31 March 2007

Chocolate Jesus

This post is prompted by one over at Conscientious noting the incipient controversy over a sculpture by Cosimo Cavallaro called "My Sweet Lord." You can read the story at the BBC page. The statue of Jesus hanging as though on the cross (sans loincloth) is life-sized and made out of 200 lbs. of chocolate. Catholics seem to be upset by this. So, it turns out - unsurprisingly - that Muslims are not the only religious group to get upset by what they take to be "offensive" representations of their holy men. In any case, the story reminded me of this terrific song:

Chocolate Jesus
Tom Waits

Dont go to church on sunday.
Dont get on my knees to pray.
Dont memorize the books of the bible.
I got my own special way.

But I know Jesus loves me
Maybe just a little bit more.
I fall on my knees every sunday
At Zerelda Lee's candy store.

Well its got to be a Chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside.
Got to be a Chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied.

Well I dont want no anna zabba.
Dont want no almond joy.
There aint nothing better
Suitable for this boy.
Well its the only thing
That can pick me up
Better than a cup of gold.
See only a Chocolate Jesus
Can satisfy my soul.

(solo)
When the weather gets rough
And its whiskey in the shade
Its best to wrap your savior
Up in cellophane.
He flows like the big muddy
But thats ok
Pour him over ice cream
For a nice parfait.

Well its got to be a Chocolate Jesus.
Good enough for me.
Got to be a Chocolate Jesus.
Good enough for me.

Well its got to be a Chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside.
Got to be a Chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied.
__________

P.S.: (Updated at 8:45 pm 3/31/07) As The New York Times reports, outrage among Catholics seems to have been the precipitating factor in cancelling this exhibition. Note that, according to the gallery director, the oh so Christian outrage included death threats.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous James said...

Note that, according to the gallery director, the oh so Christian outrage included death threats.

That "oh so Christian" bit seems unnecessarily snarky.

If some decent people got offended by something and spoke their mind, should their reactions and beliefs be discounted because a few bored nutjobs sent in some letters as well?

(Are all Muslims bad because a few of them are terrorists?)

Not really interested in starting a major conversation here, just pointing it out. Seems like sloppy reasoning to me.

01 April, 2007 02:46  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Thanks for the comments Perhaps the post is a bit "snarky"; but let's be clear about a few things:

(1) This campaign was orchestrated by the Catholic League and had input from the hierarchy of clergy (including Cardinal Egan). The CL calls itself "the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization." So we are dealing here with a purportedly "mainstream" organization calling for censorship.

Regardless of who is behind the death threats, doesn't Christ teach "turn the other cheek?" Maybe that precept allows for boycotts and protests, but "death threats?"

(2) Let's not be too eager to attribute this bad behavior to extremists (as you say - "a few bored nutjobs")when officials, the press and many residents in the west are all too often completely willing to elide any distinciton between everyday Muslims and terrorists. Think of the folks in the Minneapolis airport last spring who reported a group of Imams praying before a flight to authorities who then took the clerics into custody.

(3) More to the point why do we automatically think to connect Muslims and terrorism? One big news story lately has been the Northern Ireland power sharing agreement, in which the political talking heads for Protestant and Catholic terrorists decided they might want to stop killing one another after decades and decades. And, here in the US, for instance, Tim McVeigh was a good Christian too!

My remarks are simply meant to point out that there is some real and apparent hyocrisy here

01 April, 2007 09:15  
Anonymous jason said...

HA! My thoughts exactly: http://www.friendlyagitate.net

My favorite part of the story was Bill Donahue's lament that this was "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever." Geeesh.

Love your blog.

Jason

02 April, 2007 10:31  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Jason, It is nice to not be the only one who thought of Tom W in this conneciton. Thanks for stopping by! JJ

02 April, 2007 21:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So, it turns out - unsurprisingly - that Muslims are not the only religious group to get upset by what they take to be "offensive" representations of their holy men."

Not only snarky, but ridiculously snarky.

"why do we automatically think to connect Muslims and terrorism? "

Because in case you hadn't noticed, its been a massive worldwide problem post 9/11. In Britain, thousands, yes THOUSANDS of Moslems are under police and MI5 surveillance, 3 have now been charged for 7/7, and the Times reported over 10,000 Moslems sympathise with Al Qaeda.

I'd like you to check those facts, and ascertain their veracity for yourself. Then maybe consider the hostilities of Iran, as just one Middle East example.

Once you've done that you might begin to understand a problem which appears to be, for you, part of a US-centric perspective on the world which essentially means you are unaware of the rest of the world. Try reading "Londonistan", by Melanie Phillips. Try not to be so smug, when your subjectivist agenda is actually baseless.

The fact is, bad examples like the violent cartoon riots have encouraged other religions to go the same way. The cartoon riots themself exemplified how this crap occurs in Islam, massively more so than in any other religion.

For goodness sake....

05 April, 2007 18:09  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Oh "for goodness sake" we surely wouldn't want to talk about the different varieties of Christians slaughtering one another in Northern Ireland for the past 7 or 8 decades! (We'll leave aside the Hindus and Sikhs and others who like to kill in the name of their religion since that might make us think that maybe Muslims are not the only ones who are dangerous in that regard.)

