Folk Life News: How the Arts Work Cross Culturally. Orpheus in Japan? Unmasking the Trauma. Saving Mosul’s Cultural Heritage

Folklife Friday: Orpheus in Japan, Saving Cultural Heritage in Mosul, and More

Folklife Friday is a new weekly digest of arts and culture articles, podcasts, and videos from across the web curated by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Read on for a selection of the week’s best cultural heritage pieces, and don’t forget to check back next Friday for a new set of weekly picks.

Orpheus in Japan
Last October, audiences gathered at a shrine in Kamakura for the premiere of Japan Orfeo, a reinvention of Monteverdi’s opera with Western and Japanese performers. The idea for the project emerged when directors Aaron Carpenè and Stefano Vizioli noticed the parallels between the myth of Orpheus and that of Izanagi and Izanami. The project, as Carpenè and Vizioli explain, is laying the foundations for nuanced intercultural dialogue. In fact, the duo began their intercultural collaborations with Preston Scott, curator of the 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s program Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Why We Need to Fight to Save Mosul’s Cultural Heritage
Situated at a critical historic juncture, Iraq’s second largest city is home to hundreds of mosques, churches, shrines, holy sites, graveyards, libraries, and museums—all under increasing threat of ISIS attacks. In this piece, Katharyn Hanson, an archaeologist and fellow at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, and Richard Kurin, Acting Provost and Under Secretary for Museums and Research, discuss their work with experts training locals to protect Mosul’s historic sites.

Queens Has More Languages than Anywhere in the World—Here’s Where They’re Found
In Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas, Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro chart the rich linguistic diversity of New York City, where as many as 800 languages are spoken—nowhere more so than in Queens. Among the languages mapped are Greek, Filipino, Urdu, Indonesian, Russian, and more. “The capital of linguistic diversity, not just for the five boroughs, but for the human species, is Queens.”

‘The Refugees’ Author Says We Should All Know What It Is to Be an Outsider
For author Viet Thanh Nguyen, moving from South Vietnam to San Jose, California, was a study in empathy, place, and identity. In this interview, Nguyen reflects on his new book, The Refugees, and his struggle as an immigrant to define a sense of self. “You have to wear a different face when you’re interacting with the larger culture,” Nguyen explains, “and you can be more of yourself at home, or in the local market, or in the local church, speaking your own language.”

Unmasking the Trauma: A Look at Research on Mask Making as a Creative Arts Therapy
For service members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries, arts therapy in the form of mask making may pave the way to recovery, according to Girija Kaimal, assistant professor at Drexel University. “In the seemingly unique experiences of an individual lie universal aspects of the human experience,” Kaimal writes, paraphrasing Jerome Bruner. Through these masks—themselves a symbol of our humanity—patients are able to express their unique interactions with the world, both as individuals and as community members.

Special thanks to Elisa Hough, Meredith Holmgren, James Deutsch, and Amalia Cordova for their contributions to this week’s digest. Got a suggestion for next week’s digest? Email it to Angelica Aboulhosn.

Staying in the Light when It Gets Dark



All Major Religions and Faith Paths believe that there is a field of positive energy every individual has that waits for human beings to engage in it.The Times we are living in are asking us to Play on this Field of Energy;To Embrace it; To Give it a Chance to Empower Us; To give it a chance to Love us Back.  We must choose to interact with it.  We choose to let the Light in and Let it Light us up.

There have always been people who want us to believe we live in dark times, but it is there way to MANIPULATE, AND  keep human beings who believe in the Light.

Leaders when they turn to the darkness of manipulation believe that they have more power than they do.  They are like two year old children.  The people turn into the grown-ups and demand the Light.

Seek Beauty, Count every blessing;  Allow yourself to be moved to dance and sing and shout and celebrate.  March on the Playground of Life.  Stay in the Light.

Swing your arms, Skip your steps. Set yourself free from habits and addictions that don’t support the freedom to be blessed as a Child of God.

This is not to deny what is going on…It is choosing not to participate in the Darkness.


THE PINK PAPERS: Models of Women of Power : Silence Kills the World

St. Catherine of Siena: “Cry [out] as if you have a million voices, it is silence that kills the world.”

Catherine of Siena reminds us that our mission as Christians is not only to comfort the afflicted, but to afflict the comfortable for justice, human rights, peace and equality in our church and world today. 

 A fourteenth century mystic activist, Catherine became involved in some of the major political and ecclesiastical controversies of her time. This included feuds between the papacy and the city states, the return of the papacy to Rome, the reform of the Church and the great Schism. She was immersed in high stress conflicts and had a long to do list!

Statue of St. Catherine at Met, NY, photo by Mary Theresa Streck ARCWP

Many of us can identify with Catherine’s over the top agenda.
 As I try to get some perspective on the hot button issues today, I think Catherine is a mentor. She went deep into her soul and, there found a passion for God that ignited her healing and prophetic ministry.
In my book, Praying with Visionary Women, I wrote:

“Today more than ever we need to live with integrity, integrating prayer and action in our lives so that we can be effective instruments of truth and justice in our world. Prayer grounds us in the immensity of God’s love. As we experience being loved deeply, passionately, we  become on fire with love for others- family, friends, neighbors, strangers. We become mystic activists, like Catherine, speaking out, taking risks and doing whatever God calls us to do.” (Meehan, Praying with Visionary Women, pp. 58-59)

I believe that our spiritual energy wells up from within, in the depths of infinite love, we are embraced and filled with every gift and blessing we need to be a reflection of God in our lives.  St. Paul reminds us that “we can do all things in God who strengthens us.” Romans 8:28.


I/we pray: “In your love, O God, I/we have the power to do whatever you are calling me/us to do!”

The time to cry out for justice and equality with a million voices is now!

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

LIGHT From LIGHT:Celebrating Oscar Romero Words from El Salvador


A Christian Community is evangelized in order to evangelize.

A light is lit in order to give light. A candle is not lit to be put under a bushel, said Christ.  It was lit and put up high in order to give light to others.

That is what a true community is like.

A community is a group of men and women who have found the truth in Christ and his Gospel, and who follow the truth. And who join together to follow it more strongly.

It is not just an individual conversion, but a community conversion.  It is a family that believes, a group that accepts God.  In the group, each one finds that the brother or sister is a source of strength and that in moments of weakness they help one another and, by loving one another and believing, they give light and example.

The preacher no longer needs to preach, for there are Christians who preach by their own lives. 

I said once and I repeat today that if, unhappily, some day they silence our  radio, and don’t let us write our newspaper; each of you who believe must become a microphone, a radio station, a loudspeaker, not to talk, but to call for faith.

I am not afraid that our faith may depend only on the archbishop’s preaching;     I do not think I am that important.  I believe that this message, which is only a humble echo of God’s word, enters your hearts, not because it is mine, but because it comes from God.

                                          –Archbishop Oscar Romero–The Violence of Love

 (1917-1980) became Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977.  He gained renown as a prophetic voice of the poor and was ultimately martyred at the altar while saying Mass.