A Religious Tourist in St. Louie

Miao's Last Judgement

After Sunday morning worship ended the Central MidWest District meeting, I played tourist until my evening flight.  It was rainy when I arrived on Friday, sunny and bright yesterday as I spent the entire day indoors, and rainy and cold again today.

Rob had told me to visit the City Museum, and someday I will, but in the little time I had left in St. Louis, I chose to visit the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) on the campus of the University of St. Louis, a Jesuit school, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the finest example of Byzantine architecture in North America.  Religion and Art, one can see where my priorities lie.  Art and religion, two paths to the same spirit.

MOCRA, which has a stated mission purpose of engaging in interfaith dialogue and understanding through contemporary art, was featuring a work by Miao Xiaochun.  Miao had taken Michelangelo’s painting of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel and digitized it, making a two-dimensional painting into a 3-dimensional experience.  In virtual space, the viewer can "walk around" the painting viewing it from different angles.  What's more, for every character depicted in the painting, Miao substituted a 3-d rendering of himself.  This may sound egotistical at first, but the finished effect is that he "experiences" every part of the masterpiece, and we do to as the viewer.  Thus, he is both the damned and the saved.  He is the angels who help lift us up, who drive us down into the pits, and who call for the resurrection on their trumpets.

 The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis was so beautiful that my poor pictures are more misleading than edifying.  Follow the link above to see some of its glory.  One of the descriptions in the museum stated that while Gothic architecture soars up, making the Divine remote, Byzantine architecture attempts to bring heavenly beauty to earth, making the Divine present.  Immanent.


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