Mar 27 2009

Candler, Emory, and the World

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Emory University Presidential Distinguished Professor

One of the things I love about Candler is that, as a student and now as a staff member, I have been connected deeply to the school here–faculty, staff, students–but also to Emory and to the larger world. What a week for all three of these aspects of Candler life on campus?!


At Candler this week, we had the privilege of hosting John August Swanson, the American artist whose works adorn the walls of our new Theology Building. Last week’s blog covers the art and techniques of Swanson. In a meeting of sizable powers, Swanson shakes hands with Dooley, Emory’s unofficial mascot (pictured right).

Meeting and hearing John August Swanson the man was a pure delight. Though he claims he is not a speaker or lecturer, his presentations throughout the week were insightful, funny, and thoroughly engaging. He gave a talk on his creative process. I was particularly fascinated by the patience and trust in the work that was coming through him about which he spoke. For instance, he had rough sketches from the 1970s that he held onto until the late 1990s or early 2000s, when he was ready to finalize his vision and complete a serigraph or painting. He never throws anything away, and when things are ready to come out, he is in tune enough to listen to the spirit within and create when the time is right.

Stay tuned for some video from the worship service he led with Rev. Dr. Don Saliers—I missed it, but heard from several colleagues that it was the best worship service they’d ever been to at Candler!


While Candler had Swanson week, the rest of Emory was in the midst of Dooley’s Week. While mostly for the undergrads at Emory College, Dooley’s Week is a week of food, music, and celebration across campus. Dooley is pictured to the left, with his entourage. Wikipedia has a great description of Dooley and Dooley’s Week:

Traditions at Emory include Dooley, the “Spirit of Emory” and the unofficial mascot of the university. Dooley is a skeleton and is usually dressed in black. The name “Dooley” was given to the unofficial mascot in 1909. Each year in the spring, during Dooley’s Week, Dooley roams Emory’s campus flanked by bodyguards (“Dooley guards”) and lets students out of class with unscheduled appearances in classrooms. He typically walks slowly with an exaggerated limp. A spokesperson amongst the bodyguards walks with him to deliver his messages as he never speaks himself. His identity is unknown and this is often fodder for campus gossip. He adopts the first name and middle initial of the University’s current president. As such, Dooley’s current full name is James W. Dooley, after James W. Wagner. Dooley’s Week culminates with Dooley’s Ball, a grand celebration that takes place in the center of campus on McDonough Field held in celebration of Dooley and Emory University. A sporting match called the Dooley Cup is played between the university administration and the student government association (SGA) each spring as well, and the SGA remains undefeated.

Dooley’s week always ends with a concert. This year N.E.R.D played to a packed crowd on Friday night (pictured below).

photo by Kevin Kelly/Emory Wheel Staff Photographer

The World

Lastly, this week was Tibet Week at Emory. Every year, Emory celebrates its relationship with Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Tibetan culture, religion, and arts. The Emory-Tibet relationship began in 1991 when 1991 Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi was sent to Atlanta by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Negi received his PhD at Emory and founded the Drepung Loseling Institute, the North American seat of Drepung Loseling Monastry in Dharamsala, India. Emory’s Religion Department offers a full range of classes in Buddhism Pali and Sanskrit language, as well as a study abroad program (alas, only for undergrads), in Dharmasala, India, seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

This week, Tibetan prayer flags criss-crossed the Quad in a rainbow of colors. The Tibetan tradition is that the prayers that are written on the flags are carried by the wind all across the countryside and the world, spreading joy and peace.

In a wonderful coincidence, the featured Tibetan art form this week was the Thangkas, which are Tibetan religious paintings. Like Swanson’s art work, thangkas are highly detailed paintings of religious saints (or boddhisattvas, in the case of the Buddhists), figures, and stories. I actually ran into one of the Buddhist thangka painters in the hallway of the theology looking at what he called Swanson’s “Christian thangkas.” We talked for about ten minutes about theology expressed through art and through prose, and how each medium has its place. What a blessing!

Mar 20 2009

The Art of John August Swanson

Psalm 85, serigraph, John August Swanson

All images are the copyrighted material of John August Swanson.

