Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Monday, March 21, 2005

You're invited to our last supper, but we make no promise you won't be offended 

the ad

Commercial art from Marthé + François Girbaud. You can click on the image to get a bigger version. I'll point out why it's much more that a bunch of skinny women posing as characters in Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, but in a later post. It doesn't seem to be done surprising me yet.

One thing is for sure - none of the authors of the many articles and weblog entries I've seen about it have written about it as a work of art in itself - if they've even noticed anything beyond, "Wow, but look! One of them is a dude!". I'd whip their butts if they dared meet me in a game of Parker Brothers Masterpiece ®.

Here's why people are writing about the ad. The governments of the city of Milan and the entire nation of France have banned the ad. They figure they're the guardians of weak-kneed French and Milanese Roman Catholics and are bestowing upon them the right not to have delicate religious sensibilities offended. Roman Catholic Bishops brought the suit against the clothing designer and the Inquisitors found it appropriate to prevent parodying of the sacred work of a Fifteenth Century genius in such a manner is unacceptable. I wish this was a joke, but it's not.

It seems to me if a government is going to consider da Vinci's Fifteenth Century The Last Supper "sacred" and that it has the duty to protect it's sanctity, it seems to me the governments might also do well to order the litigious liturgy men to canonize The Revelations of Dante and John Milton. That way they'd at least be able to claim their beliefs in purgatory, the Trinity, and Satan as a fallen angel are in some direct manner biblical. Just in case a court has to rule on any of those matters.

This isn't the first time and won't be the last time I quote James Madison on the importance of keeping religious and governmental affairs separate. In 1785, Madison wrote that for government to lend aid to religion,

... is moreover to weaken in those who profess this Religion a pious confidence in its innate excellence and the patronage of its Author; and to foster in those who still reject it, a suspicion that its friends are too conscious of its fallacies to trust it to its own merits.

Of any two authorities, one must be higher. Here we have governments of men and whatever one believes to be the supreme ruling Force in the Universe. When someone runs to a government of men for aid and protection of what they claim to be the Ultimate Power, it gives an indication of the extent of "ultimate power" is actually wielded by the allegedly ultimate Force. It doesn't matter if you call it Yahweh, Reason, God, or Science - if it's the ultimate power and truth, it ought to stand fine without defense from old geezers pounding gavels in powdered wigs. Some people just don't get that.

A lawyer for the plaintiff pontiffs in the "save the sacred painting" crusade huffed,

When you trivialise the founding acts of a religion, when you touch on sacred things, you create an unbearable moral violence which is a danger to our children. Tomorrow Christ on the cross will be selling socks.

Good grief. Did I hear someone wonder aloud about Christ on the cross selling socks? Granted, this was misguided maneuvering by a couple of throwbacks, and we have our equivalent of the on this side of the Pond. But their sanctimonious screeching does seem to give at least a sliver of credence to an "Old Europe" label. Most of us in the Western world have progressed through an Enlightenment since Leonardo created his masterpiece. And a few additional ages afterwards.

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