FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 121 Elie Wiesel, (Answering the problem of evil in the world!!!) Part C (Featured artists are Christo and Jeanne-Claude )


God On Trial

Uploaded on Jan 8, 2012

God on Trial is a 2008 BBC/WGBH Boston television play written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, starring Antony Sher, Rupert Graves and Jack Shepherd. The play takes place in Auschwitz during World War II. The Jewish prisoners put God on trial in absentia for abandoning the Jewish people. The question is if God has broken his covenant with the Jewish people by allowing the Nazis to commit genocide.

The play is based on an event described by Elie Wiesel in his book The Trial of God, though Boyce describes this tale as “apocryphal”. According to Boyce, producer Mark Redhead “had been trying to turn the story into a film for almost 20 years by the time he called me in 2005 to write the screenplay.”


In the December 22, 2014 letter that I wrote to Professor Elie Wiesel, I included these words:

I have watched the movie GOD ON TRIAL over and over again and I found it very thought provoking.

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto  who I have been corresponding with and it said:

…Please click on this URL

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto


There are 3 videos in this series and they have statements by 150 academics and scientists and I saw that many of your friends were featured in this film series. I have been responding to some of the statements concerning God.

The second article I had done in that series was on the issue of evil and suffering in the world and here is what I wrote:


On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto


There are 3 videos in this series and they have statements by 150 academics and scientists and I hope to respond to all of them. The 23rd quote on the first video comes from Sir David Attenborough and it is below:

MONDAY, MAY 9, 2011

Monday Morning Quotes: Sir David Attenborough

“I often get letters, quite frequently, from people who say how they like the programmes a lot, but I never give credit to the almighty power that created nature. To which I reply and say, “Well, it’s funny that the people, when they say that this is evidence of the Almighty, always quote beautiful things. They always quote orchids and hummingbirds and butterflies and roses.” But I always have to think too of a little boy sitting on the banks of a river in west Africa who has a worm boring through his eyeball, turning him blind before he’s five years old. And I reply and say, “Well, presumably the God you speak about created the worm as well,” and now, I find that baffling to credit a merciful God with that action. And therefore it seems to me safer to show things that I know to be truth, truthful and factual, and allow people to make up their own minds about the moralities of this thing, or indeed the theology of this thing.”

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

Suffering and Chai Latte

“I often get letters from people who say I never give credit to the almighty power that created nature. To which I reply and say, well, it’s funny that the people, when they say that this is evidence of the Almighty, always quote beautiful things. But I always have to think too of a little boy sitting on the banks of a river in West Africa who has a worm boring through his eyeball, turning him blind before he’s five years old. And I reply and say, well, presumably the God you speak about created the worm as well. I find that baffling to credit a merciful God with that action. And therefore it seems to me safer to show things that I know to be truth, truthful and factual, and allow people to make up their own minds about the morality of this thing.”

Ok, so the main point seems to be that a ‘merciful God’ wouldn’t allow a small boy to suffer in this way. And therefore we’re looking at the classic question of ‘Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?’

First of all, let’s acknowledge the horrendousness of what that small boy is going through. We don’t think it’s good – we don’t even think it’s acceptable. But nor do we think that God causes it to happen. Christians don’t believe that God created a broken world where life would be a bit crappy and then you’d die. It’s broken and crappy because of us.

So much human suffering is down, ironically, to human freedom. Could God remove all suffering? Yes, but he would have to remove all freedom. And you might think a world where we weren’t free to sin or suffer would be the obvious thing to create anyway. But think about it: the freedom that allows a man to slaughter innocent people is the same freedom that allows you to watch your 50″ plasma TV, or drive a sports car, or disbelieve in God. Seriously. There aren’t good people and bad people. There’s free people.
You want God to stop famine? Great – let’s give everything we have to Africa. What are you waiting for?

Furthermore, if you’re an atheist, the situation here for this young lad is bleak. Because for this little boy there is no ultimate hope. He will remain blind, suffer throughout his short life, die and turn to dust. He won’t ‘Rest In Peace’ as we glibly say. He won’t be ‘At Rest’. He will simply cease to exist.

