Sadly, I add this latest post following the August 5 massacre of 6 people who were praying at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The article appears in the August 6, 2012 edition of the Examiner.com
Sikh art and religion in the wake of the August fifth massacre in Wisconsin
The Renaissance gave us Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and divine images of Christ and the saints. The works of the masters are beautiful, and they also reveal the essence of Christianity, the abiding love inherent in the faith, as well as the struggles of Christ’s followers. Art speaks the truth, expresses a culture’s values and aspirations. In the wake of the August fifth massacre in which a gunman opened fire and killed six people who were praying at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, a brief survey of the art of Punjab sheds light on a people about whom some Americans seem confused.
Many know them only by the large turbans they wear. Sikhs, whose religion originates in the culture of Punjab in northwest India, are sometimes mistaken by supporters of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. However, Sikhs are a peaceful and open-minded people who believe in the equality of all, including the equality of women. According to SikhiWiki, a Sikh encyclopedia, the Sikhs also believe in allowing everyone to choose their own spiritual path.
Jillian Maas Backman, an author who lives about an hour from Oak Creek, the site of the massacre, knew several of the victims personally and was devastated by the news of the shooting. Backman, who wrote “Beyond the Pews: Breaking with Tradition and Letting Go of Religious Lockdown” suggests that the violence visited upon the Sikh Temple is the result of “dogmatic religious thinking gone bad.” The author, who espouses interreligious dialogue, stated “Our individual faith experiences need not be threatened by alternative worldviews, but rather our experience of God deepens when we become more inclusive in our thinking.” If Backman is right, perhaps the artists can help lead us to peace.