“During this time of our exile and wondering, we say ‘alleluia’ to cheer us on our way. At present ‘alleluia’ is for us a traveler’s song; but by a toilsome road we are sending our way toward home and rest.” — St. Augustine
A Note From International Arts Movement
I’ll admit that I delayed writing these opening paragraphs for as long as possible. Here we are, at the end of May, and I still feel like I lack the right words to encompass the last several weeks in America. I like to think that with enough willpower, enough silence, enough perseverance… that the words will come. But I’m not sure the human brain is meant to process tragedy like we’ve had to over the past few weeks. I can’t think of the children in Uvalda without tears springing to my eyes. I can’t think of the people in Buffalo without becoming angry. Angry that we live in a world where senseless evil and violence seem so distinct, so close, so vibrant.
And yet… that is the reality that we embody. We watch as the brokenness of the human heart is put on display week after week, day after day. There is not excuse for what has happened over the last few weeks. None at all. There never has been and there never will be. But when we step back and orient our response accordingly, we see that this is just a manifestation of a terrible, terrible pattern in our world. Repeated since the beginning of time.
While some of you reading this may find that idea rather depressing (and I do, don’t get me wrong), it is an inherently hopeful reminder to me. We must continue to work, to wander, to labor… not in vain, but with the reminder that we are working to RIGHT something. We exist not to crumble in the face of evil, but to stand, to get back up, to make something of it. I believe that there is something more. If I didn’t… I’m not sure I could sit here and write these words. I hope you’ll join me in righting the wrong in the world this week…
A Note From Makoto Fujimura, Founder of IAM Culture Care
Dear IAMCultureCare Followers
Haejin and I just returned from our Korea trip. It was a business trip for Haejin but I was able to take in Seoul for the first time. It’s amazing that in so many years I spent in Japan and Taipei (where I am having a museum exhibit at Asir Museum right now but cannot enter the country due to Covid restrictions…Korea is the only country open now), I was never able to visit Korea.
Japan and Korea have had a contentious history, and we should note that South Korea (you can see the mountain range visiting the cultural zones surrounding the former Presidential palace beyond which is North Korea!) has never invaded, or were aggressors to, her neighboring countries. It is Japan, North Korea and Mongorians who invaded this small precious country, the size of New Jersey. Korean culture is a culture of peace, and of resilience.
When I share this, we are surprised. What we know about South Korea is from K‑dramas, K‑pop and “Squid Games”, and recent success of the movie “Parasite”. We might surmise that Korea is a “revenge culture” prone to aggression and violence. We are also amazed at their cultural output to the world. Actually the new series “Pachinko” is an eye opening, poignant journey of what the Korean nationals have endured and had to overcome.
Art and entertainment are a result of the intuitive integration, and may capture the suppressed realities of culture, but we need to actually visit the culture and walk about, and get to know people who inhabit there, to come away with an accurate impression. That’s what I was able to do for a week.
I walked about old neighborhood full of galleries and restaurants. The area is called Puch’ŏn, which reminded me of Kamakura, Japan where I spent my childhood years. I got to visit the vast “Secret Garden” built by Korean Kings of the past as a retreat, and the surrounding areas reminded me of Kyoto. The city of Seoul itself looks identical to Tokyo.
In other words, two cultures of Japan and Korea are sisters and they mirror each other. When a new couple friend, introduced by Haejin, asked me of my first impression of Korea, I stated “I came away asking ‘why can’t Japan and Korea work together? They are so many overlaps! Imagine the combined impact that will have in the world?’” My friends who are both graduates of Harvard Law School and leaders in Korea, said “that is exactly what we have been praying about!”
So our Kintsugi journey (or Yobitsugi-Tsugi, an advanced form of Kintsugi, where a master brings together fragments of different cultures, often warring nations, to mend to make New) continues. Culture Care is to stand in the gap of the divides, and create into the fissures with prayer and diligence (with perhaps new friends we meet along the way). May all of our journey begin to do so as we observe, first hand, what sister nations can bring to the traumatized world.
Yours toward Culture Care,
“Art+Faith: A Theology of Making” (Yale Press)“Makoto Fujimura’s art and writings have been a true inspiration to me. In this luminous book, he addresses the question of art and faith and their reconciliation with a quiet and moving eloquence.” — Martin Scorsese
A Free Reader’s Guide to “Art+Faith: A Theology of Making” for Culture Care Community Formation now available!
Guest Writer: Ally Lima
Ally Lima is a junior at Bucknell University, where she is studying English. She is also a Fujimura Fellow (in training!). Her reflections on justice, art, and culture will appear in the newsletter on a regular basis.
With all of my work for the semester completed, I decided to round off my study abroad experience with a solo trip to Spain. Traveling completely alone is something I would have never even considered a couple of months ago, let alone to a new country.
As a college student, I have grown accustomed to constantly being surrounded by other people. Even throughout my time in Italy, there were few occasions where I was entirely by myself for more than a couple of hours. This has made the concept of being alone for an extended period of
time all the more daunting and uncomfortable, and it is something that I have always shied away from.
My semester away has been all about leaning into discomfort: my new living situation, classes in a different language, the cultural norms of a new country, etc. To completely fulfill my experience, I had to finally lean into the discomfort of being alone. What I found on my trip to Spain is that spending time by yourself does not have to be scary or intimidating. Rather, it offers the freedom of spending your days, not only by yourself, but for yourself. One of my favorite parts of being by myself in a new environment was that I was able to observe my surroundings more than ever. I did my best to stay off of my phone during my meals (as difficult as this is) and just observe the people around me. I hope to carry with me this sense of freedom I felt on my own as I return to the States and channel it into continuing to step out of my comfort zone, even when I am once again in this comfort of normal life.
- Uvalde needs our prayers.
- James K.A. Smith dissects the influence art has on understanding in comparison to science’s influence.
- The worship of work has become all too common in America
- Sandra McCracken and host Jonathan Rogers share a discussion about what it means to live a creative life and the creative process on The Habit.
- Journalist Andrew Leland reports on a new language for deaf blind people.
- Mark Legg reviews Mako’s Art and Faith, which focuses on the “theology of making” in the Christian life.