Interestingly, there seems here to be a strange irony at work. Attenborough, who doesn’t believe in God, is blaming God for being unmerciful. But if there’s no God, then the only hope this young lad has is…us. It’s startling that we in the West would hold up this example as an example of a heartless God we don’t believe in, when the reason this lad has no hope is because we have raped the planet so we can have nice GTAV marathons and venti Chai Lattes.

He finished by talking about the morality of it. But on Atheism, by what standard is this situation morally wrong? If we’re just molecules bumping into one another and the only purpose is what we create for ourselves, then why should I care? We’ve talked about morality here, but you only get objective morality once you ground it in God. And once you do ground it in God, you realise that God isn’t cool with this situation either. We know this is wrong because He does.

However, for Christians, the situation is not so futile. We should indeed plough resources into situations like this (Jesus told the rich man to give everything he had to the poor), but we also believe that there is hope in this life for people like this young lad. Jesus changes lives, transforms, forgives, heals. And what isn’t fully redeemed in this life absolutely will be in the next. We believe that, through Jesus, a day will come where suffering is finished, and this young lad can sit on the river bank and drink a Chai Latte in peace.

God’s major hope for you isn’t to have a long, comfortable life. It’s simply to know the transforming and saving love of Jesus.

Ravi Zacharias

Uploaded by on Feb 21, 2010

Sorry I missed recording the first few minutes of this but it is still worth watching. John Lennox is a mathematician who debated Richard Dawkins in “The God Delusion Debate”.


Some people have suggested that God was responsible for evil in the world  and that meant that he was responsible for 9/11. However,  I wanted to make the simple point today that there must be an absolute standard to judge evil by and most atheists do not have that. Of course, Christians have the Bible.

Today we have  a growing number of atheists because of the secular humanism in the schools. The teaching of humanism in the area of moral choices has been the main reason for this. Our students are being taught that we all are a product of chance and there are no absolutes.

The Bible tells us, “{God} has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). The secularist calls this an illusion, but the Bible tells us that the idea that we will survive the grave was planted in everyone’s heart by God Himself. Romans 1:19-21 tells us that God has instilled a conscience in everyone that points each of them to Him and tells them what is right and wrong (also Romans 2:14 -15).

It’s no wonder, then, that a humanist would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” THE HUMANIST, May/June 1997, pp. 38-39)

Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. However, I know how moral relativism works, and I expected that Mrs. Leitner would soon be challenged by her fellow humanists. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (THE HUMANIST, September/October 1997, p. 2)

Do you see where our moral relativism has taken us in the USA?

I had a chance back in 1996 to visit with a gentleman by the name of Robert Lester Mondale while he was retired in Missouri.  He was born on May 28, 1904 and he died on August 19, 2003. He was an Unitarian minister and a humanist. In fact, he was the only person to sign all three of the Humanist Manifestos of 1933, 1973 and 2003. In my conversation with him he mentioned that he had the opportunity to correspond with John Dewey who was one of Mondale’s fellow signers of the 1933 Humanist Manifesto I.

I really believe that the influence of John Dewey’s humanistic philosophy has won the battle of the textbooks in the USA today (with evolution teaching being a key component). As a result, we have people like humanist Abigail Ann Martin who wrote, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” Check out this excellent article by Greg Koukl:

Bosnia, Rape and the Problem of Evil

Gregory Koukl

Greg responds to a letter to the editor in which the writer’s pain causes him to ask the age-old question of why God allows evil to exist. divider

I was reading the L.A. Times today in the letters to the editor section and there was a letter written by a gentleman in Newport Beach that was a response to a tragic story that the Times had carried a few days ago. Maybe some of you had seen that story or have read about it in the local papers about not just the rank and file tragedy in Bosnia- Hertzegovena, not about the general tragedy of war. The article was about the problems of the refugees and also a women being victimized by soldiers.


…we say, “Why, God? Why me? Why this pain? Why this difficulty?”


