Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, 1939 Golden Gate Exposition

Over seventy years ago, religious leaders in the Bay Area raised $100,00 to construct a Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace for the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition on Treasure Island.

San Francisco's Temple represented all faiths, unlike the Temple of Religion at the 1938 World's Fair in New York City that only represented Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Also, as involvement in the second world war seemed increasingly inevitable, for the last eight Sundays of the exposition the organization sponsored a series of events and lectures to promote peace and keep America out of the conflict.

Treasure Island was later seized from the City and County of San Francisco by the Navy for use as a base during World War II.

We recently received a scrapbook and other materials collected by Fred D. Parr, Parr was the President of the California Church Council and Vice-President and Chairman of the Finance Committee for Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, Inc.

The scrapbook details the events surrounding the Temple. Besides the activities of local religious organizations, there were a number of curious crises. One mural met with great concern. The depiction of Jesus by Austrian artist Franz Bergmann seemed too dark and "lacking in spirituality and kindness" by many clergymen. Moses appeared too stern and, in a departure from usual form, mostly bald. Bergmann agreed to soften both figures.

Among the exhibits were archeological artifacts from the Palestine Institute (now Bade Institute of Biblical Archaeology) of Pacific School of Religion, a Marcus Whitman exhibit from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the John Howell exhibit of Bibles, later donated to PSR.

For more information about the Fred D. Parr: Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, Golden Gate International Exhibition Collection, 1938 – 1939, GTU 2009-11-01, please contact the archivist at archives@gtu.edu.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thomas Starr King, Apostle of Liberty,
Sacramento, December 8, 2009

Statue of Thomas Starr King as unveiled in Washington, DC, 1932

I hear frequently the charge that I preach politics, and that it will make trouble if I do not desist. This undoubtedly refers to the frequency of the treatment I have given, during the last year or so, to the Christian spirit and obligation of humanity, and the application I have often made of it to our responsibility as members of the American government, as entrusted in part with the destiny of an Empire. Wherever there is power there is trust and duty. The preacher’s business is with spiritual laws, and their bearing upon or their application with the duties and the action of common life. If I think and see clearly how a great spiritual principle may be honored by the method in which you can trade, or use your money or exercise your genius, or live at home, am I not bound to interpret that way, leaving it for your conscience and your insight to accept or refuse my interpretation?
Sermon at Hollis Church, Boston, 1856

The statue of Thomas Starr King, which had been on display since 1932 in Statuary Hall in the Capital as one of the heroes of California, is being dedicated at its new location in Sacramento on December 8, 2009, at 1:30 pm. The statue will greet visitors entering the Civil War Grove in Capitol Park.

King's statue was replaced by one of a smiling Ronald Reagan in June this year. The Reagan Foundation donated $35,000 to move the King statue to Sacramento.

King only spent four years in San Francisco before succumbing to pneumonia at the age of 39 in 1864 but his impact was tremendous. A Unitarian Universalist minister, he campaigned actively for the Union cause throughout the state during the Civil War. A small man with a commanding voice, King promoted a love of nature and a love of his fellow man. Besides his efforts to support the Union, he campaigned for support of the Sanitary Commission, a predecessor to the Red Cross, to care for sick and wounded Union soldiers. California raised about 25% of the nearly $5 million for the organization.

In conjunction with the dedication ceremony for the statue, a Thomas Starr King exhibit is on display at the State Capitol Museum through June 30, 2010. The GTU Archives contributed a few items from the Starr King Collection: a traveling case used on his trip from New York to San Francisco, an ambrotype of his wife Julia, and a copy of his journal of the voyage to California.

The GTU archives maintains the collection for the Starr King School of Ministry. For additional information, please contact the archivist at archives@gtu.edu or view the finding aid. We recently put online the book on the 1932 unveiling of the statue in Washington, some photographs, and a scrapbook maintained by Charles W. Wendte.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dali"s Biblia Sacra

Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt.

