Just Launched: Dynamics of Helping the Poor with Lee Anne Reat

This cartoon was originally published on The Nib on July 12, 2018 and has been reprinted with the kind permission of the artist, Kasia Babis.

We just launched Dynamics of Helping the Poor For Individuals and For Groups.

In this course, the Rev. Lee Anne Reat, Canon for Formation and Social Justice Ministries for the Diocese of Southern Ohio, examines acts of mercy in relation to acts of justice. She offers suggestions for healthy ways in which congregations can engage their communities in partnerships for long-term change.

Lee Anne’s arguments in this course may be examined by picking apart the old saying “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” *

Lee Anne basically argues that if someone is starving, giving that person a fish is a good idea, but that a system based in rich people getting access to fish and doling it out as they choose to people who constantly have to ask for it sets up unhealthy systems for everyone involved. It’s a good thing to keep people from starving. It’s not a good thing to keep people on the brink of starving because we tolerate the kind of injustice that keeps some people on top at the expense of others. Excessive reliance on fish distribution — or even, as in the cartoon above, fishing pole distribution — at the expense of changing systems that make it impossible for people to make money fishing for themselves can perpetuate the kind of injustice that in the long term leads to community stagnation or decline.

Instead, Lee Anne suggests that we look for ways to circumvent or eliminate hurdles that keep people from fishing for themselves. She goes on to discuss ways in which people can work to change their communities in productive, respectful, and genuine ways — building relationships with people who need help and listening to them talk about what they need rather than telling them what they should do.

This course is ideal for congregations or individuals who would like to work to change their communities and help poor people gain economic power within those communities. Click here for a course preview.

*Fun fact about the “give a man a fish” saying: it is often attributed to ancient Chinese, Indian, and/or Native American writers but probably was coined by Anne Isabella Thackerey Ritchie in the nineteenth century.

Just Launched: Angels in Artwork with Scott Brown

The Annunciation. Fresco. Unknown artist, second century C.E.

We just launched Angels in Artwork For Individuals and For Groups.

The oldest extant representation of an angel in Christian art is an image of the Archangel Gabriel in a second-century fresco of the Annunciation found in Catacomb of St. Priscilla, where many early Christians were buried. Christians have been depicting angels in artwork ever since. The images vary wildly according to time and place. Observe these images of Gabriel across the centuries.

This image of the Archangel Gabriel comes from a fifth-century eastern European monastic fresco.

This 5th-century image of the Annunciation comes from Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (432-440)in Rome and has the earliest extant image of winged angels in Christian art.

This image of Gabriel in Jan Van Eyck’s Annunciation comes from the Netherlands in the 15th-century and gives Gabriel deacon’s vestments.

This seventeenth-century depiction of Gabriel’s Annunciation to Zechariah comes from an Ethiopian Bible.

The artists’ choices about how to depict Gabriel vary according to time and place, fashion (if you look carefully above, you can see that winged angels from the fifth-century Roman church are wearing togas), artistic convention, the artists’ style, and the idea the artist is trying to convey with the artwork. Expand that series of choices across all the various angels of scripture — what they are doing, what their varying purposes in the stories, etc. — and you have a rich variety of thousands of different angels portrayed in artwork spanning almost two thousand years.

In this course, Scott discusses angels in scripture as interpreted by artists across history. In the first lesson, he discusses angels as messengers and art as a way of conveying divine messages that reason cannot comprehend. In the second lesson, he discusses angels as proclamations — as God’s messages and messengers to humanity, and artists’ imitating God in creating angelic figures in their works. In the third lesson, Scott talks about angels as warnings, especially St. Michael, and in the fourth lesson, he talks about the rich history of celebratory angels in Christian art.

This class is ideal for anyone interested in angels, the history of Christian art, and ways in which God communicates with humanity. For a preview, please click here.