Saturday, January 10, 2004

Wall calendars and worldviews
My favourite local takeaway (best spaghetti bolognese outside of Bologna and probably there too) recently had a big assortment of promotional giveaway wall calendars that actually were good artistically. One is RC, another intended for Protestants. What struck me about the two is the contrast between the visual (Old Masters' paintings and antique popular art of God, angels and of Mary and other saints), with some biblical and other supporting texts, in the former and the nature scenes and heavy use of scriptural quotations in the latter - great as far as it goes but not enough. And I don't think the difference has to do with social class or literacy ('pretty pictures are for them what can't read') - all the calendars seem intended for people of the same class and/or education. The first calendar is Incarnational, Catholic, showing us a God who can be seen and known; the second seems to worship an unknown God, something like Judaism in the Old Testament and today and like Islam. The former is about knowledge, just like being in a relationship with another person; the latter is information. The difference? To paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke (substituting one of my fave sex symbols), the difference between information and knowledge is the difference between Gillian Anderson's phone number and Gillian Anderson.