Because some people’s religious sensibilities are waaaaay too easily offended.
A New York art gallery has decided to cancel an exhibit of a chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ after protests by a US Catholic group.
The six-foot (1.8m) sculpture, entitled “My Sweet Lord”, depicts a naked Jesus Christ with his arms outspread.
The sculpture, by artist Cosimo Cavallaro, was to have been displayed from Monday at Manhattan’s Lab Gallery.
The timing, over Easter Holy Week – the most important part of the Christian year – provoked an outcry.
The Roger Smith Hotel housing the Lab gallery decided to cancel the exhibition after the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights called for a boycott.
“We’re delighted with the outcome,” said Kiera McCaffrey, spokeswoman for the League.
Ms McCaffrey had called the exhibit “an assault on Christians”.
“They would never dare do something similar with a chocolate statue of the Prophet Mohammed naked with his genitals exposed during Ramadan.”
Well, no…but then, most Islamic art doesn’t portray any living thing, let alone Mohammed, at any time. That’s their tradition, after all. They believe that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will challenge the image-maker to endow his or her creation with a soul, and if s/he can’t do it…well…
On the other hand, no matter how Catholic you may be, you must concede that you have images of the Baby Jesus that show the Holy Penis, and no one has come down hard on them, even if they’re displayed on Christmas Eve. (Strangely, no one wants to talk about the Feast of the Circumcision, although the saga of the Holy Foreskin recently made some news.)
Someone at FaithCommons has some good, trenchant things to say about the whole Jesus-penis issue:
I’ve obviously not seen the piece properly, but my sense is that it looks like a wonderfully cheeky critique of the saccharine nature of modern Easter-tide. I wonder if those in the Catholic League would normally purchase chocolate eggs for their children around this time? Are we not all guilty of sweetening the impact of Christ’s death?
It also seems likely that the CL are offended by Jesus’ penis being shown. Did he not have one? Would he not have been stripped naked to be crucified? Isn’t a loin cloth just a lie?
It seems again that those who seek to represent Christ in anything other than explicitly Christian and conservative works are going to find themselves heavily under attack. But, as in the work of Serrano, what I hope is happening is that these artists are playing the Trickster role that they ought, and are forcing us to re-evaluate our engagement with Christ over Easter.
This is why the Catholic League are wrong to moan about the timing of the show being offensive… That’s precisely why the timing of the show is right. It is making us all think. And if a chocolate Jesus is the worst sort of suffering we are going to get over the Holy Week, then we really need to spend more time meditating on the true nature of Christ’s suffering, and on those in the world who are genuinely being persecuted for their faith.
Call me the Antichrist, but I can’t see anything persecutory about a chocolate crucifix which dares to bare the Sacred Schlong. No one is being made a martyr by this except maybe the artist. Who cares if this Jesus isn’t wearing a loincloth? He’s also hanging without benefit of a cross to dangle from, and no one’s getting worked up about that. It’s still more Christian than chocolate eggs and bunnies, which are symbols of springtime but not Christianity.
The Beeb also wimped out by only showing the cocoa crucifixion from behind. Happily, I found a full frontal view:
Hmmm, looks like My Sweet Lord is rather well hung in more ways than one.
PS: Crooks and Liars has Anderson Cooper video from CNN in which Bill Donohue, the far-right fatwa-issuer, makes an ass of himself, while the artist OWNS his ass. Don’t miss it!