Friday, March 30, 2007

200 pounds of spare chocolate

According to a just-released statement, the Roger Smith Hotel has canceled the appearance of "My Sweet Lord"--a.k.a. Chocolate Jesus.

Crisis averted--until he shows up in some other gallery in New York, where there are plenty.

It's really too bad that Bill Donohue and his media conspirers have shut down any possible intelligent conversation about this piece, which may actually have a point. After all, hasn't Easter largely been reduced to a candy binge? What better way to make that point than with a chocolate Jesus--remembering that there will be many chocolate crosses (!!!) in Easter baskets all over the place! Even the fact that it's edible: Don't we Catholics believe that we "eat Jesus"--in the sacramental species--every Sunday. So don't tell me that "My Sweet Lord" is completely lacking in artistic, even theological, merit.

I think we could use a little growing up here.

And, finally, for whom does the Catholic League actually speak? I'll never understand how Bill Donohue became THE spokesman--without portfolio--for American Catholics. As if. Just goes to show what a fat checkbook and a big mouth can get away with.

7 Comments:

At 11:40 PM, Anonymous bill bannon said...

He was made a spokesman by the media:

1. Because he is right there in Manhattan and can hop in a taxi with 2 hours notice. The media does not want someone who lives in Western PA and can't be in studio that day.

2. Because he is extreme as to defensiveness except for the sex abuse scandal when he finally was mad actually at the bishops ( the only time I saw his real humaness)...actual Catholics... rather than mad as part of his role and only against non Catholics and nominal Catholics.

3. Because he is in a box that the media knows the parameters of and that he will not say anything that all of us can't predict he will say.

4. The media thrives on ratings caused by palpable fighting of one sort or another and he relates through fighting.

 
At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anna said...

Catholic to the Left,

When there is an issue regarding the Church in the media, do you always take the liberal side? Are you an ideologue or do you really search for truth? Even though you might label me a "conservative Catholic" in the effect that I support all Church teachings, I will speak against the extreme right when I believe they are in error, and if the issue is debateable I don't automatically take the conservative side, I think about things. For example, I've challenged those judgemental folk who believe mothers must never work outsdie the home for any reason, and in the recent S.H. scenero, I opposed Fr. E's tactics (I thought he was rather insulting towards his personhood, rather than sticking to the artificial BC issue). From reading your posts, it seems that you always take the traditional liberal viewpoint, and I think if someone is really thinking for themselves
they should not automatically side with their own camp.---Anna

PS. I think the choc Jesus is disgraceful. I wonder what would happen if someone sculpted a choc Mohammad? hmmm......

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger CtotheL said...

I don't think it matters what would happen if someone sculpted a chocolate Muhammad, since other people's behavior is irrelevant in this case. Our standard of behavior is the gospel, after all.

Besides, images of the prophet are completely forbidden in Islam, so the comparison is moot. Images of Jesus are not, however, forbidden in Christianity, and we have a long tradition of art that imagines him in various media. My point is only that the art in question may itself have a point.

As for whether I'm an idealogue, you'll have to take a look at my reasoning rather than my conclusion. If I take more "liberal" positions, it's because I think they are either more reasonable or are more grounded in Catholic history, faith, or tradition. As a rule, I favor a more open, diverse, and plural Catholicism, a position that is deeply rooted in our tradition. That does tend to make me appear "liberal" on many issues, perhaps because in my experience, those who define themselves as "conservative" often choose a my-way-or-the-highway approach. My general critique of that approach is that it appears ignorant of anything but the most recent developments in Catholicism.

You be the judge. But I'm glad to have you reading and commenting.

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anna said...

The title of the display bothers me, "My Sweet Lord" a popular phrase used my many believers. It's supposed to be a play on words "sweet" having two definitions sweet (kind personality) and sweet (eating something sweet). Now in this display the "sweet" defininition that is being emphasized is the second definition of taste--- which leads me to believe the Our precious Lord and Savior is being reduced to mere candy.

You made an interesting point about Muslims forbidding images of the prophet...we can use the analogy for any person or symbol that people hold dear--how would African Americans react if someone sculpted a choc. Martin Luther King, or Jews react if someone created a choc. Star of David, or how would you react if someone created a choc. image of your grandma?

 
At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Ann said...

One last point: if your standard is the gospel Jesus became angry when people made of mockery of holy places and things...(i.e. money changers in the temple).

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger CtotheL said...

Well, remember that Jesus was denouncing his own religious leadership when he cleansed the temple. His attack was against religious hypocrisy, not some "secular" attack.

As for "sweet," I can see why it might offend some, but I also am aware of the rich writings about the Eucharist, especially from the ancient Fathers of the church, who speak of the "sweetness" of the Eucharist in ways that are almost embarrassing to our modern ears (or at least mine). Chocolate in our culture is the very epitome of "sweetness," so, again, I think that rather than immediately be offended by the piece, we might explore what the artist is really up to--and at least not presume that his intention is to offend.

That said, as I wrote in my post, I can't believe that the timing of the exhibit--Holy Week--was a coincidence, and was surely meant to heighten publicity. But perhaps its timing should give us comfort: Even in our post-Christian society, Christ and even the liturgical year retain symbolic value that even "non-believers" engage.

 
At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

"As for "sweet," I can see why it might offend some, but I also am aware of the rich writings about the Eucharist, especially from the ancient Fathers of the church, who speak of the "sweetness" of the Eucharist in ways that are almost embarrassing to our modern ears (or at least mine). Chocolate in our culture is the very epitome of "sweetness," so, again, I think that rather than immediately be offended by the piece, we might explore what the artist is really up to--and at least not presume that his intention is to offend."

There is no way for us to know the artist's true intentions (usually when it comes to things like this it is shock value) but nevertheless, if you know your work might offend a group of people (and he would have had to of been a moron not to know that he would raise such a stir) you should refrain from displaying it during that group's most holy time of the year.

As far as your parallels to the Eucharist-they are valid--somewhat--but I highly doubt your average Catholic would draw such intellectual conclusions. Priests should be teaching on the real prescence of Christ in the Eucharist from the pulpit, plain and simple.

 

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