This respondent writes, “Glancing at your April 10 paper my eyes fell upon the tragic story ‘Ordeals Put Off Bosnia Rape Victim’s Healing.’ My heart ached for Amira, the 35 year old Muslim woman, mother of two children, suffering the loss of her husband, wandering about the countryside begging to survive. Placed in a detention camp, raped repeatedly by Serb soldiers acting as animal pigs rather than humans, the woman became another tragic victim of human wickedness. Where is mankind headed? My thoughts turn to God and ask, ‘Why, God? Why did you create such monsters? God, are you for real?’ If this is God’s way of teaching or testing my faith”, he continues, ” then my beliefs and faith are being shattered with contempt instead. Having just lost my wife to cancer, maybe my feelings are more prone and fragile to be torn apart and my feelings turn more intensely to those who are suffering also.” It’s signed Victor Jashinski in Newport Beach.There’s probably hardly a person listening to this account that does not feel the same emotion with him. First of all, we feel the sense of horror as we read about the kinds of things that other people do to each other. Just a couple of days ago was the last of a five part series of “The Holocaust” that was on the Family Channel which was re-aired for the first time in fifteen years. But in any event, seeing again in vivid portrayal what man is capable of doing, our hearts and our minds are taken with this situation. Not only that, but we are also touched by evil in the world ourselves as we look at circumstances and we’re horrified. We also look at pains in our own life as this man has reflected and we say, “Why, God? Why me? Why this pain? Why this difficulty?” And this is really one of the most thorny problems and one of the most complex problems that anyone, regardless of their philosophical avocations or persuasions, has to address.

There is no way that I’m going to resolve this in ten minutes because this problem in its fullness, in its entirety resists a thorough resolution. I think there’s some good responses, but for the most part it is something that we kind of have to live with . But I would like to give some thoughts that may provide a few guidelines for you in dealing with this yourself and people like this gentleman as they face these circumstances both outside of their life and inside of their life.

My policy in dealing with a difficult, tricky problem that defies a thorough-going solution is to work from the known to the unknown. There are some things I think we can know about this issue. We can draw some conclusions that will at least clear the deck a bit and help us to focus on those things that are less clear and less resolvable, and maybe demystify the question for us, and maybe make our hearts feel a little better about the issue.

One of the things I need to say at the outset, by the way, is that’s it’s very important to distinguish between the issue of evil and suffering as a philosophic problem and the problem of evil from a pastoral perspective. Actually, both were raised in this letter. Why does God allow evil in the world such that a female Bosnian refugee might be subjected to repeated rape by Serbian soldiers? Why does the problem happen out there (which is the philosophic question) but why does evil hurt me? That’s a different kind of question because that’s an emotional response. Even people who have resolved the issue of evil philosophically still shudder under its impact when it hits them. Even though their mind may have answers their heart still asks “Why?” when they become victimized by evil in the world. So we see both kinds here.

I’m going to start out by trying to deal with the philosophic problem and then make a comment about the pastoral problem. They are distinct questions.

By the way, when someone comes to you with the pastoral issue, you can’t resolve that by giving them a philosophic answer. It just doesn’t work . That’s not their need. Their need isn’t their mind at that point or their intellect; their need is their heart, the grief they are going through. There’s a different kind of approach there. I’m actually better at the first than the second. I’m better at the intellectual part than the pastoral part. That’s why I’m a radio talk show host and not a church shepherd as many pastors are. My gifts are different. In any event, let me try to deal with the philosophic problem first and then briefly address the pastoral issue.


So if there is no God, there can’t be any evil, only personal likes and dislikes–what I prefer morally and what I don’t prefer morally.


One thing to note, by the way, is that this man presumes that God made man this way (“Why, God, why did you create such monsters?”). Now if you are thinking from a Biblical perspective, you know that that is not the case. The Bible does not teach that God created monsters. It teaches that He created human beings that were not monsters at all but were good. They didn’t have this propensity and proclivity for evil. He didn’t make man with that. But He did make man with the possibility of going wrong and the writer’s response here is really a response questioning the character of God. “How could You do this? What kind of God are you? Are you for real?” are other questions which are the approach that most people usually take when struggling with evil. In other words, when they see this kind of thing they don’t question the character of man, which in my point of view would be a sensible response. (You’ll understand why I say that in just a moment.) Instead they attack the existence of God. In other words, they say since there is evil in the world then God can’t exist. This is not a reasonable response. It is not a rational response. It is not a fruitful answer to the philosophic problem of evil and I’m going to tell you why that just can’t work.

