Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Obama as Jesus: Any Harma in That?

Fresh off the "Chocolate Jesus" saga, the art world has found yet another way to make Our Lord suffer this week, as Chicago's Art Institute student David Cordero unveiled his life-size statue of Senator Barack Obama as—you guessed it—Jesus Christ. The statue, entitled "Blessing" is currently on display at the Institute and is drawing mixed reviews, but, according to Chicago Sun Times columnist and movie critic Richard Roeper, creating little controversy.

While I agree with Roeper that the Obama/Jesus metaphor is somewhat obvious given Barack's media coronation, and while I even go along with his notion that because the bar on outrageous Chicago art has been set so high (for example the 1988 painting "Mirth and Girth" that depicted Chicago's then Mayor Harold Washington dressed in bra, G-string and garter belt) this sculpture would have to show "Obama as Jesus kissing the chocolate Jesus under the approving gazes of Hillary Clinton as the Virgin Mary; Britney Spears as Mary Magdalene; Rudy Giuliani as Joseph; President Bush as Herod, and Sanjaya as the winner of 'American Idol'" to "get people worked up," I cannot agree with our noted critic's conclusion that this renders the statue no longer disturbing.

In fact, it is precisely for the reason that most people are no longer alarmed by such a sculpture that WE should be. The statue not only trivializes Jesus in the same heretical way Islam or Mormonism did by making Jesus into just another prophet, it simultaneously raises Obama to "top prophet" status, for, as Mohammad or Brigham Young would tell you, the latest savior is always the greatest. In reality, Barack's vague, nice-sounding platitudes (which tend to lead to dictatorial control of the downtrodden) are exactly the opposite of Christ's hard-nosed concise teaching of right and wrong, which instead brought lasting mercy to the oppressed.

In high school Science class, I learned that while a frog will leap out of a boiling pot of water if you throw him in, he will sit in lukewarm water that is gradually heated to that same temperature until he is boiled alive. While most U.S. citizens still recoil from the big lie, if we as Catholics continue to let them accept the little ones, one day the big lie will displace the truth and Americans will not know the difference.

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