Monday, August 23, 2010

The Sin That Believes in Nothing

Yesterday I posted Sergei Bourachaga’s essay about the Pope’s visit to Turkey in 2006. Today the author wrote me with some additional thoughts inspired by the response to his piece:

I noticed that most of the comments made on the article address the issue of the indifference adopted by the Vatican and the Christian world about Islamic militancy. Apropos of this phenomenon, I would like everyone to consider an insulting painting of the Christ on the back of a pig.

Nothing was said or done by Christians on the European continent about this provocative tasteless piece of art. If the artist had instead painted the prophet Mohammed on the back of a pig, at a minimum riots would have erupted all over Europe.

[Since many Christians may find this work of “art” offensive, I have placed the image below the jump. — BB]
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Christ image on a pig

What you see above is the work of the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye that has been displayed in several art studios in Europe since 2005. Had the artist dared to select Mohammed for his subject, we would have seen riots and bloodshed in the major capitals of the world.

We Christians strongly believe in tolerance, and this is what British novelist Dorothy Sayers pointed out about “Tolerance”:

In this world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called indifference, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.


dienw said...

Yes, the artist was insulting Christians. Yet, something is being said here that the artist didn't realize: Christ came for us Gentiles, He is the great light we have seen; and we are as unclean as the pig: He has been merciful to us.

This does not excuse the artist.

Anonymous said...

Even if the artist was trying to insult Christians (I think so, too), it's possible to reframe it and defeat his purpose. I'm not a Christian & apologize in advance for my lame interpretation, but why shouldn't Christians be inspired by this image? Pigs and other farm animals sacrifice themselves for us, even though they are innocent. Also, I happened to look up Asatru because of some of the commenters here who have mentioned it, and one amazing thing I learned is that Odin's pig (not sure it's a pig, it can be some other mythic animal) named Sarimnar, is killed and eaten by the fallen heroes in Valhalla every night, and is resurrected the next day, and is killed and eaten again, etc. That seemed to be somewhat related to Christian belief, suggesting that once upon a time, there was one religion that all the religions are based on. Since I wasn't raised in any faith, I find the artist's pig art charming and universal, and hope other people can see it this way.

Professor L said...

latte island, it is indeed possible to reframe it. Your first analogy is a little poor, considering that one did not eat a heavenly sacrifice (Jesus calls Himself the Lamb of God because he took all our sins on Himself, that we may be forgiven). But from a purely physical standpoint, I can give you that. The second is just wrong - you can't compare two religions just because they bear superficial similarities.

My personal reading is that it's an attempt to paint Christ as a pig (which would be very insulting, considering that He was observant of Jewish law). But if one takes it instead that Christians are being compared to pigs, it's far less insulting when you realise that for all their being dirty and messy, they do still lead honest lives.

More than I can say for Muslims, at least.

And on the matter of tolerance - like all things it must have limits. Without moderation, even a good thing can become bad.

But like so much today, we want so much of what is good that we fail to realise that it is being perverted into something bad.

To quote C.S. Lewis, Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.

Anonymous said...

LW, I forgot to add, that part of the pig/sacrifice thing reminded me of the symbolism of Communion. So my analogy isn't all that bad.

When it comes to comparative religion, I'm pretty ignorant, and wouldn't attempt to seriously make a case for one thing being directly related to another, but I'm not the only person to notice a lot of similarities between the details of otherwise unrelated religions. It's intriguing.

It's possible that the artist inadvertently expressed this. And if I met him at an art show and thanked him for his beautiful insight, he'd blow a fuse.

whtly said...

This so-called art (really phart!!) has so little artistic merit that it would be ignored were it not for its pathetic attempt to outrage. If the (ph)artist really was true to his convictions his next 'work' would have Mohammed riding on the back of a pig - but of course that won't happen; proving he lacks both art and courage.

X said...

@njartist, very cogent! I wonder if someone has pointed this out to the artist himself, he might find it interesting.

And Baron, that's one of my favourite quotes. I have it as a signature on all sorts of site I visit.

pacificwaters said...

But the point remains. If this had been a portrait of mohammed there would have been world wide riots and death threats.

Mother Effingby said...

I'm putting the Sayers quote on my site. That quote needs to be the answer to every journozombie who uses it as a sacrament of their religion of death.

Heli gunner Tom said...

