What am I? I will give the worthy traveller these fine clues three…
Clue 1: I’m chocolate, big and sacred (but this is not me…)
Clue 2: Nor is this, but getting closer…
Clue 3: Closer still is is this miraculous Mary formed by dripping chocolate. Neat, huh? It’s truly a sign from above. But it’s not me.
No, no, no. The wait is over. This is me. Voici la Chocolat le Christ…
Who would have thought a chocolate sculpture of the divine could prompt death threats. Death threats, that is, from Christians who, by all accounts, attest to believing in a Christ who advocated love above all things. An interesting little paradox emerging there. Apparently the problem was not only the blatancy of the “attack” on Christianity in general during Holy Week, but the visibility of the Lord’s genitalia. Here I was thinking He was a man. WRONG. He was actually one of those funky god/man hybrids who, when disrobed, rather resemble a dismembered statue. You know the ones with fig leaves in place of genitals. Weird, huh?!?
The controversy, described by the head of the Catholic League (that’s right, the Catholic League – HUWAH) as “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities eva*,” erupted when “My Sweet Lord”, an anatomically detailed sculpture of Jesus was unveiled this week in New York. I mean, seriously, it’s got to be right up there with the crusades dude. The 1.8 metre high masterpiece, crafted entirely out of milk chocolate, is Cosimo Cavarallo’s latest large-scale artwork. Quite a feat I feel to actually carve that much chocolate. Let alone then have it hold together while being transported and hung up. The man deserves a medal. It’s also quite a step up from some of his previous efforts which include covering a room of the Washington Jefferson hotel in New York with cheddar cheese. And all in the name of art.
The director of the gallery where the Christ was to be installed, Matt Semmler, announced that neither he nor the artist had intended to offend by creating and showing the artwork.
“For me this is … a place of reverence and meditation – that’s why I chose the piece. This is not intended to be disrespectful.”
In the end, anyway, the religious right won over and the exhibit was withdrawn. Only after the Catholic League made further statements which implied that the artist should be thankful he was not dealing with Muslims. Those damn feisty Muslims. The Guardian reports:
Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, said the work was a direct assault on Christians. “All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don’t react the way extremist Muslims do when they’re offended.”
That the work of an internationally renowned artist can be pulled from a gallery in Manhattan – arguably the most liberal city in the US – is an indication of the power that organised religion wields within the country.
My personal belief is that the real ruckus was due more to the correctness of the colour of Jesus rather than the materials or anatomy… Not just the abhorrent brown skin, but the conspicuous-only-by-its-absence flowing blonde wig. What an insult to Western sensibilities!
Even Tom Waits has weighed in on the debate, penning a moving song Chocolate Jesus. Profound lyrics include the following:
Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied
And meanwhile, other sanctified culinary masterpieces throwing the nation into controversy…
* OK, I admit it. I changed the spelling to make it sound more gangsta-style. I’m sure I was capturing the original intention of the statement…