Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Impressionist Theology

The late 19th century impressionist painters rebelled against the French Art Academy by painting scenes that emphasized the artist's individual perceptions of the visual world over strict artistic conventions. But a person's individual impressions varied over time of day, season and weather conditions. No better example of this shift from artist dogma to individual experience is the series of Monet's paintings of the Rouen Cathedral, now distributed over a dozen of museums across the globe.
The photo above was taken at College Cove near Trinidad, CA, a personal sanctuary where I return to for spiritual sustenance year after year. Yesterday it was shrouded in clouds; other times, the sea glistens under afternoon sun. Each spiritual experience differs from day to day. I cannot help but to muse that liberal religion, like my Unitarian Universalism, spurred the transition from Christian dogmatism to a personal experience of the Divine, close to the time of the Impressionist painters' revolt. The Transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau, the nature spiritualism of John Muir, and the influx of  the Yoga philosophy of Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament of World Religion's in Chicago in 1893, all fostered the shift from religious creed to lived religious experience.

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