Category Archives: religion

Guest Blogger: Christie Jenkins

Boldly Breaking Through

A woman has been catching eyes and turning heads on the Bestseller list and in Vogue. Fatima Bhutto a twenty eight year old Pakistani woman who is at the heart of the politics in Pakistan and stolen the hearts of many admirers. Her book Song of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir, has been released and shares Bhutto’s family history; a history that is violent, cruel, but also passionate, with the relationship between her and her father at its core.

What makes Fatima Bhutto such an inspiring figure is that she is able to rise in a country that is famous for silencing women. She comes from a family that has formed some of the most corrupted governments but also has broken walls (her Aunt was the first woman elected as Prime Minister in a Muslim state). Her Father Mir Murtaza was assassinated in 1996, and Bhutto refuses to remain silent about who she thinks is responsible, she does not play into the fear that has kept so many on their knees, instead she has pointed fingers and stood up for what she believes and knows to be true. She is truly an inspirational figure!

I first came across Bhutto in surprising place, Vogue magazine in an article entitled “Dreams of her Father” with a sub heading “Brilliant, beautiful, and outspoken, Fatima Bhutto adds fuel to the feud within Pakistan’s warring dynasty…” I was intrigued and quickly unraveled news reports, interviews, and reviews surrounding her books and her life. She is on a mission to help her country and those that need it the most, even though every time she goes home her life is at risk. At the end of the interview in Vogue, Bhutto states:

We are a rich country. We have gas, oil, resources, but because of endemic corruption we are forced to beg for help to take care of people who need it.

She has organized and supported many programs aimed at helping her people, and she does this knowing that her government and members of her ruling family have aided in ending the life of her father, grandfather, brother, and Aunt. I felt that this was a woman who should be known and read and reflected on, for she is a force that has overcome millions of obstacles and expectations in order to help serve her countrymen.

Guest Blogger: Yenli Guo

Tibetan Thangka Painting

There are many astonishing artworks in the world of Tibetan art. Thangka has caught most of the attention of the world because of its spiritual meaning and aesthetic value. Thangka painting is very different from other modern art. It is not only a wonderful art creation, but also a religious painting.

Thangka painting could be used in various condition. Usually hung on the wall of the pray room in the monasteries, Thangka paintings aims to help practitioners to visualize the Buddha and develop a closed relationship with a meditational deity. Fundamentally it is a medium for expressing Buddhist ideals and aids to change the state of the mind of meditators. The Thangka could also be used for the good rebirth of the deceased. The Thangka is commissioned in the name of the deceased, which is supposed to create the necessary conditions for the happy rebirth. The Thangka is made up with vivid image of Buddha and the deities with many complex symbols.

Thangka painting originated from the vision or dreams of great lamas or meditators (from interview of local Thangka Painting). Figures of Buddha Shakyamuni, White Tara and Green Tara are common in Thangka painting. There can be one to several images in one Thangka. A good Thangka in details usually takes a painter several months to years to finish a painting, depending on the size of the image and the details of the painting. Measurement for the image of the Buddha or the deity and their pure land of them are strictly required in Thangka painting. Buddha or deity who resides in the Thangka painting brings good health, prosperity or long life to the meditators. Due to the commercialization of art, paintings with inaccurate measurement are common in art market. Thangka painting of low quality may result in negative influence to practitioners because unqualified measurement affects the Buddha or deity invoke into the picture, which influences the blessing people. Thus measurement is essential in the religious purpose of Thangka painting.

As a religious object, Thangka painting is a bridge between the meditational deity and the practitioner. Painters play an important role in this connection. The quality of the painting relies on the quality of painter. Good motivation is highly encouraged for the painters. Thus good qualified painter usually begin by purification of their spirit. The pure motivation of the painter is, the pure the Thangka painting becomes, which gives meditator better blessing.

Thangka painting is created on a canvas. First of all, an artist stretches the canvas over and wooden frame with cords, which makes up the foundation of the thangka painting. An experienced painter can distinguish the quality of foundation by the sound generated by the canvas. The Thangka painting is designed onto the canvas directly with pencil. After this colors are applied on the canvas. All the colors are derived from natural material including mineral, plants and animals. Chemicals are not used for coloring because traditional material does not fade, last longer, make the painting brighter and is more intensive. However some of the mineral material may be poisonous and thus the artists must be very careful when they apply the colors. Colors are applied from top to bottom and from outside to inside. Finally the details of the faces are added and gold and silver are applied. Usually the Thangkas are framed in silk brocade.

Guest Blogger: Emily Clemetson

Why it is preposterous to think that Jesus rose from the dead?

Despite the obvious reason, that it is humanly impossible for someone to rise from the dead, there is a very logical explanation as to how Jesus walked out of his tomb after he was thought to be dead. Let us ignore the fact that the claims that Jesus’ tomb was found empty and that he allegedly appeared, in the physical, to many people after his death could be complete fabrication. Let us pretend that these claims are in fact true.

Before Jesus was nailed to the cross the Romans forced him to drag it, while crowned in thorns, to where they would nail him upon it. Although these things would physically and mentally exhaust him they would not kill him; perhaps their purpose at this point was not to kill him.

Later a Roman soldier stabbed him in the chest, and in astonishment instead of blood a translucent fluid came out; this has been written down as one of Jesus’ miracles. An explanation for this is that Jesus had tuberculosis which caused the pleura cavity to fill up with this translucent fluid, and because of the inflammation it put pressure on his lungs making it difficult for him to breathe; when he was stabbed between the ribs by the soldier’s knife the pleura cavity was punctured, and the translucent liquid came out. They thought that he was dead and put him into a tomb where he was laying on his back rather than standing upright, this would have allowed more liquid to drain out, relieving the pressure on his lungs. He then must have felt better than ever, now being able to breathe, he probably got up and walked out of his tomb. This is why many thought he had, “risen from the dead”.

It is understandable that in this time period it was thought that Jesus had risen from the dead but now with all of our medical advances we are able to give an educated interpretation of the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ.