, Christianity is here to stay and whether your like it or not, it will outlive you — always has and always will.

    XO Pax!

    Like

  9. PS James I’ll pray for you; I know how wild and unruly you will become when you hear this. Just think of it as my way of having “sex” with the world, babe.

    xo Janet

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    • Janet and James your both great! Let it go and God rules! Lol Amen . God bless you both as I’m a Peace Ambassador and you two have made me smile :) :) oh my ! Our world !
      Pax to you both.

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  10. Dearest dear James,

    I also only logged on here to look again at the close up of the beautiful sculpture. And also much to my surprise — I am being sarcastic here since you can’t hear me — and you might be stupid – you dear chimed back with the same old tired arguments (Notice I’ve disingenuously used the word “dear” three times already).

    James, you may not know this, but we live in an open society with open ideas, why does it bother you some much that many, I repeat, many people subcribe joyfully to the teachings of Satan? I am also a grown up. I love Sex (so much so that I capitalize it). I am also married and my husband and I are both happier than larks that we don’t have to worry about that child silly stuff like whose in bed with who etc. and I always have a lot of fun making exclusive and passionate love to him. So why does that so obviously bother you? I mean, if you disagree with me, then that must mean that what I believe must bother you. That’s the accurate reasoning progression, right?

    I dare say someone else might need to grow up a little… (that, being you of course).

    PS

    “The Church is a perpetually defeated thing that always survives her conquerers.” Hilaire Belloc

    If you can’t infer what I’m trying to imply by sharing with you the above quote, it means that if a form of religion survives the attacks against it enough that some people (even if their numbers are diminishing as a percentage of the population with each new generation) continue to believe in and follow a religion, then that religion must be the one and only valid and right religion. Go Satan!

    Get with the program James, Satanism is here to stay and whether your like it or not, it will outlive you — always has and always will. Remember, Satan’s biggest and best lie has been to convince those who don’t believe in him that he is dead or doesn’t exist.

    PS

    James I’ll pray for you; I know how wild and unruly you will become when you hear this. Just think of it as my way of having “sex” with the world, babe.

    BTW

    Is my language okay? Does the quality of my writing and reasoning reveal me?

    ~ Ms. Satanist Extraordinarie

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  11. @ “Ms Satanist Extraordinaire”
    5:25 PM CST

    …Uh…OK…I’m taking notes…into righteous ubiquitous S & M are we ??

    Me. I’m just a reglar fella work’in at the feed store, stumbl’in along the path of inequity, compounded by expediency.

    Quote :

    “…same old tired arguments…”

    Really ? I don’t hear these “tired old arguments” enough in this land of ignorance and superstition. What ? You would complain to Shaw ? …Twain ? You want mindless woo instead, go to Huffington Post blog…They’re getting more saturated with the clueless-religio-bipolar-gobbledygook on a daily basis; only a handful of us fighting it and we get censored everyday.

    Old tired arguments ? I don’t think so.

    By the by, one of Jeff Goldblum’s greatest acting displays, “Mr Frost” (1989), a European export…you might like. Check it out.

    Quote :

    …”Is my language okay? Does the quality of my writing and reasoning reveal me?”…

    …She who boasts language more, revealeth less…

    Perhaps Huff will give you a badge; would that my friend Jack Butler not steal it…

    J.B.
    7/10/10

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  12. …Uh-oh…the above was supposed to be addressed to both “Janet” and “Ms Satanist”

    …Working too hard at the saw mill…uh…feed store…hell…I’ll sort it all out later…J.B.

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  13. @ “One More Option”
    2:50 PM CST

    …Hey One More Option, I’m dizzy. Help me out here. Is this “Janet” and “Ms Satan” two or one of two of the clueless same ?… or one MPD ? … or two clueless Bipolar Affective Disorders ?… What the hell ? It’s a damn conspiracy ! Too many frying pans in this room !!…

    Quick ! Before a third personality is made manifest and whole within the eternal babbling cyber ether !

    J.B.
    7/11/10

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    OneMoreOption: No, as you probably inferred, I wrote the satirical, responsive comment.

    My point in mirroring the language, tone, and reasoning of the previous comment was this: If you take “God” off of your side, and if you take away your culture’s or country’s popular religion, it’s national symbols and other embellishments, and if you replace the familiar and positively-associated terms with the terms used by your perceived adversaries or “opposites,” then do your words and reasoning progressions still carry much persuasion?

    If your arguments and writings would sound arrogant, foolish, and illogical if spoken by the people with opposing positions, then you can reasonably infer the same arguments and writings sound foolish coming from you.

    I love intelligent arguments. I don’t love unintelligent arguments, and I tend to shine lights on logical fallacies, whether or not they are derived from popularly or unpopularly held beliefs.

    Like

    • @ “OMO”
      7:15 PM CST

      …Daahhh…shame on you for confusing an old man.

      I knew something was afoot when upon second read (scroll up !) I noticed much of the phrases were the same…my dyslexia I suppose blocked me from seeing it to begin with…

      Actually, I’ve never been comfortable with the scroll down computer glitch way of reading; it just doesn’t beat having the paper right in front of you so if and when you want to compare and have ready access, you can pick up on these scheming and duplicitous MPD behaviors !!

      And get that flashlight out of my eyes !!

      J.B.
      7/14/10

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      OneMoreOption: :-)

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  14. @ “Janet”
    4:55 PM CST

    Quote :

    …”We live in an open society with open ideas…”

    The Roman Catholic Church lives and rules distinct and apart from that “society with open ideas” you speak to. It always has, and when the RCC lamely attempts to “adapt” to contemporary society, it proves only the more how foolish and superstitious it’s inane rituals and “belief’ systems are, when stood up to the light of reason and sanity. Then it reverts back to it’s normal regressive antics and oppresses it’s followers with retrofit-idiotic papal “edicts”.

    If that’s what you call a “surviving” institution, recently rendered clueless and expedient by the weight of it’s own corrupt ignominy, then I suggest you need to narrow your definition of “survival”. (Belloc, BTW, was a raving bipolar antisemitic; using him as a role model to support your broad sweeping declarations may be predictable, but a very poor proxy for debate.)

    Quote :

    …” why does it bother you some much that many, I repeat, many people subcribe joyfully to the teachings of the bad old nasty RCC.”…

    Let’s see. So numbers are supposed to impress me ? The fact that there are millions of foolish people behaving like lemmings…therefore I should follow ? Are you denial ? You think I’m going to waste my time trotting out an endless list of the historical AND contemporary atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic Church…because you choose to live in your fantasy world ?… or follow the crowd ?… I don’t think so.

    “Bad old nasty RCC”…well YEAH !! DAAHH !! About as evil as evil gets. Who but yourself are you trying to kid ?

    Quote :

    …”I am a grown up. I love Sex. I am married and my husband and I are both happier than larks that we don’t have to worry about that child silly stuff like whose in bed with who etc.”…

    Quote :

    …”child silly stuff”…

    Are you on meth ? “Child silly stuff”…??… Are you mocking and denigrating the suffering of thousands (more likely, millions) of children who suffered at the hands of priest pedophiles… ??… not since last Tuesday, but over the centuries ? Just what are you saying ? You defend these damned creepy priests ?

    …You’re a “grown up” ? I’ll need a driver’s license first. The simple fact that you are “married” tells me you really don’t like sex all that much. Nor yourself for that matter, since you seem to have to justify your…uh…”joy” within the confines of a dated, regressive institution.

    “…and I always have a lot of fun making exclusive and passionate love to him…”

    Oh really? Gee, I’m so glad you shared this; notwithstanding the fact that I am not a voyeur and I’m really not impressed with your “sex” life.

    Quote:

    “…Christianity is here to stay and whether your like it or not, it will outlive you…”

    Oh yeah. That’s why the Roman Catholic Church is trying to declare bankruptcy ? (Of course we already know : Moral bankruptcy, yes; financial, no). That’s why priests with some integrity are leaving the flock in droves ? Insanity and superstition will always plaque humanity; Orthodox “Christianity”, as you put it, has morphed into so many forms in order to “survive” that historians can no longer keep up.

    You stay in denial. I’ll keep on being a “kid”, thank you.

    J.B.
    7/11/10

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  15. I really don’t know how to say this, but this sculpture by Bernini is a bit disturbing. I may not understand everything but all I know is that earthly desires are being portrayed in this. Maybe because, this is how the artist interpreted what Teresa of Avila wrote in her autobiography, or journal or whatever you call that.

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  16. Not all ecstasies are sexual.

    I’ve study christian mystical writings of the late middle ages / counter-reformation for several years and can say with conviction that this statue is merely a high water mark in a long tradition of comparing religious and sexual rapture. Angela of Foligno, Catherine of Siena, Julian or Norwich and Teresa of Avila among others all used romantic imagery in an attempt to describe what is essentially ineffable: union of the soul with God. Most of these writers are careful to point out that religious ecstasy is nothing like sexual or romantic love, and they use such descriptions simply because sex/romance is the nearest analogy found in common human experience. Viewed in this light, I don’t find the emotions or arrangement of Belini’s masterpiece particularly shocking, nor overly “sexualized” in the way most previous posters seem to be suggesting.

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    • I was raised catholic but no longer believe in the blind following of religion although I respect those who do. I agree totally with your perception of this work. It is a work of art that tries to explain an experience that can not be visualized. Bernini’s art is very tactile and visually sexually toned. This does not deter me from perceiving it as a human, physical but utmost spiritual depiction of the intent to convey a euphoric spiritual experience. Describe visually the feeling of euphoria one has after breaking through your wall when you are a runner, you can’t. I understand the intent of the piece as would most whom are not prejudiced with their own attitudes.

