Sacrilege as ‘art’

by Fred C. Wilson III
September 16, 2011
“If there’s less and less children in Catholic schools, years from now who will be there to support the Catholic faith and the churches?”
-John Cataldo-

Reader I’m sure you’ve read about the controversial ‘art’ exhibition held recently at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). This supposed art show was the Philippine version of Andres Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ’ exhibit when he submerged a crucifix in a bucket of his urine and labeled it ‘art?’ Can you imagine that…an image of Jesus swimming in piss? Naturally the ‘artist’ [I’m spitting!] received awards, honors, and mucho $$$$ in Federal funding from your government and mine to fund this s***. And people wonder why this country is falling apart.
The Philippine version of Serrano’s ‘art’ portrayed Jesus Christ and other historical holy people in varying degrees of disrespect. The Philippines is a Christian country. The Serrano show in 1987 and the recent Philippine version a month ago angered a lot of people. The art professionals that sponsored the Philippine exhibit risked job termination and rightly so in this man’s opinion.
I’m a practicing Catholic and artist (ceramics, drawing and calligraphy). I’ve participated in a variety of art shows in Illinois and Wisconsin. In my exhibits it never crossed my mind to create or display any works that would depict religious subjects Christian or otherwise in a degrading manner. I’m a die-in-the-wool radical; a left over from the 1960’s. However I draw the line on pornography and irreligion. Common decency, a vanishing quality these days, rules against it. There are things you just don’t do.
In the United States and Europe common decency appears to be going the way of the dinosaur. The recent ‘religious art’ exhibition back home showed that the Church had better be prayerful, militant, and in tune with modern times or face extinction. Case in point: All of North Africa and the Middle-East was Christian for nearly 700 years. Where are these once thriving communities now? There is hope. The CCP show was pulled and Serrano’s exhibition was castigated! Filipinos back home and abroad showed enough sense to condemn and label this art show for what is was…TRASH!!

In increasing numbers Filipinos are getting university degrees, are pro-artificial birth control, and are having smaller families. With the Church’s insistence on large families no matter what the married couple’s financial condition, people are growing resentful if not outright hostile to what they perceive as a religious organization butting into their private lives. Mideo Cruz, the artist of record, was merely the vanguard of a country disenchanted of the colonialist version of the Church of Jesus Christ with its’ over-emphasis of the ‘can’t see’ (Heaven) as opposed the ‘can see’ (earthly life).
The media, business, political, and most of the academic elites benefit from having a weak Christianity. If you were in league with any of the previously mentioned and made big money from crooked business deals, bogus government contracts, abortions, or running strings of whorehouses would you want a bunch of celibate guys in robes telling millions to avoid you like the Bubonic Plague?
Resentment has many faces. Any individual or organization that turns a blind eye to the plight of its poor and remain passive while the population grows unchecked will have a very hard time getting pass the Almighty.
An organization that urges it’s financially challenged members to make babies yet rarely make any attempt to provide proper financial support in terms of jobs, medical care, food, free schooling is perceived by many as criminal. Poor children beget poor families thus perpetuating the seemingly eternal cycle of material poverty. Mideo Cruz’s art show was a reflection of the power of elite’s greed and the poor’s resentment. Too bad he took it out on Jesus…
Catholic-Christianity is always singled out for ‘special treatment’ by secularists. They perceive the Church as weak, insensitive to the needs of its members, and an archaic institution whose existence should have been terminated during the French Revolution. The modern media and others want to speed up the ‘dying process.’
After decades of being the theological goat by the global religious community, Fundamentalist Protestantism with its emphasis on Biblical literalism, traditional family values, simple worship services, hard work, God-centered politics, ‘old fashioned’ faith and morals have caught hold. The denominations once ridiculed as primitive is thriving and growing exponentially while the Roman Church is losing ground globally.
Roman Catholicism is a prime target for disfranchised Filipinos for the following reasons:
* Its perceived emphasis on bigness over the individual
* The Church is viewed by many Filipinos as a pawn for the rich and tool of the government.
* The continuing global sex scandals
* It’s implied glorification of material poverty
* Clinging to what many believe to be backward positions on sex, birth control, homosexuality, and abortion
The Catholic Church is no longer considered a major threat but an easy ‘target.’ Church membership in Western countries continues to shrink rapidly. Being a Catholic this trend saddens me.
We ‘graying’ Catholics fondly remember the days before Vatican Council II when the Church was held in high esteem and accorded great respect even by our enemies. If Mr. Cruz had placed the Torah or a Koran in similar disrespectful positions as he did Christ there would be no need to discuss his future job prospects, only where to pick up his body parts.

Looking at the larger picture Christians of all denominations had better toughen up and present a UNITED FRONT. We’ve made great progress in ecumenism since Vatican Council II. The various Christian denominations generally cooperate with each other. Ecumenism ranks high in most churches though there are a few holdouts who’d rather fight the ‘Crusades’ or the ‘Reformation.’ If our Christian people were militant this article would never have been written art shows back home and globally would portray religion in a positive light. The Catholic Church’s cover-up of the global sex scandals, Protestant preachers being busted for fleecing their flocks gives Christianity a bad name.

What’s next I have no idea; GOD willing I’ll think of something. Take care of Numero Uno, love all, and GOD bless.

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