We will explore the story of Jonah in the Bible and the Quran and consider a variety of themes including the arbitrariness of unwarranted compassion and the desire to escape calls to human responsibility. When others cry out, Jonah runs away or sleeps. Might we see contemporary responses to crises through Jonah’s actions? What about the human desire to flee distasteful obligations? Through visual arts, poetry, and music we will explore the symbolism of the big fish as “reassuring womb” or “terrifying tomb” and the strange prophet who hates change but nevertheless brings it about in the end.
Genesis 19 tells the story of Lot’s Wife who turns to see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and becomes a pillar of salt. Did she act in disobedience or out of compassion? What is our responsibility to bear witness? Is looking back redemptive or paralyzing? Might we see contemporary events (mass tragedies, refugees) in the light of this text? These are just a few of the questions we will explore as we examine Genesis 19 through religion, art, poetry, and music.