      Like

      • I was raised in a Christian environment and became a Christian by choice, and I certainly do not believe in the blind following of religion nor do I respect those who do. How does that pertain to Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St. Theresa,” you ask? Uh…

        Reading through some of these comments leaves me at a heart-rending loss; the artwork is masterful, but the opinions of those I am reading either does not refer to the art at all, or else they do not offer interpretations of much coherency. Even the author of this blog, while admitting a disinterest in religious interpretations, surprised me a bit in stating that “To understand an artwork, it’s important to understand its intended context,” only to follow that statement with solely a regard for historical and then physical contexts. Religious artwork is one of the many casualties of a secularised society, which seems in many cases, for lack of a vocabulary and belief to associate with it, to prefer ignoring what might strike as “uncomfortable” or out-dated notions of transcendence in art. What Bernini suggests in this piece to me is not an either/or dilemma between sexual or spiritual ecstasy, but as has already been touched on, a united vision of the holistic pleasure of the Divine overwhelming the spirit. Episodes of Dante’s “Purgatorio” and “Paradiso” ring out loudly here. And don’t forget the original text by St. Theresa which backdrops the work. I believe that “text” certainly counts as “context.”

        Though I am a student, and though I have far more yet to learn than I have to say — and there are many out there who describe these things much more eloquently than I; Tolkien, for instance–, I felt my response a necessary and (as yet in the posts, though I apologize in advance if this is not the case) an unheard one. Thank you very much for these fine images of the piece; they are what brought me here originally, and I found your mentioning of the positioning between Death and Light particularly insightful.

        Cheers,

        Nik

        - -

        Mark: Thank you for the thoughtful commentary

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  17. Pingback: Sanity is Important – a cult infiltrates church, Deacon wants ramblings « Anti-Genocide groups – Eye on Earth

  18. i am a literature student dont have much knowledge of art still a learner by looking at this piece i think its place should not be a holy place . God dont tell ppl to just be holy and not social He tells us to live a life moderately . In a church or for me a mosque just do prayers and in ur house and in family enjoy in a way not hurtful for anyone .

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  19. The desire to depict the overwhelming nature of religious ecstasy and the ravishment of the soul led Bernini here. You can find parallels in written art–in John Donne, for example. The biblical concept of the body of the Church (that is, the company of all believers) as “bride of Christ” is here taken to its passionate, baroque extreme.

    Judging by this thread, I would say that the secular eye and the religious eye are not seeing the same piece of art. Two world views, two versions.

    The secular viewer is constrained to be reductive and perceive only sex. To use a proverb with a few sexual connotations of its own, “When you’re a hammer, all the world’s a nail.”

    Meanwhile the religious viewer sees the sensuality of this bride of Christ, yes, but in the form of an utter abandon of the human body “slain in the spirit.”

    Bernini was not a secular man but a Christian, and here he presents divine joy in a way utterly right for the way St. Theresa described her mystic union with God. “The Ecstasy of St. Theresa” shines with his genius for bringing passionate life to stone and a thrilling ability to create dramatic architectural design as setting for his sculptural works.

    A hallmark error of our era is to diminish the glories of the past in an effort to make them better “fit” our modern times and modern sensibilities. Not only is there a lack of sympathy for religious experience and transformation, but there is a determined and even self-righteous lack of imagination, which has already begun to close off the great works of past time from many secular viewers.

    - – -

    OneMoreOption: I hear you and thank you for expressing your opinions.

    I think you presume too much that cannot be supported by evidence. And that wouldn’t be an awful thing if you did not condescend so much to the “secular,” as if “secular” was by default second-class or inferior to “religious.”

    When evaluating any work of art, whether it was created with religious intents or not, it’s valuable to also critique the work on universal and non-religious or non-denominational levels.

    The work of art at issue soars on many fronts, religious and otherwise. So, to discriminate or disparage the non-religious responses to or aspects of an artwork is both unnecessary and devaluing.

    Further, Baroque artists, as artists in many eras, expressed religious feellings through association to the most palatable human feelings people of their era could relate to – just as artists do today.

    It is misleading and simpleton to view Bernini’s “Ectasy” above and think that educated and wealthy people of that era were not also aware of universal concepts of the fear of mortality, grief of loss, common Greek & Roman mythologies, eros, cupid’s arrow, light vs. dark, death vs. life, and more.

    Judging by the comments of this thread, I’d suggest people are seeing more than you would like them to consider. They are seeing the same piece of art. And as with all great artworks, they’re doing well to not all walk away from it seeing the same thing.

    The “secular” view, whoever that is, is neither “restrained” nor “reductive.” That is very condescending, presumptious, and wrong of you to claim. I’d like to see you in a public room say such a thing to the “secular” people you’re critiquing. There is nothing inferior or narrower about the secular perspectives. Rather, the secular views tend to consider more and be more inclusive to alternate and multiple interpretations.

    Further, when you characterize the previous interpretations in the post’s text and visitors’ comments as “perceive only sex,” it suggests you didn’t read the post’s text or comments or you have poor reading and comprehension skills. That is a complete mischaracterization of the thread’s discussion, suggesting you read the blog’s title, looked at the pictures, made some knee-jerk presumptions (that religious people unfortunatley too often do), and didn’t take time to read any significant portion of the thread.

    Who knows the mental gymnastics you used to jump to your hammer and nail proverb? What was that about? The proverb couldn’t be more inapplicable to the actual open-ended discussions and debates.

    You seem to want to deprive the artwork of sexual and worldly human considerations. For all we know, Bernini’s intent may have been the opposite of yours. In his world, where puritanical and non-sexual forces were likely frequently strong, maybe he intended this artwork to be a public and irrefutable reminder of the depth of our emotions and connections, religious or otherwise.

    It is not true that, as you say, a “hallmark error of our era is to diminish the glories of the past in an effort to make them better “fit” our modern times and modern sensibilities.” Such explorations do not lack sympathy for religious experience or their feelings of transformation. Rather, such explorations can be fully sympathetic, imaginative, inclusive, and additive.

    One More Option

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  20. I logged on to this site to have a close look at the Santa Teresa statue. It is extraordinary and a wondrous sight. I don’t object to anyone suggesting that the Saint’s extasy might be interpreted in a sexual way but… we must be careful. Suggesting single, celebate nuns are subliminally interested in sex is very patronising. Earlier today, I was watching a clip of Glenn Gould conducting and playing Bach’s Cantata 54, waving his left arm,eyes closed, head thrown slightly back, and it occured to me that he also, like St Teresa, was an extatic. Just substitute Glenn for St Teresa and JS Bach for the angel in Bernini’s work and you have the same sort of arrows, piercing the heart and lifting the soul right out of the body. Was Glenn having an orgasm, who cares? He was experiencing and gifting us with what must be described as a truly other-worldly moment.Those of us who DO believe in God, might call it a divine moment.

    - – -

    OneMoreOption: Thank you for taking the time to write such thoughtful commentary.

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  21. Orgasm is not the only sexual response. Transcendence may or may not accompany orgasm or may have nothing to do with “sex” per se. There is great linkage between man’s sexuality and spirituality, possibly a function of our biology yet to be discovered.
    Art

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  22. Hello. If God is Good, or Goodness, I’ve always felt that feeling good, and orgasm, was next to Godliness.

    Thank you for your blog. Would like to point out though, that the correct spelling of Saint Teresa of Avila’s name is without the H. St. Theresa of the Little Flowers in France is the one with the H. Thanks again : )

    Like

    • Thank you T. I have researched sex and sexual love for a number of years now. Regardless of who is writing, be it Eisler, Marija Gimbutas, or any of them, I am amazed at their lack of knowledge of basic sexual biology! It seems we all comment from our own limited perspective and experience. I now believe and old saying is really an axiom: “Man has the capacity to screw up an anvil with a rubber mallet.”

      Like

  23. Has anyone looked at Teresa’s own words from her famous “Life”? ” and at the iron tip there appeared to be a point of fire. This he plunged into my heart several times so that it penetrated to my entrails. . . . The pain was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease . . . .This is not a physical, but a spiritual pain, though the body has some share in it–even a considerable share.” Even she is not able to deny the physical as part of the spiritual, even as she tries.

    Like

  24. I had a dream where I experienced the emotional state that can only be described as eternal bliss. I was in a place that was like a beautiful meadow, surrounded by majestic mountains. I was trying to determine where I was, and came to the conclusion that it must be heaven. I was so happy. I turned my face upward, feeling a deep and holy connection with The Almighty, and simply uttered, “I’m yielded”. After I said that, I felt this immediate overwhelming sense of pure joy and peace. It felt so good, I repeated, “I’m yielded”. Again, I felt an amazing surge of absolute perfect harmony and union with God. I didn’t want it to stop, so I kept repeating, “I’m yielded, I’m yielded, I’m yielded!” Wave after wave of love and comfort and goodness and purity kept sweeping over my being. I realized that heaven is where those who are fully yielded to God’s will, find their fulfillment and reward. After I had that dream, I came across this picture of a famous statue of Theresa of Avila. It is world-renowned as and entitled “The Ecstasy of Theresa”. The statue depicts Theresa in a passive state, in a pose that is characteristic of a woman wrapped in the most intimate loving embrace of her husband. As a nun, she would have been married to Christ. This sculpture epitomizes the fulfillment known only to those who are fully yielded to Christ. Many people resist God’s will. They imagine that He is demanding and impossible to please. They refuse to yield their will to His, under the misguided delusion that our lives would somehow be diminished if we were to give ourselves over to His control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who willingly yield to the Lord’s will find themselves experiencing the most satisfying and complete love, joy and peace imaginable. I am still learning this myself. It requires faith. It is not easy for humans to trust. We have all experienced betrayal and disappointment in our relations with others. It may seem even harder to trust God, whose ways are so mysterious. But as I abandon my own preconceived ideas and grandiose plans, for His humble plan of salvation, I truly experience a peace that passes all understanding. Theresa of Avila lived for God, as His hands and feet. Doing His bidding, trusting always, that her Savior had her best interests in mind, and would not disregard her willingness to honor Him in humble obedience.

