I'm sure you've heard the arguments before: that religion has produced great art and should therefore get more respect, or even that the production of art, at all, requires religion. It's true that, before the nineteenth century, much of the greatest art was religious--although this speaks more to the social structure at the time, than to a supposed necessity for religion in art: one might equally allege that, because just as much of the great art of centuries past was made for the royalty, it follows that dictatorial authoritarianism, complete with a callous disregard for basic human rights, is necessary for the creation of art. Continue...

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Comment by Maria on July 22, 2008 at 12:42am
I find it scary, specifically, that it's the seven deadly sins, most of which are, for one thing, basic human instincts, and, in and of themselves, no more than thought crimes, that are the subject there. If lust, anger, and pride ought to be punished in some way, what about "speech crimes" like blasphemy, or actions, that might cause real harm? It's definitely a good thing that there's now the freedom to use art to explore these kinds of issues, but it's also sad that, in today's world, we'd need to. But that just makes the need for dissent all the more urgent.
Comment by Vitomama on July 21, 2008 at 7:17pm
Hey, I envy you that you've made that much work this summer. I have a 4 year old kid - I haven't made that much work this summer. Your bit about stoning made me think of an experience I had this last Spring. Unfortunately, I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma (temporarily). I taught a Humanities class at the local community college (heavy on the art, thanks). My research paper assignment (which I thought was very good, very thought-provoking, and very kind-of-cool for a research paper) was to choose a film, from a list of about 60 that I provided, and discuss it's relevance in any given context that relates to humanities (which is just about unlimited). I had two Muslim girls in my class who, as it turns out, are romantic partners. The one who DIDN'T wear the Burka chose the film Se7en. I don't know if you're familiar with it, but it's about a sociopath who kills people based on the 7 deadly sins. Her paper scared me to death. While she didn't propose death for the violator of any of the sins, she did believe that he should be punished in some way. Based on your post, I don't believe that I need to extrapolate on my fears. We're talking about a seemingly nebulous, obviously Americanized, young female student (living in America and pursuing an American degree) who feels that a decidedly American culture is guilty of something. Religion is pervasive; indoctrination is pervasive. These are absolutely valid subjects for art. The proof is in our artistic history (the PLANET'S artistic history). We must make art that reflects our beliefs, our outrages. If we understand economics, we must acknowledge that most of the artists from just after the earliest cave paintings in France to those of the Renaissance, painted what they needed to paint in order to survive. Until the city-states of the Renaissance, artists had no patronage other than the church. The difference is we have the luxury of stating our true beliefs. How would some of those artists have depicted those biblical/koranic stories if they could have?

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