J Walking

J Walking

Perfect holy week art?

posted by J-Walking

So, imagine this – an “artist” has created an “anatomically correct sculpture” of Jesus crucified. Yes, fully naked, out of chocolate as if on a cross. I am generally pretty laid back about such things – artists should be able to do whatever it is that artists want to do. I may object, I may be horrified, but art and art and art should be as free as art can be. As such, let this “artist” do what he wants.

If art is free to express itself, however, so to the public is free to declare judgment. It must declare judgment because art is open to all critiques. And so with this piece of “art” I think it can be freely said that it is simply absurd… but not surprising.

In some ways it is actually the perfect piece of art for holy week because it reminds all of those who follow Jesus of how he was mocked and ridiculed, how he was scorned and beaten, how he was humiliated… and all because of his love for us. Those are good things for his followers to remember. Jesus’ story isn’t nice, it isn’t neat, it isn’t comfortable. It is the opposite of all of those things. In so many ways we want a sort of “chocolate Jesus” of our own – one that is sweet, one that demands little from us, one that we can mold into our forms – perhaps politically conservative, perhaps liberal, maybe happy with just a few of our dollars given to the poor every now and again, perhaps content with those who simply say they love him and then lead lives little different from anyone else.

Instead of having religious/political leaders getting all amped up over this “art,” they should be spending time facing the real and very challenging Jesus found in the Gospels and encouraging others to do the same. I know that is what I need to do.

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posted March 30, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Artists like this guy know the easy way to make money and get famous is to denigrate Christians. Marilyn Manson, Jim Wallis, Sam Harris and the Reverend Barry Lynn are good examples of this business path. NOW, if we could encourage him to paint a picture of Muhammad naked with a few young girls, we wouldn’t have to worry about this artist and his work ever again.

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posted March 30, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Hey David, Have you ever heard of the movie, “Celestine Prophecy?” It’s a fairly recent film made by Jim Redfield. Just wondering what your thougths about this might be?

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Elle Darcy

posted March 30, 2007 at 6:52 pm

David, thanks for your comments. I am confused as to why Catholic League president William Donahue continues to point out that the sculpture is of “a crucified Jesus with his genitals exposed.” How does he think the actual crucifixion took place? Are we to be disgusted that Jesus, as a fully human man, had a penis? As you point out, Holy Week invites us to remember that the crucifixion was not neat and comfortable. If it makes Christians feel awkward to see someone we adore and worship as Lord cast in chocolate and humiliated, then maybe we can understand a bit of what this event was actual like for the followers of Christ. The artist has also invited onlookers to “taste” a piece of the sculpture at the beginning of Holy Week. While he certainly may have been inspired by the Catholic eucharistic practice (after all, we are breaking and eating the body of Christ), there is no doubt that this act of “tasting” will not be undergone with the appropriate respect and solemness that it deserves. The artist has revealed the pain, humiliation, and absurdity of the crucifixion, but Manhattan gallery-goers may not fully understand this message — much like the uncaring, scorn-filled crowd at the real crucifixion.

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posted March 30, 2007 at 7:16 pm

The uncaring, scorn-filled crowd around Jesus at the Cross bear a striking resemblence to the kinds of people that make up a lot of New York City. Guess what political direction they vote?

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posted March 30, 2007 at 9:16 pm

Well Donny is you had been here when the Towers were hit you would have seen what new yorker do. They helped and cared for each other. As we do everyday. We feed the homeless that sit on our streets and in our churches. We feed the poor and elderly alone in their homes. We give money willingly out of our pockets. And we cared that innocent people would be killed out of vengence. Who will cast the first stone? How dare you spread your bile in the name of Jesus! You are those that you hate. Shame on you.

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posted March 30, 2007 at 10:18 pm

The artist has done exactly what artists are supposed to do– he has gotten people to think and feel and examine their own concepts of Christ. This is a good thing. Funny how people get so bent out of shape when forced to get out of thier ruts. Donny just finds it easier to denigrate people by the large groupful, it’s why he feels so alone.

