Anatomy and Art

a blog by Sara Egner

Wrapping My Head Around Corporate Christianity

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Bursting, painting by Sara Egner

A couple years ago, I painted this on a carefully selected canvas that I bought at Hobby Lobby.  At the time, I felt like a jerk for ever feeling suspicious that a Christian affiliated company might be more inclined to support unethical causes.  But I didn’t want any bad juju in my art, so I looked them up online and found out a little about what kinds of charitable donations they were making.  And I remember being relieved.  Having grown up in Texas, I’d seen some businesses that seemed nice turn out to be giving money to causes that I find abhorrent and those choices were always explained as being based in Christianity.  Now when I left Texas for a little over a decade, I found such impressions softened. Conversations about religion didn’t feel so political and even highly devout Christian friends just never felt like they were attacking for their beliefs.  They were just their beliefs.  And removed from the pressures of the bible belt they were often beautiful to hear about.  When I returned to Texas, I noticed that controversial nature of religion rising again.  When people were bussed in to the capitol to protest women’s access to abortion in this state, I saw that ugly threatening side of religion all over again.  And now, here’s this business that maybe leans a little heavily on cheap Chinese manufacturing, but across the board seemed to be pretty ethical and even really nice.  They put money into things like building houses for the poor.  And I bought this canvas there.  And I made this art that is largely a celebration of femininity and womanhood.  And then Obamacare goes through and Hobby Lobby becomes the poster child for businesses that want to claim a religious right to deny women their full health care coverage and yet not pay the taxes for not providing full benefits.  And then yesterday that actually passes in the Supreme Court.  And so this company, that was at one time kind of a symbol to me of religious influence in a corporation being just fine, and even doing good in the world, like the way I thought it was supposed to work when I was a kid, wages war against equal compensation for women for the work that they do.  And it does so at the level of health care, which just makes the attack feel so much more personal.  I am so very disappointed by my government for the decision made by the Supreme Court yesterday, but I am also disappointed in Hobby Lobby itself.  I grew up believing that it was wrong to succumb to prejudice about others’ religion.  But in this time of holy wars and tea party/ republican invasion I can’t help wondering if it’s even possible not to take on such prejudice.  Such walls don’t seem like the answer.  And yet, as a woman of today, I can’t help but feel under attack.  Being back in Texas no doubt exacerbates this feeling.  And tonight I find myself looking at this painting that I still have and thinking about the relationships between being, and politics, and religion, and money, and art.  My very existence as a woman in this world is somehow controversial in ways, and that’s not new, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon.  I also don’t see it being exclusive to women.  We just happen to be particularly under the political spotlight just now.  I guess such experiences are why we have so many conversations about privilege.

Anyway, I realize that this is a bit of a controversial topic to come back on after some down time not posting.  It’s been a hectic couple of months filled with crime, and death, and bureaucracy, and just lately camping, and catching up socially, and I suppose this week involves an introspective political rage.  I suppose I’m not far off from where I was last year, coming up on another 4th of July in just the days after watching my supposed political representatives fight to make women’s lives that much more dangerous and unpredictable.

Written by Sara

July 2nd, 2014 at 12:21 am

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