Monday, April 30, 2012

A Different View

“…for here there is no place that does not see you.  You must change your life.” (from "Archaic Torso of Apollo" by Rainer Maria Rilke)
For a while now, I’ve wanted to explore some other views in addition to The Teacher’s View.  I’ve taken a lot of freedom on these pages to cover a wide swath of subjects.  Truth is, I have always been more student of life than teacher.  Maybe, back in 2007, I should have called this blog The Student’s View.  We are always learning.

What’s done is done, and I enjoy the freedom I’ve had on these pages to explore wherever my mind has wandered.  I expect to keep going with The Teacher’s View well into the future.

However, one area I want to explore with some depth and insight is Los Angeles, my hometown and the place I’ve lived all my life.  To that end, I’ve launched a second blog called On The Street Where I Live:  Searching For The Soul of Los Angeles.

On this blog, I’ll focus on the history and rich cultural life of this truly American city.  People knock L.A. all the time, even people who call it home.  “It has no culture,” they whine.  “It’s all superficial.  Too glitzy.  Too narcissistic.  Too Hollywood.”

Los Angeles seems forever accused of having no soul.

Ahh, but it does have a soul, and I’m going to uncover it.  If you don’t live in L.A., you still might want to check in.  This is a world city in the same way New York, London, and Paris are world cities.  All kinds of people live here, a true mishmash of cultures.  That’s what makes it all so interesting.

So consider yourselves invited.

In addition, I played a small part, mostly technical, in launching another blog:  Andiamo!  This is a lifestyle and culture blog written and photographed by my wife, Silvie Martin.  Hers is a more visual and artistic sensibility.  She also tends to be less long winded than me.  She is sunny and optimistic, which will make for a nice break from my often darker tones.

So please check in on all our blogs:  The Teacher’s View, On The Street Where I Live, and Andiamo!  Feel free to comment, agree, disagree, whatever you wish, but know your contributions to the ongoing discussion are always welcomed and appreciated.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


My interest in religious iconography goes back to my childhood in Catholic school.  I marveled at the way Catholic crucifixes and statues were always more graphic than our Christian counterparts whose churches often had a plain, wooden cross over the altar.  Catholic churches were known for their often bloody representations of Jesus hanging by nails on the rough wood.  Saints, too, especially martyrs, were depicted with flaming hearts, barbs and wounds, clearly in torturous ecstasy in their pain.  I remember one statue I saw when I was in second grade:  St. Lucy, patron saint of the blind, holding a plate with two eyeballs, visually telling the story of how she either had her eyes gouged out by her tormentors, or dug them out herself as sources of sin.

Recently, I attended a dedication of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima on a local corner in my neighborhood.  During the Mass, the priest tried to make the case that Catholic worship of icons was not idolatry, something forbidden by the Second Commandment.  He did not make a convincing case.  The question bothered me long after the Mass and dedication ended.  We bow and genuflect in front of statues and icons; we leave flowers and burning candles.  Some Catholics even kiss the icon.  How is this not idol worship?

I began research for a longer piece on this subject.  As a precursor to my study, I reviewed my photographs over the last few years and I realized I have made it a point to collect images of statues whenever I visited a California Mission or a Catholic church.  Many of the images were quite startling in their graphic depictions, but a few were striking because of the facial features, especially the eyes.  I decided to publish some of these photos here on the blog in keeping with the season of Easter.  As I continue to research and write, I am sure there will be more to come about these haunting icons and their importance to Catholics the world over.