    Like

  25. Pingback: Artful Tuesday: Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Sculptures « Library Mom

  26. Why do satanists, atheists and other non-believers keep harping on catholics and other christians? Why don’t they just keep to their own business and leave the catholics and other christians to their own business too? There’s plenty of space for all people of all persuasions, No amount of harping and caricature by the former will change the stand of the latter, and no amount of evangelizing or proseletizing by the latter will convince the former. So why not just exist in relative tolerance of each other? All people die. Catholics and other christians will go to their rest with the hope of rising again., They are entitled to their own belief. Let them be. Satanists, atheists and other non-believers will go to their rest happy in their belief that there is no God, and that they will be very, very dead for all time since they do not believe in rising again. Let them be. Each to his own devices. That simple, really.

    Like

  27. Monday, March 11, 2013

    @ “idiboi edtajan”

    Quote :

    “Why don’t they just keep to their own business and leave the catholics and other christians to their own business too?”

    …Your bubble-baiting rationale, describing a flat-Earth-mono-dimensional world, could plausibly pass muster among the deaf, dumb and blind living in such a fantasy dimension, but back here on Terra Firma, neither you, I, nor anyone else is living in your imaginary vacuum.

    We live, struggle and play in what is called a society.

    A living, breathing, diverse culture of plausibly sentient beings who, in their brighter moments, may wish to think on their own and not have centuries’ old superstitious, demented orthodox dogma shoveled on their plate on a daily basis.

    You savvy ? Of course you don’t…Or you’re pretending not to…

    And there is nothing …uh…”simple” about it, unless you’re a simpleton, or the victim of an automobile mishap…

    Or suffering Organic Brain Syndrome from alcohol abuse.

    Or brain tumor.

    Or brain lesion.

    …And if I had children, and if I found out my son or daughter was sexually abused by some psycho priest, you could bet your last sweet apples someone would hear…uh…from me…personally…up-front-and-real-close-the-way-they-like-it…whose “business” is whose “business”.

    It would be settled very quickly…

    …Now.

    You can choose to isolate yourself.

    As an adult.

    I have no problem with that. Not at all.

    As an adult, you can choose to believe in any fairytale…God, Santa Claus, Tooth-Fairy, Bunny-Goddess…whatever…But you have absolutely no right to spoon-feed, force or impose your mania-backed fantasies/delusions/belief systems, or any propaganda, onto your children, or anyone else’s children.

    That is another form of abuse. Nothing less.

    Your children have a right to choose.

    All children do.

    And they have a right to choose WITHOUT duress or threat (veiled or otherwise) of pain or suffering by dint of some fantasy, made-up “Hell”, or whatever happens to be bubbling in your noisy mind, on any particular bad day you may be having.

    Kahlil Gibran :

    “Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

    And in deference to your twice-told :

    Broad sweep.

    Juvenile.

    Proselytizing.

    Psycho-cant…

    …About “satanists, atheists and other non-believers”…

    Gibran was none of the above.

    A clear demonstration of just how small and narrow is the universe in which you apparently want to live.

    Quote :

    “No amount of harping and caricature by the former will change the stand of the latter, and no amount of evangelizing or proseletizing (sic) by the latter will convince the former. So why not just exist in relative tolerance of each other?”

    Right. Let the stupid remain stupid.

    Not a problem.

    Except…

    When their around children.

    Or when the stupid are a danger to others.

    …A religious zealot will NOT tolerate the lack of attention he/she seeks.

    They go out of their way to impose laws on others, and have been doing so for centuries.

    Their time is near an end now, and they’re in panic mode, made manifest by their obsessive legal impositions to get every state to spew out their religio-gobbledygook in public schools and textbooks.

    Get to the children first.

    The motto of the RCC.

    The motto of all zealots and religious orthodoxy.

    This is the obsessive and abusive mode of operation they employ, including and especially the RCC.

    Get to the children first.

    And they won’t leave people alone.

    Ever.

    “So why not just exist in relative tolerance of each other?”

    What kind of fantasy world do you suggest where this…uh…”relative tolerance” could exist when there are multitudes of American clueless fanatics running around like thought police, brainwashing and abusing children with impunity ?

    Quote :

    “All people die.”

    Brilliant.

    It just so happens that we are in the process of remedying that, much to your disappointment, no doubt.

    Quote :

    “Each to his own devices.”

    Another brilliant bird dropping.

    And in this warped fantasy of yours, by extension, let’s have all the pedophiles and serial killers and rapists released from prison, and leave them “to their own devices”.

    And leave the RCC to it’s own corrupt devices. Right.

    Either grow up.

    Or get back on your medication.

    And let future generations of children breathe and grow with their own ideas and their own choices.

    Not yours.

    J.B.

    Like

  28. Pingback: “Lover and beloved moved in unison” | I ask for wonder

  29. Having seen the sculpture, can’t we just agree that it’s a masterpiece and forget the religious/non-religious stuff and enjoy it for what it is…….a work of great and ephemeral beauty that deserves to be seen and enjoyed by white, black, yellow, catholic, protestant, zen buddhist, atheist, dogs, cats and pigeons. Why do we try to read so much into it everything, just enjoy it for what it is, a beautifully crafted old piece of stone. Peace and love to all…….Andy from Hull

    Like

    • It is more than that! When I first saw these photos, I thought for sure Bernini was playing a trick on the Vatican. The expression on her face is orgasmic ecstasy! After years of research in sexual biology, I have finally learned sex is not required and there are many sources of this ecstasy. It is a masterpiece!

      Like

      • @ “thesacredfemale”

        Quote :

        “After years of research in sexual biology, I have finally learned sex is not required and there are many sources of this ecstasy.”

        Sexual biology.

        I haven’t the slightest clue what you are talking about. What degree do you hold ?

        “…many sources of this ecstasy”

        Such as ?

        “sex is not required”

        It is not a matter of “requirement”. It is a matter of understanding sexuality as it is related to the instinctive impulse and creation of art, within it’s social context.

        “I thought for sure Bernini was playing a trick on the Vatican.”

        Bernini was playing “a trick” on the Vatican. He was quite capable of it, you know.

        To understand this, you have to understand the sexual dynamic attendant to all so-called “religious ecstasy”.

        Read the Georges Bataille book I recommended above.

        J.B. 7/27/13

        Like

      • James, we have much in common. I, too, hail from Viking ancestory, and mine may have kicked the crap out of yours a thousand years ago,.. or visa versa. I see you have a gallery and my mother was an artist whose works hung in the White House for years!

        Sexual biology is a term I coined. I’ve been blessed by knowing some fantastic women and cursed with curiosity. I began my independent scholarship under the guidance of Dr. Beverly Whipple and quickly learned my experiences were far beyond where sexual science is today. Sexual biology is a good term and were it more commonly used, we might have better information instead of the myth, misinformation and misogyny under which we now live.

        I have considered another advanced degree in sexual education, however course material is controlled by the government who pays the bill. Most are simply a continuation of the various myths. (My other degrees have nothing to do with sex.) I no longer give authority to anyone to deny me my experiences, or the research I have done to validate them. However, I also deny no one the right to tell me I am full of crap. Sex is a very touchy subject usually defined by our own limited experience and the misinformation we have been fed.

        To specifically answer your question of “such as (other sources of ecstasy)” my conclusions are that ecstasy is a functon of love. Love is not a feeling; it is energy, I belive impacting us at the genetic level, releasing the amino acids, producing the proteins that give us the feeling. Unfortunately, lust from the paraventricular nucleus, produces many of the same neurotransmitters and receptors, etc.; not the transformation available through erotic love. Love, then, is the source of ecstasy. Although there is greater passion in erotic love, passion being a “human” word to describe the amplitude of the frequency associated with love, any of the “forms,” I prefer to think of it as segments on the spectrum of love, will work. It just takes longer. In St.Teresa’s case it was either brotherly love or spiritual love. Any form will do.

        What you, and many others fail to see is that erotic love, (not requited lust) is the primary force behind man’s creativity. The god Eros was defined as, “a primeval deity who embodies not only the force of erotic love but also the creative urge of ever-flowing nature, the firstborn Light for the coming into being and ordering of all things in the cosmos.” Plato changed that. Those who have created the “social context” of the time had no knowledge of sexual biology, as the archeologists who interpreted various figurenes as “early porn.”

        As regards “instinctive impulse” this impulse could possibly be the urge to seek someone to love and be loved by, where sex is a mechanism for transmitting love, rather than the urge to procreate? I believe our culture has been conned out of love! Consider the Spectorum Doctrinale, circa 1250 CE, where men are admonished not to “love their wives too much.” Of all the BS in that “encyclopedia” that seems to have stuck!

        Perhaps we should consieder the spiritual dynamic in erotic ecstasy”

        Like

  30. @ “Andy from Hull”

    Quote :

    “…can’t we just agree that it’s a masterpiece and forget the religious/non-religious stuff and enjoy it for what it is…”

    No.

    The privilege of living in the 21st century does not indemnify us from our responsibility to history.

    Art is not born out of the vacuum you wish to impose here.

    Art, all art, is formed by dint of a social construct.

    Thousands of artists, including Bernini, artisans, craftsmen, architects and writers…were held hostage by the RCC. We can’t just delude ourselves and ignore that fact.

    No matter how “beautiful”…uh…”we” agree the work is, the weight of 400 years passing does not divorce us from the the most banal of reasons that the work was created :

    Bernini’s masterpiece was an intensely labored work of propaganda.

    Propaganda, with impunity.

    Quote :

    “Why do we try to read so much into it everything”

    I don’t know the “we” to whom you are referring, but I am not “reading into” anything.

    Quote :

    “…just enjoy it for what it is, a beautifully crafted old piece of stone.”

    …Uh…Well it could be…just maybe…this…uh…”crafted old piece of stone” was “crafted” by a real human being. (painstakingly created out of marble, actually).

    You apparently choose to remain in blissful ignorance , both about the artist as human, and the complex social/cultural constraints under which the artist created his work.

    Don’t expect others to approach a 400 year masterpiece on the same level of your bankrupted curiosity.

    Like

  31. @ “thesacredfemale”

    …Uh…when someone composes a post superior to mine, my first (and very natural ) impulse is to resort to “authority”.

    Today marks no exception .

    I give you Monsieur Bataille :

    “Naturally, love’s the most distant possibility.”

