Jesuits, Guatemala, Art, and Controversy

So here I am in Guatemala, soaking up the sun and enjoying the capital city. Yesterday, we visited La Universidad Rafael Landívar and had the opportunity to meet the Jesuit artist Dennis Leder, an American who has lived in Central America for the past 20 years. We spent some time in his studio, and really enjoyed seeing his metal sculptures (check out what he has to say about this one) – particularly inspired by Frank Gehry’s architectural style. His drawings and designs in bright colors and enlightening patterns were a play on de Kooning and really impressive.

All this rekindled my love of abstract art – each piece is so stimulating, making one engage deeply to find meaning, and not necessarily only the meaning intended by the artist. Each work of art is unlocked by the viewer as a window into the piece’s intrinsic meaning, as well as into the artist’s own conscious and subconscious self.

I continue to be amazed at the Jesuits that I meet around the world. They all exude self-confidence, faith, openness, justice, and optimism. I always learn so much from each conversation…

In fact, in the news and in conversations lately, I keep hearing about the Jesuit school Le Moyne College, whose Center for Peace and Global Studies recently conducted a poll of U.S. troops in Iraq that showed exactly how badly they feel things are going there. The center has been skewered by Rush Limbaugh (sorry, folks – I’m not going to get a LogIn just for this…) and Bill O’Reilly, which surely means they’re doing something right. Check out what Nick Kristof had to say about the poll and how we can best honor and support our troops.

And note the last comment on this right-wing blog – Le Moyne is clearly within the anti-war tradition of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the Church has too often been co-opted by the conservative religious right on issues like abortion and gay marriage, while setting aside powerful Catholic tenets of peace and social justice.

UPDATE:  Check out an interesting debate on global studies programs in light of the Le Moyne controversy here.  I think all academic programs and polls are inherently political, so it´s interesting to me that the commentors are so aghast at the supposedly partisan bias of the Iraq poll.  Whether or not the poll is valid, we all need to examine our country´s foreign policy in Iraq and pay attention to what the troops themselves are saying.

One Response to “Jesuits, Guatemala, Art, and Controversy”

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