What doesn’t make sense is to look at the existence of evil and question the existence of God. The reason is that atheism turns out being a self-defeating philosophic solution to this problem of evil. Think of what evil is for a minute when we make this kind of objection. Evil is a value judgment that must be measured against a morally perfect standard in order to be meaningful. In other words, something is evil in that it departs from a perfect standard of good. C.S. Lewis made the point, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call something crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”[ 1 ] He also goes on to point out that a portrait is a good or a bad likeness depending on how it compares with the “perfect” original. So to talk about evil, which is a departure from good, actually presumes something that exists that is absolutely good. If there is no God there’s no perfect standard, no absolute right or wrong, and therefore no departure from that standard. So if there is no God, there can’t be any evil, only personal likes and dislikes–what I prefer morally and what I don’t prefer morally.

This is the big problem with moral relativism as a moral point of view when talking about the problem of evil. If morality is ultimately a matter of personal taste–that’s what most people hold nowadays–then it’s just your opinion what’s good or bad, but it might not be my opinion. Everybody has their own view of morality and if it’s just a matter of personal taste–like preferring steak over broccoli or Brussels sprouts–the objection against the existence of God based on evil actually vanishes because the objection depends on the fact that some things are intrinsically evil–that evil isn’t just a matter of my personal taste, my personal definition. But that evil has absolute existence and the problem for most people today is that there is no thing that is absolutely wrong. Premarital sex? If it’s right for you. Abortion? It’s an individual choice. Killing? It depends on the circumstances. Stealing? Not if it’s from a corporation.

The fact is that most people are drowning in a sea of moral relativism. If everything is allowed then nothing is disallowed. Then nothing is wrong. Then nothing is ultimately evil. What I’m saying is that if moral relativism is true, which it seems like most people seem to believe–even those that object against evil in the world, then the talk of objective evil as a philosophical problem is nonsense. To put it another way, if there is no God, then morals are all relative. And if moral relativism is true, then something like true moral evil can’t exist because evil becomes a relative thing.

An excellent illustration of this point comes from the movie The Quarrel . In this movie, a rabbi and a Jewish secularist meet again after the Second World War after they had been separated. They had gotten into a quarrel as young men, separated on bad terms, and then had their village and their family and everything destroyed through the Second World War, both thinking the other was dead. They meet serendipitously in Toronto, Canada in a park and renew their friendship and renew their old quarrel.


To paraphrase the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the person who argues against the existence of God based on the existence of evil in the world has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.


Rabbi Hersch says to the secularist Jew Chiam, “If a person does not have the Almighty to turn to, if there’s nothing in the universe that’s higher than human beings, then what’s morality? Well, it’s a matter of opinion. I like milk; you like meat. Hitler likes to kill people; I like to save them. Who’s to say which is better? Do you begin to see the horror of this? If there is no Master of the universe then who’s to say that Hitler did anything wrong? If there is no God then the people that murdered your wife and kids did nothing wrong.”

That is a very, very compelling point coming from the rabbi. In other words, to argue against the existence of God based on the existence of evil forces us into saying something like this: Evil exists, therefore there is no God. If there is no God then good and evil are relative and not absolute, so true evil doesn’t exist, contradicting the first point. Simply put, there cannot be a world in which it makes any sense to say that evil is real and at the same time say that God doesn’t exist. If there is no God then nothing is ultimately bad, deplorable, tragic or worthy of blame. The converse, by the way, is also true. This is the other hard part about this, it cuts both ways. Nothing is ultimately good, honorable, noble or worthy of praise. Everything is ultimately lost in a twilight zone of moral nothingness. To paraphrase the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, the person who argues against the existence of God based on the existence of evil in the world has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.

No, the existence of the problem forces us into some kind of theistic solution. This is a good thing, which brings me to my third point. If atheism is a self-defeating philosophic solution to the problem, and some kind of theism is necessary, then it seems to me that theism is one of the only satisfying pastoral solutions to the problem.