Oh, "for goodness sake" hasn't there been a constant refrain from Christians in the US whining about this or that heretical representation of their faith over the past several decades? And didn't that start WELL prior to 9/11 and even to the "cartoon riots"?

And we surely wouldn't want to talk about snipers shooting physicians in their homes because those physicians practice legal medical procedures. Oh, sorry, that might remind us that James Kopp, the man who shot and killed Barnett Slepian was affiliated with the "Lambs of God." And, of course he was abetted by other good Christians too.

Nor would we want to talk about Oklahoma City; then we might have to convince ourselves that Tim McVeigh was a closet Muslim instead of a good Catholic boy. And we might have to buy the nutty conspiracy theories that suggest Terry Nichols learned how to make bombs from Islamic terrorists.

Nor would we want to talk about Eric Rudolph who bombed the gay folks and health clinics in Alabama & Georgia over the course of a couple of years. I don't recall him calling his murderous spree a "jihad" do you?

And, of course, we also would NEVER want to ask ourselves who helped install and then support the Iranian Shah for all those years, thereby encouraging massive levels of resentment among the people there. That might make us wonder how we might more efficiently help drive people into the arms of fundamentalism. Are you kidding? Then we also might have to have nuanced thoughts instead of decrying Muslims so single-mindedly.

My point? Lots of people kill lots of others in the name of religion. Just maybe you cannot blame everything that makes you unhappy or afraid on Muslims. Sorry, it may console you to think that all the scary things out in the world emerge from some identifiable group. But your search for consolation simply makes you look like a bigot. And since pretty much everything I've noted here is common knowledge you really don't have to take too much time to "ascertain the veracity" of my "facts."

(PS: The fact that state security agencies, whether in the US or elesewhere, keep people - whether individuals or groups - under surveillance means nothing unless you presume that, for instance, all the thousands, yes THOUSANDS, of folks whose phone records the FBI has been scrutinizing over the past few years as a matter of "National Security" are somehow guilty of something. Oops! yet another inane inference.)

(PS2: I have no idea what this means: "Once you've done that you might begin to understand a problem which appears to be, for you, part of a US-centric perspective on the world which essentially means you are unaware of the rest of the world. Try reading "Londonistan", by Melanie Phillips. Try not to be so smug, when your subjectivist agenda is actually baseless."

I presume it is bad, bad, bad, but being smug, I don't have time to try to decode it.)

05 April, 2007 20:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a question firstly of quantity and 'quality' - by which I mean, the intensity, historical precedent (hundreds of years), worldwide ideological basis and, indeed, as Hirsi Ali noted (in hiding from Moslem death threats, like Danish people and a lot of others - do some research, why don't you?), criticism of Moslem terrorism always forgets that disturbing and unique fact that Mohammed was himself a war lord.

Secondly, anyone who tries to equate - imagine, rather, there is such a thing as Christian terrorism in 2007 that compares to the serious threat the West is facing from the middle east and its exported hostilities, shows an incredible bigotry themself lacking all intellectual integrity. Did the US get the news about the Iranian hostages? Perhpas not, consistent with US-centric ignorance about the world.

As for this:

"Lots of people kill lots of others in the name of religion. Just maybe you cannot blame everything that makes you unhappy or afraid on Muslims. Sorry, it may console you to think that all the scary things out in the world emerge from some identifiable group. But your search for consolation simply makes you look like a bigot."

I'm afraid this is just unpleasant, ridiculous sarcasm.

1) no one denies other people murder in the name of religion. The point is diversionary, irrelevant, and ridiculous.

2) no one is "blaming" Islam for everything. The point is diversionary, irrelevant, and ridiculous.

3) I am not "searching for consolation", the point is diversionary, irrelevant, and ridiculous, and a little odd.

YOU have a bigoted agenda, easy to challenge as I just have (that's just a brief summary), and your basic outlook and ensuing smugness is preposterous: you are inventing something that does not exist, a comparable threat, hostility, and propensity for violence in Christianity 2007. No I'm not a Christian - can't stand them - and I say that to pre-empt what is essentially a very childish argument you are trying to fancifully establish.

06 April, 2007 05:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and your dismissive remarks about Moslem terrorist surveillance are extremely unpleasant, by moral implication and political repercussion. I don't know what intellectual games you indulge in professionally, but what you present here is rather sick.

06 April, 2007 05:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THOUSANDS of UK Moslems under surveillance is a very substantial % of their entire population, and they are geo-politically linked to a worldwide Moslem hostility that revolves around or traces back to Al Qaeda and all similar groups. They are not averse to killing themselves, if they manage to murder a few hundred of the infidel.

What I would like to see is someone effected by 9/11 come to this blog and tell you what they think about your deeply unpleasant, obscurantist nonsense. Perhaps that will wake you up, if argument and facts do not.

06 April, 2007 05:41  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Anon,

I am sorry you feel most of what I say here is "diversionary, irrelevant, and ridiculous"; given that assessment, perhaps you should stop wasting your time and cruise some other blogs. You won't hurt my feelings if you find somewhere else to rant and whine.

JJ

06 April, 2007 11:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just fuck off, you posturing little shit.

Either engage with the issues properly, or continue with your bigoted, smug, sarcastic, posturing bullshit and continue to enjoy....very little, presumably, because when people see your shit they decide to go elsewhere.

06 April, 2007 15:20  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

A bit touchy are we?

06 April, 2007 15:47  

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