The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Shiva Dance

The Nataraja, or the dance by which the world is created and destroyed in Hindu mythology.

20 Comments:

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Leonard F said...

Is this the syncreticism and eclectism that you learned at the schismatic SSPX seminary?

Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus
Not your Pope John Paul II Aztec human sacrificing dances during the Mass or the Dot of Shiva on the Pope.

 
At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Michael said...

I think Arturo has either finally embraced Vatican II
OR
maybe embraced the Berkley subculture (sans drugs)

 
At 3:12 PM, Blogger matt said...

... or MAYBE he just likes the dance?! Kneejerk reactions like these are wholly uncalled-for. I for one appreciated the dance; it's weird to my Western sensibilities, but it has sort of a natural goodness and beauty to it.

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

If you've been reading this blog for enough time, you will realize that I deeply appreciate Indian music and culture. I have been listening to Indian raga since I was fourteen, and I have been very unapologetic about it.

However, there is a deeper point to posting this, though if I ever get to develop it soon only God knows. It is fascinating to me that Hinduism can represent the cosomgonic process within a dance. If only our conception of art in the West were that wholistic and sacred. At the bottom of how we believe is a very Manichean idea that art can explain nothing, that the heart is absolutely divided from the head, and that beauty is a superfluous addition to the truth. I for one, as a reconstructed Neoplatonist, find that idea really problematic.

To treat reality like some sort of mechanical schematic rather than a living, breathing organism is the cause of much sorrow for me, and I think it is the cause of a certain malaise and disconnect in our postmodern minds. We work under the assumption that our reality is radically different from us, that we are so much superfluous lint in the fabric of the cosmos. That is the greatest ideological threat to Christianity, in my opinion, not an attack on this or that doctrine, or even the dreaded "subjectivism" that many Catholic thinkers obsess about.

It is not an issue of having warm and fuzzy feelings over the formulation of hard, defined facts. It is an issue of man being balanced between all aspects of his existence, and the sacred science, as Aquinas asserts in the Summa Contra Gentiles, unifying all of those aspects like a hub does the spokes of a wheel.

 
At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anup said...

Do you like those Comic Books about the Vedas?

 
At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

Matt,
I think the earlier posts were tongue in cheek.

I don't think Bishop Williamson was teaching Liturgical dance dedicated to Shiva at the St. Pius X Seminary to Arturo.

Hossein Nasr Seyyed has some interesting thoughts on Hinduism.
Rama Coorawasamaway's father was Hindu and a famous museum curator and art historian. Rama was an instructor for Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and a friend of Mother Teresa. Father and son were promoters of "philosophia perrenias"

 
At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Oppenheimer said...

I have become the destroyer of the worlds.

 
At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds'

'I am become Shiva, destoyer of wordls'

St. Francis Xavier said that much of Indian culture, statuary, iconography was beautiful BUT much was also demonic.

Kali is frightening (sort of like your ancestors Tonantzin)
There is some mass murderer of men in India who is a Kali devotee that has become a heroe.

The class system (inherent to the religion due to belief in reincarnation and not incidental or just part o history) is intrisnic to Hinduism and evil from a Catholic point of view.

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger matt said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: sarcasm does not travel well over the Internet!

 
At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Jaya said...

May Braham, Vishnu and Shiva bless you.

Lord Krishna bless you

and Ganesh give you great hospitality

 
At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Thomas said...

Listening to Indian Ragas since he was 14. Very interesting.

 
At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pagan idolotary

she is someoning a demon who is known as the destroyer

 
At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Frank/R said...

"It is fascinating to me that Hinduism can represent the cosomgonic process within a dance. If only our conception of art in the West were that wholistic and sacred. At the bottom of how we believe is a very Manichean idea that art can explain nothing, that the heart is absolutely divided from the head, and that beauty is a superfluous addition to the truth. I for one, as a reconstructed Neoplatonist, find that idea really problematic"
Arturo

David danced before the Ark of the Covenant. Saint Teresa of Avila (and Doctor of the Catholic Church) danced with tamborine.

The Hassidic Jews dance with joy around the Torah and even spontaneously.

The Sufis and other mystic groups in Islam have dancing for mystical states and equated with prayer.

Most modern liturgical dance does not seem to have the depth of King David or Teresa of Avila and some of it is more sexual or suggestive than liturgical or sacred---but dancing is part of the Novus Ordo liturgical "tradition"--not all of it "bad" or at least not evil.
Certainly, it could be organic or indigenous from African cultures.
However, your traditionalist roots (SSPX) or Byzantine legal identity in the Catholic Church would probably not allow liturgical dance at all.

You do have body movements (albeit not dance nor as elaborate as the Hindu sacred dance) in the Tradtional Latin Mass (bowing, kissing, raising of hands etc)
and the Divine Liturgy (walking around, making the sign of the cross numerous times etc)

The first thing before dance is to discuss MUSIC---because usually (although not always) MUSIC is necessary for dance or causes dance or precedes the beginning of dance. Dance to reflect the Creation of the Universe (or the destruction) is interesting and the dance you have in the YouTube video is interesting and very elaborate (lots of hand movements that seem popular in Indian dance and relatively difficult leg movements that are seen in the famous statues of Shiva)

Certainly Hinduism has some beautiful statues, temples, intricate wood and (I think marble) work. I visited a temple in Bartlett Illinois of the Swamirama (sic?) the BAPS group and it was amazing the handmade crafted wood and marble both their community center and temple. The white temple. Their flowers are also beautiful. (as a side note I always liked from a visual point of view the Indian Weddings (not necessarily Hindu but primarily but some Christians and more limited Muslims because of certain prohibitions) including the Henna temporary tatoos and the flowers)
However, the idols are spooky (they feed and clothe them and have the rest) at least from a US (Anglo at least partly by inculturation with some residual Protestant subconcsious tendencies)--their statues practically and theologically are much different than Catholic statutes--many seemed like midgets or children--many of the Hindu gods have animal and other non human characterestics.

There have been some positive statements about Hinduism by some Catholic religious writers as well as Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa. However, clearly, other writers including St. Francis Xavier and even current commentators find parts of Hinduism disturbing.

I think that the Catholic faith and tradition as a whole, and the best parts of it's history is not Manichean and certainly relates to Creation in art (the Sistine Chapel)--architecture (with the Cathedrals) and maybe less so in statues--certainly in Music (just listen to Mozart of Gregorian Chant) although not in dance that I am aware.

Your post brings up an interesting discussion (some perhaps uncalled for others in sarcasm perhaps) of the role of other religions and their elements of truth at least vis a vis Christianity.

You have had posts before qouting (was it Rumi?) with whirling Dervishes (Sufis) and other non Christian qoutes and photos/visuals.

The role of art in religion, spirituality, culture--and the body and dance is very interesting.
I hope you develop it further.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Arturo Vasquez said...

Thank you all for the comments.

I think it all boils down to if you see the human glass half empty or half full. If you are the crypto-Augustinian, legalistic type (like many Calvinists and some Catholics), you will think that all human endeavors to understand the divine fall sinfully short, and thus all attempts outside of a very few are to be considered "demonic". (I am thinking in particular of the Chinese and Indian rites controversies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries). The problem with this idea is that it does not realize that the way the Roman Catholic Church evolved is also laden with "syncretism". Indeed, one could argue that the syncretism began after Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, or even before. Thus, we get the Reformed mentality of the "ecclesia semper reformanda". I would ask if such a church would ever allow human beings to be truly human, or will it constantly seek to weed out all that it deems impure within the Church. What does this do to the Incarnation, or the idea if the freedom of the Gospels?

Of course, I follow the other perspective by which all of us are seeking God. Anyone who has ever loved or appreciated the beauty of things is much closer to God than we can imagine. In my opinion, it is only those who begin to shut out these things, like many radical RC traditionalists, who are in deep problems.

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Frank said...

Was it Saint Justin Martyr who said all truth is God's truth?
do I have the qoute right?
or the right person?
or am I paraphrasing?

 
At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Apache Indian said...

Om Numuh Shivaya

 
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