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Archive for the 'Visible' Category

Symbolism for the Body

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

It’s been a long time coming, but this month Noel and I have finally been offered wine for communion at our own church. It is amazing — even unsettling — how quickly our bodies and minds rewire expectations. After two years of tipping back little cups of Welch’s finest every Sunday, I had grown to associate the solemn words, “Christ’s blood, for you,” with an easy shot of sugary, watery juice-from-concentrate.

When I took wine, I shivered a little. Rather than being a sweet, comforting splash, the wine stung. The initial sharpness and developing complexity jolted me. I can forget the grape juice almost immediately after I drink it. I cannot do that with the wine. The wine lingers. It traces a line of acid down my throat; its tannins linger in the back of my mouth. My body cannot forget it quickly, and so my mind and my spirit are prompted to consider longer and more carefully the gravity of what I have just done.

Isn’t this what Christ sacrifice is? Mingling a sting with layered richness, the wine speaks to the bitterness and the glory, the already and the not yet, that I claim when I take this sacrament.

When we begin to separate the physical reprecussions of the symbol from its spiritual meaning, we begin to veer towards an unhelpful — an incorrect — dualism of spirit and fbody. But God became flesh to save us. He gives us sacraments to call to our flesh, to offer us truth incarnate in touchable, tastable, visible forms. When I take the wine, I relish the symbolism that serves my soul through my body.

An All-Over Hue

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Dr. Paul Morton ranks among my favorite professors at Covenant. Besides being a tremendous history teacher, speaking in eminently quotable phrases, and dealing with college politics exclusively through the lens of sarcasm, Dr. Morton also had a remarkably specific code of dress.

On the days when he wasn’t wearing a sweater vest, he would stride into class clad entirely in a single color. He wore black, of course, like the erudite intellectual that he is. A black turtleneck, slightly faded black pants, a black belt, black socks, and black shoes. Sometimes he chose brown as the color of the day: a chocolate button-down, brown trousers, and coordinating belt and shoes. He wore a cream-and-khaki ensemble, too, and that one played with texture; the cable knit of the ivory sweater vest playing off of the khaki twill and cream jersey turtleneck.

Not that the man was afraid of color. He owned forest green pants around which he built a truly amazing outfit. He had kidney-bean colored pants, too. And while I occasionally cringed when his shades of olive green inhabited the shadowlands of neither-matching-nor-contrasting, I admired his commitment. Not everyone can pull off 6’4″ of eggplant.

But today I read a New York Magazine profile on New Yorkers who wear a single color — and not black — exclusively. My favorite was Elizabeth Sweetheart, a fabric designer who is deeply, passionately dedicated to kelly green.

elizabeth sweetheart

I guess Dr. Morton has a ways to go before he can count himself among the truly color-committed.

Seven Weeks, Seven (or so) Pictures

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I’ve stopped apologizing for long gaps in my blogging attempts. When writing fancy academic things is your daily grind, it can be hard to code switch to witty, more public-friendly banter. So, good visual culture historian that I am, here are roughly the equivalent of seven thousand words, summarizing my winter break and subsequent return to the hallowed pink granite halls of learning:

Week 1:

Not yet free, I grade final exams where students tell me ridiculous things about Manet.

Week 2:

snow angel

St. Louis has its biggest snow since ancient times. I am addicted to making snow angels and singing along to Over the Rhine’s Christmas album.

Week 3:

gingerbread jungle

In the culinary paradise of my in-laws’ home in Houston, my sisters and I create a veritable masterpiece: a gingerbread savannah. In 3-d.

Week 4:

bootiful

I grow deeply attached to my Christmas gift: riding boots.

Week 5:

love on the beach up up up

Home.

Week 6:

roomba

We get our very own Roomba. Suddenly, we come home to a clean rug every day. Lives change. The faint sound of rejoicing angels is heard.

Week 7:

rollercoaster

I get my thesis chapter back from my adviser, begin TAing for Intro to Modern, clean out the basement, return to choir, and finally get a Missouri driver’s license. But perhaps most importantly, I realize that my Mac’s Photobooth application got an upgrade with Leopard.