(Click on the logo to return to the main blog.)

Hey Fellow Christians: They Kick Us 'Cause They Know They Can

In the the Corner, Jonah Goldberg links to an art commentary piece by Emily Hall. The gist of it is that an art show removed a work that might be offensive to Muslims and, thus, dangerous to the show's host. This passage jumped out and smacked me right in my prayer-saying lips (emphasis in original):

On the other hand, the art world (correctly) went to the wall to defend Andres Serrano's photograph of a cross floating in his own urine, which offended devout Catholics. So why is it somehow all right to offend Catholics and not Muslims? It's a question of relative fear, of the (perceived or real) difference between facing an angry Catholic activist and an angry Muslim one. "Christians can take it," [Roq la Rue owner Kirsten Anderson] said.

Yeah, you brave truthsayers of the art world! Cowards, hypocrites, and posturers, really. I would not suggest that Christians belittle and deny their own faith in order to up the ante for those who would insult it, but I do think such spinelessness ought to be revealed and condemned in the strongest terms. Imagine: insulting — often with insinuations of intolerance — only those whom they know will allow them to get away with it! These people are no better than scrawny punks who beat on innocents whom they know will not strike back.

But then, there's a whole lot of that among that set, peaceniks and "brave dissenters." I often wonder whether they know that they are full of it, and I'm still not sure even as they admit as much. In the case of artists, they reveal that they seek only to offend, still searching for that negative attention from mommy... and still not receiving it from God.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 10:35 AM EST


"they seek only to offend"

But, Justin, what's left for artists to do? If it doesn't offend, it isn't art. The National
Socialists and the Stalinists both condemned focus on formal and aesthetic issues as elitist, bourgeois and exclusive. We are still fighting the battles of the 1910's and 20's.

Perhaps one reason Christianity is expendable to the artmind is that it is not utopian. It distinguishes between the Kingdom and the here and now. Artminds insist on seeing art as an agent of progress, justice and enlightenment. Islam, on the other hand, fits right in to a utopian agenda with its drive for jihad. What is an infidel but another bourgeois Christian?

Maureen Mullarkey @ 01/17/2003 10:54 AM EST


You raise an interesting point about utopianism, although I don't know if I quite buy it. I don't think artists generally want utopia; what then would there be to "rebel" against? I think it would be closer to the truth to say that the "artmind" depends entirely on Christian principles. Perhaps some subconscious knowledge of this drives the bitterness.

Your point regarding socialism and art reminded me of the 1999 movie Cradle Will Rock in two respects. (Tim Robbins is among those wacky celebs whom I would have a lot of trouble giving up if I went into full idiot-boycott mode.) It's set during the Depression, and toward the end, the rich folks (e.g., the Rockefellers) sit around discussing how they can use their financial clout to take the meaning and power out of art (essentially by funding and praising abstract garbage). I said two points: Given his politics, it seems, somehow, that Tim Robbins didn't make the connection to which his movie's plot leads: the marriage of elitism with socialism with high-minded artsyness, as consumated in the modern leftist movement.

Justin Katz @ 01/17/2003 06:11 PM EST