Early in my blogging, I created a post about pre-Christian religious iconography. I argued not that the icons themselves were quirky, but that they collectively add to the fabric of Berkeley and are part of what makes the city quirky. Ditto with my posts about sculptures of Buddha and Guanyin.
Here I present photos of religious iconography that is truly quirky. Most of the quirkiness comes from context or juxtaposition, but quirky they are.
This juxtaposition of the Episcopalian Church flag with the yin yang sign in front of the Church of the Good Shepherd is one example.
This I find quirky from context. It is a stunning tattoo-style spray-paint mural on the concrete shell of a garage. For several years, ivy cascading down the wall increasingly obscured Ganesh. And then sometime in late 2013 or early 2014 the owner rebuilt the garage and Ganesh and the other images from the mural disappeared from public view. Art is not eternal, even Ganesh.
Buddha on the sidewalk – perfect! P.S. Sangha refers to the monastic community of ordained Buddhist monks or nun.
Breaking rules and going inside – a few quirky religious icons:
And finally a perfect conflation of religion and nationalism, something that we in the United States do very well but something that we don’t find much in Berkeley:
I showed the photos to my friend. He paused longest on the last one, “God Bless America.”
“Did you know,” he asked me, “that the lead float in Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural parade was the God Float?”
“It had paintings of Catholics and college students and Jews and soldiers worshipping and the Massachusetts Avenue mosque. It was raw and it was not subtle.”
I said, “I guess your point is that Eisenhower was doing the opposite of the Bolsheviks, using state occasions to sacralize America?”
“I would not have chosen ‘sacralize’ but, yes. If I had to spend an evening with the people who thought that the float was a good idea or Spring-Heeled Jack, I’d take Jack.”
And – to think that President Eisenhower recognized Islam as a religion! We were a different country then, weren’t we?
I directed us back to the here and now. What did he think of the post, of the nun in a birdbath and Buddha on an art car and Our Lady with gnomes and Barbie?