Appreciating religious works of art
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01-10-2012, 02:23 PM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
(30-09-2012 02:17 AM)Ozzie Wrote:  A friend of mine who is also an atheist got on me the other day for having a picture of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which I took while I was in Italy, as the background to my Facebook profile. He made it seem like it is wrong for me to appreciate religious art if I don't believe in God. So my question is, can you appreciate religious works of art for their artistic merits even if you do not believe in a God?

Although I am as hard-core atheist as one could possibly be, I have to admit that I ran all around Europe taking pictures of every gothic cathedral I came across, and also of the religious works from the great masters such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, etc...not because it did anything for me in a religious level, but simply because the artistic value of these works of art moved me in a way few things have ever done. Does one have to shun religious art and ignore the artistic elements of these works simply because he/she has no belief in God? How do you feel about this subject?
It's art. What's not to be appreciated? I see no reason why being an atheist should remove ones ability to enjoy art no matter what kind it is. In fact, I think some religious art is among the best art simply because of the level of heart and dedication that goes into both religion and art together from the artist. I feel the same about religious music. Some of it can move me like few other pieces of music can.

As a side note, I also think that because the beauty in religious art and music are experienced almost exclusively in places of worship, it also contributes to the "god delusion" by subconsciously associating that beauty with the act of worshiping.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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02-10-2012, 03:14 PM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
(01-10-2012 05:57 AM)poolboyg88 Wrote:  *yawn*

The Nazis had colourful banners, and impressive stadiums. And?

Every one of those pieces was built with insidious purpose (propaganda, indoctrination, etc), and paid for with stolen wealth (gathered from conquered lands, conquered peoples, taxes, diverting of resources for insidious projects, glorification of fear-ignorance-subjugation, etc), and the blood of the innocent (slaves, the conquered, the persecuted, countless victims laid down in order to make way for this ... "art").

You can find other uses in these pieces- utilizing them to promote some other philosophy, but there is no appreciation for what it really is. Think what was the purpose for these pieces, and what had to have occurred for it to come about (all mentioned above).

Hm... in the light of your viewpoint, you will not find a single piece of art that didnt have a purpose like you discribred it above.
From the paintings of the caveman to the digital paintings artists do today, they all cross-refer to each other.
Sometimes the making of art in what manner so ever, become part of a ritual, a meditation or a happening.
Even a porn-painting or photo has a purpose, if i remember right.

If atheism is a religion, then not playing football is an Olympic discipline.
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02-10-2012, 04:14 PM (This post was last modified: 02-10-2012 04:18 PM by Ozzie.)
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
(01-10-2012 05:57 AM)poolboyg88 Wrote:  *yawn*

The Nazis had colourful banners, and impressive stadiums. And?

Every one of those pieces was built with insidious purpose (propaganda, indoctrination, etc), and paid for with stolen wealth (gathered from conquered lands, conquered peoples, taxes, diverting of resources for insidious projects, glorification of fear-ignorance-subjugation, etc), and the blood of the innocent (slaves, the conquered, the persecuted, countless victims laid down in order to make way for this ... "art").

You can find other uses in these pieces- utilizing them to promote some other philosophy, but there is no appreciation for what it really is. Think what was the purpose for these pieces, and what had to have occurred for it to come about (all mentioned above).

That is almost word for word what my buddy said. He said I was promoting symbols of subjugation, slavery, and indoctrination by claiming that religious art can have any artistic merit.

I still disagree with both your viewpoints. If we are going to go down that route, we may as well take all the artwork from antiquity that depict Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods and goddesses and toss it all into the Tiber river. I think it is important to preserve the patrimony of our human species, and one can't deny that for most of our existence the overwhelming majority of our heritage has been religious. To deny this and to belittle this artistic heritage is to deny most of of the history of our species.

As for WWII, I collect war memorabilia and civilian memorabilia from that era. In addition to British, French, Russian, and American helmets, I also have a German helmet. Not because I agree in any way with the evil philosophy of Nazism, but because it is a part of our history...and to destroy certain symbols of our human past and to pretend that history never happened is to forget all the lessons we have learned as a species (and those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.) You will also probably hate me because I also have a collection of currency,coinage, and postage stamps from the 1930's and 1940's of all the nations that participated in WWII. That collection includes currency and stamps from Germany and Italy, a lot of it which have slogans and symbols that I personally consider offensive to the human race. So why do I have it? For the same reason I stated above. It is part of our human history, and to not preserve that history would be a crime to future generations who might want to learn the valuable and hard-learned lessons from our past.

Stop the itchy blanket of Creationism from spreading to our classrooms. Say no to Iron Age superstitions Evil_monster
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02-10-2012, 07:52 PM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
Many religious works of art are also the best kinds of art, because they deal with profound topics like philosophy, our place in the Universe, personal meaning, etc.

When we cast all of the hocus-pocus bullshit aside; religion depicts concepts which are actually very poetic and beautiful. A man who is so overcome with love for all of Mankind that he endures the horrific beating and humiliation of persecution, then cries aloud to a "grand designer" as he dies upon a crucifix? That's beautiful. It's poetic and profound and beautiful. Even the epic story of an angel rebelling against God and setting into motion a chain of events that will spiral downward for millenia afterward is a fascinating depiction if taken for what it really is: poetry.

I have a copy of "The Divine Comedy" because I find such fantastical themes to be fascinating. I even flip through the Bible from time to time simply for the literary aspect of it. H.P. Lovecraft is a genius as he depicts "elder gods" which rule over the Universe. Edgar Allan Poe is enthralling as he explains how his long-lost love, Ligeia, is able to reach out to him from beyond the grave by overtaking the body of his new (but seemingly unworthy) wife.

The fact that a work of art is religious or "spiritual" or supernatural in nature - and you and I happen to be atheists - in no way means that it's wrong to appreciate the artwork for what it is. Whether it's through sculpture, cinema, painting, or literature; art is art. Sometimes despite it's theme - other times BECAUSE of it's theme.

I would encourage you to ask your friend if he applies his (her?) own logic to his life and refrains from viewing films with fantastical or extraordinary themes. Just to put things into perspective.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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02-10-2012, 08:01 PM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
[/quote] I think it is important to preserve the patrimony of our human species, and one can't deny that for most of our existence the overwhelming majority of our heritage has been religious. To deny this and to belittle this artistic heritage is to deny most of of the history of our species. [/quote]

This calls to mind something that a fellow atheist said to me once. He pointed out that while religious beliefs have been and continue to be a driving force for evil and irrationality in this world; if we set that bias aside and look at their origins, religion is, quite simply, a product of early Man's attempts to explain the world around them. Take the "Tower Of Babel" story, for instance. Yeah, it's crazy and stupid and unfounded, but it's an ancient culture's attempt to explain the diversity of language throughout the world. It's seeking an explanation in the only way they knew how.

In today's world, religion is a scourge, and a justification for all sorts of evils, but if we look at how it began, we'll find it's an important part of our past and the gradual learning process that we've undertaken since we started walking upright. We were just babies feeling our way around the world.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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02-10-2012, 09:54 PM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
: ) I think they're fun to mock.


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03-10-2012, 06:10 AM (This post was last modified: 03-10-2012 06:27 AM by PoolBoyG.)
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
This isn't a viewpoint, it's reality.

It's a bit depressing how so far removed from reality some users wilfully are, and how they scramble to justify horrific-depressing-and disgusting acts of humanity because of something "pretty".

As I said, you can still have these pieces around, and re-use the pieces to promote some other philosophy BUT YOU DAMN WELL BE SURE to teach the history behind it. If not, you're just justifying the ignorance, the indoctrination, the stolen lives and wealth that went into the pieces. This is an act of divorcing oneself from reality because it makes you feel better, so you can better "appreciate" the piece. You WANT to appreciate it (so you can manufacture some "awe" and "wonder" to make you all warm and toasty inside).

