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Sep 06

Art and the "Jesus Event"

An artwork that shows Star Wars characters nailed to crosses has sparked controversy before its public debut at a Melbourne gallery in two weeks. The Herald-Sun reports that the controversial piece called Crusci-fiction consists of a roomful of 25 replicas of robot C3P0 hanging on crosses.”

At first I didn’t react very strongly to this story. I just rolled my eyes and chalked it up as just another example of hateful garbage masquerading as art. It’s not the first nor will it be the last we’ll see. I’d rather these craptastic works of modern “art” not be inflicted upon the world, but I see them as inevitable. After all Christ siad, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:18-21)

What really caught my interest in this article was the difference between the Catholic and Anglican response.

“Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese, Monsignor Les Tomlinson, said the crucifixion is very sacred to all Christians because it depicts Jesus ‘in the very act of winning salvation for mankind’. ‘To trivialise it is offensive,’ he said. ‘It’s disappointing that Christian symbols seem to be able to be ridiculed, but those of other religions or groups are not.’ He said people offended should peacefully contact the gallery to express their views.”

“Anglican spokesman David Richardson, who is Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, was unfazed by the artwork. ‘On first glance, as an image of crucifixion, Crusci-fiction seems fairly inoffensive,’ he said. ‘It makes an interesting contrast to Mel Gibson’s take on the Jesus event. ‘Christians don’t have a monopoly on crucifixion so I don’t see this as especially blasphemous.'”

“Jesus event”?! I never cease to be amazed by how far from orthodoxy the Anglican Communion has fallen, though at this point I really ought to. Rev. Richardson’s remark reminds me of Pontificator’s dressing down of “Father” Joseph O’Leary. In it, he outlines some signs of when to accept or ignore a theologian’s opinions. I would extend that to all clergymen.

  • How many times does the theologian use the phrase “Christ event” [or “Jesus event”]?
  • Does the theology advance the mission of the Church?
  • Does the theology respect and protect the narrative structure and historical particularities of the apostolic revelation?
  • Does the theologian intentionally locate himself in the theological, liturgical, and dogmatic Tradition of the Church?
  • Does he think with the Church?

By the way, I found the artist’s defense of his work rather reasonable – for a non-Christian. I would hope a follower of The Way would use his talents less blasphemously.

“But artist Jud Wimhurst, whose exhibition False Idols contains the contentious piece, defended his work. ‘We weren’t doing it to offend anyone,’ he said. ‘We’re talking about products and the fact that everything’s for sale. Both technology and religion are for sale today.'”

Thoughts?

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