One of the books currently on display in the library is the Bible illustrated by Salvadore Dali printed in 1967. The full title is Biblia sacra vulgatae editionis / Sixti V pont. max. iussu recognita et Clementis VIII auctoritate edita ; imaginibus Salvatoris Dalí exornata.

The Bible is broken down into 5 volumes with 105 illustrations. Our version is number 294 of the 1499 copies of the "luxus" edition, printed on special wood-pulp paper with the Dalí watermark, interspersed with illuminated drawings and bound in natural-colored goatskin, embellished with gold.

We have a separate collection of slides of illustrations. However a website does seem to include thumbnails of most of the images. Additional information on the project can be found at the Park West Gallery website.

The GTU library is exhibiting rare books and materials from the archives through November 25. The books create a great foreground for the C.A.R.E. art exhibit behind the cases.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Home Preacher

Turn Ye From Evil Ways
(please click on image to see larger print)

"The Home Preacher," Printed by Endicott and Co. Lith., 1857, from the Smithsonian Institute.

Most of our collections date from the latter part of the 20th century. Occasionally, materials within a collection hearken back to the the century before. This print is from the Lithography Collection at the Smithsonian. A young Doug Adams requested this and other prints while studying in Washington, DC, during the 1970's.

This ties in with his studies of American preaching. Adams (1945-2007) was a longtime professor at Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union. He wrote and taught humor in the Bible and in the Pulpit as well as dance and religious art. We are in the midst of processing his collection.

Monday, August 24, 2009

300 Million! Additional Workers Looking for Work in Next 10 Years, 1974

We recently received 60 additional posters from the sixties and seventies for the Albert G. Cohen Campus Ministry, Social Justice and Environment Collection .

The two shown here were part of a series of 12 posters issued by the International Labour Organization, based on an animated film that they produced in 1974. The drawings were by Bjorn Frank Jensen, Toonder Studios, Netherlands.

The issue then was "300 Million! That's the number of additional people that will be looking for work in the world during the next 10 years. The question is: Will there be enough work for them?"

The Rev. Cohen, a campus minister for many years at California State University Los Angeles, was active in social justice causes and population and environmental issues. For additional information about his work, please see his online finding aid or contact GTU archives at either 510-647-2507 or 2523 or email archives at gtu.edu.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Humor in the Bible, Doug Adams

Walking across the Pacific School of Religion campus, I almost always think of the late Professor Doug Adams (1945-2007). I took a few art and religion classes from him in 2004-2005. He always knew how to grab an audience's attention. His way of distributing handouts was to throw them up in the air. Some of his most eloquent speeches were on how the cheese and wine that would be served at break were based on the speaker"s preference or on the topic. He always made sure that guest speakers would address what he expected them to talk about. He would also be very serious, saying that late papers were unacceptable, because how could you be late to the pulpit?

Here is an interview on Al Kresta Show Live that took place in September 11, 1997. The topic is his book,
The prostitute in the family tree : discovering humor and irony in the Bible.

Permission to reproduce this broadcast courtesy of Ave Maria Radio and the Al Kresta Show.

For more memories of Adams, see the PSR site. Special Collections is in the midst of processing the Doug Adams Collection. There are a few of these priceless talks within these materials, including his magical rendition of Henry Ward Beecher. The library has this and other books by Adams.

Friday, June 19, 2009

People's Temple

He's Able, People's Temple Choir, 1973 Brotherhood Records
Last year was the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown mass suicide (11/18/1978). In its rare materials, the GTU library has the record album that the People's Temple Choir recorded in 1973. We also have a small Responses to Jonestown collection. The collection was one where library staff solicited materials related to the event. Within this collection, along with newspapers from Guyana, are copies of sermons and articles in religious publications in response to the tragedy.

Most of the responses address the mass suicide as an issue of cults and false prophets. A few point to issues closer at hand. Martin P. Choate, president of the Berkeley Area Interfaith Council, December 9, 1978, concludes their statement:
In this sad time...let it become a call to all of us to put our religious houses in order. In the words of St. Francis:
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope.

