Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fine Art Handout 2: Hildesheim

In last Wednesday's class we started with about 5 minutes' review of Genesis, up through Chapter 2, verse 24: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." In that prior class I deliberately left off the last verse of Chapter 2, "And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed," because I wanted to use it in the next class to link the new material to the just-reviewed material. Planning-wise, I like to treat Genesis 2's innocent nakedness in the same class that we read, "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons."

So the new material began with explaining that sinless Adam and Eve were no more embarrassed or ashamed of their nakedness than a baby would be. Then we covered Adam & Eve & Sin, reading, discussing, and acting from the beginning of Gen 3: "Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made," to "He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life." To illustrate Adam & Eve's shame and guilt-dodging, I described an old bronze bas-relief I'd learned about in Art History back in 1977:

"I love Adam & Eve after they disobey God. God says, "Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" and they start whining about like I would: "The man said, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate."  Adam means: you gave me this woman, and she gave me the fruit so what was I supposed to do? It ain't my fault! "Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate." That is, it ain't my fault either, the Devil made me do it! So is that right? No, it's their fault! Yes, but didn't the serpent bring the whole mess up? Yes, but they could've said no. Right, because they will! Yes. Couldn't God have forced Adam & Eve to be good? Yes, but it wouldn't have counted. Right. God doesn't force anyone to love Him. Would I want to force my kids to love me? No. Right. So tell me, Adam and Eve should have obeyed God because...he's smarter than them? Yes, but I'm looking for a more wonderful reason...'cause He loves them? Yes, but not so much because He loves them, but...because they love God! Yes, genius! The best obedience comes from love. But Adam and Eve loved themselves more than they loved God. That's a problem all their children struggle with, too.

"Hey, this reminds me of a great picture of this whole forbidden-fruit business, I have to show y'all [I draw and act out]. God's like this, jabbing his finger at Adam & Eve: man, y'all are so bad and I Am Angry! And then Adam's all scrunched over like he needs to pee, covering his crotch with a leaf in one hand like so, and pointing at Eve with the other hand, nooo, it's her fault! And Eve's covering up and scrunched down too, pointing at the serpent: it's his fault! Anyway, I just love all the finger-pointing business. Yes? Where's the real picture? It's on the door of a church in Europe, I forgot what church though. Well, I want to see it! Me too! OK, I'll try to find it on the Net."

Today I pulled out my old Art History textbook and started turning pages in the Renaissance chapters: if it was a bronze bas-relief that'd likely mean it was in 15th-16th century Italy somewhere, but not Ghiberti's doors in Florence. No luck. So I described the image to My Wife the Art History Professor...she ponders for 5 seconds. Then: "Have you tried St. Michael's at Hildesheim?" No! And I love St. Michael's anyway! Yes! There it is...I was off by about 500 years.

This newly-made handout will be part of the review of our last class:

St. Michael's Church in Hildesheim, Germany

  God, Adam, Eve, the Tree, and the Serpent on the original doors of the church.

Whose fault was it that Adam and Eve ate the fruit?
Isn't that a terrific teaching tool? And St. Michael's is so lovely with its six towers. I show the church just in case any of the kids ever find themselves near Hildesheim, they can tootle over and have a look.

P.S. The handout was quite the success. Some of the kids thought it was so funny that on their own initiative they got up in the front of class to act out the above scene. One might say that hilarity ensued.


RAnn said...

What I find fascinating about that piece is how skinny everyone is. It's hard to remember in this day of excess that for the average person for so much of history,extra food was not common.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Thanks for the art and the lovely picture of the church - the lesson, too.

How come Adam and Eve only seem to be ashamed of their private parts and not of any other body area? I think there must be something theological here but I'm too dumb to figure it out.

kkollwitz said...

My 2 cents: the genitals, while being the most primitive part of the human body, are oddly enough also the most Godlike in that they are the parts humans use to create more people in God's image. So after A&E disobey God, they realize not only are those bits terrifically useful for cooperating with God, they're also useful for causing a lot of mischief. Such potential for misuse has to be controlled, so they cover up.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Thanks for the explanation. It makes sense.