Let’s say for example that you are suffering with some kind of pain and evil in your life and you come to the conclusion that there is no God. What is the solution to the problem of your personal pain? The only solution I can think of is that your personal pain and suffering are meaningless. They are useless. They are helpless. And, in fact, it reminds me of Os Guiness in his fine book The Dust of Death , which has just been re-released, where he makes the point in regards to eastern religion that many eastern religions hold that the world is just an illusion–Hinduism characteristically. He quotes from a poet of the Eastern tradition who had just experienced tremendous tragedy in his life. He went to his avatar to get some comfort from his religious leader after his wife and children had been killed. His religious leader simply said to him in the face of this terrible anguish, “The world is dew.” His point was that it’s all an illusion anyway. The poet went back and he wrote this poem, a simple poem, only four lines : “The world is dew. The world is dew. And yet….And yet….” In other words the religious answer his religious leader was that the evil simply didn’t exist. But he knew personally that it wasn’t dew, that it wasn’t an illusion. It was there. It was real and it was impacting his life. But what comfort was there in that–nothing whatsoever.


If God wiped out all the evil in the world tonight at midnight, where would you and I be at 12:01?


If there is no God then there is no answer to the pastoral question of personal suffering and evil . It ‘s not there–your suffering is meaningless. But if there is a God, and if that God is the God of the Bible, then at least we have the potential of an answer. There’s some kind of comfort there. God is ultimately good and just, and one day the accounts will be perfectly balanced. We can place ourselves in the hands of a powerful Creator who, by all other evidence, loves us, cares for us and comforts the afflicted. One Who will not break off a bent reed and Who will not put out a smoldering wick. One Who will hold us close to Himself. There is at least the possibility that this suffering and pain can make sense because God can use it for good in our lives.

We might ask ourselves the question, Why does God put up with this kind of evil in the world? The rapes, the war in Bosnia Hertzegovena, for example? My response is that God puts up with that kind of evil for the same reason he puts up with your evil and with my evil for the time being. I’m not going to try to explain what that reason is now. The point I’m making is that this justice issue cuts both ways.

If God wiped out all the evil in the world tonight at midnight, where would you and I be at 12:01? See, the fact is that God’s going to do a complete job when he finally deals with evil. C.S. Lewis makes the point when he says, “I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does….When the author walks on the stage the play is over.”[ 2 ] Evil deeds can never be isolated from the evil doer. Our prints, yours and mine, are on the smoking gun.

What’s curious to me in dealing with this issue is that no one raises the issue of whether one ought to continue to believe in the goodness of man after these kinds of tragedies. We see things like the Holocaust, the crime level, the innocent suffering at the hands of other human beings more often than not, and instead of shaking our fists at humankind who perpetrate the action we shake our fists at God. I don’t get it.

Dennis Prager says, “Whenever I meet someone who claims to find faith in God impossible, but who persists in believing in the essential goodness of humanity, I know that I have met a person for whom evidence is irrelevant.” ( Ultimate Issues , July- September, 1989) I like that. I think that hits the nail on the head.

The last thought I will offer is just another curious one from my perspective as I hear these kinds of responses. We live our lives in rebellion to God, constantly disobeying Him, constantly disregarding him, refusing to live according to His precepts and according to His rules, and then we wonder where He is when things go wrong.

Let that one sink in a little bit.

1 Lewis, Clive Staples, Mere Christianity.
2 ibid.

Jim meets Sir David Attenborough | University of Surrey

Uploaded on Jan 31, 2011

Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Physics and Public Engagement in Science at the University of Surrey hosts an audience with Sir David Attenborough – live at University of Surrey, Guildford.

David Attenborough 

David Attenborough in a macaroni penguin colony during filming for Life in the Freezer

David Attenborough’s broadcasting career began in 1952, when he joined the BBC as a trainee producer. His early work involved producing live studio programmes on a range of non-fiction subjects: from ballet and knitting, to religious programmes and archaeological quizzes.

His first natural history series, The Pattern of Animals, covered camouflage, warnings and signals, and courtship displays and was presented by Sir Julian Huxley. The limited budget of the BBC confined the series to the studio and restricted the animals featured to those of London Zoo. However, as a result of the programme, David met Jack Lester, the curator of London Zoo’s reptile house, and the two joined forces to create a series about collecting animals for the Zoo. Zoo Quest allowed the pair to go travelling together to exotic places and combined footage of animals in the wild with live studio sequences. Jack Lester presented the first programme but then became ill and was unable to present the second – David stepped in at the last minute and the rest is history.

