Friday, March 30, 2007

"My Sweet Lord!"

From this news report:
The Easter season unveiling of an anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ, dubbed “My Sweet Lord” by its creator, has infuriated Catholics preparing to observe some of their holiest days of the year.

The 6-foot sculpture by Cosimo Cavallaro was to debut Monday evening, four days before Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The final day of the exhibit at the Lab Gallery inside Manhattan’s Roger Smith Hotel was planned for Easter Sunday.

“This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever,” said Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, a watchdog group. “It’s not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing — to choose Holy Week is astounding.”

Go and take a look at the picture -- it's quite remarkable, and completely un-tasty looking (I'm probably thankful for that).

I got this from my online community, BookTalk.org, where the woman who posted it pointed out:
"I can understand Christian groups being hostile towards this sculpture. There's lots of "art" to which I am hostile. However, the statement that there is an additional problem with the choice of Holy Week to display the sculpture reeks of the privileging of religion. Do Christians own the week between their Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday? A week that changes on the calendar from year to year."

Very good point.

Lori

UPDATE: The gallery caved -- before it even opened its doors, it has canceled the exhibit. Did they not think? Did they blithely assume there would be no uproar? (Here is the discussion at BookTalk.org)


8 comments:

PJ the grumpy pagan said...

I agree with the Booktalk.org comment. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. It was once a fertility festival, symbolized by rabbits and eggs (now you know where THAT came from). Even the name Easter came from the goddess Eostre. It was a pagan festival for a millennium before the church co-opted it, and hoping to woo the pagans into its strict clutches, kept the pagan symbolism. But the church sure as hell doesn't own the festival.

raincoaster said...

The Church does own the Christian celebration of Easter, and some of the sects (like the Catholics) observe quite lengthy ceremonies reaching a peak that week. To deny the validity of one religious festival is to descend into bigotry and favoritism.

It's a religious festival called Holy Week that is observed by certain Christian sects. If you observe other forms of worship, it's really not a zero-sum game; nobody has to own or relenquish the week.

PJ said...

Couldn't agree more. The church denies the validity of the older religions on which it is based.

Metro said...

First off, no-one should be listening to Donahue. His band of whack jobs is nothing compared to the number of Catholics in the world.

Second: Many of those Catholics are from places like Spain and Mexico, which have a proud history of showing the crucified Jesus nude. The Vatican apparently keeps bronze loincloths handy for prissy (or easily-distracted) Popes.

No religion recognizes the "validity" of its predecessors. Christians, for example, are often uncomfortable with Judaism, which is all right and good 'cos deep down all believers know the others are hellbound sinners of some stripe, and their flavour of beard-in-the-sky is the One True Faith.

I don't think most Catholics give a crap. Donahue's a noisy whinging bludger is all. The gallery were cowards.

(But I do wonder: If I tried opening a Palace-'O'-Pork Barbeque Restaurant in Mecca during Ramadan, what would the general reaction be?)

raincoaster said...

Religions may evolve sequentially, but that doesn't mean they recognize the predecessors of their festivals. And paganism isn't just one unified thing and never has been.

Anonymous said...

When I asked on booktalk if the Christains own the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, I wasn't speaking of the religious history of the holiday, I was addressing what was considered socially/secularly acceptable during that week.

Consider that most states, including school districts, grant a paid Good Friday holiday. What is the purpose of this outside of religious observation? But this is permitted in secular institutions because Christains have claimed ownership of Holy Week.

And that same reasoning is why an exhibit like "My Sweet Lord" is shut down, as particularly distasteful to open during Holy Week.

As for the "Palace-O-Pork" question, I'd imagine there would be a hostile, even violent, response to that hypothetical situation. Consider the violent Muslim response to the political cartoons in the Danish publication Jyllands-Posten. But consider also the harsh criticism which that violent response received. Western newspapers united with Jyllands-Posten and reprinted the cartoons in protest to that violent Muslim response. Where is the criticism to violent Christian responses? Is violence, or the threat of violence, justified because we are about to enter Holy Week, a week wholly (or should I say holy) owned by Christians in the U.S.?

(I've never posted on a blog before, is this too long?) Thanks for letting me join in. --Rosemary

mad said...

Or maybe they left the statue out in the sun and it melted.

Lori said...

@Mad
What a waste of chocolate!! And a rather beautiful sculpture...

@Rosemary
Thanks for stopping by -- nothing like a little controversy to get things going, eh? I'm with you though, freedom of expression, and 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander'...or is it 'f**k 'em if they can't take a joke'? Anyway, I think your point is extremely valid, and worth making.

@PJ & RC
I'll post another day about paganism, and let the debate begin... :p

@Metro
Was buddy there alone in his condemnation? I don't think so -- if it had been one guy talking, the gallery may not have caved. It took at least 2 people talking to get under the gallery owners' lilly-livered skins.