    “Pleasure only starts once the worm has got into the fruit, to become delightful happiness must be tainted with poison.”

    “Eroticism is assenting to life even in death.”

    “Life has always taken place in a tumult without apparent cohesion, but it only finds its grandeur and its reality in ecstasy and in ecstatic love.”

    “The sovereign being is burdened with a servitude that crushes him, and the condition of free men is deliberate servility.”

    “Sacrifice is nothing other than the production of sacred things.”

    “A judgment about life has no meaning except the truth of the one who speaks last, and the mind is at ease only at the moment when everyone is shouting at once and no one can hear a thing.”

    ~Georges Bataille
    ( 1897-1962 )

    In homage to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I suspect ole Bataille was a couple flights above the both of us. He’s said some wacko things as well…I’ll let you find them, bearing in mind, he is French…

    Well. Still not certain about “Sexual Biology”. Unless it was your intent, the use of the adjective “sexual” seems to imply that “biology” is sexual, when I think you may mean the “Biology of Sex”, or “Molecular Sexuality”, or Cellular Sexuality”, or better still :

    “Ballard’s Sexuality”.

    …Yeah…That’s the ticket…

    I can relate to “Unmailed Letters to a Married Woman”, and “The Sacred Female” sounds tempting. Might want to have your bio rewritten on “smashword”. Syntax is wanting in a couple areas.

    Quote :

    “I no longer give authority to anyone to deny me my experiences”

    Well, people themselves often have vested interests in denying their own experiences. They need little encouragement from others. I take it you’ve had previous encounters in that area; glad to hear you have resolved them. All this notwithstanding, the gathering of dissention will continue to be a hallmark of human frailty, but the strong will not have to suffer the consequences. On a good day, at any rate.

    Who can deny the genetic foundation of just about anything these days, on the heels of the Genome Project(s). I have no doubt that “love is energy” of a sort, but I’m loathe to begin attaching such vague generality to terms like “energy”, or “spirituality”, at least until the facts come in on the genetic follow-up. The “energy” you speak to is not equivocal to the use of the term in physics, but the argument may be supportable when the “theory of everything” is discovered. I have little patience with “WOO-speak”…Terms like “energy” and “spirituality” are co-opted and cannibalized day to day by those feigning authority.

    I’ll place a rush order to Hawking at Cambridge.

    I’m content with Sagan. “Demon-Haunted World : Science as a Candle in the Dark” (’95)…Arguably the greatest non-fiction book written in the 20th century.

    Quote :

    “In St.Teresa’s case it was either brotherly love or spiritual love. Any form will do.”

    I’m a fan of Schiller myself. Beethoven’s adaptation to the Ode as well, since I was a kid. But in the case of Bernini’s “St. Teresa”, the most prominent feature of expression is one of physical exaltation. You’d have to be in the mind of both Bernini and St Teresa to really know of any attendant sexual foundation, but , by the same token, there is no honest escaping the interpretation of the most banal, no matter the intent of the artist. Once the artist has delivered, territorial ownership on the part of the receiver will neither be dictated to, nor retracted. There may not be open discussion during Mass, but of course this would not account for internal musings.

    Quote :

    “What you, and many others fail to see is that erotic love, (not requited lust) is the primary force behind man’s creativity.”

    You are an optimist. Of course one has to be clear on precisely what constitutes “creativity”. You have to bear in mind one thing, before any conclusion can be drawn :

    Motive.

    Who’s to say that vanity does not play the role of primary force ? You also have to pay homage to the great white elephant in the room : consciousness. The degree of consciousness, the level of consciousness, that provides both the will and the talent of the artist. It is an issue on which we cannot presume. We know so little about the true nature of human consciousness; I say we have to know more before any sound conclusions can be drawn about so-called “primary forces” in art. Otherwise speculation barely rises above the level of fluff.

    Quote :

    “The god Eros was defined as, “a primeval deity who embodies not only the force of erotic love but also the creative urge of ever-flowing nature, the firstborn Light for the coming into being and ordering of all things in the cosmos.” Plato changed that. Those who have created the “social context” of the time had no knowledge of sexual biology, as the archeologists who interpreted various figurines as ‘early porn.’ ”

    Now just hold on there, Mr. Man, Plato could not have had any knowledge of your proposed “Sexual Biology”, and without evidence, you can’t dilute social context just on a whim. I’ve seen the erotic imagery on the walls of Pompeii; do we neglect the social context in which they were drawn.? No way.

    Quote :

    “I believe our culture has been conned out of love”

    Yeah. I like that. Bearing in mind that “culture” is made up of individuals only too lazy, and unwilling to attend to love. Americans have become so timid, fearful of their own shadow, love takes a back seat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen both bloggers and commentators on Huffington Post blather on about porn this and porn that, wholly unable (or unwilling) to distinguish eroticism from porn.

    Quote :

    “Perhaps we should consider the spiritual dynamic in erotic ecstasy”

    Now would this be before ? Or after ? Consider the roots. Spiritus. Breath. That fits. A good place to be begin cleansing the sex mythos from all religiosity. One obstacle. Treating the pandemic of Bipolar Affective Disorder in this culture.

    I end with Sagan :

    “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety
    of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

    “But nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine.”

    “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…”

    ~Carl Sagan
    “Demon-Haunted World…” (’95)

    J.B.
    7/29/13

    Like

    • Amazing! Beautiful! We agree on “spiritus,” so if we are breathing, we are spiritual. I don’t like WOO-speak either. I am too tired to go into the rest of it tonight. So hopefully tomorrow, I can respond in depth.
      Thank you,
      Art

      Like

    • I printed your comment, all 5 pages! I believe we could write a book regarding this discussion! I am not familiar with Baitille, which is no big deal for me. There are many with whom I am not familiar.

      You used the word “spiritual” in it’s common conotation. I used it back. What we call “spiritual” to me is no more than the prodction of slightly different amino acids altering our brain chemistry. There are many WOO-speak names for this, but I would rather look at a possible physical explanation. I say possible, because I realise the results of my work are only suggestive, including the concept that love is energy. Something beyond mere physical and or mental stimulation triggers the genes, or perhaps the 97% of our DNA coding not associated with genes, to produce the effects we call spiritual. Eg. What energy triggered the genes that knock on the door of the pineal gland to produce DMT in nanogram quantities giving us the experience of being in the presence of God, and God is smiling? Although erotic love is one mechanism by which this occurs, there are others, including meditation and visualization… naw that is just a kind of meditation.

      No, Plato didn’t know a thing about sexual biology and Hippocrates believed female ejaculation was necessary for conception (two seed theory). What they did know was something happened with love so sex was diverted into pleasure. I saw one figurine with a large vulva and a double spiral on the belly from about 5000 BCE. The artisan was paying tribute to the power of the vulva and I saw the double spiral as their representation of our double helix for DNA. The artisan intuitively knew something “spirally” was imparting the power. Older studies of subtile energy show the Chakras with a double helix arising. My guess, and it is only a guess is they are talking about our DNA!

      Thank you for pointing out the syntactical errors in my bio. I would appreciate your correction.
      I think this discussion could be better carried out by phone. Please contact me on my web site and we will go from there. Also, I like the term sexual biology and I’ll tell you why. (besides the fact that I coined it).

      Like

  32. @ “thesacredfemale”

    Quote :

    “What energy triggered the genes that knock on the door of the pineal gland to produce DMT in nanogram quantities giving us the experience of being in the presence of God, and God is smiling?”

    You’re s’pposed to tell me . You’re the “Sexual Biologist” !!…

    All I know is, peyote buttons, sillycybin and brownies, lysergic acid diethylamide, or just plain old hashish with a jigger of Benedictine liqueur can produce the same results with some. Not me though. I never “saw God”. I saw my own “sub-conscious”, playing tricks on me.

    The “Pineal” gland’s chief function does involve the “sleeping/waking” cycle, does it not, so perhaps the “near dying” are essentially, dreaming.

    Quote :

    “What we call “spiritual” to me is no more than the prod(u)ction of slightly different amino acids altering our brain chemistry. ”

    The closest homo sapiens will ever get to “spiritual” will be on a quantum level.

    …But don’t let the reductionist-obsessed 19th and 20th centuries convince you that the jury is retired on this topic. The verdict is not out. Neurologist have yet to discover if there is any neurophysical basis for “consciousness”…I fly with the physicist, Roger Penrose, on this subject. He suspects, rightly so in my opinion, that “consciousness” can only be explained/understood/discovered to be a quantum level construct, which will blow many assumptions out of the water.

    This is a subject that can be quite disturbing in light of our rapidly escalating new mythos :

    The worship of computer technology, if you follow my drift. Penrose is on the frontier, but the source of my discomfort arises out of the probability that he and his supporters are not thinking fast enough. As Hawking has said, there’s a real possibility that A.I. will catch up and bite us in the ass, although Ray Kurzweil doesn’t seem to mind that a bit !!

    Quote :

    “The artisan was paying tribute to the power of the vulva and I saw the double spiral as their representation of our double helix for DNA. The artisan intuitively knew something “spirally” was imparting the power. Older studies of subtile (sic) energy show the Chakras with a double helix arising.”

    That’s really a stretch. You’re bordering on magical thinking here. My bet is you’re reading into a coincidental, accumulative design format, separated by thousands of years from the model construct of the double-helix. Watts and Crick were hardly mystical.

    Sexual biology. So go with it. You’ve got a long, hard road ahead of you for peer review. May want to consider getting your Masters first.

    Perhaps we’ll talk later but now I’m grappling with personal issues regarding my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year. I’ve had to neglect my business which needs catch up.

    Now I’m slowly weaning myself off of Huffington Post commentary. Takes up way too much of my time.

    James

    Like

    • Please accept a stranger’s sympathy for your mother’s health. I do hope that both of you will be able to bear these times with grace.