There is an amazing amount of material about Jonestown on the web. The music from He's Able is reproduced in full at WFMU's Beware of the Blog. The Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State created in incredible detail Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. In other mediums, at least two documentaries came out last year. Finally, the church and Jim Jones is captured in the play The People's Temple by Leigh Fondakowski with Greg Pierotti, Stephen Wangh and Margo Hall. This was first performed by the Berkeley Reporatory Theater in 2005 and most recently ran in Chicago in 2008. The play features music from He's Able.

This post was prompted by two events. First, a chance encounter with one of the attendees to the Western Archives Institute, this year in Berkeley. He said that the National Archives and Records Administration office in San Bruno, whose building is named after Congressman Leo W. Ryan (who was killed at Jonestown), also holds his papers, which are waiting to be processed. Second, finding the album in our rare record section and discovering that the music is online.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finger Prayer Book

Finger Prayer Book, 3.5 x 1 inches, circa 1890's, Oxford Press
In considering the comparative readability of the I-Phone versus the Kindle, this late 19th century example came to mind. Here is a finger sized Book of Common Prayer, one of the miniature books in the GTU Rare Book Collection. A few sections were not printed in order to keep the size to a minimum. Quite readable, these books were certainly a convenient size to carry.

Miniature books in the United States are usually 3 inches in height or less, so this example is slightly taller than normal to this format. However, outside of the US the height may be up to 4 inches (90 cm). By any account, as an example of small yet readable text size, this work seems worthy of inclusion. For further information on the Internet, UCLA's Clark Library has an online exhibit on miniature books. Most of the earliest examples are religious.

To locate additional miniature books in our collection, search under subjects in Grace: "Miniature books -- Specimens". This book is part of our extensive collection of the Book of Common Prayer.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sounds of a New Roof

Part of working in archives is making sure that events that happen in the present are captured for the future. Here is what the library sounds like today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chagall, Exodus and Jewish Theater

Then the Lord sayd unto Aaron, Goe meet Moses in the Wilderness. And he went and met him in the mount of God and kissed him.

God sends Aaron to meet Moses in the desert, from The Story of Exodus, 1966. Detail, Marc Chagall (1887-1985). Gift of the Chiles Foundation.
Having any exhibition in the Bay Area of works by Chagall is always cause for celebration. The new Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco is currently exhibiting Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, 1919-1949. Along with the murals and panels painted by Chagall, are videos of the performances that represent a time and place that has vanished. In addition to the theater-related objects are some of Chagall's other works from local collections. These include prints from the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts and some wonderful paintings.

We are fortunate in the library to have this color lithograph from The Story of Exodus, showing Moses with the horns of light and Aaron. The picture hangs across from the elevator on the second floor.

If you get a chance, please see the exhibit. For additional information on the theater, along with the exhibit catalog, Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, see Benjamin Harshav's, The Moscow Yiddish Theater. Harshav spoke at the GTU a few years ago. He is an exceptional scholar of language and culture of modern East European Yiddish culture.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dr. Nargis Virani, 17th Annual Reading of the Sacred Texts

Dr. Nargis Virani, Respond to the Call from Heaven: Pilgrim’s Progress through Rumi’s Poetry from GTU Archives on Vimeo.

The reading took place on February 11, 2009. The presenter is Dr. Nargis Virani, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies
at the New School in New York City. Moderated by Dr. Munir Jiwa,
director of the Center for Islamic Studies and Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union.

Poetry produced in Muslim milieu often quotes and interprets the Qur'an in creative and novel ways; however, it has never been studied as a fertile site for scriptural interpretation, understanding, and practice. The talk will provide examples from the poetry of one of the most famous Muslim Mystic-poets, Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fredrich von Hugel, Frances Crane Lillie 1924

I am very much looking forward to your visit...will you, please, bring your work--knitting, sewing, crochet or the like, with you? I am never quite comfortable speaking to any woman unless her fingers are busy meanwhile. If, alas, you do not work thus, I shall give you a book to cut open."

