Monday, October 8, 2007
Biblical garden: Oil on canvas. Collection of Rev. Eric Lott.
TOWARDS A VISUAL CHRISTOLOGY
FROM AN INDIAN VIEWPOINT
The following reflections on a series of images have been written by the Rev. Dr. Eric Lott, who spent many years teaching in India. I first met Eric Lott in the late seventies, when he had come to Bangalore to teach religions at the United Theological College in Bangalore. Subsequently we put up an exhibition of paintings at the U.T.C in 1986 on the theme of Creation, and human responsibility in caring for the planet earth.
Eric has been a great influence and support to me in my efforts to realize the idea of an Art Ashram, which I first took practical steps to initiate in 1984. Many of the theological presuppositions which have been the foundation for this project, have been articulated by Eric Lott in his effort to look at the Indian spiritual traditions in the light of his Christian Faith.
After retiring from teaching, Eric returned to the U.K. where he did pastoral work in Leicester, in a very inter-faith context. We continued to remain closely in touch, and in 1997 I made a series of images for a collection of reflections which he published on the Healing Acts of Jesus, which appeared as a book entitled “Healing Wings”.
In 2002 “Christians Aware” helped to mount an exhibition on the theme of the Face of Jesus seen from an Indian perspective. It was then that the project was initiated to work towards a series of meditations on the image of Jesus, from and Indian cultural context. The following meditations, along with over-arching schema emerged out of many discussions which Eric and I had together over the last five years. It is now hoped that these will be published as a book in the coming spring of 2008.
I have taken the liberty of putting these meditations on my art ashram blog, in the hope that this may generate some response at a preliminary stage, so that we have some feed back to the way in which the story of Jesus is being re-told in this way. There has been, as Eric has remarked, a certain concern expressed by a number of people in the Indian Church, that the Ashramic model belongs too closely to the “High, Sanskritic” tradition of Indian Culture, and does not adequately express the hopes and aspirations of the majority of Indian Christians, for whom this tradition often appears as oppressive. Our hope is that while we have been actively involved in the process of dialogue with the Hindu traditions, we have also recognized the counter-cultural elements within the Hindu tradition, and have tried to draw on these liberative currents which we believe are also present in Hinduism, in an effort to see Christ in the context of the Hindu and Buddhist religious imagination.