That Chocolate Jesus

The public won't see that "anatomically correct sculpture" of a fully naked chocolate Jesus with arms stretched wide as if on a cross. That's a shame.

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. And so with this piece of "art" I can freely say that I think it is absurd... but also that in some ways it is actually the perfect piece of art for holy week.

Why? 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 those of us who say we follow Jesus actually 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.

It is easy for some religious leaders to decry a piece of art and say - as some have (apparently with a straight face) - it is "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever." (I suppose that genocide in Darfur is merely an "affront" to Christian sensibilities?) But instead of getting all amped up over this "art," Christians 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.

NOTE: I stand (or, more technically, sit) corrected. My use of "art" and "artist" in quotes wasn't fair. This is art, he is an artist. I may - and do - find some of his earlier work truly absurd but this is not in that category. I still wouldn't choose it for my own collection (had I an art collection) but it has done one of the things that art should do - it has challenged us. (3/31/07)