For more Catholic cartoons, check out Sword of Peter.
A bit of whimsy for the weekend…
Graffiti isn’t always pretty – in most cases, it’s offensive and anachronistic and destructive.
But sometimes it can be quite beautiful, fun and stunning. I admire the vision and creativity of artists who bring life and beauty to places that lack it. In their special way, using the talents given to them by God, they spread joy and humor and hope into corners of the world that so desperately need it. They are telling us “Beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places, if you only have the eyes to see.”
Enjoy these images that a friend emailed to me – I don’t know where he found them. Hopefully they’ll brighten your day as they did mine. And try not to smile.
Remember my post from November on the new statues at my home parish?
Well, there is an update of sorts. During Christmas, the parish included an insert – written by the sculptor – in the weekly bulletin, describing the statues. I reprint here in full:
The Holy Family
The discourse on the divinity and humanity of Our Savior began with the mystery of the Trinity. The Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Mary and Joseph, all converging at one point in time to begin the completion of the salvation narrative, which we are still living out today. Generations, prophets and stories from creation led up to the conception of Jesus to this young unwed couple that became our Holy Family. Jesus was born to teach and die for our sins and save our souls. He conquered death by rising, He ascended and will come again while He is with us always. This is our belief.
If we were to relate Jesus, Mary and Joseph as a modern day family, our thoughts and prayers may be different. The story is not ideal. Young Mary was “with child” before the couple was married. Her only explanation to her family and friends was that an angel told her she would have a baby and she was to name the baby Jesus. Joseph had several life changing dreams and in today’s terms he may have been diagnosed with, at the least, a sleeping disorder. None-the-less he went against the prescription of the laws of his faith and married the pregnant girl based on a dream message. Stirred by yet another dream, he took his young family on a long walking trip to Egypt to avoid the baby boy from being killed by the authorities.
The little bits we know of the Holy Family are interesting. Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple after three days of frantically looking for Him. When mom asked the boy Jesus why He did this He answered that he was “about the Father’s business”?
Mary’s right hand is on her left shoulder to signify the mother of the Savior with full knowledge of her son’s human fate of carrying the cross for our sins. Since early Christian times theologians have had the debate of her Son’s human nature and His divine nature. Mary’s boy Jesus is human and Divine but our Blessed Mother Mary is totally human with the full knowledge of her child’s destiny. When she accepted the Angel Gabriel’s words, “Hail Mary, the Lord is with thee”, how could she have known the pain her Son would bear for our sake? Yet as she raised her precious boy, she too submitted. There is horrific pain in her human heart, which is covered with her arm. The sorrow of her sacrifice is felt in full as a totally human mother. Mary reaches out to us in more traditional scultures, but perhaps its time for us to pray for the strength to reach out to others who aren’t as fortunate and may not be expecting us to offer our hands and hearts to them. Reach out to someone that doesn’t look like the traditional image we are comfortable with. Perhaps we need to ask Mary how to love those who crucified her boy. We need to ask her to teach us to love those that are different.
Joseph too smiles and reassures us as his children while he crosses arms with the boy Jesus who looks up to him as a young son absorbing his father’s ways. God chose Joseph to be our father model from Jessie’s (sic) family to be an earthly role model for the Son of Man. Jesus learned from that carpenter how to live, be a man of integrity and to die well. The trusting gazes and intimate arm embrace speak of a loving relationship.
Would our faith change if they were like us? Strong some days, frail on others, out of work, wondering how they are going to make ends meet? They were people.
Joseph and Mary like us are called to be a Holy Family.
Just to refresh your memory, here are a couple images of the statues:
There’s much I could say, but I’m going to focus on one line: Would our faith change if they were like us? I’d like to think our lives would change if we lived with the faith they had, which is what we are called to do. It’s almost as if he’s saying we need to bring the Holy Family down to our level, instead of allowing God and His grace to raise us up to theirs.
Regardless, those statues are still ugly, and they gotta go.
What are your thoughts?