      There are some things that need saying though…okaaaaay…

      If I were an alien from outer space, with no idea of human culture and history whatsoever apart from a grasp of language, the only things I’d conclude from all the comments here is that there is a lot of animosity in this world and that human beings have an overpowering desire to have the last word. It’s amazing how quickly the debate has degenerated from “Does this piece of art have a sexual theme?” to an RCC/Atheist stand-off. Lighten up! :D

      I’m a firm believer in the divine. Anyone who wants to take that up with me will find that my arguments are definitely not nonsensical, outdated, or unfounded; when I use words like “quantum” I can back them up with Heisenberg, de Broglie, Bohr, Planck…the list goes on.

      Science and what religious people call the spiritual are not necessarily oil and water (and even if they were, there’s this thing called an emulsion). And being open-minded enough to accept that, I can happily say that I sort of understand the concept behind this work. I agree with you, James – Bernini WAS challenging the Church back then, like many others during and since the Renaissance. But I don’t think he was trying to detract from what religious people would call ‘holiness’ or ‘sanctity’ (seriously, that comment about the sculpture not being fit for a church pissed me off). I think he was trying to show people then and now that sex isn’t a dirty, shameful activity we have to suffer for procreation’s sake. Yes, I find the statue moderately sexual, and why not? Why shouldn’t her ecstasy be sexual? I’ve read about people who can literally think themselves to orgasm, and I don’t find it ‘shocking’ or ‘unholy’ that maybe she meditated on God so fervently that she reached sexual climax. I find it rather cool really. After all, that’s the whole point of religious celibacy – forsaking a human partner to ‘marry’ yourself to God.

      And I do think that it’s possible for everyone to coexist with their beliefs, the same way it’s possible for me to accept that while I have fought epic battles for M&Ms, my best friend detests chocolate. It’s just that people, as I said before, are bent on winning. I can’t argue with that – who doesn’t ‘love the scent of victory in the morning?’

      But beyond all that, the Ecstasy, like all Bernini’s works, is beautiful. I’m an artist myself, though I limit myself to graphite and watercolor. Maybe that’s why my first reaction to this sculpture was not “Is this sexual or not?” It was “Wow, this guy was talented. His lines are flawless, his proportion is excellent, his composition is amazing.” If we keep throwing ourselves into trying to figure out the meaning of life, we may find that we don’t have much time left over to actually live.

      PS. Before anyone leaps on that statement to skin me alive – when I say “moderately sexual” I mean that yes, it’s sexual, but no, it’s not hardcore porn. She still has her clothes on :)

      PPS. Scratch that. Feel free to ATTEMPT to skin me alive. But know that I am also highly skilled in the art of flaying.

      PPPS. That last M&M is MINE.

      Like

      • pjessien2013, Instead of “moderately,” I would use “beautifully.” As you mention, sexual contact, nor thoughts, are necessary for an orgasmic experience. I will register mild protest at your covertly equating “sexual” with hardcore porn. It is too common these days.

        Like

      • @thesacredfemale: Thank you :) (for a frightening moment I thought “What if everyone has moved on from this post? :/ )
        I didn’t realize what I said could be interpreted that way. I simply meant to establish a “sexual” scale of 1 to 10 so to speak, with 1 being holding hands or something and 10 being hardcore. If this was a 9 or 10 it definitely wouldn’t have its place in a church or in any other public place for that matter. Basically this sculpture is kinda like a PG-13 – older people would exchange a knowing glance over it, but kids would just see a woman about to be stabbed by a cherub.
        Hang on. That’s a disturbing image. Murder in the chapel, with an angel as the prime suspect. Hmmm…

        Like

      • Was it the spear or did he. like Col. Mustard, use a pipe? lol

        Jess, my work is in removing what you consider “9 or 10″ from the scale. It’s been there a long time. In tantra, “tamasic” sex includes rape. I don’t know when rape was included in this lexicon, but it is there today. In addition to my clinical definition of sex involving mental and or physical stimulation of nerve endings, the one I promote most is “sex is an intimate mechanism for transmitting love.” So is a smile, but less intimate. Our culture was conned out of love a long time ago, and most recently replaced with mushy gushy chick flicks and Subaru. Why? The power available to us in erotic love. The orgasmic experience is nice, but not the whole picture.

        Like

  33. @ “pjessien2013″

    Quote :

    “the only things ( an “ET” would) conclude from all the comments here is that there is a lot of animosity in this world and that human beings have an overpowering desire to have the last word.”

    …This perspective is an old one, borrowed from many writers, feigning objectivity, failing in most cases. You are also oversimplifying the species’ propensity for war and aggression, and reducing the argument to a false equivalency.

    An advanced, intelligent species, assuming their own intent was not to plunder, would more than likely be impressed by our 21st century bid to finally rid ourselves from the shackles of magical thinking and superstition. They would regard that as progress.

    It is not the last word that counts. It is the enlightened word that counts. A word or thought that lends itself to progress and advancement of the species is what counts. And the enlightened will always “have the last word”, regardless whether it ends on the final sentence of an argument.

    Quote :

    ” It’s amazing how quickly the debate has degenerated from ‘Does this piece of art have a sexual theme?’ to an RCC/Atheist stand-off. ”

    The so called “stand-off” was precipitated by religious zealots and the naïve. I began this commentary thread in ’09 not as an appeal to follow my opinions but to recommend Georges Bataille’s book“Death and Sensuality”, a very well respected French philosopher/writer. To date, no one seems to have read the book. No other tome I can think of so directly bears on Mark’s brilliant introduction to this subject.

    For the record, I am agnostic, by the strictest adherence to the term…Meaning not only do we not fathom the “divine”, but are incapable of doing so. Art may come close, but I have doubts, because art remains a prisoner within its social construct, as it will always likely remain.

    It may well be that this is what all art is about : A desperately contrived apotheosis of social expression.

    Quote :

    “Lighten up! :D

    No.

    I do not “lighten up” when it comes to the chronic stupidity of religious orthodoxies…Too much blood has been spilled, too much pain exacted upon the helpless, and I’m not going to sit here and quote you history.

    …And no I will not “lighten up”.

    Quote :

    “I’m a firm believer in the divine. Anyone who wants to take that up with me will find that my arguments are definitely not nonsensical, outdated, or unfounded; when I use words like “quantum” I can back them up with Heisenberg, de Broglie, Bohr, Planck”

    OK . I’ll bite. What does any aspect of quantum mechanics have to do with your belief in the “divine” ? Show me the proof of the “divine” as demonstrated by any of the above named. You do know the difference between “proof” and “belief”, I assume, otherwise don’t bother me with tired old arguments. I’m always amused when the self-confessed “religious” transparently attempt to promote their arguments by appealing to scientific authority figures.

    It’s ridiculous…Yeah, “the list goes on”…I’m sure you include Einstein and Sagan as well…Give us a break !!

    Quote :

    “Science and what religious people call the spiritual are not necessarily oil and water (and even if they were, there’s this thing called an emulsion”

    Yeah…And there’s this thing called rationalization…And just plain ole making sh@t up…Neither the RCC or the…uh…”religious”, own the word “spirit”… I find the etymology of the word to be most profound…All it was EVER meant to mean is “breath”.

    Breath. Period.

    But frankly, I find this to be much more profound than any deluded “church father’s” pretense to “holiness”, who places his bizarre stamp on the word. I am very weary of listening to this self-serving RCC propaganda about how “reconcilable” science is to religion. It is totally preposterous. Totally disingenuous, in light of Catholic Church history.

    Hypocrisy at it greatest expression.

    Quote :

    “Yes, I find the statue moderately sexual, and why not? Why shouldn’t her ecstasy be sexual?”

    Well you’ll have to take this up with the Vatican, because I’m reasonably certain they would not agree. In matters of sexuality, the RCC is arguably the most twisted and deluded institution on the planet. They still promote, with relish, the insanity of a “virgin birth”, and by tacit implication, that comes with the clear underlying baggage of a long sustained belief that sex is “dirty” and therefore a “divine presence” can only be spawned without sex…And the RCC continues its patronizing campaign to cover up its chronic history of sexual abuses…We may never know how many millions have suffered by their reckless disregard for human dignity.

    Quote :

    “After all, that’s the whole point of religious celibacy – forsaking a human partner to ‘marry’ yourself to God.”

    No. The “whole point of religious celibacy”, an insane idea from the beginning, was one of control. The uh…”marry yourself to God” is so obviously a rationalization for that control as to defy any record of pathetic human self-denial. It is only one of several self-serving tools of the RCC to promote its own internal propaganda.

    You are fooling yourself. Not me.

    Quote :

    “And I do think that it’s possible for everyone to coexist with their beliefs, the same way it’s possible for me to accept that while I have fought epic battles for M&Ms, ”

    That’s got to be about the silliest false equivalency argument so far promoted on this thread. Equating the long debated co-existence of various belief systems with fighting over candy. Brilliant. I’m speechless.

    Quote :

    “Maybe that’s why my first reaction to this sculpture was not ‘Is this sexual or not?’ It was ‘Wow, this guy was talented. His lines are flawless, his proportion is excellent, his composition is amazing.’…”

    Yes. It is why we call them “Masters”. To distinguish between them from wannabes and amateurs. We are all wannabes and amateurs, until we become “Masters”…and there is very little of that around today.

    I have no reason to doubt that you are an artist (its really better to defer to what others call you before you wear that mantel), but by this statement you do give the impression that you have not really seen or been around that much art.

    Quote :

    ” …If we keep throwing ourselves into trying to figure out the meaning of life, we may find that we don’t have much time left over to actually live.”

    Non sequitur. You’re coming to this conclusion how ? Certainly not by the preceding statement…No one here is arguing about the “meaning of life”. Not even close.

    Quote :

    “But know that I am also highly skilled in the art of flaying.”

    Right. Well feel free to rattle my cage all you want, and do so at your own peril.

    Like

    • James, “virgin births” are a reality. From what I have read there have been two or three in India in the past few years, from mothers who were intersexed at birth. It is no big deal.

      Returning to an earlier post, I am not concerned with “peer review.” My “peers” are locked into the pleasure procreation paradigm and cannot see what I offer: a different perspective. Further, most of them just follow the pack of the past.

      Regarding war, it is about greed. and what leaders Church or State can con us into. We can see this as far back as Gilgamesh.

