Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A visit to the Surfin' Madonna in Encinitas

We took a quick trip to Encinitas to have a look at the Surfing Mary mosaic.  An up-close examination immediately reveals that the quality of the art is excellent.  And we encountered a constant stream of visitors to the site.  Is it reverential?  Is it poking fun at a religious figure?  Unlike the Mount Soledad Cross, this picture does not seem to be claiming the town for Jesus Christ. Whatever the interpretation, it may eventually find itself removed.  The mosaic enlivens an otherwise drab overpass, but whoever put it up did not go through proper channels and procedures. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Studying the world of secular people

Pitzer College is a small (approx 1000 students) that is part of the Claremont Colleges (a university divided into five colleges).  Located near Los Angeles, it has won some degree of prestige.  The 2011 US News and World Report College Rankings, for example, placed Pitzer College as the 46th overall best liberal arts college.  Now it is adding a department for secular studies, and will probably be the first college to offer a major course of study in secular sociology.  As the founder explains:

“It’s not about arguing ‘Is there a God or not?’ ” Mr. Zuckerman said. “There are hundreds of millions of people who are nonreligious. I want to know who they are, what they believe, why they are nonreligious. You have some countries where huge percentages of people — Czechs, Scandinavians — now call themselves atheists. Canada is experiencing a huge wave of secularization. This is happening very rapidly.
“It has not been studied,” he added.
Will SD Shout come under study?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another National Day of Prayer has Passed

For those not up-to-date on the world of euche, today was the National Day of Prayer.  Read about this day in previous entries here, here and here.  Joining the commemoration this year was our own Governor Jerry Brown, who issued this:


I ask all Californians to seek out the moving words of our President who has proclaimed May 5, 2011 as a “National Day of Prayer.” President Obama invites “all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy.”

A National Day of Prayer is an occasion for each of us to reflect more deeply on the eternal verities and those matters which transcend our everyday routines. Through prayer, one opens the heart and stills the mind so that the Divine Presence may be directly encountered. 
I encourage Californians to participate in this day in the manner that is most appropriate to their own religious or spiritual beliefs and experience.
NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a “Day of Prayer” in California.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 5th day of May 2011.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Religion makes a public art appearance in Encinitas

A group posing as maintenance workers recently installed an interesting mural under a bridge in Encinitas.  Made to resemble stained glass, it depicts Mary, in the pose of Our Lady of Guadalupe, riding a surfboard in an impressive wave.  The fate of the mural is undecided for now since the anonymous group did not go through city or county channels, and it is therefore basically graffiti.

Religion, along with its stories and figures, is eminently valid material for art.  And unlike the Mount Soledad Easter Cross, this mural is clearly an artistic work rather than a call for public recognition of a religion.