When it comes to art, my mantra is basically “I may not know much, but I know what I like.” At the very least, I can tell the difference between beauty and ugliness.
And when it comes to art in churches – statues, iconography, stained glass images – well, it ought to both reflect and project beauty. It ought to reflect the beauty, truth and goodness of God, creator of all things, as best presented by the artist’s hands and imagination. And it also ought to project the blessed beauty of our final end – heaven, and eternal union with God. It ought to be beautiful, as well as draw us towards Beauty.
If the work of art fails to do either of those two things, then it should not be anywhere near a church.
One problem with the progressive mentality in the Catholic Church is that it seeks to destroy the good and the true and the beautiful, and erect in its place the grotesque and the false and the ugly. It then defends itself by saying “Beauty is subjective”, or “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Then it tries to convince you that the New is superior to the Old, mainly because it is Different and progresses towards something. This has happened in my parish.
On either side of the sanctuary stand two alcoves. In one, there was a lifesize reproduction of the Pieta; in the other, a shrine to the Blessed Mother. The statue of Mary was painted, traditional, beautiful. A bank of votive candles stood before her.
They were removed recently by the pastor. Beyond the fact that he’s somewhat progressive, I was told that he felt the Pieta “disturbed” children because it depicted such a sad scene. Using that logic, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before the crucifix is replaced with a “Resurrection Jesus” superimposed upon a cross. I don’t know the rationale for having taken away the Blessed Mother statue, but I’m sure the reason was just as flimsy.
These were replaced with two new statues, wood carvings that are better viewed than described (although the pictures don’t do their hideousness justice):
In case you couldn’t tell, the top one is of Blessed Mother Mary, the other is St. Joseph with a young Christ. Except that’s not what they’re called. No, the female one, while it is of Mary, is actually called “Starving Palestinian”. The other goes by something along the lines of “Bedouin”. I kid you not.
I’m not sure what the significance of the arm placement in the top statue (I’m sorry, but I can’t bring myself to say it represents Mary). Usually she’s depicted with hands folded, or spread out with palms up, or similar positions. This image tells me she’s being closed and withholding grace from us. It’s very disconcerting. The other statue? If someone didn’t tell me it represented St. Joseph, I never would have guessed it. The misshapen head is enough to make me look away.
And where are the halos?
Now, many parishoners have complained to the pastor about these new additions. To one, he said “just stand in front of them and look. They’ll grow on you.” Excuse me, father, but holy art isn’t designed to “grow on you”. Moss grows on you. Cobwebs grow on you. Bacteria grows on you. Holy art ought to uplift, inspire and show us the face of God. To lead to meditation and contemplation. For me, these statues cannot do that.
Some of the parishoners have put together a petition to have the statues removed – which I readily signed.
Oh – and get this. The artist’s wife? I learned she runs reiki sessions out of their studio. Yeah.
Those unholy statues have no business being on consecrated ground.
What do you think?
This is pretty cool. One of the neat things about being Catholic is that they keep finding old stuff from the early period of the Church.
From the Telegraph.co.uk: Earliest Known Images of Apostles Discovered Under Rome Streets
The earliest known icons of four of Christ’s apostles have been found adorning an elaborately decorated chamber in a catacomb beneath the streets of Rome.
Scientists used advanced laser technology to remove a hardened crust of dirt and calcium deposits in order to bring to light the brightly coloured 4th century paintings of Saints John, Paul, Andrew and Peter.
The images adorn the ceiling of a vault, carved out of volcanic rock, which provided the last resting place of a rich Roman noblewoman who converted to Christianity after it was declared legal by the Emperor Constantine.
Archeologists also found an early image of Christ, a painting of a naked Daniel with lions at his feet and a sketch of Jesus raising Lazarus, wrapped in mummy-like white bandages, from the dead.
The paintings are rendered in bright yellow and red ochre, black charcoal, and a rare mineral-based paint known as Egyptian Blue.
