Sunday, September 21, 2008

Flaming Chalice Images

My job during the worship service this morning was to lead our "Moment for All Ages," during which each Sunday School class was presented with a new ceramic "Flaming Chalice" commissioned from a local artist. This seemed like a great opportunity both to talk a little bit about the symbolism of the Chalice, as well as share some of the history behind it. With all of the various forms and examples this symbol of our movement has taken on over the years, I'm still a sucker for this "classic" version: the off-center stylized cross with flame, bounded by two circles. The flame represents the dynamic spirit of our community, as well as the element of Fire; the chalice itself the element of Earth, and the historical traditions and institutions which ground our community and contain it in the here and now. The two circles represent the Unitarian and Universalist traditions, as well as the Arc of the Heavens and the Great Circle of the Horizon, and more specifically the remaining two elements of Air and Water respectively.

This new Chalice design, introduced just within the last few years as the official logo of the UUA, is supposed to give the symbol a little more "pop" than the earlier version, because of its simplified designs and sunburst motif. Sorry -- call me anachronistic, but I'm still a sucker for the older one.

The flaming chalice was originally commissioned by the Unitarian Service Committee during the Second World War, to assist them in their work of resettling refugees out of Nazi-occupied Europe. The Czech artist Hans Deutsch is said to have taken his inspiration from the martyrdom of the Bohemian Heretic Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415. This particular version of the flaming chalice has been the logo of the UUSC for as long as I can remember, and is one of the most familiar flaming chalice icons.

What organization do you suppose this chalice on a red maple leaf represents?

[The Canadian Unitarian Council]

I like this one -- it reminds me of a dancing person....

This Yin and Yang is also very nice.

The chalice incorporated into a peace sign...

From the UK -- Freedom, Reason, and Tolerance are indeed core values of our movement

A pink-triangle, rainbow theme chalice

Another clever chalice designed by Peter Bowden (the creator of "Alice the Chalice")

This is actually a photograph of a wrought iron chalice similar to the one used at General Assembly (or perhaps even the self-same item), and hanging on the wall behind it is a banner which, when photographed from this angle, creates the impression of an actual flame. Clever AND impressive....

A stained-glass window with a world religions theme similar to the decorations behind the pulpit at First Parish

A cake....

Or if that's too much, cookies....(You can actually purchase these cookie cutters HERE)

Two bumper stickers. One from the Church of the Larger Fellowship

And another from the UUCF. Notice how the helping hands have been added into the overall design?

The Original Hans Deutsch design