Thursday, October 7, 2010

Crowbar for Christ in Colorado?

Looks like somebody snapped:
"Mont. Woman Arrested for Damaging Jesus 'Porn' Art in Colo."
FOXNews (October 7, 2010)

"A Montana woman has been charged with criminal mischief after allegedly taking a crowbar to a controversial art museum display in Colorado that critics say portrays Jesus Christ receiving oral sex from another man.

"Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Mont., was arrested Wednesday and accused of damaging the the 12-panel lithograph, 'The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals.'

"The piece, on display since Sept. 11 at the tax-funded Loveland Museum Gallery in Loveland, Colo., includes several images of Jesus, including one in which he appears to be receiving oral sex from a man as the word 'orgasm' appears beside Jesus' head...."

Tax-Funded Porn Art? Anti-Christian Bigotry on the Taxpayers' Dime?

With something like that bit of news, it's hard to know where to start.
Government, Religion, and Taxes
The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
For most of my life, according to the best and brightest in all the land (just ask them), those 45 words are their guarantee of freedom from religion. (June 1, 2009) And yes, I'm oversimplifying. A little.

It's not like a school district would celebrate religious freedom day by banning Bibles. Oh, wait: that actually happened. (July 1, 2010)

We live in - interesting - times.

My tax dollars pay the salary of a professor whose online 'art' was blasphemy. (May 26, 2010)

He desecrated a consecrated host on his own time: but the University of Minnesota, Morris, tacitly supports his views. Again, oversimplifying. A little.

Then there was "Piss Christ," an 'artistic' photograph of a crucifix in urine. Tax dollars involved. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 19, 2008))

Government-sponsored art goes back long before some British colonies got fed up with a disconnect between taxation and representation. It's been a way for a ruler to show that he's not just some warlord with a following - that he's got class. What part diverting tax money to encourage "Piss Christ" and related exhibitions has in a contemporary republic - is a little beyond the scope of this blog.

I do, however, think that it would be nice if America's national and state governments were a tad more discrete about how our money is spent.

And, in connection with this latest bit of weirdness, past offenses make it 'way too easy for me to jump to conclusions.
Jesus Christ Receiving Oral Sex From Another Man? Offensive?
In the 'better' circles in this country, I'd probably be considered a prude, or homophobic, or not "mature,"1 or something else icky for expressing this idea: but I'm not happy about the Loveland Museum Gallery using public funds to display that particular bit of art.

At all.

It's not because it involves sex. God invented sex, after all. By the way, there's the fellow who had got the title 'Il Braghettone' because he was commissioned to paint pants on some of Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel. ("Last Judgment," Vatican Museums) There's a story behind that - but that's for another post.

For me, it's how that bit of art apparently treats my Lord. If you're an American, think of Martin Luther King or your favorite sports star in the place of Jesus.

But I wouldn't take a crowbar to the, ah, art.

How Can I Defend that Awful Art?!

Don't get me wrong: I think that the Loveland Museum Gallery is out of line, displaying that 'art.' Or, possibly, not making what the 'art' was supposed to be a trifle more obvious.

I also think that cutting loose with a crowbar isn't a good way to address the situation. It's impolite, illegal - and just adds to the impression that 'those religious people over there' are emotionally unstable, violent - and not quite safe to have around.

Sure, Jesus cleaned house at the Temple. (Mark 11:15-17, Matthew 21:12-17) But He's something of a special case, no matter where He is - and that was the Temple in Jerusalem, not an art gallery in some American state. I get very concerned when someone uses the 'I am the hammer of God' argument - which this lady didn't (quite) make:
"...Mark Michaels, an area art dealer, told Denver's KUSA-TV that he tried to stop her adding that the woman screamed: 'How can you desecrate my Lord?'..."
Again, I don't think the 'art' was very nice. But what we've got now is, on the one hand, an apparently-deranged woman with a crowbar being 'religious;' and on the other: well, here's an extended excerpt from that article:
"...Police spokesman Andy Hiller said the work by Stanford University professor Enrique Chagoya has a tear in the panel with the depiction of Christ. The piece is part of an 82-print exhibit by 10 artists who have worked with Colorado printer Bud Shark.

"Chagoya says he's sad that his book and the First Amendment were attacked.

" 'Should we as artists, or any free-thinking people, have to be subjected to fear of violent attacks for expressing our sincere concerns? I made a collage with a comic book and an illustration of a religious icon to express the corruption of something precious and spiritual,' Chagoya told 'There is no nudity, or genitals, or explicit sexual contact shown in the image. There is a dressed woman, a religious icon's head, a man showing his tongue, and a skull of a Pope in the upper right corner of the controversial page. I did not make a picture of Christ. I used symbols as one would use words in a sentence to critique corruption of the sacred by religious institutions.'

"Those institutions, he says, need to be criticized when they get corrupted and people have every right to dislike his criticism, just as he has a right to express it.

" 'Violence is the opposite of what Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha taught. I am amazed that some of the followers don't adhere to the teachings. Agree to disagree and love thy neighbor,' he said. ..."
On the 'religious' side, a distraught woman with a crowbar. On the other side, a comparatively calm professor talking about love of neighbor.

No, I do not think cutting loose with a crowbar was a good idea.

Like the fellow said: 'With friends like these, who needs enemies?'

Related posts:
In the news:

And, yes: I know about the pedophile priests. I've made link page to posts about the topic.

As I wrote there:
You've probably heard about those pedophile priests. What some priests have done over the last half-century was very bad. It hurt innocent people. It was not good.

1 See "Weak-Minded: Like Copernicus" (October 3, 2010)).

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.