A balding St Paul is depicted with dark piercing eyes, a pointed black beard and a furrowed forehead, while St Peter has the white, bushy beard and sturdy look of a fisherman.
The archeologists believe the images may have set the standard for all later depictions of the saints in Christian iconography.
Sorry, CRONES. No paintings of wymynpreests or female bishops. Better luck next time!!
Bad Jesus art that even Kat might approve of…
I can’t believe that no one, not one person, raised their hand and said “This is a really, really bad idea” when this was being discussed.
From the Telegraph.co.uk: Art Gallery Invites Visitors to Deface Bible
The open Bible is part of the Made in God’s Image exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) in Glasgow.
Its inclusion was the idea of a local church which hoped gallery visitors would suggest ways in which the Bible could be “reclaimed as a sacred text”.
A sign next to a container of pens says: “If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.”
The Bible has already been adorned with comments, according to The Times, including “**** the Bible” and “This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all.”
A contributor wrote on the first page of Genesis: “I am Bi, Female & Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this.”
The exhibit, Untitled 2009, was proposed by the Metropolitan Community Church, an international Christian group which describes itself as offering “inclusive Christian ministry to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities”.
The £7,000 exhibition, which is funded by the Scottish Arts Council and is free of charge, has been created by the artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone in association with organisations representing gay Christians and Muslims.
Mr Schrag, 34, told the newspaper: “Any offensive things that have been written are not the point of the work. It was an open gesture. Are those who say they are upset offended by the things that people write, or just by the very notion that someone should write on a Bible?”
He added: “If we are to open up the Bible for discussion, surely we have to invite people to speak out. Art allows us to discuss difficult things, and Goma allows difficult discussions to take place — that is why Glasgow is at the cutting edge of contemporary art.”
Jane Clarke, a minister of the community church, said she regretted the insults that had appeared. “The Bible should never be used like that. It was our intention to reclaim it as a sacred text,” she said.
Gee, so much for best intentions. And reclaim the Bible from whom and for whom? The initial premise for the display is patently false – the Bible has always been a sacred text. Leaving it exposed so that it can be defaced is high profanity. All that was accomplished here was that people were handed a perfect opportunity to freely express their self-loathing and anti-Christian bigotry – and as many of the published comments show, they clearly took advantage.
Given that the Metropolitan Community Church, who proposed the display and more than likely distances themselves from traditional teaching on homosexual behavior, it comes as no surprise that they believed that they were promoting a Greater Good. And what “Greater Good” would that be? That traditional Christianity is oppressive, regressive and hateful towards homosexuals.
Oh! By the way, if this was done in association with organizations representing gay Christians and Muslims, then where’s the Koran? Smacks of anti-Christian bias on the part of GOMA.
As the article stated: “…while a spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “One wonders whether the organisers would have been quite as willing to have the Koran defaced.”” Maybe GOMA isn’t as cutting edge as they would like to think.
I just returned from Washington DC, where among other sites, I visited the National Art Gallery, the Library of Congress (as a building, it’s one of the most stunning I have ever seen in the US), and a small portion of the Smithsonian Art & Portraiture Museum. Magnificent, beautiful works of art – paintings, sculpture, what have you. A lot of it thought-provoking, and much of it expressing the depth and breadth of man’s ability to create (I’m not big on modern art, but even still, it reflects the desire to fashion something outside of ourselves and evoke a response). Even the war memorials are filled with meaning and symbolism that draw out feelings and emotions, providing perspective on events that occurred before my time, and serving to enshrine the memory of those who sacrificed their lives. I was especially moved by the Vietnam Memorial and Japanese-American World War II Memorial.
But this gross desecration isn’t art. Art ought not mock or demean other people’s beliefs. It ought not showcase the base and foul dimensions of our humanity. It ought to cause us to aspire to higher and greater ideals. It ought to express beauty and transcend beyond words man’s reach for the Divine. Defacing the Scriptures, the divine Word of God, only serves to separate us further from God, and ultimately from each other.
