Manual The Dream of God: A Call to Return (Seabury Classics)

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These textual, visual, and formal innovations aside, Waldman's book represents a new breed of biblical work: more than a simple illuminated manuscript, he provides a visually interpreted translation of Esther with commentary. To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been created, and it comes as no surprise that it took Waldman seven years to complete the project.

With these introductory comments behind us, we can now move to the second part of this essay: the only interview thus far that includes both Ross and Waldman and that deals specifically with issues of biblical interpretation.

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Steve, in the interview with Emergent UK Media Arts, posted on the Marked website, you responded to a similar question, but here I'd like to hear more about how your affiliation affected some of the choices you made in the book. SR: I'm an Episcopalian attending St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City. In a nutshell, it's the willingness to accept uncertainty and questions, instead of scrambling for iron clad answers and obediently towing the party line. Because of this philosophy, I feel that questions are just as valuable as answers, and was therefore comfortable portraying biblical events in a "what if" frame of mind, rather than with a "This is the way it was" certainty.

I like to think that my particular flavor of Episcopalianism has a tradition of tolerance in a pluralistic world. Detractors view it as watered down or "revisionist" theology but I would argue that it accurately reflects Jesus' mandate of Love over Law. That became one of the main themes in my book; i. My upbringing was gloriously typical of Jewish kids growing up in the 'burbs in the 80s.

Dream of God's hand in the sky!

I went to a Reform Supplementary Hebrew School twice a week until my Bar Mitzvah and celebrated my nominal Jewish education with a big party. I was unaffiliated and quite disinterested with Judaism until a transformative experience in Spain motivated me to explore my heritage. Megillat Esther was conceived as a vehicle to help me "get to know" my religion and culture. Living in Israel for eighteen months and studying at a yeshiva for a year filled in a lot of the blanks.

While working as a Hebrew School teacher and Judaic tutor for three years, I further developed that identity in a professional capacity. I don't identify with any specific denomination of Judaism and find more enjoyment in being flexible enough to affiliate with different communities.

I fall under the "Progressive" branch of the religious spectrum, but I'm not too big into labels. The rabbinic notion that paradoxes are guideposts to wisdom navigates my Jewish practice. I celebrate or observe the holidays according to a strict concoction of whim and tradition. I think that Megillat Esther flows from that impulse. DC: I'm curious as to what other comic artists you would cite as influences on your work. Are there certain comic artists, letterers, or authors that have shaped your style?

Other popular culture influences you'd like to mention? SR: 1. Stan Lee and his contemporaries, who broke new ground by investing previously bland comic book superheroes with surprisingly subtle psychological back stories. Robert Crumb for his fearlessness and scatological leanings. Unfortunately, some of my more scatological panels were edited out the final version of Marked. David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino for bringing non-linear narratives back in vogue or at least not box office poison.

I liked their sense of pacing, sequence, and attention to detail.

  1. Playing Smart: New York Women Writers and Modern Magazine Culture (The American Literatures Initiative);
  2. A history of two Virginia families transplanted from county Kent, England. Thomas Baytop, Tenterden, 1638, and John Catlett, Sittingbourne, 1622.
  3. The Divine Dance: The Trinity & Your Transformation by Richard Rohr?

In college I focused on sculpture and painting; I quickly became fascinated with Egon Schiele, Rene Mackintosh, and the whole Bauhaus aesthetic. Along the way other artists began to captivate me and I found myself incorporating their styles: Aubrey Beardsley, Otto Dix, and Frantisek Kupka all caught my imagination.

DC: I know of at least two teachers including myself who are planning to use either one or both of your works in the classroom soon. Can you all comment on what you see as the pedagogical value of your works? How can you imagine professors or even lay religious leaders using your books profitably in an educational setting?

JT, on your website you include a link to the National Association of Comics Art Educators, and there are several college syllabi listed therein. I know that interested readers will profit from the rabbinic citations, interludes, and lotus points that are included in Megillat Esther. Steve, did you consider including footnotes like these? SR: I was in fact until recently a very illiterate Christian. As a matter of course, I'd been hearing the Gospel lessons in their fragmented serial form every Sunday for years, but had never seriously studied Mark as a single piece of writing until I started work on the book.

