Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 27, 1999
Jesus on the web
Provincial Museum introduces upcoming millennium exhibit to the world
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
If students can learn about math and science off the Internet, why not find that same understanding of Jesus from the massive world of cyberspace?
Nearing the end of the second millennium, where checking emails and online shopping have become a daily routine, it is no surprise that Jesus has also gone virtual.
Anno Domini, Jesus Through the Centuries, a website set up by the Provincial Museum of Alberta, debuted Dec. 15.
The site is a sneak peek to an upcoming exhibit of the same name scheduled to showcase at the museum in October 2000. The exhibit is a collection of paintings, sculptures, ancient artifacts, music and film focusing on the impact of Jesus on the cultures around the world.
The website is a similar showcase of artwork, stories and historical information. It is a collaboration of the museum, Alberta Community Development and the Canadian Heritage Information Network, with the help of a $350,000 federal grant.
It also involved the input of an advisory committee comprised of local leaders and scholars including Father Stephen Wojcichowsky, coordinator of religious studies for Edmonton Catholic Schools. Also on hand to kick off the site was retired Archbishop Joseph MacNeil.
The elaborately detailed site opens with an introductory message from the museum's curator of folk art, Dave Goa.
Click the tab "Exhibit Entrance" and the next screen sets the viewer up with a series of themes. Each theme representing a different aspect of who Jesus was and the times in which he lived. There are 18 themes in total, each containing artwork from the upcoming exhibit.
"This is history," Wojcichowsky said of the site's interest to non-Christians as well as Christians. "This is not just a Christian history."
"It talks about the religious history. Perhaps there was a time when we couldn't academically look at the religious experience of people like this. Or we'd say it was not developed or it was primitive. Perhaps we went through a phase there where it was not an intellectual subject."
But Wojcichowsky says that has changed and a thirst for an understanding of the life and times of Christ has developed beyond being solely a Christian interest.
The icon images and Hebrew origins of Jesus are a couple of highlights Wojcichowsky found while viewing the site.
Darlene Leder, a Grade 12 student from Spruce Grove, was on hand at the kick-off to test the site. She and fellow students clicked their mouse through the themes and navigated their way from the first theme, Jesus the Jew, to the last, Jesus, The Man who Belongs to the World.
"I really like the site," said Leder, who is home-schooled and takes classes online. "There's so much information."
Leder said the Internet is an ideal tool for learning, particularly for religious studies which can sometimes be dry.
"I think students would do it this way instead of looking at it through a book," she said.
Wojcichowsky agrees and hopes to incorporate the site into the religion curriculum of Edmonton Catholic Schools.
"This is another tool we can use in teaching," he said. "A very powerful tool."
Along with historical data, the site also contains personal stories. One story is that of a Mexican woman named Aida.
The 92-year-old woman speaks of a statue of Christ that appeared in her living room several years ago. How it got there has been a mystery. It has also brought with it an inexhaustible supply of miracles, said Aida.
The site also relates Jesus to other world religions and cultures, highlighting the impact of Christ on the Eastern cultures and the Cree Indians, as well as linking Jesus to the Muslim world.
"This is exciting for all the (religious) groups," Wojcichowsky said. "We're not a closed-in group. . . . This is something for everyone."
The site can be accessed at www.pma.edmonton.ab.ca or www.chin.gc.ca/annodomini.