Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Mock" Anger?

This appeared yesterday on Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish:

It's a little hard to tell from the photo, but it's a representation of President Barack Obama as a clasically rendered saint, on a ten-inch tall votive candle. This one was spotted in the San Francisco store Just For Fun.

Naturally, the candle has some people upset. According to Sullivan, it has "angered members of the St. Philip the Apostle Church who see the candle as mocking Jesus."

I'm sure that once word spreads, many more people will be angered, too.

I'm thinking of being angered myself, just because I realize I haven't been angered by anything inconsequential in a great many days.

However, reason must prevail. As I said to my pal Jerry, who brought the item to my attention in the first place, how does this mock Jesus? As a cradle Catholic, I see immediately that it draws from the traditional, even classic portrayal of saints as depicted on countless prayer cards, in countless books, on countless walls and windows in countless older churches...but saints, mind, not Jesus. I have never seen Jesus depicted in such garb; it's usually white, or, if depicting the resurrected Jesus, white with some other "pure" color--gold, a pale blue, a kind of salmon color, even purple. Never brown or black, whichever it is on the candle jar.

Nor is Jesus, in my experience, depicted holding a crucifix. The closest to that that I can think of are representations of Jesus holding the orb, representing the world, atop which is often a small cross. Although of course in the Stations of the Cross he is shown carrying the cross.

You might, if you felt the need to feel outrage, say that the candle mocks...what? Saints? Not all of them, surely, nor any particular one. If anything, it seems to mock a style of art.

Hardly much to get worked up about, yes?

So what is it about the good parishioners of St. Philip the Apostle Church? Does their church just happen to be nearby? Has it been awhile since the last dust-up and this is the best they can come up with on short notice?

Or Perhaps they have just never taken to heart the ancient wisdom: Choose your battles.

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