      Now, lets take woo-speak again. Divine simply means to divine or find the unseen. Australian aborigine for thousands of years divined water in the desert. I believe with our Unique DNA coding we all have these intuitive abilites in some field. And of course spiriual simply means breathing, but various breathing exercises super oxygenate the cells in a different way than simple hyperventilation. And sacred, used to mean safe and sane, but now is a specific area designated by some guy in a costume that cannot be profaned. Many indigenous peoples held that area was everything under the sky. I think also this area is not the only one where word are re-defined to the detriment of humanity. Check “anger” and see what you come up with. That one was changed around 1938, but they forgot to reprogram us so now they call it “depression.” Yep. Science does it too.

      But back to Bernini he was a master and that woman is in the throes of orgasmic ecstasy!

      Like

      • @ “the sacredfemale”

        Art, that “intersexed” business is wrought with controversy and furthermore the Christian right could care less about any pretense to scientific explanations, be they “cutting edge’ or otherwise. The fundies and RCC only prefer to tout “miracles”.

        Don’t give these fanatics excuses for their lame superstitions, especially without proof. 2 or 3 ( !! ) case “studies” from India. Give me a break ! That is not evidence.

        Quote :

        “Returning to an earlier post, I am not concerned with “peer review.” My “peers” are locked into the pleasure procreation paradigm and cannot see what I offer: a different perspective. Further, most of them just follow the pack of the past.”

        Not concerned with peer review. Not just a bit arrogant, are we Art ? You’re on a rocky road to disappointment my friend. Because that’s how science works. Period.

        Nothing at all wrong with “different perspective(s)”. In fact, real scientists not only appreciate alternate perspective(s), they demand it, especially if someone is challenging a hypothesis. And real scientists do not “follow a pack”…If you can point to conclusive evidence of any hypothesis, evidence that repeatedly and by independent observation contradicts a long entrenched theory, science will listen.

        Sure, any group of human beings have egos, but, my father for example, cracked the toughest of them, including puff-ball Ph.Ds. My father only had a Cass Tech. High School diploma when he worked with Von Braun. (Cass Tech is a private high school in Detroit that, in the 40s at least, only the sharpest knives got in the door.)

        Suggest you find other peers for friends.

        War. Well that’s a tough one. Books have been penned down through the centuries about war. We are an aggressive, warlike species, but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way, assuming we survive. I am not a pacifist. That doesn’t mean I like war.

        Greed ? Yes. Vanity? Yes. Superstitious ? Yes. We will have to evolve out of it, unless somehow the gene folks can find a way to re-wire us and escalate our evolution without it turning into a nightmare.

        Quote :

        “Divine simply means to divine or find the unseen.”

        That’s your take on it. Not the religious fanatics on some of these blogs. They exploit and try to impose their own projections; they care less about etymology or concise definitions.

        Quote :

        “Check ‘anger’ and see what you come up with. That one was changed around 1938, but they forgot to reprogram us so now they call it “depression.” Yep. Science does it too.”

        Anger. Don’t need to “check it”. Anger is primal. Healthy. Legitimate. And necessary. And I do not equate anger with violence. Not the same. Anger is a legitimate emotion.

        I do not regard pop psychology…or any “psychology… as legitimate science. One step above Voodoo. Don’t lump all science into the feeble machinations of “psychology”. Furthermore I could care less what ancient superstitious aborigines or even American Indians (part of my own heritage) “divine”.

        I reject all ritual and superstition, regardless of its many faces, many tales, or many origins.

        Quote :

        “But back to Bernini he was a master and that woman is in the throes of orgasmic ecstasy”

        …And if you’ll read the book I cited in the very first comment here, you will understand the full weight of religiosity as related to both death and sensuality. A very important book.

        Like

    • First of all…how is your mother? I’m sorry if I’m intruding. It’s just that I was raised to care about people.
      And then…ahhhh…*cracks fingers* *rolls neck* You’re on.
      (Advance note: This is going to be very long.)

      Frankly, I’m too tired to quote, so I’m going to follow your points in their order. Forgive me. I’ve been up all night. And also, you misunderstand me a little. My comment wasn’t directed at you, per se, but at everyone who’s commented here. I just wanted to be sure you saw it, as it’s been some months since anyone posted here and I wasn’t sure if you were still following this, but I figured if it was in reply to one of your comments you’d get a notification for sure. My bad. :)

      1. The ET thing: I am not feigning objectivity. I am pointing out the sheer level of animosity here. And notice that I did mention that our hypothetical alien has no idea of human culture and history whatsoever (but of course he has amazing tech that will quickly decipher our languages so he can read this blog :D ). He’s probably a scout, sent to explore this cute new planet. So he wouldn’t know that this is the bloody twenty-first century, seeing as he wouldn’t know there was a Common Era. He wouldn’t know what our religions or ‘magical thinking and superstition’ were, so he couldn’t be impressed that we were breaking them. He would probably be exploring our art, considering the blog he picked to read. And so he would be rather confused when people started sniping at each other over a different issue, which (as I mentioned) he had no prior knowledge about. The only things he would be able to objectively report about us as an online society at least is that we are an aggressive species, and that sometimes we say illogical things to make our point, which is a sad picture of humanity really. And as I mentioned, it wasn’t directed at you personally but at everyone here (although I’m not sure anyone else is seeing it :( ).

      2. Yes, I’m aware of how the stand-off started. I can read you know. And I was drawing everyone’s attention to that fact, not just yours. The debate switched so fast that I’m not sure the people you were originally arguing with even noticed that you were recommending a book. It’s human nature. People have very selective vision. And I like how you stated that you were an agnostic, but immediately assumed that I was on the Roman Catholic side. I said I believe in the divine. Do you have any idea whether I’m Christian, Muslim, Baha’ist, Buddhist, Taoist…no. You assumed, and proceeded to bathe me in vitriol for the crimes of a belief system that I might not subscribe to. I could choose to be offended, you know, but really there’s no point. I’m happy-go-lucky like that. It’s a common mistake that many atheists/agnostics make. Not everyone that is religious is Christian. Even among the Christians, not everyone accepts all the tenets of that faith blindly. Keep that in mind, please? (And for the record, I’m sort of pseudo-Christian. I’ll explain that later on.)

      3. “The chronic stupidity of religious orthodoxies”…siiiigh. Please refer above, and continue here. I will agree with you on the dumbness of most of orthodoxy, but orthodoxy is a system. I don’t believe that it affects the Divine really, just like a faulty scientific theory doesn’t affect the actual physical running of the universe. And by the way, you might have noticed that I am not illiterate. I do not need you to quote history at me. In fact I could probably quote back a lot more of it to you. I am aware of the history of the RCC, and if you studied Christian history you would discover that yours is hardly a new sentiment. Centuries ago, Christians were already disillusioned by what the church had turned into, and they split away to form their own sects. They’re called Protestants. I was born into a Protestant family. We speak up against the Catholic church too. We refuse to accept the ridiculous doctrines that the RCC came up with over the years. I do not pray to saints any more than one would pray to Abraham Lincoln, and so on (this isn’t really the place to go into all that). I am aware of the atrocities of the Crusades, of the Inquisition, of freaking World War II. I am also aware that these things happened in the past, and that several popes have apologized publicly for at least some of these things. I am aware that the church now does not have Time-Turners, so history is going to remain the way it is. I am also aware that castigating the church now for what happened centuries ago is akin to blaming the German population now for Hitler’s psychosis. I am aware that yes, parts of the Church still do terrible things today, but I am also aware that directing your anger at random, simple people who believe what they were raised to or have chosen to believe is kinda pointless, especially if it’s on an art blog. Which is why I say you should lighten up. Your vitriol won’t change the past. Here it is directed at the wrong people, so it’s not doing anything for the present or future either. Take a cue from the Allies and the Axis. I don’t think the United States constantly reminds Germany of World War II. Germany is probably ashamed enough as it is.

      4. Sorry, I just realized you probably wouldn’t remember. I was referring to one of your own comments, when you said that our understanding of the divine would be quantum at best, or something along that lines. And I was trying to subtly indicate that I am conversant with modern science. Ummm. I see it didn’t work. *facepalm* And as for proof…both sides of this argument speculate. Do you have definitive proof that God doesn’t exist? I should think not. You followed a logic pattern to come to your conclusion. I followed a different logic pattern to come to mine. My point is that if you’d care to sit and look at my logic pattern with me, you’d find few “because they said so”s in it. There are holes, obviously, but I’d probably be able to find holes in yours too.

      5. Hell, this one is pathetic. Is this the best you could come up with? “All it was ever meant to mean was ‘breath’”? You do know what etymology and philology are, right? And that languages evolve constantly? Pick up a dictionary and look through it – thousands of words have more than one meaning, and sometimes these meanings are pretty unrelated. No-one argues over which meaning came first, because language is a human-created tool and so is subject to change by humans. About ‘spirit’, or ‘pneuma’ if we want to go all Greek here – yes, ‘pneuma’ means breath, as anyone who’s heard the word ‘pneumatic’ should be able to figure out. Speaking of pneumatic, that word originally meant ‘air-filled’ (in a nutshell). But popular culture has also brought it to mean ‘large-breasted’. I don’t see anyone lamenting that ‘all pneumatic was ever meant to mean was air-filled’. We just rolled with it. Back to the subject of spirit, ancient Greek traditions (and a lot of other ancient traditions too, including Jewish, from which Christianity arose) held that all creatures were just so many piles of crap until they were animated (from ‘anima’, which roughly means soul) by the pneuma, the breath. So once, you lost that pneuma, once you stopped breathing, you died. Anima out. They came to regard that pneuma as the vital force. Which is still the meaning of the word spirit today – the hypothetical vital force that governs our bodies and leaves us dead when it exits. Most religions hold that it comes from deity, who (according to belief) is/are usually vital force itself personalized, and returns to deity after death. And hence the adjective ‘spiritual’ arises: referring to this vital force, personalized in humans, and activities or phenomena that involve it. Got that bit? That’s how a word evolves. Seeing as practically all ancient societies (which are the basis of our society today) were religious in some form, saying that ‘all it was ever meant to mean was breath’ is kinda, well, illogical.
      And about science and religion…siiiiiiigh. History again. Why am I not surprised that you have failed to notice that plenty of churches and other religious institutions today have embraced science, teach that evolution is perfectly rational and also compatible with the concept of Deity, allow their members to donate blood and participate in other medical acts (in case you didn’t know, that’s kinda taboo in many religions), no longer say that the world is flat…? And it’s not propaganda, coming from me at least. They are reconcilable to each other. Science and religion are both tools. It’s the intent behind them that counts. I don’t castigate science for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I blame flawed human nature that inspired the war in the first place, because I have also seen the good that atomic physics has done (uninterrupted power supply, anyone?). In the same way I don’t blame spirituality or believing in God for some sick parish priest raping the children under his care. I blame flawed human nature that inspires all rapists everywhere, and all people that perpetrate violent acts, because I have seen the good that the church has done and continues to do. Heck, I probably wouldn’t be writing this if not for the church that first built schools in my native Africa.