First, I noticed that most of the commentators of this Blog are afraid to use their real name...LOL. Second, All the 'artful' blasphemy is prophesied in Timothy, and REAL Christians note it, but rely on Jesus to remedy this high crime with eternal hell. Europe is dead already, and America is close behind.

Tom Schuckman
Disabled Vietnam Veteran: 68-70
Jesus is Lord--and Heaven is my Home.

parabarbarian said...

I get the point about the Muslims but not why the image offensive to Christians. I was taught that Christians abandoned the clean versus unclean animal diochotomy and eating things like pork and shellfish is really OK with God. Did the nuns lie to me? Anyone with even a rudimentary education in the care of livestock knows that pigs roll in the mud to keep cool (no sweat glands) and to remove bugs and parasites from their hides. If given a chance, domestic porcines will defecate in one spot within their enclosure unlike most other livestock that craps where it stands.

I'm not big fan of tattooing but I guess I'm just not cosmopolitan enough to get the insult.

Svartwulf said...

I'm with parabarbarian on this one, I'm not sure I see the insult. That said, I'm a Norse Pagan, and not all that up on what Christians find insulting. The only reason I know what Muslims find insulting is because they riot, as stated above. If it's because it's painted on a pig, does that mean it would be acceptable on a different animal, or is it the image itself falling under Idolatry?

Honestly, I thought it to be rather well drawn. So I'm guessing it isn't the quality of the art itself.

Latte Island, as a Norse Pagan, I'm gonna go with your analogy, while interesting, doesn't really work. Jesus was Jewish, and that has very different ideological and religions backgrounds from the Old Norse religion. I think what you are seeing is commonalities that arose by chance, rather than from a single source. That said, if there is such a source, it would most likely be Pagan, as Paganism pre-dates Monotheistic Judaism, which was the first recorded Monotheistic religion.

And I'm sure by saying that I've probably just started a riot.

Whtly, I would argue that all art has merit. Simply because you don't like it or don't understand it doesn't mean it lacks value. I'm sure if it was a picture of Mohamed up there, you would be crowing with delight and proclaiming it a great work of art.

Tom, your bravado strikes me as weak, as does your eagerly proclaiming those who insult Christianity are damned to hell for eternity. To easily it reminds me of the Muslims.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

LAW Wells wrote: "Your first analogy is a little poor, considering that one did not eat a heavenly sacrifice (Jesus calls Himself the Lamb of God because he took all our sins on Himself, that we may be forgiven)."

Jeffery suggests: Actually, the analogy can be 'saved' since the eating of the eucharist signifies that one partakes of Christ's sacrifice by ingesting His flesh and blood (whether actually or symbolically).

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

Sean O'Brian said...

"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not cast pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn around and tear you to pieces." (Matthew 7:6)

The other reference in the Gospels that springs to mind is to the demon-possessed swine that Christ sends running off a cliff. The intended blasphemy of this painting is obvious.

I'm sure if it was a picture of Mohamed up there, you would be crowing with delight and proclaiming it a great work of art.

Nobody would be saying that a picture of Mohammed on a pig was a great work of art.

Profitsbeard said...

Muslims dont turn the other cheek, they slice off your head.

Whole different dogma.

Their eschatological view is retrograde, and will not survive contact with those who finally run out of cheeks to turn.

goethechosemercy said...

Never, EVER compare Islam with Christianity. Nor with Judaism for that matter. All three religions have more differences than similarities.
All three have gone their separate ways.
One thing that makes me extremely angry at Muslims is their facile speech in comparing their faith to mine-- they claim love, mercy, redemption-- and it's all a lie.
They claim these things and have none of them. NONE OF THEM.
This "work of art" is nothing more than a work of cowardice. Christians don't care about clean/unclean animals. The only reason the artist uses the image of Jesus is because he can't get away with using the image of Mohammed. He's a coward. He should be told that right to his face.

rickl said...

I don't know anything about the artist, his motivations, or his opinion of Christianity and Islam.

But is it not possible that he was actually making an unspoken point against Islam here?

Svartwulf said...

Rickl, you might be on to something. In-arguably, the artist was trying to provoke conversation, regardless of if he/she intended an insult or not. I dare say they have succeeded.

and goethechosenmercy, we are well within our rights to compare Christianity and Islam. They are both Monotheistic religions that worship the same god, demand that non-believers be converted, hold that they are the only way to salvation, and a whole host of other similarities. Simply because you do not like us do compare them, doesn't mean we should not do so.