Thursday, November 12, 2009

Earthly Matters & Extraterrestrial Matter

I was very impressed when administrators from the Brooklyn Museum contacted me via e-mail, after they read my last blog entry, which was about my visit to the museum. There was a response to a comment I made on my blog. The extraordinary exhibit that I saw was, The Life of Christ, watercolors by James Tissot, which you can see at the museum until mid-January. I commented on my blog that I was surprised that the beautiful,  deeply moving watercolors depicting scenes from the New Testament are exhibited so infrequently. 
To my surprise an e-mail response was forwarded to me, with an explanation from Arnold L. Lehman, who is the Director of the museum. His explanation was that "Watercolors are an extremely fragile medium and sensitive to the light. For this reason, watercolors are seldom in view in public collections. In the case of the Tissot watercolors, it has been more than 20 years since they were exhibited." He went on to say that it is important for them to be preserved for future generations. I was very pleased and it was unexpected that the Director of the museum would read my blog and respond. 
From the exhibition catalogue, I learned that this remarkable body of artwork will be going on tour,  so we will be hearing more about his collection in the future. The depictions of St. Mary Magdelene are unique. 

On Matters Extraterrestrial............
I read with interest the numerous news reports about the "Vatican calling in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implications for the Catholic Church. The comments of Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, S.J.,- an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, were interesting. "The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration......the possibility of alien life raises 'many philosophical and theological implications'......."
In an interview he gave last year, Funes told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "believing the universe may host aliens, even intelligent ones, does not contradict a faith in God. 'How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?....Just as there is a multitude of creatures on Earth, there could be other beings, even intelligent ones, created by God. This does not contradict our faith, because we cannot put limits on God's creative freedom.......if intelligent beings were discovered, they would also be considered 'part of creation.'" 
I found these comments fascinating. I don't disagree with Fr. Funes, but I really believe that if aliens were "observing" humankind, I don't think we have to worry about them making contact. As a matter of fact, intelligent beings (anyone locating us in the Milky Way Galaxy would be intelligent), I think they would study us from afar and move on........Intelligent alien beings would probably sense the fact that the 'hand of a Creator,' a "hidden" Supreme Being,  was at work in the beauty, order and diversity on our planet, and in the Universe,  that's obvious enough.