On our first anniversary, my wife and I spent a few days in Omaha. Attending Sunday Mass in the cathedral there, we stumbled into the Flower Festival. While stiff winds and semi-blinding snow raged outside, we experienced more flowers than an indoor-plus-outdoor Easter Sunday. I knew the liturgist there, Br William Woeger, and we had a nice chat about the effort. I don’t recall the ’97 festival had a theme, but the one that Mark Kenney crashed this year did.
I appreciate the opposing view against the theme of cinema for a church presentation. Mary Poppins had a few wonderful books and a charming movie. And maybe that was okay in the 60’s because it was Disney. But today Disney is part of a corporation, and if a cathedral’s festival were to honor movies, I’d think Babette Hersant, Bernadette Soubirous, and Father Flanagan were more appropriate. Spare us Mel Gibson, please.
Is it idolatry? I think not. Idolatry is a serious enough sin that it would require premeditation on the part of an artist. Siam and its king seem more like neutral ground to me. If some Nebraska artist giggled at the thought of placing a Buddha in a Catholic cathedral, then it would seem that places the fabricator in a league with Mr Kenney. Do what feels right because it is right.
That said, an important Catholic principle is that the ends do not justify the means. As a cathedral employee, Mr Kenney certainly has stake in the building. If he were a parishioner, I suppose he could have bothered to apply to be on the festival committee. But I suspect this is more about the undercurrent of anger in the protest than the act itself. Seems evident to me in this thread. Even a laughing matter:
I have secretly wanted to sneak into a church with touchdown Jesus and send the cross crashing to the floor, take down the banners and burn them in front of the building, and put large tacks and firecrackers in the priest’s chair. Confess. I bet I am not the only one with dark thoughts. LOL.
I think the virtue we’re searching for here is prudence. One is not absolved from thoughts of iconoclasm because one prefers a different style.
Most every soul has dark thoughts. Among Christians, we are called to set aside Galatian behavior and as much as possible, put a guard over our lips, presumably our fingers, as well as our thoughts. Spiritual directors and confessors are good at helping to sort out this stuff. It’s a matter for discernment. Not match my feelings to the Bible story I love.
Citing Jesus tipping over tables is an easy out. The Lord was quite willing to turn over everything to the point of death. It seems clear that if we’re open to sacrificing personal taste, then perhaps we might merit to pray for people with whom we disagree because of their work or its placement. Otherwise, if we’re intent on the imitation of Christ, I suggest we try harder to model the whole deal. Not just what appeals to “dark thoughts.”
I hope Mr Kenney finds peace. I appreciate the backstory as recounted in the link above. Going to jail for one’s principles is a difficult and honorable thing. Going to jail for doing something stupid is just … stupid.