Thursday, March 10, 2011

Human Icons, Sacred Stories

Published by Carmel International Publishing House –CIPH- Cotton Hill, Trivandrum, Kerala 695014. 2010; Pp. 201

Book Designer - Dinesh Francis

Hard Bound, Rs 390/- in India; Euro 23/- outside India
Paper Back Rs 340/- in India; Euro 20/- outside India

Introductions to "Human Icons, Sacred Stories"

1. Taken from the back cover of the book:

Stories are not made to be preserved and hidden but to be re-told in fresh ways so that in the telling they live again. In this collection of images, poems and stories the reader or the viewer is invited to move beyond the boundaries of what is known and to enter into another’s world of pain or joy, struggle or finding. We begin to see that an active responsibility for the environment is interwoven with our own growth as individuals who are part of an ever widening community.
Francoise in creating these images from her own sense of relatedness to people and nature around her has opened unexpected doors for others to become more sensitive. The images give space and freedom for us to respond in our own way. We can see in the range of imaginative responses how differently people have related to the power of these scenes. The writers of the poems and stories have also tried to crystallize an experience of greater awareness and hope. Like the images themselves these too call for a response in action that is grounded in compassion.

~Jane Sahi

2. Taken from book review in Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection.

Francoise Bosteels could be called a ‘theologian with a difference’ for her theology is not primarily expressed through the human medium of words, but by dolls who convey profound messages with images and symbols, colours and costumes, poses and a dash of prose/poetry. In previous books entitled “The Dolls Speak” and “Through the Needle’s Eye: Everyday Life of Everyday People” Francoise tentatively introduced her medium of dolls who spoke the language of ordinary people. This third work of hers is more focused upon Biblical themes, though not exclusively so.

‘The dolls are my language,’ says Francoise, who provides photos of her iconic dolls who tell the Jesus story in attractive fashion. She adds, ‘The experience of
creating dolls has been for me a way of exploring and deepening my own faith’, and ‘is much like a spiritual journey; a pilgrimage towards one’s interior being’. The Jesus dolls are dark in colour –unlike the white Jesus we usually admire- and represent the marginalized, the dalit, the slum dweller and the hoi polloi at large.

The book has fifty-four themes with passages of prose and poetry written by other people, four of them by Francoise herself. There are times when the text –aimed at reinforcing the gospel message- is too long and detracts from the message conveyed by the dolls. However on the whole, as one goes through the book, one feels that the dolls are alive and recreate the Jesus story with a newness and vibrancy of their own. Francoise and her dolls, commendably do what most many theologians struggle to do with words. She must be congratulated for so doing. 

~Francis Gonsalves sj

A sampling of poems and pictures from the book:

Hot and Cold News                           Lk 10: 29-37


Every day we skim and skip the news -
A famine here, a flood there,
An encounter, accident or attack -
Here or there or anywhere!
And then - for other fare
We cross over to another page:
An enticing ad, a snippet of fact,
A puzzle that teases
A restless, busy mind,
A match, an extravaganza of the rich,
Even for a moment to flit
Round gruesome news and then forget. 

But it's rare to stop, stoop down, respond,

Reflect, react.
It's rare not to shield our nerves and eyes
From others' painful, suffering lives.

~ Jane Sahi

The Field is Full of Flowers                     Lk 18: 15-17

The field is full of flowers,
Flowers that you may not notice at a glance,
You may even trample on them in your search for that one beautiful flower.
Every one of these wild flowers so unique-
A closer glance will show you the intricate detailing and its breath-taking perfection.

Should I trample over all those finer aspects of a child’s nature?
Just because I have forgotten how to appreciate them,
And don’t have the time to do so?
Did some one once trample all over my feelings when I was a child?
Is it only the obvious qualities that make an individual unique?

Jesus tells us to be more like children,
Enjoy the moment, laugh, dance and sing… if no one is watching.
Forgive, forget and move on ……. to better things.

Have fascination for the simple things ... ... ... and child-like wonder!
It is for these people that the kingdom of God awaits,
In heaven and … on earth

~ Biju Cherayath 

The Widow’s Offering  
                                                                                                               Lk 21:1-4

She was a woman of sorrows
And acquainted with grief,
Despised as a woman alone,
Rejected as powerless, unknown
With scant means to give or live.

She stood silent and concealed
In the shadowed folds of the crowd.

She was a woman of no account
Knowing the nothingness
Of scared soil’s infertility
Sun-burnt, thirsting receptivity,
No drama - no glory – no story.

She moved silent almost concealed
In the shadowed folds of the crowd.

She was a woman disregarded,
The crowd screened their shrewd eyes
From her gesture to the treasury –
Blind they could not, would not see.
Absorbed by their own generosity.

The Lord searched and knew
Her faithfulness.
He spoke –
Unfolding her from the crowd
Her wealth revealed.

~Jane Sahi

Jesus, the Drummer

The earth cracks
and lines appear
on her cheeks.
The old woman earth
sits and stares at the sky
with rain in her eyes
and prayer in her arms.
She sends the cry
of drying leaves
through raging forests
over waves of death
swirling through cyclones
to her son
born out of mud
beyond walls
forever on the peripheries.

His palms echo the sound
of thunder,
his voice carries the notes
of torrents.
The earth looks at him
with faraway eyes
in hope
waiting for the moment
when all her suns
will rise.

  ~Rahee Dahake

French Translation

German Translation

Special Award for "Excellence in Book Production", won at the Darsana International Book Exhibition, February 2011.

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