I’m no art critic, but I’m giving this exhibition a two big thumbs down. When “art” draws out hatred and anger, then it’s not art at all. It’s anti-art, or un-art. There is nothing “Made in God’s Image” about this display. It’s a perversion and a distortion – works of the devil.
…is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
Anger Over McDonald’s Crucifix Art.
Artist Janitzio Moreno and his controversial work (right)
(Article in red; my comments in blue)
AN EFFIGY of a fast food icon on a crucifix in Alexandra Palace has sparked outrage among Christians this week.
Teenage protesters allegedly pinned the exhibition organiser to a wall as they demanded the removal of a figure of Ronald McDonald hanging from a cross on an island in The Lake on Saturday. (well, good for them! It’s important to remember that when asking ‘What Would Jesus Do?’, the answer is sometimes raise a ruckus and knock over a few tables)
Trefor Jones, Baptist minister of Campsbourne Baptist Church, said: “I haven’t seen it yet but these kinds of things never impress me. In this country people get away with all sorts of ridicule of the Christian faith.”
Tony Peakall, organiser of the Tidy Art exhibition, which runs until Sunday, June 22, revealed how he was attacked by around 10 girls. They reportedly grabbed him and shouted at him to take it down. He said: “When I tried to explain about the piece they said if it was a Muslim symbol we wouldn’t do it because we would get bombed.” (or least threatened with a human rights violation).
It was scary. They threatened me saying I would be lucky if something doesn’t happen to me. We have no plans to remove it.” (I hope the girls didn’t threaten personal harm – maybe they were referring to his Final Judgment)
Janitzio Moreno, 47, of Great North Road, Highgate, who created the life-size dummy clad in the familiar yellow outfit and curly ginger wig, was shocked at the reaction. He said: “I’m not apologising for it. If there are reactions then it tells us more about the society we live in. I think a lot of evils in the world are a direct result of religious fanaticism, and this is another little example.” (So protesting against a work of “art” that mocks Jesus Christ is an evil result of religious fanaticism? Give me a break! If he wanted a reaction, he should have put a turban on Ronald’s head and strapped bombs to his body. That would have sparked a much larger reaction)
Reaction to the controversial piece from people at The Lake was mixed. One woman called it an “attack on McDonald’s capitalising on selling people unhealthy food” and not Christians. (I bet this woman is a product of public education. If that was the artist’s intention, he could have chosen from any other style of execution to punish McDonald’s for the sin of exploitation. There are other ways that would send that message explicitly – like lethal injection, or an electric chair. Instead, he chose the form that is clearly identifiable with the Christian faith – an execution, by the way, of the most innocent person ever to walk the Earth. This artist knew what he was doing – he desired attention and figured this was the way to go about getting it. And look! He’s in the newspaper!! And in my blog!)
While John Sharp, 43, of Terront Road, South Tottenham, said: “Religion is important to people and they have the right to protest. Faith is more important than art.”
Brendan Munro, a minister of Pray Haringey, said: “There is no call for pinning someone against the wall. There are bigger things to worry about. We should always be able to have serious and honest debate about things without getting het up.” (Defending one’s faith is a pretty big thing to worry about, minister! What did Christ say in Sunday’s gospel? ‘He who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father.’ These girls did the right thing, and I’m willing to excuse their approach because of their age or level of maturity. And I’m not so sure I would have reacted differently if I had seen it)
The Bishop of Edmonton, The Right Reverend Peter Wheatley, declined to comment. (This guy belong to the USCCB or something?)
Among the other pieces surrounding the lake is a chicken made out of Tesco carrier bags and a mannequin with a dress made from feathers. (Sounds like one crappy art show)
A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “It seems inappropriate to place an image of Ronald McDonald on any religious artefact.” (So that means no Inquisition Toys in upcoming Happy Meals – no Hamburglar on a Rack, Mayor McCheese in an Iron Maiden or Fries Guys in A Pot Of Boiling Oil. Good.)