Sunday, April 8, 2007

Celebrating Easter & The Chocolate Jesus

Despite being Christian, I fully support art that some Christians find offensive, because that art comments on how our society, corporations, Madison Avenue, and some Christians themselves pervert Christ, his life, and his teachings for their own benefit. The Chocolate Jesus like the Crucifix in Urine, have shock value and I can see if you are a literalist you would be offended. I see this type of art as a mirror held up on our society. How we all turn religion into commercial events and forget the spirit of who Jesus was and what he represents.

Even Sister Wendy Beckett, a Catholic nun who happens to be an art critic author of art history and appreciation has said that even if we find the Crucifix in Urine distasteful it is still art that has the job to provoke thought. She explained in a television interview with Bill Moyers that she regarded the work as a statement on "what we have done to Christ" - that is, the way contemporary society has come to regard Christ and the values he represents. I think the Chocolate Jesus would serve a similar need.

Chocolate Jesus is a clear comment on how a day and ritual that supposedly is about Christ's resurrection has been turned into a day about chocolate bunnies, baskets, egg hunts, and the kinderworship of a human sized Bunny. I believe that Jesus was the son of God, whose resurrection we celebrate today in a season that represents resurrection of life. I also believe that Jesus died because he was a revolutionary of his times against religious convention and hypocracy. To follow Christ means taking up the mantle of sticking up for those who are marginalized in society and to fight against greed and hatred. Jesus is all that. Jesus made people feel uncomfortable, especially those who thought themselves pious.

Reasonable people can argue if this is really art or if Pop Art is art. Why would God give us the talent to create art, the curiousity to question, and the ability to discern and analyze, if not for us to be able to exercise those urges? What does free will mean if we don't have the courage for our beliefs and how consistent we are to those beliefs to be questioned?

Some Christians do more offense to Christianity than any of this art can do. It makes me ashamed to be a Christian when other Christians use our religion to exclude people, to shame people, and to deny them civil rights. They use our religion as means to gain political and economic power. It is really hard to argue that what these people do would be what Jesus would do, and they proclaim to follow Christ. To them the Sermon on the Mount is completely ignorable.

From Wikipedia:

1. Blessed are the poor / poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(Matthew 5:3)

[...] Blessed be ye poor (οι πτωχοί): for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20)

2. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

3. Blessed are the meek / humble or powerless for they will inherit the land.

4. Blessed are those who hunger / hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

5. Blessed are they merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

6. Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.

7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

8. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

There is a 9th beatitude in the gospel of Mark. It reads: "Blessed are you when they insult you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven...."

Art like Kincaid's safe cottage scenes never need to be protected since they never cause controversy. It is works like these that make people uncomfortable.

The best way to celebrate Easter is to remind ourselves who Jesus was and what he wanted to impart to us via the Beatitudes and the decisions he made during his short life. Think about what it really means to follow Christ and compare that with the Dogma that we are taught and how religious leaders diverge from what Christ would do. Easter is a leap of faith, not just in the Easter Bunny, but that a man ages ago was the Son of Christ and resurrected from a torturous death for humanity's sake. Following Christ is a leap of faith because the beatitudes run counter to our society that worships wealth, greed, power, and breastbeating, while marginalizing and punishing the poor, the powerless, the peacemakers, humble people, and those who are persecuted (ie. Gays and Lesbians). Christ walked among and associated himself with the lowest rungs of society and those who were hated by those who were supposedly righteous.

Easter to me is supposed to be humbling, that this brave soul did this for all of us -- humanity -- all God's Children. What does humanity do? Humanity turns around and seperates those who they think will be saved or not, or who deserve to preach to them or can worship, or wed. They take the bible and the gospels and use it to lift themselves over others. It is time for humanity to humble themselves.

Easter is a time to resurrect oneself by renewing yourself to focus on what Christ believed was the important things he fought against -- greed and religious hypocracy.

Happy Easter and may all humanity be blessed.

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