Candler School of Theology is the proud owner of the largest collection of artwork by John August Swanson in the world. Swanson’s folk-art is featured in museums and galleries around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tate Modern gallery in London, the Vatican Museums and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

Swanson’s work is highly colorful and detailed, often depicting biblical themes, alongside scenes of circuses and celebrations, as well as clowns, tricksters, and jesters. Please join us March 24-26 to hear Swanson talk about his art and the creative process, lead worship with Dr. Don Saliers, Candler emeritus professor of liturgical theology, and for an evening reception. (Swanson’s schedule of events is here) If you cannot make it to Candler for the festivities, do stop by the building and wander around all five floors of Swanson’s art.

Above is a video of Dr. Jan Love, Dean of Candler, talking about the recently acquired John August Swanson collection. (RealPlayer required.)

Below are some of his most beautiful serigraphs. All images are the copyrighted material of John August Swanson. Enjoy!

Procession, serigraph, John August Swanson

The Jester, serigraph, John August Swanson

Loaves and Fishes, serigraph, John August Swanson

Wedding Feast, serigraph, John August Swanson

Star Clown, serigraph, John August Swanson

Mar 13 2009

New Housing Option for Candler Students!

Starting this summer and fall, Candler students will have a new option in University housing—Campus Crossings at Briarcliff. Campus Crossings will open for all Emory grad students on June 1, 2009. That means Candler people will be able to live in a community with other Emory law, public health, nursing, medicine, business, and arts & sciences students in a private community specifically designed for graduate students.

Campus Crossings is a private company that has contracted to be the exclusive provider of graduate housing for all of Emory University. Campus Crossings is situated about a mile from Candler’s end of the Emory campus, located on a free Emory shuttle route. All of the units are fully (and nicely) furnished and they are actually hiring students to work as “Keystones” to work a maximum of 20 hours a week. (It’s unclear what the level of compensation is, but check out their site if you’re looking for a job).

Below are some of the highlights of Campus Crossings.

· 11 floor plans from which to choose or 1-, 2-, and 3-bedrooms units, ranging from $590-1050 per month per person (a 2 bed, 2 bath unit is shown right)

· Amenities on the property include pool and courtyard, fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, roommate matching service, free (alternative-fueled) Cliff shuttle to Emory, and a recycling center.

· Amenities in each apartment include private bedroom and private bath for every resident, high speed internet, full-sized kitchen, washer and dryer included, ceiling fans, and generous closet space.

· Multiple payment options, including automatic deductions from a bank account or autopay to a credit card.

· EarthCraft “Green” buildings, meaning the property was developed and operates in an environmentally friendly manner.

· You can actually see them finishing the construction via their live construction-cam!

So check out the new Campus Crossings at Briarcliff website for many more details. It’s another great housing option for Candler students.

Mar 6 2009

There’s Something ‘Bout the Southland in the Winter/Springtime

I love Atlanta and I love the weather here. Maybe not so much when there’s a snowstorm while trying to coordinate travel for 20 some people flying into town from all over the world, like I did this past Sunday (see healthy snowman, left). But I do love this time of year. Yes, we got our bi-annual snowstorm (anytime there is snow in the air at all= a “storm”), but fear not, next week it’s supposed to be 82 degrees (see snowman carcass, right)!

Though it might seem trite, one of the great things about living in Atlanta is the weather. If you’ve never spent a spring in Atlanta or the South, you might not fully appreciate Emily Saliers’ “Southland in the Springtime,” on the Indigo Girls’ third solo album Nomads, Indians, and Saints. (Incidentally, Emily is daughter of Candler emeritus professor Don Saliers, an amazing musician in his own right. Together they published A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice in 2004)

This past weekend was cold, but the average high temperature in March in Atlanta is 65°F and the average low is 43°F. Not bad. The daffodils are almost all up, and some of them have already faded. The Bartlett pear trees are in full bloom and everyone should be out in the parks this weekend! had a little piece on March and April in Atlanta. They also have a chart of the monthly highs and lows. Read on and come check out Atlanta this spring. Being a Chicagoan by birth, I can say Yankees (i.e., someone from outside the south, be it Ohio, Oklahoma, or Oregon) are always welcome in Atlanta!

In March and April, Atlanta’s temperatures are pleasant, and the city is awash in the blooms of dogwoods, cherry trees, and azaleas. September and October often bring Indian summers, and the temperate weather can linger as late as mid-November. The short winter is usually fairly moderate.

The New York Post also published a story some time ago about a family from New York City relocating to Atlanta. Great story. You, too, could come down South and live the good life! And it might even snow!