Confection

Bloggers left and right are weighing in on a chocolate Jesus without a loincloth.

Recapping the latest in the clash of art and Catholic sensitivity, this exhibit was voluntarily shut down after much protesting.

I have to say that the combination of “two rights,” as the sculptor says, chocolate and the body of Christ, making a wrong does seem far-fetched. It could hardly be classified as “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.” I think you would need the matter of mortal sin for that. Hard to see it, especially given that a chocolate Jesus display was likely to bring worldly wealth of any substantial amount to sculptor or gallery.

And the timing? The catechism would seem to suggest a person’s motives are not open to malicious interpretation lacking any kind of clear intent from the people responsible. I think we can sniff at the timing and wonder. But nobody from Donohue’s camp seems to have even gotten to the question.

And the protests? Sensitivities may have been outraged by portrayals of religious symbols with human wastes, but it is also true that national funding for those ill-conceived displays was little more than a myth. It sounds a little like too-loud protesting to me. But it displays that Christians in the US lack no clout when it comes to PR and getting things the way they want it.

Poor persecuted American Christians? Please.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Confection

  1. Gavin says:

    I’d have to hear about the “whys” of it more, but it certainly is offensive to me. Then again, I like to know what the artist’s intent is, and I could certainly understand such a sculpture being made with good intentions. There’s certainly worse out there, of course.

    This should strike up a conversation about Catholic social action. I remember the barrage of angry posts about “The Pope and the Witch” and the protests over it. How in the world was that a sensible response? If you don’t like it, don’t see it. If you know someone who is going to see it, explain to them why you don’t think they should go. If you are a Catholic student in the drama department, go ahead and speak your mind about it. Don’t march onto a college campus holding prayer vigils for God-knows-what just because a play implies the pope cares too much about condoms! And it isn’t just that people protest things, it’s that they demand restriction to freedom of expression, a FUNDAMENTAL American right! I could see things like this going on in Italy or old Spain, but the greatness of America comes from free expression. Given the amount of 19th century immigrant families in American Catholicism, it makes sense that they would be more endeared to old-world Italian values than American ones. Still, a little sensibility is called for.

    And notice how stuff like this spreads like wildfire. You’d think every Catholic with a modem has a responsibility to view the most offensive filth, particularly at Easter. Why bother with Easter joy when you can wallow in self-righteous anger and drag others down with you? I recall there was a post about music or something on NLM and some guy posts (off topic of course) a comment with links to photographic artwork depicting Catholic saints in varying compromising poses, including nudity. I just had to think “what the hell did you just accomplish?” Sure, the exhibit is offensive, but why do I need to be concerned with it? It’s for similar reasons that I don’t spend all my time going on about what a slimeball Donahue is. What does it accomplish to give him more attention than he deserves? How is it even not sinful to drag his name through the dirt, no matter how much I think even that would be offensive to dirt? There are some things to be upset about (such as actual persecution) and things to change (I’d say bringing into question the V-monologues was a good move) but looking for trouble, particularly when we approach this season of Easter, is just inexcusable.

  2. Talmida says:

    Wasn’t the timing part of the point? That we have made Easter more about chocolate eggs and chicks and bunnies than about Christ?

    And although some may be offended to think of the Lord as having genitalia, He certainly did, and according to everything I’ve read, the Romans would certainly have stripped Him naked when they crucified Him. Humiliation was part of the punishment.

    He could bear to be stripped naked and crucified for us, but we cannot bear to witness it? What’s the difference between hiding His nakedness and hiding His wounds?

    I think this is pretty good art: it asks good questions and gets people talking.

  3. Mike says:

    Talmida gets it.

  4. Gavin says:

    He could bear to be stripped naked and crucified for us, but we cannot bear to witness it? What’s the difference between hiding His nakedness and hiding His wounds?

    Another great point, Talmida. Everytime I hear Catholics railing against this or that “insult” or “blasphemy”, I’m reminded of Christ saying “My Kingdom is not of this world.” If you want something to get into an outrage over, it’s the hatred directed against a (presumably) well intentioned artist, hatred that is another nail in Christ’s body!

    Here’s a question (and reflection on the state of Catholic art) : was Christ actually CRUCIFIED nude, or did he have that loincloth thing while being crucified? Or are the scriptures altogether silent as to whether he was dressed again after being stripped? We know how he’s always depicted, but what was the reality of the situation?

  5. Liam says:

    Romans normally stripped the condemned naked before crucifixion. We have no reason to think Jesus was spared that deliberate humiliation, given all the other humiliations visited upon him in addition to the normal ones. Furthermore, there would be Scriptural echoes of the shame of Adam’s nakedness. The loincloths traditionally rendered in Christian art have been for practical, prudential reasons.

  6. Eric says:

    Personally, I’ve been accused of blasphemy a few times. Once was when I noted that Roman practice was to crucify hundreds of people at once, so Jesus may have been crucified amidst dozens of others (the gospels say there were thieves to his right and left, but not that they were the only ones). A parishioner angrilly insisted that there could only be three crosses on Golgotha. Another time I suggested in a Good Friday homily that while others may have suffered more than Jesus physically due to our great “progress” in cruelty, no one has suffered his emotional pain. For this I was denounced by a parishioner who said she would pray for the salvation of my soul. She promptly marched up to the (empty) tabernacle and dramatically knelt before it to plead for my salvation.

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