Just don`t overlook or hide the horrors, and failures in humanity that had to occur in order to create these pieces. Truth is much more powerful, and more "appreciative" than fiction.

*yawn*

The Nazis had colourful banners, and impressive stadiums. And?

Every one of those pieces was built with insidious purpose (propaganda, indoctrination, etc), and paid for with stolen wealth (gathered from conquered lands, conquered peoples, taxes, diverting of resources for insidious projects, glorification of fear-ignorance-subjugation, etc), and the blood of the innocent (slaves, the conquered, the persecuted, countless victims laid down in order to make way for this ... "art").

You can find other uses in these pieces- utilizing them to promote some other philosophy, but there is no appreciation for what it really is. Think what was the purpose for these pieces, and what had to have occurred for it to come about (all mentioned above).
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03-10-2012, 07:10 AM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
(03-10-2012 06:10 AM)poolboyg88 Wrote:  This isn't a viewpoint, it's reality.

It's a bit depressing how so far removed from reality some users wilfully are, and how they scramble to justify horrific-depressing-and disgusting acts of humanity because of something "pretty".

As I said, you can still have these pieces around, and re-use the pieces to promote some other philosophy BUT YOU DAMN WELL BE SURE to teach the history behind it. If not, you're just justifying the ignorance, the indoctrination, the stolen lives and wealth that went into the pieces. Divorcing yourself from reality because it makes you feel better, so you can better "appreciate" the piece. You WANT to appreciate it (for some reason).

I think this on goes in my direction, but i am not sure, because you forgot to quote the post you like to knock out.

You seems to be very angry.
Let me putt it like this.
Sometime i went to a museum or even an artgallery and i take my little doughter with me.
Art, painting in particular, is my favorit interest.
So, imagine me and my doughter in a museum, watching to and speaking about the pictures.
We facing some portaits of famous leaders in science of the past, like madame Curie, Newton, Einstein and so forth, you get the picture?
Fine.
Now, my doughter questioned me about the paintings.
And instade to discribe the painting process and the brush-technics, i give my 8 year old doughter an expertice about the terrible death Marie curie experenced, because she has no idea about the danger of radiation.
I told her that Einstein was a genius but in privat he betray his wife and was an asshole.
Ok, i made this stuff up, only to show you a reason why nobody is willing to do what do you have in mind.
My doughter never ever will stay with my in a museum, instade she will clean her room, voluntarily.
So, Art in every manner has a technical side and historical context.
The context is well known and was somehow presented to my attention in nearly every exhibition i visited.
If i have the information, that the lead white, used for a painting causes deaths by the manufacturer, because the havy metal inside of this color is toxic for humans, the picture is still a masterpiece of art.
I also have the info, that this kind of product is not in use, anymore.

I think you see, your idea is not so fare away from the education-plans, but we should give the right information to the right moment and person.

If atheism is a religion, then not playing football is an Olympic discipline.
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03-10-2012, 10:52 AM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
(03-10-2012 06:10 AM)poolboyg88 Wrote:  This isn't a viewpoint, it's reality.

It's a bit depressing how so far removed from reality some users wilfully are, and how they scramble to justify horrific-depressing-and disgusting acts of humanity because of something "pretty".

As I said, you can still have these pieces around, and re-use the pieces to promote some other philosophy BUT YOU DAMN WELL BE SURE to teach the history behind it. If not, you're just justifying the ignorance, the indoctrination, the stolen lives and wealth that went into the pieces. This is an act of divorcing oneself from reality because it makes you feel better, so you can better "appreciate" the piece. You WANT to appreciate it (so you can manufacture some "awe" and "wonder" to make you all warm and toasty inside).

Just don`t overlook or hide the horrors, and failures in humanity that had to occur in order to create these pieces. Truth is much more powerful, and more "appreciative" than fiction.

