Friday, April 13, 2007

Is the Solar Field religious?


Two artists' proposal for a Solar Field in Sedgwick County Park has riled some Wichitans who say the solar calendar, sundial and American Indian labyrinth might be more than just a scientific exhibit.

After a story appeared in Tuesday's Eagle, three Sedgwick County Commissioners received e-mails and phone calls from constituents questioning whether artist Steve Murillo's outdoor art installation might be religious or cultish.

Murillo's proposal includes arranging about 120 stones in three separate circles. One circle would act as a sundial, one as a solar calendar and one as an American Indian medicine wheel or labyrinth. He was scheduled to appear at Wednesday's commission meeting to ask permission to use 1 acre of land in the park for the exhibit.

Commissioners deferred their decision, saying they needed to develop a long-term plan for the park. The decision was made either late Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday morning, despite the fact they had first heard of Murillo's proposal nearly eight months ago.

The Rev. Peggy Elliott was at the meeting prepared to speak against the installation, but left when the issue was deferred.

"What these exhibits tend to attract are kids into the Gothic, people who are on the edge of living and because of that they tend not to attract enough of the city who feels comfortable enough to go there," she said. "Gangs, sometimes, will tend to be attracted there because it has a very mystical connotation. It’s not a positive thing."

Commissioner Kelly Parks said he received a few phone calls and e-mails from people asking what "metaphysical" means and another woman who said she thought it was a cult.

"The other (caller) said she thought it would open the door for many other religions, and I said, 'This is not a religious thing.' I certainly did not perceive this as a religious thing," Parks said.

Murillo said his only purpose is to create a respite in a busy city. "These pause points, these places of reflection and meditation, are opportunities to increase our enjoyment of life and our 'well-being'," he wrote in an e-mail. "These stone circles with centers offer us a place in the park where we can 'center' ourselves."

What happens now to Murillo's proposal is up in the air. Developing a master plan for Sedgwick County Park could take as long as a year.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

So the perceived problem with the artwork is that people will go see the artwork? Or is it that the people who will see it are the sort of people others don't like. It's called 'public' for a reason.

And no, it's not religious and being goth isn't a religion.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's what the fundamentalists of Wichita worry about -- suspicious characters and goths worshipping a sundial sitting in the middle of a public park. And those Native Americans...you can't trust their beliefs, right? Maybe those fundamentalist nutballs shouldn't hold THEIR services in public places, either. They're a bad influence on the goths.

Anonymous said...

It is not right where one religion proclaims rights to practice their religion but tries to say that another religion has no rights.
Rev. Elliott you are the one who is evil.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that some people always look for something "dark and/or dire" in everything. They just can't seem to enjoy life! I am so tired of only hearing negatives about almost everything.

Anonymous said...

Rather than worrying about religion/cultism, better be concerned about vandalism. Something like that in SG CO park with no fence or 24 hour security is an open invitation. Walk around there sometime and see what people do there.

R said...

I don't think its Pagan. No sacrificing virgins in Wichita, there aren't any

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Bible Belt Country! Home of "freedom of religion", that is, only if your christian! It is sad to think that people have nothing better to do with their christian lives than judge or stir up contraversy...doesn't the bible mention something about not judgeing others? Anything they can to take the spotlight off of their own faults to mke themselves feel more "christ like".

Anonymous said...

The comment about vandalism is on target. And I'm not wild about the idea of just letting people put whatever they want to in the parks just as long as they call it "art." Hey, I've got an old couch I want to get rid of. Can I dump it in a park and call it "art?" If my pet dog dies, can I just dump it in the park and call it an art project?

The artist himself put the religious tag on it. And he doens't have the money yet, nor has he said exactly what all that "art" will be. He wants a blanket advance approval to take an acre of parkland and do whatever he wants with it. No sale.

Crystal said...

Why is it that the only opinions that matter are those of the Christians? This is RIDICULOS! What is the problem with having this art display? It’s a piece of history, just not a Christian piece! If it was a display of crosses this never would have been an issue because the other religions, which are much more tolerant, wouldn't have made it an issue. The will of the people as a whole should be represented within society, not just the Christians. I have lived in Kansas for many years now and have always loved it here. However, the religious intolerance in Kansas is enough to make me want to move.

Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting that the Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh said he thinks the commission will approve the artists' request at its meeting Wednesday. He goes on to say he thinks it would be "a unique, interesting display for whoever wants to appreciate it". That is until the Christians decided it was "evil". Then the back peddaling begins. So much for seperation of church and state. Don't you Christians have someone else to persecute for awhile???

Anonymous said...

The problem is that all we are doing is complaining in a blog. If we really want to be heard we need to contact the commissioners and let them know that there are free-thinkers in Wichita and we vote too!

Anonymous said...

I do not like to see the words Native American and Metaphysical in conjunction with the word CULT. I also do not want to just bash christans. There are extremes to every religion, and many christains also like meditation and accept others beliefs as valid, even if they don't agree personally. I do however feel a conflict coming, one between christans who are afraid they are losing their flock to this new cult religion called wicca or paganism, after all their bible specifically says these people are misguided by satan!! I hate to see this fear and lack of knowledge turn otherwise caring and charitable people into frightened, hateful and condemning people. This issue is just the beginning. As Paganism grows as a faith these conflicts will grow. And because pagans view many ancestral ideas as sacred this fight will errode many christans connections to their ancestors. This is unfortunate. If these extreme christans start to view every tool pagans use to seek enlightenment and spiritual growth and cultish, they will find they don't have much left that is of nature to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

There are Dictionary's everywhere, these people need to use them. According to Webster's a "Cult" is a religious system- so all religions are a "Cult" Our country was built on freedom of religion, that is all religions. This artwork is an offering of peace to all, not just one but all. "Namaste" meaning: The Light of God in me recognizes & honors The Light of God in You & in that is our Oneness.