After completing the series Travellers’ Tales, David Attenborough became more and more interested in social anthropology. So much so, that he decided to devote more of his time to studying the subject at the London School of Economics, although he still managed to work for the BBC while doing his degree.

In 1964 BBC2 was launched, and David Attenborough was invited to become the Controller of the channel when it was less than a year old. He introduced colour broadcasting to Britain in 1967 and shortly after was made the Director of Programmes for both BBC1 and BBC2. However, in 1973 he resigned from management to make a return to programme production with the series Eastwards with Attenborough, set in southeast Asia.

Life on Earth was the first of David’s epic Life series, and told the story of the evolution of life on the planet within thirteen 50-minute programmes. At the time, it was the most ambitious series ever produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit. Universally acclaimed by both press and public, it remains to this day the series that David is the most proud of and that has given him most satisfaction. In 1984, The Living Planet was screened, which surveyed the natural world from an ecological point of view and this was followed by the conclusion to the trilogy in 1990 – The Trials of Life, which dealt with animal behaviour.

In addition to these major series, he has also presented, written and narrated many shorter ones and one-offs and has more recently made several series dealing with sections of the natural world: The Private Life of Plants in 1995; The Life of Birds in 1998; The Life of Mammals in 2002; Life in the Undergrowth in 2005; and Life in Cold Blood in 2008.

In 1982, David Attenborough received the Panda Award for Outstanding Achievement at Wildscreen and was knighted for his services to broadcasting in 1985.


AT&T Blanket Commercial — What’s the Song?

Nick DrakeContinuing with AT&T’s “Rethink Possible” campaign, this commercial metaphorically supports their slogan that “AT&T covers 97 percent of all Americans,” by blanketing Hollywood, the Hoover Dam, New York, Las Vegas and St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, among others with orange vinyl, while playing the soothing folk tune ‘From the Morning’ by Nick Drake.

‘From the Morning’ was featured on Drake’s third and final album ‘Pink Moon’ before his death in 1974. The recording sessions took only two nights, with just Drake and sound engineer and producer John Wood in the studio. The bare yet serene recordings of the 11-track album lasted only 28 minutes, and featured only Drake on vocals and acoustic guitar (with sparse piano in the title track).

AT&T’s visuals were clearly inspired by the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s ‘The Gates.’ The duo’s installation artwork could be seen all over the world, but ‘The Gates’ exhibit featured 23 miles of orange vinyl gates that were installed in Central Park; the exhibit ran in February of 2005.

Check out the commercial below, and tune into AOL Radio’s Songwriters station to hear this song and other Nick Drake classics.

AT&T Blanket Commercial: Rethink Possible Series

The artists behind The Gates Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Uploaded on Jul 26, 2007

At their studio in New York City, LX.TV host Shira Lazar talks with renowned environmental artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude about the Gates Project, their artistic endeavors, and the challenges of living and working together in New York.

The Gates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Gates.

Facing northeast

The Gates were a group of gates comprising a site-specific work of art by Bulgarian artist Christo Yavacheff and French artist Jeanne-Claude, known jointly as Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The artists installed 7,503 vinyl “gates” along 23 miles (37 km) of pathways in Central Park in New York City. From each gate hung a panel of deep saffron-colored nylon fabric. The exhibit ran from February 12, 2005 through February 27, 2005.

The books and other memorabilia distributed by Christo and Jeanne-Claude refer to the project as The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979–2005 in reference to the time that passed from the artists’ initial proposal until they were able to go ahead with it.

The Gates were greeted with mixed reactions. Some people loved them for brightening the bleak winter landscape and encouraging late-night pedestrian traffic in Central Park; others hated them, accusing them of defacing the landscape. It was seen as an obstruction to bicycclists, who felt that the gates could cause accidents, although cycling was not legal on those paths. They received a great deal of their nationwide fame as a frequent object of ridicule by David Letterman, as well as by Keith Olbermann, whose apartment was nearby.


Construction and cost[edit]

The total materials used according to the artists were 5,390 tons of steel, 315,491 feet (96 km) of vinyl tubing, 99,155 square metres of fabric, and 15,000 sets of brackets and hardware. The gates were assembled in a 25,000 square foot (2,300 m²) Long Island facility, then trucked to Central Park. The textile was produced and sewn in Germany.