F.v.Hugel, Oct 16, 1924, 13 Vicarage Gate

The GTU Archives has a small collection of correspondence that Francis Lillie Crane received from Fredrich von Hugel (1952-1925) and Jacques Maritain (1882–1973). The Catholic Modernist and French philosopher are well known but the story of Crane is worth reviewing.

Frances Crane (1869-1958), daughter of the wealthy Chicago manufacturer, was considered the black sheep of the family due to her activism and interests. She was a member of the board of Protective Agency for Women and Children in Chicago. She supported the Hull House of Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr. In 1915, she was arrested during the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union strike. She complained to the mayor that the police looked away while private policemen beat up the strikers. ILGWU leader Sidney Hillman wrote her, "You may never understand how much it meant to me to have a woman like yourself defy the edicts of society and boldly espouse the cause of the weak and oppressed."

She and her husband, Frank R. Lillie, chairman of the Zoology Department, were significant donors to the University of Chicago. She focused on the library and religious causes; he on scientific studies. According to the UC donor website, along with her activism, her reputation was due to "her adoption of a mystical Catholicism, tinged later in life with elements of Zen Buddhism." Among her accomplishments, she created the first Marian garden in the US in 1932 at St. Joseph's Church in Cape Cod, close to the marine lab where her husband worked.

This brief note just touches the surface of her story. Unfortunately, a memoir on her life is self published and hard to find. However, a search on the web yields certain events of her life that have touched other people.

This post was sparked by a researcher's request for more information about the Friedrich Von Hugel - Jacques Maritain Letters: Frances Crane Lillie Collection, 1920 -1934. The significant letters from von Hugel can found in Selected letters, 1896-1924, edited with a memoir by Bernard Holland. Hügel, Friedrich, Freiherr von, 1852-1925. London, J.M. Dent & sons ltd. [1933].

For more information on this small collection, see the finding aid or contact Special Collections at 510/649-2523, dstiver@gtu.edu.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

People's Park-40th Anniversary Part 2

You have a duty to this community. It is in your hands to determine whether it will turn to tearing down or building up, street fighting or a new vocationalism. No matter what your beneficent motives, inflexible paternalism doesn't work in the ghetto and it won't work here.

We will be surprised if your intramural field is ever actualized unless it has the support of the people. We wonder at your lack of realism. The spirit that built People's Park is stronger than gas and cops. It is even stronger than universities.

As followers of Jesus, we are committed to stand with that spirit, the spirit of the poor and alienated trying to create a new world on the vacant lots of the old.

Rev. Richard York, May 15, 1969, Open letter to Chancellor Heynes, Sproul Plaza Rally

Rev. York read this letter with a few modifications at the rally to save People's Park on May 15, 1969,in Sproul Plaza. The letter was written by York, Anthony Nugent and Jock Brown, and approved by the Free Church board of trustees.

Dan Siegel, president-elect of the student body, followed York's statement, telling the crowd to go down and take back the park. This led to the confrontation between protesters and police known as Bloody Thursday. The next few weeks were tense. Helicopters dropped tear gas on the campus and the community that drifted into elementary schools and hospitals.

The Free Church assisted with emergency medical care and a bail fund. Bail was set extremely high, averaging $800 per person. The Free Church received donations of around $50,000. Each day the checks and money were picked up at the Church, brought up to Jock Brown's house and counted by his wife and children. All the change collected in large pots had to be coin wrapped. Then they took the money to the Bank of America, where they were allowed to deliver it directly to an official. The church also held the tools for the second People's Park, now Ohlone Park.

An estimated 30,000 people marched peacefully past the Park on Memorial Day. Friday. May 30, 1969, led by members of the Free Church. The National Guard was withdrawn. The active role of the Free Church over People's Park led to a withdrawal of support by mainline church community.