My discovery of the mighty gaps in my firsthand knowledge of the Gospels informed my choice to not use footnotes. One of my goals was to provoke readers in such a way that they would feel compelled to go back to the source and read it for themselves. It's important to note that I'm not proselytizing. I'm not asking people to believe it, just read it. JTW: A friend of mine taught high-functioning autistic students to decode math word problems using comic book sequences to help them visualize and calculate their answers.

The show and tell of images and text enabled them to visualize conceptual objects and then manipulate data.

The Dream of God

Clearly using comics and this differentiated approach is successful for teaching to multiple intelligences and adaptable to any pedagogical model. In particular, read a passage from the Vulgate version of the Book of Esther and then JPS' version, and then the corresponding page in Megillat Esther. The visual cues and word play combined with the variety of translations raise many questions.

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Start there, and this process will eventually lead to the question, "How does this relate to me? DC: What do you see as the importance of this form to the dissemination of the message you want to promulgate? That is, could you have told this same story in an aniconic form? Are there any disadvantages to the graphic novel form?

SR: For me the graphic novel form was tailor made for the message I wanted to get out. For all its depth and insight, the New Testament obstinately refuses to describe what Jesus looked like. This omission is so glaring that it must be deliberate. My teenage rejection of Christianity had a lot to do with my rejection of the cloyingly saccharine image of Christ I grew up with in Texas: white skin, long hair, beard, sometimes even blue-eyed, manly but "sensitive", etc.

(PDF) Repentance in Christian theology | Mark Boda -

The graphic novel format is a medium where I can mess around with people's preconceptions of what Jesus looks like. Also, graphic novels I include comic books here can get away with far more unacceptable and inappropriate content than most other mediums.

If the content is deemed to dangerous or subversive by societal norms, advocates can deflect censorship by playing the "hey, lighten up, it's just a comic book" finesse. But just like inadmissible court testimony that is supposedly "stricken from the record," images are not so easily discarded from the brain. They lodge there in the subconscious and percolate until later, maybe even years, the reader has softened and become a more receptive to the ideas presented. I think [Robert] Crumb [b.

He pretty much horrified the status quo when he first came out, but now he's lionized. JTW: I couldn't have told the story of Esther any other way. I live my life with diagrams, sketches, maps, and doodles to help me figure out my place in the world. I never thought about disseminating any message beyond the ineffable need to create. I chose to illustrate a holy text, because I thought this particular tale would make a cool comic book.

I felt comfortable with the secular tone and Diaspora setting. The story also serves a ritual function connected to a holiday that is celebrated through masquerade, debauchery and alms to the poor. The bevy of mixed messages sent through the midrash and oral law of Judaism about the Book of Esther necessitated the use of images.

My goal was to illustrate the wealth of possible meanings found in the Bible, and to fulfill a childhood dream to make comic books.

SR: I initially signed on to the project with a secular, even mercenary, mindset: Write the story. Draw the pictures. Get paid. What I didn't expect was that the process would turn into a surprisingly personal faith journey. JTW: I believe this is called niche marketing; a sound and reasonable business plan that I'm told is better suited for today's market.

Contributions to Christian Education

I think the growing interest in graphic novels as a literary genre will influence non-sectarian publishers more than religious values. I think in this case the market trumps the message. He writes, "Religious concerns find expression in other cultural forms so that cultural products perceived to be secular can carry authentic and meaningful religious content and deal with sacred concerns. It might be that in our postmodern context, with shifting authority structures, popular cultural expression of religiosity is more important, more available, and more powerful than traditional expressions of religious truth.

If so, do you see your work as contributing to this trend of popular culture media carrying some sort of religious truth? Do you consider this trend a negative one? If so, why? SR: I'm frankly wary of pop religion. Pop culture is mostly about "What's in it for me," whereas true religion I'm speaking specifically of my experiences with Christianity here can be summed up as "What's in it for the stranger next to me.

Pop culture seems to advocate the opposite: comfort and familiarity at the expense of communion, herd mentality, aestheticizing conformity, pandering to the lowest common denominator, establishing identity by what you consume. I may be cutting off my own nose here, but I think popularized religion only works when there is a tradition to measure it against. Otherwise, we find ourselves with lots of Religion Lite, i. JTW: The current zeitgeist of religiously bent comics is more a testament to the timeless relevance of these stories than some popular trend.

People have told these tales for millennia; they change style and content like whisper down the lane. Once frescoes served that purpose, later stained glass, and now comics and film.