*yawn*

The Nazis had colourful banners, and impressive stadiums. And?

Every one of those pieces was built with insidious purpose (propaganda, indoctrination, etc), and paid for with stolen wealth (gathered from conquered lands, conquered peoples, taxes, diverting of resources for insidious projects, glorification of fear-ignorance-subjugation, etc), and the blood of the innocent (slaves, the conquered, the persecuted, countless victims laid down in order to make way for this ... "art").

You can find other uses in these pieces- utilizing them to promote some other philosophy, but there is no appreciation for what it really is. Think what was the purpose for these pieces, and what had to have occurred for it to come about (all mentioned above).

How are we "scrambling to justify" any unsavory acts of humanity? It's fucking art, dude. An artistic expression of irrational, unfounded, violent, bigotted and tyranical beliefs, yes, but an artistic expression none the less. We're not trying to find any "use" in these pieces other than pure aesthetics.

Steve Jobs pushed his family away due to his obsession with the technology he was inventing. By your logic, we should all do away with our iPods because a family was hurt in order for it to be created. The VW Bug was imagined by Hitler to be "the People's car" in his world-wide regime. By your logic, any collecter of classic cars such as the VW should do away with their collection because of it's origins.

What you're implementing is one big use of the genetic fallacy. To my surprise, it's being applied to art; which is something I never imagined a fallacy could be applied to.

Lastly, perhaps to some, the very fact that such art was inspired by irrational and bloodthirsty individuals makes it all the more alluring. Perhaps just being able to touch - let alone OWN - something that was inspired from so much intollerance and chaos and bloodshed makes the piece that much more valuable in their eyes. It disgusts you to an unecessary extent? Then don't persue it. But also don't assume that everyone else must be willfully ignoring the historical context of the piece(s) simply because they happen to look at it in a different way than you. It'd be so very Christian of you to condemn us for not thinking the same way that you do Wink

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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03-10-2012, 01:54 PM
RE: Appreciating religious works of art
(03-10-2012 10:52 AM)Misanthropik Wrote:  
(03-10-2012 06:10 AM)poolboyg88 Wrote:  Just don`t overlook or hide the horrors, and failures in humanity that had to occur in order to create these pieces. Truth is much more powerful, and more "appreciative" than fiction.
What you're implementing is one big use of the genetic fallacy. To my surprise, it's being applied to art; which is something I never imagined a fallacy could be applied to.

Well stated in your previous posts, Misanthropik. Dodgy Wish I'd said that.

Many misunderstand art and it's supposed purpose... as if there needs to be a purpose. Dodgy Often art is simply a reflection of culture, history, or just an idea, and it is often entirely derivative.

If you really intend to hold fast to your perspective Poolboy, it might be time to strip off your clothes. Anything - and I mean anything you wear, live in, or drive today was designed by someone, and make no mistake, he/she created that shirt you are wearing by looking at a whole shit load of art. He/she had to go there before he/she could get here to design your shirt. In short, your shirt may have been designed playing off themes classically and historically derived. As is the house you live in as well as your transportation.

***
Imagine a 50 year old woman who after having given birth to her child and worried over his growth to manhood… she once felt pride in his accomplishments, but now he lays lifeless in her arms... she must be devastated. I'm sure this woman must have had the same hope for her child that women before her have had; to see their child live beyond her. The exhausted, surreal expression; I've actually seen this expression in the face of a friend's mother, at the death of my friend, her son. Whether you imagine a cave woman or the woman in the hospital nearest you, they both look pretty much like Michelangelo's Pieta.

***

That's not to say there's not an original creative thought in anyone's head, it's just that we're humans... what else have we got to think about but humanity? Modern humans didn't corner the market on thinking about humanity. It's a natural outgrowth of our evolution: humans need each other in order to adapt and survive. Humanity is reflected in it's art... but not to worry; art, like humanity, is transient.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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