For more information on the park, see the People's Park time line. Additional images from our collection on People's Park are temporarily online, part of a California Local History Digital Resources Project. Later this year they will be part of Calisphere. For further information, see the finding aid or contact Special Collections at 510/649-2523, dstiver@gtu.edu.

Special thanks to Terri Compost -- historian, gardener and author of the forthcoming book, People's Park: Still Blooming (see http://slingshot.tao.ca/published.php).

People's Park-40th Anniversary

In the name of Jesus, decontaminate this place of evil demons and fill the air with vibrations of love.

Rev. Richard York, People's Park Consecration Service, May 11, 1969

The 40th anniversary of People's Park was celebrated in Berkeley last month. This is one of two posts drawing from materials on People's Park from the Berkeley Free Church Collection.

On April 20, 1969, the community took over what was basically a parking lot owned by the University and built a park. On May 6, Chancellor Heynes requested proposals from students, the community and the college of environmental design on the best use for the lot.

Rev. Richard York, minister and guiding force for the Berkeley Free Church, and other spiritual leaders of the community consecrated the park on Sunday, May 11. Joining York were Father Jim Conway, a Roman Catholic; Isaac Bonowitz, Universal Church of Life; a member of Hare Krishna; and a Moslem. The SF Examiner (5/12/1969) said they " consecrated it with possibly the most variegated collection of clerics in the history of a community where variegation is a way of life."

On May 15, Highway Patrol and local police officers appeared early in the morning and took over the park. A chain link fence was constructed. A march by students and locals on the park from Sproul Plaza led to Bloody Thursday. James Rector, watching the action from a rooftop, was shot and later dies. Alan Blanshard was shot and blinded. 128 marchers and watchers were injured. Gov. Reagan called out the National Guard, who tear gas the city, and prohibited public assemblies.

York was a member of the People's Park Committee and obsessively collected and saved documents, clippings and other materials on Berkeley and the activities of the church.

Additional images from our collection on People's Park are temporarily online, part of a California Local History Digital Resources Project. Later this year they will be part of Calisphere. For additional information, see the finding aid or contact Special Collections at 510/649-2523, dstiver@gtu.edu.

Special thanks to Terri Compost -- historian, gardener and author of the forthcoming book, People's Park: Still Blooming (see http://slingshot.tao.ca/published.php).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Joining the Theologians for Thrift & Tolerance

Click on image to see full-sized article.

In the May 2009 Dean's Newsletter, Dean Arthur Holder quotes from an article in Time Magazine on the reasons for the formation of the Graduate Theological Union and links to the text source. Above is a copy of how the article appeared in print.

Several of these handouts showed up recently in materials donated to supplement the Victor Gold Collection (GTU 91-7-01). Professor Gold (1924-2008) passed away last September. He taught at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary for over 50 years, retiring in 2004 as Professor of Old Testament. Gold participated in the Interseminary Committee on a Cooperative Graduate Program in the late 1950s. These discussions and the work of this committee led to the formation of the GTU. The professor continued to serve on critical committees that shaped how the institution is today.

For additional information on the Victor R. Gold : Graduate Theological Union Collection, 1958-1981, you can review the finding aid, visit the archives or contact Special Collections at 510-649-2523. The Archives has several collections on the formation and early years of the GTU.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Holy Hill, 1974 and 1999



Two aerial photograph of Holy Hill. The first one is from 1974. One can just make out the Wilson house on the left side below the open park like area. The second photo shows the GTU library in 1999. It's the large square structure at bottom slightly left.

From left, the streets are LeConte, named after UCB paleontologist and president Joseph LeConte (1869-1901); Scenic Avenue, from the early tract name, Daly's Scenic Park; and Ridge Road. Not shown is Hearst Avenue at the bottom of the slope on the south side, named after Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842-1919), who owned the area from Scenic to Arch in the early 20th century.

