Words, words, words, and a moment of quiet at the American Academy of Religion

I needed some quiet during this year’s American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature sessions. As usual it was a time rich in words, ideas, and connecting with people, and I had been gorging myself on:

  • the Mennonite Scholars and Friends Forum on judgment and the wrath of God
  • a paper by John Stackhouse on “A Collapse of Values: Why Canadian Evangelicals and Roman Catholics Cannot Agree—with Themselves, Each Other, or Canadian Society”
  • Francesca Nuzzolese on “Pathways Out of Hell: Healing and Wholeness for Survivors of Sex Trafficking”
  • a series of papers on preaching difficult texts and preaching parables
  • another series on Scripture and Film
  • the book exhibit with 200 publishers represented
  • and so much more. . . .

In the midst of all this, I also needed some quiet to let it all sink in, so I was very glad for the AAR exhibit on the Sistine Chapel in honour of its 500th year anniversary.

In one of the cavernous rooms at the McCormick Place convention center, they had re-created Michelangelo’s masterpiece on an overhead canopy one-third the size of his original. It was actually smaller than I had imagined, but what a work of art with scenes drawn from the Old Testament and over 300 figures! l looked for the iconic image of God reaching out to Adam.

Around the room, there were various examples of the Sistine Chapel in popular culture—a cover of Time magazine with the hand of God creating a test-tube baby, the Homer Simpson cartoon version, and this was my favourite, a Dan Piraro Bizarro cartoon:


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