Weekly Round-Up, April 10, 2015

April 10, 2015

There is so much good happening in the world of theology and the arts. At the end of each week, we'd like to share with you a few of the great things we've discovered this past week from around the internet.

During the Great Depression, New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art began setting up small exhibitions in out-of-the-way places around the city where there were people of "certain groups in the city's population that have not thus far had the adequate opportunity to take advantage of the Museum's services," to quote the 1933 Museum bulletin which announced the exhibition. The Met's Digital Media Department blog featured a post about the exhibitions recently, and the decade-long mission of the program is inspiring even if it was ultimately doomed.

The impetus was purely altruistic: Quite simply, if certain New York City residents could not come to the Museum, then the Museum would come to them. The Met's goal was to make the collection available in the far reaches of the city, and "to persons prevented from visiting the Museum by heavy schedules of work and study." Over those 5 years, the Museum installed 1,500 objects in 50 exhibitions across 27 locations throughout 4 of the city's boroughs.

Speaking of New York City, The Vault, Slate's history blog, recently featured a series of photographs by photojournalist and portrait photographer Jessie Tarbox Beals. The photos show Bohemian life in NYC between 1910 and 1920. Beals' attempts to stabilize her life and income as a photographer are also chronicled in the feature, and her struggles are much less foreign to artists today than are the subjects of her photographs. Some things never change.

In a series of photographs taken between 1910 and 1920, Jessie Tarbox Beals documented the parties and get-togethers of bohemian Greenwich Village. Beals also took posed portraits of denizens of the Village, some of which she sold as postcards to curiosity-seekers interested in seeing how the famously "liberated" men and women of the Village conducted their lives. These group shots of gatherings are the most casual of her Village images. 

If you are an NPR listener, you are probably aware of StoryCorps, the endeavor to record as many human voices telling their own stories as possible. In a recent TED Talk, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay elaborated on the StoryCorps vision to go global.

I wanted to try something where the interview itself was the purpose of this work, and see if we could give many, many, many people the chance to be listened to in this way. So in Grand Central Terminal 11 years ago, we built a booth where anyone can come to honor someone else by interviewing them about their life.

Forty years have passed since movie audiences first met up with Monty Python's knights on their quest for the immortal grail, and quest itself seems more immortal every year. David Sims, writing for the Atlantic, considers both the immediate enduring impacts of the much-beloved film.

Showing Holy Grail to a young comedy fan now can almost be like showing Casablanca to someone who watches a lot of Hollywood dramas—it’s like seeing the template for success; one that’s been repeated, tweaked, challenged and paid homage to over and over again.Saturday Night Live began airing later that year with one foot firmly planted inMonty Python sketches; Matt Groening called it a great influence on The Simpsons; every subsequent film that broke the fourth wall felt in its debt.

Our friends over at Think Christian are doing what they can to prepare you for the upcoming arbor holiday of Earth Day. They've collected the articles they've featured on stewardship, creation care, and the like into a convenient PDF package. Head on over and download it now.

Tackling these and other topics are some of our best contributors, from University of Michigan environmental ethics professor Rolf Bouma to popular TC columnists Branson Parler and Karen Swallow Prior. Branson gets at the heart of the matter in his piece about an attempt to turn a blighted section of Detroit into an urban forest: “The whole point of the original story of the Garden of Eden is that humans are called to accept limits. We are the image of God, but we are not God.”

Finally, speaking of the environment, Orion Magazine, "America's Finest Enviromental Magazine," as they like to refer to themselves, is celebrating National Poetry Month by featuring new poems on the environment regularly throughout April. Bookmark the page and check back often for new poetic treasures. (And we'd like to extend a special thank you to Mockingbird for alerting us to Orion's endeavor.) Here's one of their featured poems:

The Fog Town School of Thought

They should have taught us birds and trees
in school, they should have taught us beauty
and weaving bees and had a class
on listening and standing alone—
the children should have studied light
reflected from a spider web,
we should have learned the branches of streams
spread out like fingers or the veins
of a leaf—we should have learned the sky
is the tallest steeple, we should have known
a hill is a voice inside the sky—
O, we should have had our school
on top and stayed until the night
for the fog to bloom in the hollows and rise
like cotton spinning off a wheel—
we should have learned a dream—a child’s
and even still a man’s—is made
from fog and love, my word, you’d think
with the book in front of us we should
have learned how Fog Town got its name.

—Maurice Manning

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