Filed under: — @jphoganorg @ 3:46 pm

     "The goddess of freedom promises to enlighten the world with freedom, but then she has this tablet of law, reminding us that there are strict precepts.  There is no absolute freedom, but rather limitations."

     "But doesn’t the tablet say 1776, not 1787?"

     "Yes, it clearly invokes the Declaration of Independence."


     "The tablet is suggestive of the twelve tablets of Roman law as well as the Code of Hammurabi, but in Western society, the great symbol of the law is Mosaic.  So to me, the tablets symbolize constitutional law."


     "The significance of the Statue of Liberty holding a tablet of law has not been lost on commentators over the years….   ‘Liberty carried the Tables of the Law in her left arm, while her forehead shone with light like the prophet’s on Mount Sinai.’"


     "In Exodus 24, God summons Moses up Mount Sinai and promises to give him ‘the stone tablets with the teachings and commandments which I have inscribed.’"


     "Was Bartholdi aware of this lineage"  Did he puposefully connect Liberty’s nimbus to Moses?"

     "’I'm not sure where he came up with this idea,’  Moreno said.  ‘Was it the Hebrews, the Greeks?  But it seems to me that he probably got it from Judeo-Christian sources, because the nimbus constantly resonated in European thought.  Even if Bartholdi himself didn’t go to Rome to see Michelangelo’s Moses, his friends did.  And they were sharing ideas.'’

     "The statue’s most unusual symbol may represent its most direct link to Exodus.  Traditional depicitons of Roman Libertas show her left arm down at her side, holding a broken jug, signifying the slaves’ release….  The final statue shows Liberty holding a singular rectangular tablet, inscribed with July IV,  MDCCLXXVI, or July 4, 1776.  Tablets were not common in classical art and were  introduced into European art in conjunction with one story,  Moses carrying the Ten Commandments down Mount Sinai."


     "… I started with the chains and shackle at Liberty’s feet."

     "Ostensibly they symbolize independence from England, but secretly they mean other kinds of servitude — slavery, tyranny, any kind of oppression in the world.  That’s why immigrants and refugees legitimately saw the statue as a symbol of their freedom."

     "…But the notion that light should envelop the head of an exalted figure is introduced in the Hebrew Bible, predating all of these uses.  In the first sentence of Genesis, God is associated with light as he utters the earliest words ever spoken: ‘Let there be light.’  God later appears to Moses in an illuminated burning bush, and he appears to the Israeilites encamped at Mount Sinai as ‘a consuming fire on the top of the mountain.’  The first human being to have his presence infused with God’s light is Moses."


     (Of Moreno)  "He never left.  A first-generation polyglot American and a sponge for languages, Moreno was a perfect Boswell for Liberty.  He has since written one book and one encyclopedia on the subject in English and was cowriting another in German, and in order to examine all the immigrant documents that came into the library, he had managed to learn French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Afrikaans, Romanian, Portuguese, and Catalan.  ‘They’re all related,’ he said nonchalantly, as if the task was as simple as collecting his mail."


     "Barry Moreno was not what I had expected.  On the phone, the chief historian of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island sounded like a pencil pusher who wore a green visor and toted a tuna fish sandwich to the island every day.  I would have pegged him for balding and fifty.  In person he looked like a backup singer for Madonna.    He wore fashionably flared jeans, trendy shoes, and a yellow, polka-dotted dress shirt with unbuttoned French cuffs.   The son of an Egyptian mother and a Cuban-Italian father, he also has long, lithe fingers that he bends back in the manner of  a yoga instructor."


     "On a gray approach from Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty doesn’t quite stir the  soul as the postcard images would suggest.  Her mint color seems more chilly than star-spangled.  She faces south, meaning that for much of the ride you’re viewing her from behind."


     (And still from Bruce Feiler in his AMERICA’S PROPHET - Moses and The American Story with a use of an "&" to signify that his works are being presented in a reversed order:)

     "The ROSEMARY MILLER, a small coast guard vessel, docks at the  pier, and a half-dozen commuters walk up the short plank and gather in the open air at the stern.  Many carry brown-bag lunches or crumpled plastic sacks.  One wears a hard hat.  Ignoring the wind, a few are trying to talk on cell phones or listen to Ipods.  These workers are taking the morning commute to Liberty Island, and as the boat pushes off from the shore, all of them are leaning against the rail or huddled in small groups, looking north.  The statue is south.  I had been invited by the monument’s chief historian to take the staff boat to the island, and my first impression is that if you are exposed to the statue often enough, even the country’s beacon of hope can become a mere backdrop.  As the boat splashes into the harbour I risk exposing myself as a newbie when I defiantly look south."

     "At the close of the Civil War, the country’s most profound shock may have been the damage to its self-image as a chosen people, selected by God to create a biblical kingdom on earth.  Even more destabilizing, the closing decades of the nineteenth century brought a dizzying barrage of intellectual movements, economic transformations, and scholarly invention that collectively constituted the biggest threat to the Bible’s authority in its nearly two millennia of influence.  Charles Darwin published THE ORIGINS OF SPECIES in 1859, initiating a direct assault on the biblical idea that God created the world in six days.  Also, literary critics exploded the traditional view of who wrote the Bible.  Custom held that Moses wrote the books that bore his name; David wrote the psalms; and the prophets wrote their books.  Scholars now argued that different authors composed the stories, often long after the events described.  Educated people were force to accept that the Bible may contain the word of God but also contains the work of scribes.  Overnight, everything known about the Israelites was open to question.  Did Moses really turn the Nile into blood?  Did he really part the Red Sea"  Did he even esist?  And what about God."

     "…  The ‘age of belief’ gave way to a ’scientific revolution.’  The grip of evangelicals gave way to wave after wave of Catholic and Jewish immigrants.  By 1900 it became clear that if the nineteenth century had been America’s Protestant century, the twentieth century would be something else entirely.  And that raised the question:  If America’s focus on the Bible was diminishing, would its attachment to Moses lessen as well?"



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