As one of the conditions for use of the park space, the steel bases rested upon, but remained unattached to, the walkways, so that no holes were drilled and no permanent changes were made to the park.

The artists sold pieces of their own artwork, including preparatory drawings for The Gates, to finance the project.

They offered a cost of $21 million and the details are published in the Harvard Business School. Greg Allen and The New York Times attempted to itemize the costs and could account for about $5–10 million, given reasonable estimates for parts, labor, and costs related to the staffing of the installation.[1][2]


During construction: one of the many metal base parts (Feb. 6)

On January 3, 2005, work began on the installation of the project. During the week of January 17, the park filled with workers using forklift vehicles to move the rectangular steel plates into position all over Central Park. There were small signs placed on every walkway in the park with alphanumeric codes which the workers used to place the metal plates onto the designated spots.

By January 27, most of the rectangular metal plates were positioned. All had small orange plastic markers sticking up two feet (around half a meter) from each end, possibly intended to help people find the base plates if they were covered with snow. A major snow storm on January 22 and extreme cold hampered progress.

Hardware used to ensure that the vertical pieces were parallel, even when the base plates themselves were not level, due to uneven or sloped ground.

By February 7, many teams of workers, wearing grey uniforms, moved the vertical parts of the gates, and attached them to the base plates. The documentation describes the color as saffron but many local observers described it as orange. The attached vertical fabric pieces were 16 feet (5 m) high, with a crossbar at the top from which the flag pieces were unfurled. The most common width seems to have been 11 feet (3 m) although the width varied, depending on the width of the path, from 5 feet 6 inches to 18 feet.



Before unfurling

The project was officially launched on February 12, 2005, when then-New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg dropped the first piece of fabric at 8:30 a.m., with Christo and Jeanne-Claude in attendance. The rest of The Gates were opened subsequently throughout the park and were completed within the next few hours with large crowds of people watching. Generally, the crews of workers who erected the gates were assigned to open them. They walked underneath, and used a hook at the end of a long stick to pull a loop hanging from the crossbar of each gate. That opened the cloth bag containing the fabric panel part of the gate. The bag fell to the ground, along with a cardboard tube around which the fabric was rolled. The fabric part then hung from the horizontal crossbar. By the afternoon of February 12, all of the panels were unfurled.

The project staff remained deployed in the park, patrolling, and replacing damaged gates. On many days, staff members distributed free 2.75″ square souvenir swatches of the orange fabric to passers by, in part intended to discourage vandalism. Nevertheless, one of the gates, near the Shakespeare Garden in front of the Delacorte Theatre, was vandalized and replaced frequently. The swatches remain highly collectible and trade on eBay for about $10 each.

Closure and legacy[edit]

The installation was set to close February 27, 2005.[3] Christo and Jeanne-Claude also visited the installation on the last day, entering Central Park at its less congested northern end. Although the Park’s roadways were closed to vehicles, they traveled with a police escort in their Maybach sedan. Christo then left the car and walked to several vantage points, capturing last minute photographs with a professional assistant. After the exhibition closed on February 27, the gates and bases were removed. The materials were industrially recycled, partially as scrap metal.[4]

A 2007 documentary film’s synopsis noted this artwork “brought over 4 million visitors from around the world to Central Park.”[5]

The HBO movie The Gates, about the installation,[6] aired February 26, 2008, won a Peabody Award that same year.[7]


The Gates alludes to the tradition of Japanese torii gates, traditionally constructed at the entrance to Shinto shrines. Thousands of vermilion-colored torii line the paths of the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Successful Japanese businessmen traditionally purchased a gate in gratitude to Inari, the god of worldly prosperity.


From the roof of theMetropolitan Museum of Art. (Image date: February 18, 2005)
Near the north end of theGreat Lawn, facing west toward Spector Playground. (Image date: February 23, 2005)
Facing southwest
At the Seneca Village site
Facing east

(See also: Media related to The Gates (Christo and Jeanne-Claude work of art) at Wikimedia Commons)



Christo and Jeanne-Claude


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