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Chris H

posted March 30, 2007 at 10:23 pm

David Thanks for your incredibly insightful commentary concerning this artwork. I agree that instead of working ourselves into a lather of anger and disgust, we are much better served to remind ourselves that Christ lived a life subject to ridicule and mockery, as did many of his followers. I am totally blown away by your insight. Thanks Chris

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posted March 30, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Donny, Jim Wallis?

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posted March 30, 2007 at 10:47 pm

I apologize for my rant. But living in NYC and knowing what I know… I thought David’s and Elle commments were both insightful. I come from a Church that has from time to time been a target of Donohue’s venom. Mostly he generates venomous letters from people who have never even seen the art or even knows what it looks like. I guess Christianity has survived for 2000 years because it has a good backbone.

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Paul of Potomac

posted March 30, 2007 at 11:43 pm

Thanks for your comments, David. As in his own lifetime here on earth, Jesus was, and still is, misunderstood and denigrated. It is noteworthy that He still had compassion for those people who mistreated Him. Likewise, we need to emulate his compassion and mercy for others, especially those who misunderstand Him.

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posted March 31, 2007 at 3:26 pm

It does present an interesting take on the Eucharist. It should be a bittersweet chocolate though. I actually like the idea of a chocolate Jesus in Holy week. Years ago we used to create a giant chocolate bunny, slay it with a dagger and serve the pieces with a good red wine to friends. Some of those friends were Christians. They had a robust faith and were not offended by the humour.

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Dean Lewis

posted March 31, 2007 at 5:03 pm

I thought I might find a sensible article and sensible discussion on Belief.Net about this sculpture. As a Christian myself, I’m not offended in the least. I wished the sculpture looked more like a Jewish man (however that may look…), actually, but then I thought that along with the chocolate the artist is playing on our perceptions of Christ as well as Easter. The commercialism surrounding Easter now is way out of control. Is Easter more about chocolate and candy now instead of the Risen Jesus? The hotel and artist planned to take the sculpture down on Easter Sunday to symbolize that, even. As was said before, the Romans crucified everyone naked. They didn’t think Jesus was special; they didn’t let him wear a loin cloth, and they abused him in many more ways. The Catholic League needs to ponder that. Catholic League’s Bill Donohue said, “All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don’t react the way extremist Muslims do when they’re offended.” He is just offensive on so many levels. That is a veiled threat AND a dig at Muslims. At least he said “extremist Muslims” this time, but based on his previous rhetoric he thinks all Muslims are extremist. That Donohue has a following is disgusting and more offensive than any chocolate could ever be. The hotel people feared for the safety of the hotel and its staff. Donohue and his people are as bad as those he hates.

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Deacon John M. Bresnahan

posted April 1, 2007 at 12:36 am

Congratulations to Bill Donohue and New York Catholics for having the backbone to stand up to what was clearly intended as ridicule of Christ. We Catholics should never copy the Moslem way of defending faith through “fatwas” of death issued by religious leaders as happened with the book “The Satanic Verses” and its author Salmon Rushdie. But, since artists are free in our country to attack and ridicule whoever they want, then their victims are equally free to organize and non-violently strike back.

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posted April 1, 2007 at 4:36 am

Please Donohue has no backbone. He is just a blowhard who loves the sound of his own voice. And that voice is always screaming. He is a poor representative for Jesus. As if Jesus needs defending- he can manage himself quite well.

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posted April 1, 2007 at 5:09 am

The problem with artists is that they don’t use everyday language to get their message across. Which is why you often times get the average person saying, “I just don’t get art” or “I just don’t get poetry”. What that means is that you have to peel away the surface of the art – in this case, the chocolate Jesus – to understand the deeper meaning. For instance, was the Jesus hollow, perhaps symbolizing the artist’s loss of faith? The message I got, however, is that American Christian’s, and Christians in the developed countries, mostly, have forgotten the true meaning of Easter – the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus – and have instead been “blasphemers” themselves for succumbing to consumerism by buying into the billion dollar chocolate bunny, cross, peeps, etc. One would think that the same Christians who decry this would be the ones trying to get rid of the pagan references and secular references of “their holiday”. But the ironic thing is that the same people who do so are, for the most part, the same one who go to Walmart to buy all of the blasphemous Easter chocolate in the first place. Then again, that’s just my interpretation of the artwork. I would love to know what symbolism the other side got out of it, because I know that nobody would be stupid enough to criticize a piece of art without trying to find out the meaning behind it.

