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?!



Candler

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!



Emory

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!


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