A fire leveled the area north of Ridge Road on September 17, 1923. Pacific School of Religion acquired its current location from the estate of Pheobe Hearst in the twenties. As land after the fire was cheap and the area was close to the resources of UC-Berkeley, other seminaries established themselves nearby. The other seminaries shown here are Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Dominican Priory, and Starr King School of Ministry. The GTU buildings are the business offices at 2465 LeConte.

Dalai Lama, 1979

This past Saturday, the 14th Dala Lama, His Holiness Tensin Gyatso (or as the Library of Congress says, Bstan-,dzin-rgya-mtsho, Dalai Lama XIV, Dd 1935-) visited Berkeley. He has been in Berkeley at least four times and visited GTU twice.

On his first visit to the United States, he gave a lecture at GTU on October 1, 1979. This was ten years before the archives was officially created, so there is not much on the event. In searching the archives, there are three photos that document the day, two showing President and Dean Claude Welch with the Dalai Lama. The bottom photo is where the bookstore used to be. The date was located in correspondence in Welch's records. Hopefully, more information will be found.

The library has a few books on his early tours: Kindness, clarity and insight (BQ7612 .B77 1984) is a collection of his talks during his visits to North America from 1979-81; and Marcia Keegan's Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (BQ7935.B774 T42) provides many photographs along with his responses to questions during the 1979-80 visits. Curiously, the Kindness, Clarity and Insight book has a lecture on the "Two Truths" given at UC-Berkeley during this period. Perhaps this was the lecture given at the GTU, as UCB does not report the Dalai Lama speaking there until 1994, or perhaps they heard the "Religious Harmony: Ecumenical Gatherings throughout North America" lecture.

Here's one quote from "Two Truths"

"In dependence on ultimate truths wisdom is developed, and in dependence upon conventional truths compassion and kindness toward others is meditated. These two, wisdom and compassion, must be practiced in union; this is the path of the union of wisdom and method." (Kindness, clarity and insight , pp 198-199)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

GTU Library - Original Concept

Earlier this week, Mueller and Caulfield Architects of Oakland donated plans and other materials about the construction of the library to Special Collections. The Flora Lamson Hewlett Library was completed in two phases, 1979-1981 and 1985-1987.

The photographs, drawings and clippings of awards are particularly interesting in weighing concept versus how the building is today.

This particular drawing shows the original plan for the library from the seventies. Ridge Street at the intersection with Le Conte and Scenic was to be closed. Somehow the Washingtonia (probably robusta) palms planted by Frank M. Wilson were to remain intact. Wilson purchased most of the land known as Daley’s Scenic Park in the Northgate Area in 1891. Perhaps the power lines would have been buried instead of stretched along the north side, where a transformer blew out Tuesday night killing power to the building. Louis Kahn's idea was to have more of a campus feel than it does with a road running in between the library and nearby seminaries. The concept returned to its current state during neighborhood review and the Berkeley permit process.

The GTU Archives has a number of collections about the construction of the library. Please contact Special Collections at 510/649-2523 for additional information.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Campus Ministry and Ecology 1970

Ecology 1970, Earl Newman

The GTU Archives contains a number of collections about the United Ministries of Higher Education in California. The organization combined resources of Protestant denominations (the membership varied by location) to support ministries on state campuses.

Ministers found themselves in the middle of the critical issues during the sixties and seventies. For example, an advertisement in the California State Fullerton campus newspaper, The Titan (September 27, 1968) announced: "Counseling for Problem Pregnancies, Draft Counseling, Grape Boycott Information, Theological Study Opportunities: See your UCCM Minister, Rev. Al Cohen."

Cohen, a graduate of West Point and a UCC minister, worked on campus at Fullerton and California State in Los Angeles for 30 years. During that time, his activities shifted from social protest to confronting population and environmental issues. In the Albert G. Cohen Campus Ministry, Social Justice and Environment Collection this change is clearly documented by the over 120 posters ranging from tiger cages in Vietnam to world population conferences.

