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February 16, 2003 (Arts and Faith Sunday)

The celebration of Arts and Faith Sunday at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu brought together a variety of different observences.

Thoughts on Arts and Faith Sunday by Pastor Fritz Fritschel

Today our worship will highlight the role of the arts in religious life. Many have observed the close affinity between the aesthetic experience and the religious experience.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious side of life. It is the deep feeling which is at the cradle of all true art and science.... In this sense, and only in this sense, I count myself amongst the most deeply religious people.” The words of Albert Einstein illustrate such a relationship between art and religion, spoken by one who is neither a professional artist nor a traditional religious person. Or from a different perspective, Blaise Pascal says, “the last proceeding of reason is to recognize that there is an infinity of things which are beyond it.” The mystery of life transcends our limitations of thought.

There is no wide agreement on the meaning of the term religious experience. However, the quotations cited above suggest something about the core of religious experience. Included is an uneasy awareness of human limitations, morally and rationally; there is a sense of an overwhelming awareness of mystery that is beyond, behind or within reality; and there is the implicit need for participation and alignment with what is considered to be of supreme importance.

The mystery of life not only meets us in the galactic dimensions of the universe, the starry space. At times the mystery confronts us in the minute, almost invisible detail of reality, in cellular activity. In both dimensions chaos and cosmos, order and disorder can be found. And yet, the awesome quality of these areas extends an invitation to us to participate. Like hearing the call at the break of day to explore the small corner of the world that receives the streaming rays from a sun/star that is only one of billions. And like hearing the fragile call of a morning bird or a small child. Awaken. Listen. Participate.

We have had moments, I believe, in our congregational life, where the impact of mystery and beauty has been inspiring. Such moments occur not only in worship, but also in the natural and cultural world around us. We do not have to be great artists to want to participate and enjoy such expressions. It may be enough to allow ourselves to be moved, to be more reflective and appreciative, to celebrate these moments.

We can participate and celebrate in these grand features by writing a sentence, by exploring our feelings in wholesome ways, by bringing out the beauty and patterns of fabrics, by singing glorious songs.

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Pew cushions by members of “In Stitches”

Pew Cushion: 'the trinity'In mid 2002, about twenty parishioners began working on needlepoint projects for the beautification of our worship space. While their ultimate project is to make new communiton kneelers, the group began with a smaller project—pew cushion covers. The cushion covers were first exhibited at Arts and Faith Sunday. These pictures show a couple of examples. Click on either cushion to see a larger version.

Pew Cushion: 'star!'Pictures and descriptions of more pew cushion covers.

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Writings by members of the “Writers’ Workshop”

The Writers’ Workshop is a group of church members and friends who meet once a month to work on their writing together. Everyone is welcome to bring something they have written that they can share with the group.

Group members displayed more than a dozen examples of their work for Arts and Faith Sunday. This first example is a poem by Writer's Workshop convenor, Kathryn Klingebiel.

“organo oceano” by Kathryn Klingebiel
Franz Liszt: Fantasia e fuga “Ad nos ad Salutarem Undam”
Chiesa Santa Maria dei’Ricci, Firenze
9 giugno 1999
solo splendor on the high c’s
blaring, thrilling, rumbling g’s,
reeds, trumpets, whistles, bells,
half hour voyage through the night
with a thousand voices pealing
fingers and toes rowing
through the show-off swells of sound,
the powerful flux of dark and white,
bright lighting here and there,
the moon above the storm shining
teasing whispering blaring groaning
the immense wonder thunder
the player barely seated, flying
rapt to steer the course,
ringing, roaring, resolving
head bowed, eyes closed
twenty digits on the final chord
bringing the organ into harbor

This second example, by Writers’ Workshop member Robert Ahlstrom, was published in the UH student newspaper Ka Leo.

“Naked rice not enough for some: Musings about rice and recipes from around the world”

Robert Ahlstrom
Ka Leo Staff Columnist
January 15, 2003

“White rice is from China,” so a mother teases her three small children in 1935. “Just like your grandparents arrived by ship, rice comes to America by boat.” Mother laughs, bringing young one’s smiles and disbelief that rice came from such a far place. Rice was an expensive luxury during depression years. With extra money earned from my daily newspaper-delivery-route, the sales of rare white lilacs in the spring and vegetable garden surplus in summer, we could purchase small quantities of rice twice a year.

We signified allegiance to our food heritage by enjoying baked rice baked the Swedish way on Christmas Eve and cold rice the Norwegian way on June 14, which was also my birthday. Mother decided that since my sister and brother were born in February and their birthdays were close to Christmas, she would spread the joys of eating rice to once every six months. Mother often remarked when the economy got better, perhaps we could have rice three times a year.

In addition to food recipes passed down from previous generations, my family brought farming skills from Sweden and Norway to become struggling small dairy farmers during America’s depression era. We survived by selling milk and other farm products. It would be years before rural Minnesota got electricity, so any surplus meat and garden products were stored in the basement storm cellar, kept chilly next to the cold water pump room and far from the coal-burning furnace. Our daily supply of meat, eggs, milk and precious heavy cream were kept in buckets lowered into outside fresh water well buckets or in the kitchen icebox.

When the farm’s small lake froze in winter, Dad would cut blocks of ice to store in the farm’s ice house insulated with straw and sod. With an ample supply of ice, the straw stayed cold during the summer months. Dad cut and transferred blocks of ice to our kitchen ice box to chill foods like our Norwegian cold rice dish.

It was my job to make sure the water catch tray was frequently emptied, particularly when Mother was baking in the wood oven. It was my sister’s job to make sure the woodbin was stocked from the woodpile next to the mule barn. When the wood load became too heavy, my brother helped pull the sled. We relied on the wood stove for baking our Swedish rice dish, and heating the daytime living area of the farmhouse.

On Christmas morning, Mother got up early to soak rice in heavy cream. She combined sugar to sweeten, raisins soaked plump in water and eggs to bind She poured the mixture into a baking dish, sprinkled with cinnamon before baking in the wood oven until a brown crust formed on the top. To appease our growing hunger enhanced by heavenly baking smells, Mother created a treat of Swedish pancakes served with fresh churned butter and lingonberries. We could barely wait for dinner prayers to receive a share of the rice pudding with heavy cream poured on the side.

On June 14 we ate rice prepared the Norwegian way. First, rice is boiled until slightly puffed, blanched under cold water, drained and chilled before combined with heavy whipped cream and pineapple tidbits and chilled on ice. Norwegians call the magnificent results, “Glorified Rice” and indeed, it is.

Eating cooked naked rice was unheard of in Scandinavian families. However, when I was 10 years old something happened to widen my rice horizons. A neighboring newspaper delivery boy invited me to his house for a dinner. His mother made Chinese food with rice. I was eager to find out about Chinese food and if the rice included cinnamon and raisins or whipped cream and pineapple.

My world expanded quickly when I tasted crispy noodles combined in exotic sauces and steamed vegetables topped with shrimp, beef and chicken pieces. I was in awe when my friend heaped a portion of hot naked rice onto my plate. In disbelief, I stared at this white lump. Not knowing what to say, I ate my first cup of naked rice. It was so good, I asked for and got another scoop.

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