In 2017 Sara and I joined two unique back-to-back tours: bike riding through the romantic forests and byways near the Danube in the Czech Republic; and an atypical adventure through historic Prague, the countryside of ancient Bohemia and Moravia, ending in a little village in Eastern Germany.
The first tour provided good exercise and great beer. The second tour provide engrossing education, and great beer!
I had been curious for over 50 years about the history of the Moravian Church (the church in which I was raised). I joined this tour, sponsored by the Moravian Theological Seminary, hoping to fill-in some blanks of my curious mind. I got what I wished for, but more. I found a purpose for my art work beyond simply filling my sketchbook.
My painting of the Church at Berthelsdorf (Germany) accompanies my Spotlight Blog submitted for publication on September 8. The blog represents my coffee conversation with Count Zinzendorf. If the Moravian Church recognized "patron saints", he would be one. Check out website for the Moravian Board for Cooperative Ministries to read this month's spotlight blog, headlined by this piece of art.
He was known as Christian David. Living in early 1700's his personality might be diagnosed today as "ADHD". Everything about him was "hyper"... his questioning mind, the intensity of his conversation, the pace of his physical activity, his obsession for perfection in his carpentry work, his quest for a religion worthy of his devotion. He was restless soul not easy to settle down. He lived in the early 1700s in what we now consider Eastern Europe.
He was 32 when his destiny began to take shape. He was becoming known then as a "Bush Preacher". His simple message and style of leadership inspired illegal aliens hiding in Moravia to trust in him and migrate to Germany There the Unitas Fratrum would reemerge to spread it's influence again, this time across Europe then across the oceans to indigenous populations of New Worlds.
I offer this introduction to Christian David for the next edition of my Spotlight Blog, to be published in the August 11 edition of the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries newsletter. I offer this illustration as a scene I imagine new arrivals from Moravia might have encountered - "Welcome to Herrnhut!"
When I first began drawing, my instructor gave me a photograph and told me to "draw what I see". Little did I know that this simple instruction would reveal to me a world that I was not seeing - a world of shadows, shades, "negative spaces", shapes - just beyond my eyesight.
When I began sketching outside, in "plein air", I experimented with this awareness of sights I had previously overlooked. I've been told my art demonstrates this sensitivity.
This weekend, my Spotlight blog will be published by the Moravian Church reflecting upon Bohemian Brethren who, in the late 1600s, were considered illegal aliens in their own country. Those who did not flee their homeland chose instead to remain in the shadows. Their mere presence among neighbors had to be carefully calculated to avoid detection and persecution. Even church leaders who had world-wide influence, were ineffective advocates for a religion which for two centuries had shaped the culture of what is now the Czech Republic.
I created this piece of art to depict the illegal act of worship in plein air, in secret, sheltered by today's "Chalice Rocks", a state park in northern Czech Republic. Any correlation between the lives of these "invisible people" of the 17th century and the lives of those who call out today that Black Lives Matter is not a coincidence.
This piece of art has been accepted for this year's "Metro Montage" exhibit. Inspired by an image I saw last year in Portugal, this team of work-horses reenforced some readings from "The Beatitudes" that resonated for me at the time. 'Still does.
Marietta Cobb Museum of Art will have to do some fancy footwork to stage the opening of this exhibit. Bring a mask and plan to keep your distance while viewing the works of many talented artists, introduced on Saturday evening, July 11.
In Old Town Prague you find an impressive clock, three stories tall, clinging to the side of the Town Hall. It's called an "astronomical clock" because it displays time, day, month, year, lunar phase, sunrise, sunset, moon rise and set, weather forecast, baseball scores, latest political polling results, stock market.... WAIT, I'm getting carried away. Don't believe what I just said!
The point of this post and my drawing is that this clock has been around to announce time to the gathering crowd of sight-seers since 1410. Over 600 years and still ticking! As the hour strikes, 4 foot wooden replicas of apostles come out of a little door, twirl around, then reenter another door. Great show!
Another "great show" on Old Town square was the beheading of 27 Bohemian noblemen religious leaders, probably coinciding with the clock striking a designated hour on June 21, 1621. I use the term "great" only to get your attention, not to glorify the event.
If interested in cause and consequences of this historical event, google "Prague, Day of Blood". If interested in my imaginary conversation with one of these martyrs, google "BCM Spotlight Blog". The Moravian Church will publish this as a blog on June 13; my 7th blog of the series interviewing ancestors of the church.
We turn on the TV to get showered with fear: information about CoVid-19 ravaging populations and economies; political scheming and dealing (both sides); international finger-pointing;, violent acts vaguely justified as getting-even; and sometimes eloquent reporting simply describing "bad-manners".
Last night we watched something different. A tv documentary about Garry Marshall who was inclined to produce entertainment based upon fun, families, friendships, (Happy Days, Lavern and Shirley, Mork and Mindy) which seemed to represent values of the '50s. He went on to produce touching romantic movies (Pretty Woman, Overboard, Princess Bride, ). I didn't know that.
Where I'm going with this is that today's TV, facebook, and twitter seems fixated upon "winners and losers" rather than non-judgmental acceptance eloquently stated by Rodney King "why can't we just get along?". (remember him, and the circumstances?)
This weekend my 5th Moravian History blog is published reflecting a time in the 1500s when reading news of current events was balanced equally with reading "Good News" found in the Gospels. To illustrate this, I attach my drawing of the Kralice Bible, now regarded a treasure in the Czech Republic, illegally published in the Czech language by revolutionaries known as the Bohemian Brethren.
I'm not suggesting that we should disregard news of the current world events. I am suggesting, however, that reading the Bible or similar inspirational material might give balance to our current outlook, and tamp down any tendency to stoke anger.