Welcome to AhFest 2013
The Muskegon Area Arts & Humanities Festival joins hundreds of arts and humanities organizations and communities across the nation in celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month throughout October. The Festival bring awareness of the arts and humanities to the people of our community through activities that honor the efforts of artists, historians, and cultural groups working to make the arts and humanities a part of everyone’s life.
In October 2013, various arts, humanities and community groups will collaborate on Muskegon’s 13th Annual Muskegon Area Arts & Humanities Festival. The festival’s mission is to celebrate, acknowledge and examine the world of ideas as they are expressed in the arts and humanities. The festival encourages the entire community to explore cultural, artistic and educational events centered on a central theme.
The theme this year is Faith and Reason. Read the essay below from Foley Schuler for some insight into this theme, or read it as a PDF.
Plan on attending Muskegon Area Arts & Humanities events during the month of October 2013 and find out more about all the events by using the links to the right. To learn more about the festival contact the Arts and Humanities Department at Muskegon Community College at 231-777-0324.
“Like” the ahFest page on Facebook for updates on events, reminders, and thoughts on the theme and festival from our own Foley Schuler!
Please contact us with any questions and/or your ideas! We look forward to hearing from you.
Muskegon Area Arts & Humanities Festival was founded in 2001.
Join us for a new event, Philosophy on Tap, at Hennessy’s Irish Pub on Wednesday, October 23 at 7:00 pm to discuss ideas in the tradition of the world’s greatest thinkers.
“Faith and Reason”: Some Reflections on the 2013 AH Fest Theme
by Foley Schuler
“God is the only being who, in order to reign, doesn’t even need to exist.”
Long ago—though not terribly so in the vast scheme of things—it was thought at the end of the day that the sun, sinking in the West, was disappearing forever and that the subsequent darkness into which the world was plunged was in fact the end of the world. Its miraculous return, on what turned out to be the next morning, was, naturally, greeted with joyous celebration. Rituals were quickly established to celebrate—and insure—the continuation of this extraordinary event.
These songs and chants, or at least their echo, are with us still. Even then, though, there were likely one or two among them that questioned the connection between the ritual and what was already called the “sunrise,” maintaining that the light would still return, though few had the courage to test the theory. That it would return, without our help, was their faith. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” many say. “I’ll see it when I believe it,” others have maintained. Faith and reason have always, it would seem, done their dance.
As the accepted narrative has it, reason emerged out of the Dark Ages. Science would come to challenge Religion; these siblings grew estranged—and then, it would seem, into mortal enemies. No matter the means by which we explain it, however, we can never quite escape nor completely explain the unutterable mystery of existence. No matter how we reach, something of it always remains, just beyond the grasp of words and the powers of mind. One era’s superstition is another’s science—and vice versa. “We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession,” quipped George Bernard Shaw. The “discoveries” of modern physics often read like ancient Buddhist Sutras, penned a millennium earlier. “The knife cannot cut itself, nor can the eye see itself,” says Zen. Modern science would later encounter similar conundrums. No one system, no explanation, ever tells the whole story—not even close. Death, perhaps the greatest unknown of all, leads many to have faith in general, and in Heaven in particular. Of Heaven’s counterpart, Oliver Stone’s cinematic epic of the Vietnam War, Platoon, would famously proclaim: “Hell is the impossibility of reason.”
We are all, whether we like it or not, moved by unseen forces, and have sought to manifest and give names to what populates that invisible world—in a word, to understand. The impulse is often to pit these two ways of dealing with the unknown against one another, but are they not perhaps two sides of the same coin, flipped by the invisible and sent forever tumbling end-over-end? Metaphors abound. For the celebrated 19th Century orator and America’s most eloquent debunker of religion and defender of reason, Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll, “A believer is a songless bird in a cage.” And yet, according to a Scandinavian saying, “Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.” How do we reconcile these two views? Which bird are we? Faith—it is what moves mountains, says the proverb. No less a man of spirit than Mahatma Gandhi—a man who moved mountains if there ever was one—would maintain: “Faith must be enforced by reason. When faith becomes blind it dies.”
This tension—this tango—between seen and unseen, between reason and unreason, animates all our human discourses and endeavors, from science to art and the humanities in general. Our groping and grappling in the dark is nothing if not an inherently creative act, indeed that by which our world continually comes into existence. This is the creation Nikos Kanzantzakis, author of The Last Temptation of Christ and Zorba the Greek, no doubt had in mind when he eloquently asserted: “By believing passionately in that which does not exist, we create it. That which is non-existent has not been sufficiently desired.” The Muskegon Area Arts and Humanities Festival invites you to take part in this act of creation by way of a month-long series of events examining what we believe and we don’t believe, what we know (or think we know) and what we don’t know, what we think to be true and also what we feel to be so—to join in the never-ending dance of faith and reason.