DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     December 16, 1999     vol. 10, no. 239


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE

      Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat rails at the ridiculousness of the National Catholic Reporter trying to remake Jesus in their image and likeness. Rather than emulating Christ, they mock Him while rationalizing that other images of Him are outmoded and not "universal" enough. Yet their universality turns it's back on the Christian representation of Our Lord, one fashioned by greater masters from Michelangelo to Da Vinci than some agnostic who won an NCR contest for her depiction of Christ as New Agers see Him. The NCR, in striving to be the modernist's bible, once again exposes itself as a false god by their choosing a false image as their very picture of dissent. That is the gist of Pat's column today, The very picture of dissent

    If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at KnightsCross@aol.com

The very picture of dissent

        I had planned another article, but when I read this...well, next time.

        Awhile back, I wrote about the National Catholic Reporter's (NCR) contest to create a 'new' Jesus for the millennium. How appropriate, how fitting, that they'd use Christmas to unveil their 'new' Christ for their 'new' church. Their man-made Jesus for their man-made church.

        Reported by the Associated Press by David Crary, the 'winning' artist was Janet McKenzie, a self proclaimed "devout agnostic," with an interest in ALL faiths. We may recall that G. K. Chesterton said that those who feel all religions are alike may as well say that all race horses are alike. Similiar maybe, but hardly alike.

        McKenzie said that her "goal was to be as inclusive as possible." It's great to say that we should be inclusive, but we have to understand that being inclusive doesn't mean, as NCR and CTA (et al use it, to include those things that can't or shouldn't be included. As David Carlin of Our Sunday Visitor points out: "...they (reformers/dissidents) talk a lot about the importance of 'tolerance' (inclusiveness is often used as a synonym for tolerance). Properly understood, tolerance is a magnificent virtue, indispensable in a pluralistic society like our own. But it becomes quite the opposite of a virtue when it is taken as a synonym for "anything goes." " ("Where deists tread, disaster follows" David Carlin, Our Sunday Visitor; Dec. 19, 99)

        We have many visions, paintings, renderings of Jesus. Jesus on the cross, the Sacred Heart, the Infant of Prague, the laughing Jesus, etc. Each speaks to the heart through art toward a certain aspect of Christ. Savior and King, suffering and triumphant. Lonely and sad, laughing and warm. There is no ambiguity about Him, He is the Christ, the Son of God.

        McKenzie's 'Jesus' is "At first glance...a black or African-American Jesus, but (supposedly) looking more deeply you see many people in it." She went on to say that 'her' Jesus was intended to be a masculine presence, but she sought to add a feminine dimension, so she used a woman as a model. Now, I have to admit that when I first saw the painting, I thought it was a woman, hardly any 'masculine' presence at all. If anything, it is, at best, sexless. As androgynous as Saturday Night Live's Pat. So, Jesus, an historical male, is rendered as.....who knows.

        He/she is robed with a pale pink background. (No mention what, if anything, the background was to represent, but considering the color and symbol of gay activists!) In the upper left corner is the yin-yang symbol. This is interesting since the philosophy of the yin and the yang is just about totally contrary to Christian philosophy and teaching. The Yin and yang depict in symbol a 'balance.' Light and dark, male and female, strong and weak, good and evil. Christ is weak? Evil? Both man AND woman? Are we to presume Jesus was in touch with His feminine side? Again, instead of art being used to clarify, or inspire, we see it being used here to befuddle and confuse.

        A feather in the upper right corner symbolizes the American Indian spirituality, which McKenzie said she learned about during a stay in New Mexico. What is interesting about this is whether or not it is a true Indian spirituality, or rather, as one American Indian put it, "a bunch of middle aged white women making up their version of Indian spirituality."

        National Catholic Reporter and their sister organization, Call To Action, have their 'new' Jesus. But is it a true 'symbol' of Christ? Hardly. Though it has to be pointed out that their (NCR's) intention was to cause an uproar. "If everyone looks at it and says, 'Very nice,' that means we've failed. Every new work of art that has been worth anything has been controversial when it first appeared." (Michael Farrell, editor of NCR)

        The only thing 'controversial' is what 'does' this painting represent? It definitely represents the intrusion, and adherence, of Gnostic/New Age philosophy into the Christian faith. The combining of a sort of native spirituality (an eco-spirituality; the earth is god) [though the American Indian gave honor and worship to the Great Spirit, who they called Father and translates very readily into Christian spirituality]. Along with Hinduism, Taoism (yin and yang). It holds elements of a few agendas, with no 'Christian' spirituality (except the name of the piece).

        It's simply a practice in 20th century deism which sees itself as better than the 'revealed' religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. And like the 'deists' of the 18th and 19th century, instead of creating a 'new,' better and truer kind of religion, this piece acts only as a symbol of their journey from faith to complete irreligion, from faith, to agnosticism, to outright atheism.

        As for the painting itself, my hat's off to Janet McKenzie. As a piece of art, it's very well done. Had it been called "Woman in Blue" I would have said it's akin to the works of O'Keefe. (Yup, I did take a number of course in art appreciation) But to call this a symbol of a religious nature, to call it "Jesus of the People," one might expect her next work to be a concentration camp entitled "Picnic in the Grass."

        But the NCR and CTA, to quote David Carlin, do not see "themselves as the foes of decency.....they view themselves as the apostles of a better and higher morality -- hence the incredibly self-righteous tone they adopt when chastising the rest of us for our old-fashioned attachment to traditional morality." ("Where deists tread, disaster follows"; David Carlin, Our Sunday Visitor; Dec. 19, 99)

    Pax Christi, Pat

December 16, 1999       volume 10, no. 239


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