Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Sports Art as Theology

Meetings at St. Ignatius College Prep begin with prayer. Sometimes our prayer is informal and brief. At other times, our prayer is well-constructed and creative. In the Religious Studies Department, our prayers are dynamic and deep, thoughtful and thorough. They should be—right? And yet, prayer reaches us in different ways. What lifts my heart and mind to God differs from the Theology teacher on my right and on my left. Still, I enjoy how each of my colleagues invite me to pray—and to pray with one another. 

Though divided on some topics, every one of my co-workers agrees that we ought to be more intentional about integrating art into our curriculum. I was reminded of our shared belief when Megan, my colleague shared this quote for prayer.

The purpose of theology, the purpose of any thinking about God, is to make the silences clearer and starker to us, to make the unmeaning — by which I mean those aspects of the divine that will not be reduced to human meanings — more irreducible and more terrible and thus ultimately more wonderful. This is why art is so often better at theology than theology is. –Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss 
Oil painting, sculpture, pottery and design. Illustration, silk screen, stained glass and watercolor: so many art forms integrate color and its absence—a nuanced kind of silence. Light and dark, shadow and symmetry. What a wonderful vehicle to consider the Divine. Wiman's words served as an invitation and a challenge to include art into my curriculum... OR as I was able to do this week: bring my students to art! Thanks to my colleague, this was an easy task. 
The Computer Science, Robotics and Design invited faculty to pay attention and take notice of some outstanding art. Via e-mail, he wrote, 
If you have a moment, please enjoy the artwork from the Multimedia Design students on display in the center hallway of the second floor in the academic building.  
Students were asked to create a composition featuring a pioneer or champion of social justice that has had an impact on them throughout their life experiences and/or cross-curricular experiences in their other courses at SI. 
If you would like to know who created a particular work of art, the students’ names and logos are in the bottom corner of each piece respectively.
People often profess, "the Lord provides." Well, the good Lord did so in abundance through this lesson plan. I teach Ethics: Morality and Justice to juniors and we have just begun our unit on Social Justice. I divided the class in two and half of my students went into the hallway to choose a profile and their quote that speaks to them; explain why.

About one fourth of the artistic profiles feature athletes—historical and active. I asked my Sports and Spirituality students to do the same. While the majority of them chose the athletes you see here, their choices were many. 

The OPENING LINE of my book "Pray and Practice with Purpose: A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes" states “Great art is important in the teaching of religion because it is not merely intellectual knowledge that we are gaining. Great art moves us; it touches us; it enables us to see.” —Michel Bettigole, O.S.F. and James D. Childs. I make the claim that I often see athletics as great art. The work of the students from St. Ignatius—inclusive of sports—has served as a poignant reminder for how I should not only teach the faith, but live it, too. ENJOY!

my only regret is that none of the athletes profiled are female.
never a given that Jesus will make the list of those who advocate for Social Justice.
Very happy to see Him included.

From the Hilltop, students need to know that Bill Russell also played for a Jesuit school:
The University of San Francisco

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