      6. And tell me why I have to take it up with the Vatican? As I said, I’m not even Catholic. I definitely do not believe sex is dirty. Many Catholics I know don’t think so either. And the chronic history of sexual abuses is what happens when one isn’t allowed to get laid. Protestants recognized this, which is why pastors are allowed to marry, although some still choose to abstain. The result? You don’t hear a lot of news about Protestant clergy and sexual assault, because our pastors know that if the call of the horn is too loud they can get into a committed relationship.

      7. Celibacy…yeah. Arrogance strikes again. Research celibacy, not just in Christianity, but in all religions. It didn’t originate with the RCC. It started thousands of years before. Ancient Greek and Roman culture, which most ‘enlightened people’ venerate, had the Vestal Virgins, who gave up a sex life to keep the Eternal Flames in the temple of Hestia burning. Devotees to Artemis were usually celibate too. The original concept behind their celibacy was that they were so committed to divinity that they were willing to sacrifice their greatest bodily pleasure. They were basically entering an exclusive relationship with deity – no man could vie for their attention. It’s the same thing as a Buddhist abstaining in order to achieve nirvana – which, by the way, is kinda what happened with Teresa of Avila here. But concepts get corrupted by human nature, and along the line it turned into power play. Shoot me. But for Teresa, I doubt it was anything more than an extremely fervent belief in and devotion to her God. It’s the same way for thousands of nuclear physicist, atomic science is a wonderful, fascinating field to be explored, full of strange particles and complex equations, not a potential nuclear warhead (which is what the government sees it as). Will you blame them for the system’s bloodthirstiness?

      8. Co-existence. You may not have noticed, but I think I’m funny. Needless to say, my jokes usually fall flat *again, facepalm*. I see where you’re coming from – in hindsight, that sounds dumb. But I do know that co-existence works. Maybe it’s being Nigerian, coming from a place just about twice the size of California but that has over 250 distinct ethnicities, all struggling to be top dog. In such situations, you can’t help but learn to co-exist. About half my country is Muslim, and the other half is Christian. Despite the ongoing clashes and the pseudo-terrorist sect currently wreaking havoc across the North, we co-exist. My high school was in my country’s capital. We had an incredible mix of tribes. It was a Catholic school, but there was a large proportion of Protestants and Muslims too, and even a smattering of atheists/agnostics. Maybe because we were young, we never got antagonistic while discussing our beliefs (which we did, extensively) – we could joke about the holes in each other’s logic. We co-existed. Nobody attacked the Muslims when, in a city just about two hours away by car, a group of Muslim fanatics got up in the middle of the night and slaughtered an entire Christian community. Nobody blamed them. Nobody shunned them. We co-existed. When the threat came to Abuja itself, when another school in the capital was attacked, no-one asked the Muslims to leave. No-one blamed them. We co-existed. We lived. We joked about it together, Christians and Muslims. We were afraid, yes, but we also recognized that at the end of the day, no matter what we believe, we are all human. And we were friends. No Muslim there wanted to hurt us. No Muslim there was responsible for what his fellow Muslims were doing elsewhere. That’s co-existence. It’s possible. I don’t agree with all Muslim beliefs, but I recognize too that although I am far from one what would call a standard Christian, the way I think has been conditioned by years of Christian upbringing (hence what I said about being a pseudo-Christian). The way they were raised shapes their beliefs. The way you were raised, or maybe your life experiences, shapes yours. I can live with that. My choice, your choice. That’s co-existence. Don’t tell me it’s not possible, because I’ve lived it.

      9. I know what an Art Master is. And the term ‘artist’ is not limited to people who work with pencil, paint or pebbles (sorry, I had to alliterate. I know there are lots of other media). Music is art, and I am perfectly confident of my piano skills. Writing is art, too, and see for yourself how I write. If you’re interested, I can shunt a couple of essays and poems your way. I engage in visual art, too, and yes, I am an amateur, because it is an interest, not a career choice (if we’re sticking with ‘original word meanings’). I will never be a Master, as you capitalize, because there are other things I want to do with my life. Do you want me to start eulogizing about chiaroscuro or triptychs or the Vitruvian Man? I’m an amateur, yes, but I know what a djanting is and how to use it. Don’t tell me I don’t know art. But bear in mind our audience – this is not an email conversation, you know. The general public is reading this too, and I would prefer it if they didn’t go “Huh?” at every other word – hence my using a statement that the ordinary, non-Art-buff would be able to relate to.

      10. Siiiiiiiiiigh. I would have thought that the theme of that paragraph was clear. As I see it wasn’t, let me rephrase in simple terms: Screw the debate for a bit. Take a five-minute coffee break and just admire Bernini’s art. Then come back and get it on. And, as I have said before, it wasn’t directed at just you (yes, you guys watching from the stands, I’m talking to you). It’s directed at everyone who will read this post. The “meaning of life” thing is an idiom. Translated to the current situation: don’t bury art in endless commentary. Yes, the symbology is there, it’s not running away, but let’s make time for appreciation too, m’kay?

      11. I hope I’ve rattled your cage. I hope I’ve broken the lock and flung the cage door open. What beast do you have in there? I’m prepared to take it head on.

      Still: Lighten up! :D (Okay, that was meant to be annoying. Forgive me for being a teenager.)

      Like

      • Sorry, Jess. “Anger used to be “intense sorrow.” Since we live in a culture that is WIN, we cannot lose and feel sorrow, so it must be depression? There is clinical depression, cemical imbalances, etc.

        I am not as cavalier as you regarding the definitions of words and seeking their original meanings. The use of words in all languages is a mechanism for programming, primarily separation. Co-existance will be much easier when we learn to speak from the heart. I really like the way you say things. Are you on Facebook?

        Like

      • Yes, I am on Facebook (Jewel Essien). I apologize in advance for the extreme retardedness of my timeline :)

        And clinical depression IS clinical in some cases. Some people are unable to produce or regulate the levels of their monoamine neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine), which is kind of like a diabetics and insulin. The monoamines are the body’s reward system, and they’re mostly responsible for happy, contented feelings, whether relaxed-happy or exhilarated-happy, and so a disturbance in this system would lead to a prevalence of darker moods. Sometimes the cause is genetic, sometimes it’s triggered by life experiences, sometimes it’s caused by substance abuse (drugs like alcohol are called depressants or stimulo-depressants because they affect the monoamine balances). Of course there are many cases of depression that are purely psychological, but there are people who do have a physiological ailment that literally curbs their happiness. It’s why some patients merely get therapy while others get prescriptions for antidepressants, which stimulate monoamine production.

        I sound cavalier??? :( *bursts into tears* Oh dear…

        And I agree that following the (metaphysical) heart is an integral part of co-existence. For me, my faith is not in empty rituals or outmoded laws, but in the single, eternal doctrine of love. Love all people, everywhere, unconditionally. It’s hard obviously, and it’s practically impossible to attain, but I find it hard to judge or attack people for what they believe or say or do when I think “If this were my brother/sister, how would I react to this?” That’s what my faith is about: realizing that the same allowances you’d make for someone you love also apply to the rest of the populace. Many people have lost the ability to see a face first. They see a mask with tags on – religious, social, ethnic – and they react stereotypically. I try to see the face. The other person is a human first, and then Asian, Christian or whatever. A human first. Everything else may change, but s/he will still be a human. And as long as you are both human, both of you deserve and should give respect.

        Like

    • @JamesBallard:

      Some things I forgot to address…

      Speaking of quantum mechanics and God, the other day I was discussing the Heisenberg Principle with a friend of mine. Basically the gist of it was that God, in a manner, is subject to this principle. (For the people who don’t know what it is, it’s basically that the more certain you are of an electron’s position, the less you are of its velocity and vice versa.) The same way, you cannot both rationalize and believe in God. If you were able to completely explain Their existence, that would make you greater than They are. But the more you believe, the more divinity defies understanding. I try to walk the middle path. Also, C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy suggests that the spiritual may actually be physical, but simply operating at a higher frequency or in a higher dimension (yes, multidimensional theory is scientific. There are about forty-seven mathematical dimensions as of last I checked. It’s possible that things existing in a higher dimension would be imperceptible to us (just like we can perceive a point (one-dimensional) but I’m hard-pressed to believe that a point can perceive us). As for frequency…it’s the way our eyes can only detect radiation in the 400 to 700 nanometer wavelength range. The rest of the electromagnetic spectrum is no less real because of it. A few centuries ago people would have found the thought that there was more ‘light’ in the world than we could see hilarious. But now that we have devices that can detect them, we have ‘discovered’ and are using microwaves, radio waves, gamma rays, X-rays…my point is, that the metaphysical cannot (yet) be detected by contemporary science does not mean that it does not exist.