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posted April 1, 2007 at 1:15 pm

When we try to “get rid” of the pagan influences in our Churches we are charged with homophobia, intolerance, bigotry and other hate crimes. And YES wildwest, Jim Wallis is exactly like this insulting shock-artist. Like Manson, it is a fast track to (secular) stardom to insult Christians. Like Jim Wallis does. He presents a mangled and insulting picture of Christianity and puts something nice tasting into his offering for bait. Anti-Christians often use shocking departures from decency (especially in “art”) to offend Christians and lure in perverted followers to help pay the bills for continued assaults. Wallis fits that bill with his altered presentation of Christian beliefs, the same way this artist insults the followers of Christ.It would be best for Christian to ignore these kinds of Anti-Christians. What do we expect these people to do with Christ Jesus anyway? (They’ve always done what they always do.)In Christian culture, unlike what “liberals” believe, two wrongs (or ninety) don’t make a right. Unfortunately the Progressives are in control of the media, the education systems and the world of “art.” We should expect these types of insults as they are so common anyway. Like Jesus said, the world hated Him first. We are to expect the same towards the Church.Notice what the world loves, encourages, promotes and supports.

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posted April 2, 2007 at 5:09 am

Yes those in church of the WH promote war, torture, lying, etc… yep I know who they are exactly. No not christians. They are the destroyers of Christianity. They have encouraged hatred of our country and made christianity look false. The media is RIGHT WING. The spin is right wing… The facts are out there for that… bleah.

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posted April 2, 2007 at 8:53 pm

I’m afraid Bill Donahue is the most violent and vile person I have seen on the airways. He does not speak for very many Catholics, but does speak for the frightened, the angry, those who love to hate for Jesus. I am quite embarrassed by his words just as many Baptists must be humilitated by the words of Fred Phelps. But their vitriol is an antidote for their hatred and anger. We see them and say, – nope – that doesn’t have anything to do with God – it has to do with human violence. I do wish some bishop would get the guts to speak out openly against this little man. I wish I could pray for him. Haven’t managed that yet.

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posted April 4, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Very true about “religious/political leaders getting all amped up over this “art,” they should be spending time facing the real and very challenging Jesus found in the Gospels and encouraging others to do the same.” Where were the religious/political leaders when this war on terror broke out? Instead of getting angry about chocolate, people should be raging about a horrible war and wasting of lives.I’d think that protesting against the war would be a much better way of expressing Jesus suffering then giving up chocolate for Lent.

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Elle Darcy

posted April 4, 2007 at 7:59 pm

I don’t want to use this forum to be argumentative, but of all the ways one might describe Jim Wallis, the last thing I would think to say is that he “presents a mangled and insulting picture of Christianity.”Jim Wallis, Sojourners Magazine, and Call to Action exist to bring much needed help and attention to the plight of the poor in America around the world.Before criticizing the efforts of a man who has dedicated his life to helping the least of us, one might want to thumb through his Bible and see how many times Christ expresses empathy, concern, and love for the very people that Wallis and his friends serve. I also did not mean to imply before that all New Yorkers (and therefore, all Democrats) are sacrilegious. With all the negative attention this exhibit was getting, I just felt that it might attract some people who were not prepared to think as deeply about the messages of salvation, life, death, consumerism, and humility that are raised by the work. Not all those who would have visited the exhibit would have negative intents.

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posted October 6, 2008 at 11:14 am

I thinks it’s pretty sad sthat the exhibition was cancelled…what’s worse then the cocolate jesus, what goes on in the usa during the weeks in between christmas and easter…
choclate jesus reminds me that easter is not about some choclate easter bunny and consuming but about devotion…
christian leauge and other coalitions like that kann kiss my choclate ass

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