Within the collection were a number of prints by Earl Newman, including four variations of Ecology 1970. This hung either in his office at CSLA or in the Ecology Action office in Santa Monica. Newman is best known for his posters representing the Monterrey Jazz Festival but he also created very moving posters for SNCC in the early sixties. See Earl Newman.

For more information, query "campus ministry" at Online Archives of California or contact Special Collections at 510/649-2523.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Silk Screen Prints by Sister Corita Kent

W, serigraph, Sister Corita Kent, 1969

damn everything but the circus - e.e. cummings

...damn everything that is grim, dull,
motionless, unrisking, inward turning,
damn everything that won't get into the
circle, that won't enjoy, that won't throw
its heart into the tension, surprise, fear
and delight of the circus, the round
world, the full existence...- S. Helen Kelley

A Delight in the Alphabet, Works of Sr. Corita Kent, IHM, are on display in the Flora Lamson Hewett Library through May, 2009

In these prints Sister Corita Kent(1918-1986) combines text and either circus themes or other graphic images to promote a more loving, joyful life. She taught art for years at Immaculate Heart College (IHC) in Los Angeles. In 1968, she resigned from the order citing personal reasons. However, another factor was that as her work became well known, she came to be considered dangerous by conservative church leaders. She and her fellow sisters were considered rebels. They insisted on freedom from traditional rules of the cloister. After a three year conflict with the archdiocese of Los Angeles and with the Vatican, about 90% of the nuns resigned and formed a secular community.

Kent had already moved to Boston and continued to produce prints and illustrations. After fighting cancer for eight years, she died in 1986. Her prints are owned by many museums. During the last year, they have been on display in a number of different venues. The GTU Archives received partial sets of two of her alphabet series in 1999. As far anyone can remember, this is the first time that they have been on display here.

For more information about these prints, contact Special Collections at 510/649-2523.

There are many entries for Sister Corita on the web. The best place to start is The Corita Art Center.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Earth Day - Thomas Starr King: Nature Writer

Mt. Starr King, Yosemite National Park

Love of nature has its root in wonder and veneration, and it issues in many forms of practical good. There can be no abounding and ardent patriotism where sacred attachment to our civil home is wanting; and there can be no abiding and inspiring religious joy in the heart that recognizes no presence and touch of God in the permanent surroundings of our earthly abode.
We are not to live outside the world, but in it, feeling its passions, working in its interests, striving to do our duty in its trials. And yet large districts of our life and feeling should be above the world, on the Sierra heights from which the world and our toil and our home cares and our surroundings look noble, precious, bathed in light.
From "Lessons from the Sierra Nevada," Christianity and humanity; a series of sermons, by Thomas Starr King. Edited, with a memoir, by Edwin P. Whipple. Boston, J.R. Osgood, 1877.

Thomas Starr King (1824-1864) today is either forgotten or only partially remembered. He is best known for his efforts to keep the state of California in the Union during the Civil War. A popular Universalist and Unitarian minister, his writings on the beauty of the White Hills and of the Sierras place him on equal footing with Henry David Thoreau. His sermons offer eloquent testimony to the beauty of nature and God.

Along with a number of schools, King has peaks in Yosemite and the White Mountains named in his honor. To remember his writings on the White Mountains, the citizens of Plymouth, NH, named a beautiful elm tree after him. Unfortunately, the tree fell victim to Dutch Elm disease and was cut down in 1965.

The GTU archives is the repository for the Thomas Starr King Collection, owned by Starr King School of Ministry. One of the larger archival collections on King--his personal library was lost to fire-- the Finding Aid can be viewed at Online Archive of California. The library recently received a microfilm copy of 400 of his sermons from the Boston Public Library.

This post was inspired by recent visits to see the collection by a Harvard researcher studying views of nature in the 19th century and by a San Francisco teacher. Other related sources on the web are: