Three art pros will pick slides for Sr. Wendy
As the deadline for our art search for a contemporary Jesus appears closer on the horizon, NCR wishes to announce the jury that will choose the final 10 slides which will then be adjudicated by famed BBC art nun Sr. Wendy Beckett of England.
A team of three art professionals, all teachers and all directors of galleries in their communities, will meet for what promises to be an extremely busy weekend in late October. What they find and what they decide is likely -- judging by the extraordinary reaction to the NCR competition thus far -- to have considerable bearing on the publics visual perception of Jesus early in the new millennium.
The competition continues to arouse intense curiosity and constant queries about how to enter (we would greatly encourage interested artists to ask for instructions on how to enter, or to check our website at www.natcath.org), so our distinguished panel will be doing a really important thing. We welcome them to this endeavor and are proud to have them involved.
A recent letter from a long-time reader whom Ill call Betty says she and her husband are continually amazed and delighted with your publication. She then goes on to explain her dilemma: I sometimes find myself feeling overwhelmed at the various situations around the world. She refers to the bombing of Iraq as an example.
Betty is haunted by injustice and the frustration of being only one voice. Her plaint is constantly echoed by other NCR readers who would love to save the world or at least mend it but grow weary of the fight and the loneliness of the effort.
Yes, the world is beautiful on summer days when one is carefree or in love or has just won the lottery or is granted a privileged moment when natural beauty or divine radiance briefly wipes lifes tears away. Yet the human condition is such that earths cares do return. Those with a capacity for pity or justice are challenged, first, to look the evil in the eye and, second, to do something about it.
The world cant take too much reality, James Baldwin once wrote. Only the deranged take pleasure in other peoples pain. Given the option, most people turn away.
I replied to Betty that I would address the problem if only to say I had nothing to say. This is the great conundrum in the face of which we are all struck dumb, from Jobs day (he was a notable exception on the dumbness issue!) to our own. I believe one reason so many readers rely on NCR is because it does not flinch from contemplating the cruelty and unfairness and death. They are readers who have made a tacit pact with humanity - that they will not walk away.
The best moments of world history show humans carrying on against the odds, from the myth of Sisyphus to the man on a cross. We go on precisely because doing so is when we are at our best, undaunted, shouting the word hope into the darkness ahead.
Think of all the glossy magazines - and others - in which you will not find the agony of East Timor this week. NCR is not particularly heroic in putting on our covers and in our pages the forgotten, the voiceless, the suffering. It is the least we can do, although it is not the only thing we do. Most of us are far away from those threatened and tortured people, so useless to them, so unable to make the world listen, or make the world whole by magic or miracle. But we owe them at least the gesture of looking in their direction with compassion - sometimes thats all humanity can do.
At press time the tragedy of East Timor had gathered even more momentum. The Vaticans missionary news service FIDES was reporting that three priests were slain in a grenade attack on a parish in Suai Sept. 6, including Fr. Henry Madeira. FIDES also reported 15 priests killed in Dili and Baucau, and some nuns killed in Baucau. Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento, based in Baucau, was injured in a Sept. 8 attack and was hiding in the forest, the report said.
The Catholic charity group Caritas reported the director of its East Timor operations, Fr. Francisco Barreto, was killed by army-backed militiamen in Dare. Other Caritas members were also feared dead.
-- Michael Farrell
National Catholic Reporter, September 17, 1999