      And the whole “divine presence can only be conceived in the absence of sex” thing…sorry, you sort of got that wrong. Christian tradition states rather baldly that “she conceived of the Holy Spirit (an aspect of God)”. In its pure meaning that indicates she had sex with God, like how in the Greek tradition Zeus and the rest of the gods had sex with mortals and produced demigods. She probably had a similar ‘ecstasy’. Which is perfectly logical seeing as Jesus was meant to be God’s son. If she’d had him through a man he wouldn’t exactly be divine would he? While this may not be what literally happened, that’s the original symbology. But yeah, centuries later a group of sexually repressed people with dubious aims decided to twist it into something else. Shoot me. It’s the same way that people blissfully ignore the fact that the rest of the account of Jesus’ life shows clearly that the ‘Virgin’ Mary and her husband got it on so spectacularly well that she went on to have (possibly more than) five more happily mortal children.

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      • @ “pjessien2013″

        No I will not “lighten up”. And you obviously still have a long way to grow. Nor will I indulge you further by piece-mealing and untangling all your naïve rationalizations.

        I asked you for your “evidence” for the “divine”.

        You give me anecdote. Not evidence. You yap-yap on and on about with whom you yapped- yapped about the “Heisenberg Principle”, and in the most convoluted way imaginable, you try to project Heisenberg into your fantasy bubble about divinity. What a joke.

        Then you ramble on about a premier fantasy writer to compound your silly plea to authority. It’s ridiculous.

        No. You lighten up !! Get real !!

        And I’m definitively aware that when we comment here to individual avatars, we are also promoting public exchange and readership.

        I ask you for proof.

        I ask you for evidence.

        Which you claim, by dint of a gratuitous appeal to authority, to have in your possession.

        You clearly do not comprehend what constitutes evidence.

        You clearly do not comprehend what is required of you to present proof.

        Of anything.

        All your winding, convoluted rambling proves is that you have no proof.

        No evidence.

        Of a “divine” anything.

        Not even close.

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      • Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
        Do endeavor to be a little less patronizing and antagonistic, please?
        I will be the first person to admit that I have a long way to grow – for goodness’ sake, I’m just starting my life, and frankly if I had no more growing to do I’d be scared – but would you mind explaining to me exactly how you came to that conclusion? And what, exactly, are my ‘naïve rationalizations’? You will not indulge me, or you cannot refute what I’ve said?

        If you insist, though…okay. I will try to keep my logic pattern strictly scientific. Begin with the universal law of cause and effect. For every ‘effect’, every observable phenomenon, there is an equally observable, adequate cause. So we have a regression of causes and effects, with one’s cause being the effect of another, until we get to the point of the first cause – the cause that was not itself caused. Now you could argue that this regression is infinite, but it’s been proven that our universe is not infinite; it had a beginning (about 13.7 billion years ago, by physicists’ latest calculations). So the cause-effect regression is equally finite, and there was a first cause. That primal cause is what people refer to as the divine.
        And then there’s the teleological, or design, argument, the gist of which is that for the universe to exhibit such intelligent design as it does, there had to have been an intelligent designer. There is a popular analogy: go to a junkyard, pack up a whole lot of spare parts, and tumble them together for a couple billion years – what are the odds that you will get a sparkling, working 1938 Bugatti, or anything recognizable as a car for that matter? Let’s make it a little closer to our situation. Chop up all those spare parts into so much scrap metal, and tumble them together. Expecting complex design out of that is, frankly, rather absurd. Mind you, this is for an inanimate object – the already astronomical odds rise exponentially when you factor in creating life out of non-life. Without an intelligent designer, our universe is so improbable that it would give statisticians heart attacks. You can choose to believe that there are infinitely many universes out there and ours just happened to be the one out of…sorry, we don’t have numbers large enough. I choose to believe the more plausible explanation of some form of an intelligent designer, which is what people refer to as the divine.
        There are other arguments, but I have a mild headache and so I am not going to bother typing them here when you will probably not even bother to read them properly. You, my dear sir, are already extremely prejudiced against the notion of God(s), and so nothing I’m going to say is going to move you. That saddens me, because debating is no fun when the other person is just being pigheaded.

        And as for lightening up… :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
        Oh the irony…
        When you figure out how to stop using vitriol to bull your way through an argument, THEN come back and ask me to lighten up. Till that day…maybe I should leave you with my favorite movie line:
        Why so serious?

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      • Ah! Headache subsided, so I can go on :) I’m sure I’ve said this somewhere, but NOT EVERYTHING IS AN APPEAL TO AUTHORITY (maybe the message will get across better in caps). I mention Lewis because he was my first foray into philosophy (admittedly, it was an assignment to delineate the weakness of his arguments) and so obviously he influenced the way I think.

        And, a bit of fact-spewing: there are forty-seven published volumes of Lewis’ non-fiction (most of which are philosophical essays), several collections of poetry, and of course his fiction, of which the Narnia series is practically the only fantasy (Boxen doesn’t really count, as it’s mostly published scribblings from his childhood). C. S. Lewis was not only an author: he was a literary critic, medievalist and academic (he was a Fellow and later held a chair at Oxford). So I fail to see how any rational person can sum up his entire career by calling him a ‘fantasy writer’. Especially as I was not referring to his fantasy works. The Space Trilogy, which I referred to, is SCIENCE FICTION for goodness’ sake. Extremely accurate science fiction, I should add, bearing in mind that it was written in the forties. It’s the work of a brilliant mind, which Lewis certainly had. I mean, not everyone gets a triple first from Oxford. Just saying.

        (Yes, for anyone who hasn’t yet noticed, I am a Lewis fan :D )

        Oh yeah, the proof-and-evidence thing I mentioned: it is perfectly possible to prove something without evidence. It’s called mathematics (and a lot of physics too). I’m sorry, it’s just that I’ve seen too many problem sets beginning with statements like “Assuming a spherical cow…”
        Proofs are deductive arguments, beginning with an axiom or axioms and progressing with inferred statements to the conclusion you are aiming at. Evidence is, well, evidence. You can see it. Rather self-explanatory. It’s why scientific theories can be propounded with extensive logical proofs in the absence of any ‘hardcore’ evidence whatsoever – the evidence may come centuries later (the evidence for Newton’s gravitational laws is still being gathered, for instance). Point being, I have given you my logic proof (at least part of it). Don’t ask me for evidence, because bloody hell, what do you want me to do? Open a box and say, “Here is the divine”? And, by the way, lack of evidence is not evidence. You cannot use my lack of ‘evidence’ to rule out the possibility that what I say is true if I can back myself up with logic. You can read all about that in the records of court cases. Whatever. I ramble.

        So, seeing as I’ve answered your question, would you mind answering it yourself? Are you also going to share with us the logic that leads you to rule out the existence of the supernatural? Or are you going to huff and puff ‘refuse to indulge’ me again? (Funny, that reminds me a lot of what people do when they realize they don’t really have anything to say.)

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    • James, there are many in the community who have guided me, some even negatively. The statement, “I have no peers” means no one has looked at as many areas and put them together the way I have. Much of it is speculation and I say so. I really don’t care if I am right or not. I know what worked for me, and may work for others. My speculation is in how it works.

      Strangely, I use a Newtonian model for love, and state the problem is it is Newtonian. Since Lipton, I don’t pay much attention to conventional microbiology which is Newtonian. (Whew! It was pretty damn complex, and Lipton bailed me out. lol)

      Of course, between you and I, you don’t know a damn thing about sex, except what is in the common perview, as validated by your own experience. mostly based on misogynistic myth, and promoted by the various common cults. I have been where I would like to see men go. I have researched it in modern science back to 10000 BCE, (here and there.) I have seen error in interpretation, but no one wants to listen to anything about sex that they don’t already think they know. I know this because it took a damn big 2 X4 to beat it into my head.

      and, Miss onemoreoption, yes he is annoyingly persistent, and I love it! Were it not for the James Ballards of the world, we would all sink to depths of gross commonality.

      Like

  34. Stop arguing on what you believe…. just respect everyone’s opinion. Why do people always attack the Catholic Church? I’m not denying the FACT that some of the Catholic Priests have made mistakes. But why do you always ascribe those uncontrollable mistakes to the Catholic Church as a whole. Maybe in the past years, the Church has made wrong and rude decisions on how they can bring all those lost sheep back in the pasture but their INTENTION is always clean. They want to give direction to those souls. I am a proud Catholic, I know we have made mistakes but can’t you see it? The current POPE want to change that impression. Not all priests are weak and easily tempted by the Carnal desire. Priests are just people who want to submit their lives to God, but we must remember there are JUST people. And NOBODY is perfect. They commit mistakes, it can be forgivable or it can be immoral, who does not? So I just want to tell you that the intention of Catholic Church is CLEAN and HOLY, maybe that intention is passed to the wrong people. Let’s have an example; if you’re in a far away place, far from your love ones, and you want to send a letter to them to say “I love you”. But the messenger you have chosen is irresponsible and mistakenly pick the letter you will supposedly send to your enemy (the message of the letter written to your enemy is “I HATE YOU”). Let’s say that the Catholic Church is the one who made the letter and the messenger represents those priest who, you say, allegedly engaged themselves in an immoral activity.

    Why it so easy for us to judge someone for his actions; and very hard for us to consider other angles of why he has done such action?

    Well a lot of people nowadays are liberal and thinking freely. And I respect their ideas and opinion. But sometimes we have to think carefully what we will going to say. We have to consider what will others feel. I think those people who EASILY judge others and say their rude thoughts are more IGNORANT than the Church. I am huge fan of Science and I am liberal person also but i know my limitations and I know my role as a human being. I must learn to respect people and their Ideas. I never stop learning and discovering things but I also know that everything I do must glorify my God. I don’t know why do people, like people in Science, attack the Catholic Church? Aren’t they happy that they have already win some of the Catholics? If you say that our God is not true, I will never stop you; instead I will respect you ideas. In one condition, PLEASE respect our beliefs also. If there will be people who will go and follow your tracks then good for you. But this is what I’m telling you, not all people will delight on what you propose…because they know their God is true. And taking that God from this world? Will lead to chaos.
    :) No hard feelings! peace! Praise the Lord.

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  35. Pingback: Saint Teresa of Avila | Drinks With Dead People

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