It really does get tedious after a while. Self-proclaimed “artists” who want to make a strong and “courageous” statement to “get us to think”, et cetera, et cetera. Please, spare me. It is becoming so very common and so utterly boring. Can’t these artists just find something else to do with all their free time?
And why is it that these so-called artists seem to only pick on Christians when they want to make their “confronting” works of art? Well, we all know the answer to that one. Christians are not going to issue fatwas against these self-important artistes. Christians will not issue death threats to these juvenile delinquents. Christians will not fly airliners into buildings to protest this Western decadence and anti-religious bigotry.
So on a regular – and monotonous – basis, we have our cultural elite presenting works of “art”- often funded by us tax-payers – which are usually just an excuse for more Christian-bashing, and pushing trendy leftwing agendas.
Consider the latest outrage. At a recent religious art competition, two offerings were questionable at best. One was called “The Fourth Secret of Fatima”. It shows Mary, the mother of Jesus, wearing a burka. And a Queensland artist, Priscilla Bracks, had a portrait of Christ which morphed into Osama bin Laden. It is called “Bearded Orientals: Making the Empire Cross”. Both are fairly amateurish attempts to be provocative and daring. Morphing Mary into a Muslim, and Jesus into a terrorist leader, is both silly and offensive.
Others have also questioned these trite and insulting attacks on Christianity. An editorial in the Australian said that the Bearded Orientals piece is “further confirmation of the undergraduate reasoning that infects many within Australia’s artistic and literary community”. It went on to say that “glorifying Bin Laden through art in this manner reflects a woolly-headed moral equivalence”.
And Cardinal George Pell also questioned the place of such “art”: “Some contemporary art is tedious and trivial. These couple of works demonstrate this. Regrettably, attempts to insult Jesus and Mary have become common in recent years, even predictable. Too often it seems that the only quality which makes something ‘art’ is the adolescent desire to shock. If this is the best the Blake Prize can do, it has probably outlived its usefulness.”
Even the Prime Minister joined in the controversy: “The choice of such artwork is gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians”.
Unfortunately some Christians just don’t get it. Uniting Church president Gregor Henderson actually defended the two works of art. And Uniting Church minister Rod Patterson, who chairs the Blake Society, said he thought the artwork was helpful for sparking debate.
As has often been the case lately, it has taken a non-believer to really lay out what is at stake here. Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt had a great opinion piece in today’s paper on this latest example of sophomoric artwork with anti-Christian agendas.
He reminds us that Christians won’t hit back, so they are obviously soft targets. “Hit back? Come off it. A Christian priest will instead hang up her picture. And our politicians will pay for the frame. So suicidal are we.” And he takes Ms Bracks to task for her deliberate attempt at moral equivalence:
“To the casual viewer, the meaning would seem as obvious as the gap where the Twin Towers used to be – that bin Laden and Christ really aren’t so different. Indeed, one might have created the other. Hmm: Jesus – the true author of the September 11 attacks. Sniff. Sniff. I can already smell Bracks’ cowardice. If bin Laden is the creation – or flip side – of any religious figure, the most obvious candidate is surely Mohammed. But showing a jihad-preaching Mohammed morphing into bin Laden . . . well, that could get an artist killed, or even snubbed in the black-skivvy queue for grants or canapes. Safer to crucify Christ again for the sins of others. How easy it is to slander the guy whose followers don’t shoot back.”
Exactly. But as Bolt informs us, Ms Bracks had previously done similar art works, all funded by the Queensland government – that is, Queensland taxpayers. And she had made it clear in her earlier works that she intended to inform us that there is “no real difference between jihadist terrorists and the Christian-founded West”.
Non-believer Andrew Bolt is much more spiritually discerning than are many believers in these sorts of issues. “And here’s the nub of our problem. Every society has people who vilify what they should praise, and embrace what they should resist. What makes us so mad is that such people are bred by exactly the institutions we depend on to strengthen our civilisation, not flirt with its destruction.”
“Which is my cue for introducing the Reverend Rod Pattenden, a minister in the Uniting Church and a symbol just why this is the church in steepest decline. You may have heard of Pattenden before, thanks to the brief publicity over his decision to enter a float in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. What he high-mindedly intended was to make gays feel welcome in his church, but what he achieved was the blessing of a parade that not only ridicules Christianity, but celebrates a pagan riot of hearts-free sex.”
He concludes, “Why mention the good minister here? Because Pattenden is also chairman of this Blake Prize, and he defended Bracks’ piece – as well as another artist’s work of the Virgin Mary in a Muslim burqa – by saying he wanted to spark debate about spirituality in a world that was ‘cynical, degraded and in crisis’. Done. Here, then, is some of the debate he’s asked for: My dear minister, if the world is indeed ‘cynical’ and ‘in crisis’, that will be due in part to such as you, who fail to defend a moral tradition from its morals-lite critics. Go do your job. Gird yourself. Defend your faith – and with it our civilisation.”
Powerful words from Bolt, but right on the money. Why is it that most believers are not as spiritually astute and righteously indignant about these issues? Why do we keep having a non-believer to offer the most prophetic commentary on so many vital issues of the day?
The regular assaults on Christianity – including those by the artistic community – are something we should all be concerned about. But perhaps we should be even more concerned about the condition of the Christian church, which is either unaware of the many attacks on it, or simply indifferent to them. Or worse yet, a church that actually defends and instigates these very attacks. The real worry here is a church which is for the most part asleep at the wheel, unable or unwilling to defend itself in the modern world. Unless the church once again regains its role as salt of the earth and light of the world, it might start asking just what its purpose is.