Secularizing Religious Art Robs It of Its Meaning

March 11 2015

The Museum of Biblical Art (MoBIA), located in New York City, currently has on display an exhibit of Renaissance sculpture borrowed from the cathedral museum of Florence. Despite its name, the museum officially “takes a secular perspective on the Bible’s pivotal role in art history.” The results of this approach, writes Maureen Mullarkey, can be detected in the exhibit:

Isolated from their liturgical setting, the art on view bespeaks a church submissive to secular pretensions. Without intending to, the [museum perpetuates] late modernity’s view of Christianity as a spent tradition, one that requires injections of museum prestige. Museumization allows Christianity to linger as an historical phenomenon, no longer a creative cultural force but compliant with the conceits of a post-Christian culture.

MoBIA follows the reigning practice of translating enhancements for a sacral setting into museum stock on shelves in the cultural pantry.

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More about: Art, Arts & Culture, Christianity, Museums, Religion, Renaissance

 

The Dangers of Diplomacy with Iran

Aug. 21 2018

Although President Trump’s offer to meet with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic was rejected, the possibility of direct negotiations remains. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz warn that Tehran could use talks to stall and gain leverage over Washington:

The mullahs understand that just by staying at the table, Americans usually offer up concessions. [They] are betting that the Trump administration may become weaker over time, preoccupied with domestic politics. Best to entangle America in protracted diplomacy while awaiting what the regime expects will be midterm Republican losses in Congress and the return of a more flexible Democratic president to power in 2021. This is what [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei probably meant when he stressed that negotiations have to wait until America is softened up.

Diplomacy would surely blunt the impact of U.S. pressure. The mullahs believe they can undermine the escalation of [U.S.] sanctions by being diplomatically flirtatious and know well that America seldom disrupts negotiations with military action. Indeed, as a prelude to the talks, Iran may even resume its nuclear activities to frighten the Europeans and gain leverage by putting even more pressure on Washington to adjust its red lines.

Should negotiations begin, the Trump team should take sensible precautions to avoid the predicament of the Obama negotiators. The administration will need to maintain its maximum-pressure campaign and its negotiating demands. . . . Any negotiations with the Islamic Republic should be time-limited, and Washington must be prepared to leave the table when it confronts the usual pattern of regime bombast and mendacity.

Donald Trump should insist on direct talks with the supreme leader, as he did with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un: Rouhani is a lame duck without any real influence. The administration also should demand that Europeans join its sanctions policy targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program, support for terrorism, and human-rights abuses as a price for their participation in the talks.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy