Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Chocolate Christ

A naked chocolate man might be received differently if it were a sculpture of a movie celebrity accustomed to being regularly stripped by the media.

However, the Catholic church recently grew incensed when a nude, life-sized sculpture of Jesus Christ (made completely of milk chocolate) was put on display in Manhattan. Titled "My Sweet Lord," the sculpture was created by the notorious artist Cosimo Cavallaro, who is known for using foodstuffs to create what is believed to be art.

Perhaps if Cavallaro had supplied the sculpture with a loin cloth, this controversy wouldn't have happened. However, Mark 15:24 makes it very clear that Jesus Christ WAS crucified naked. If Cavallaro intended to create shock, he certainly did. However, he also (intentionally or unintentionally) was very accurate in his depiction.

As a born-again Christian, I had no objection to this sculpture since, for one thing, we have no earthly idea what Jesus Christ looked like. And, Jesus Christ has been depicted nude before.

Leo Steinberg, author of "The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and In Modern Oblivion", names numerous nude depictions of Jesus Christ both as a child and a full-grown man. He believes these representations were made to drive home both the humanity and vulnerability of Jesus Christ, since his divinity had already been established by medieval times.

Michelangelo's lesser-known sculpture and drawing of "The Risen Christ" show a triumphant Jesus Christ, arms outstretched upwards and completely naked. This is a compelling presentation full of joy and celebration of life. The Catholic Church did not object strenuously THEN. In fact, the sculpture still resides in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva and Michelangelo went on to be commissioned to do the Sistine Chapel and numerous other works for the Catholic Church.

Apparently the real problem with "My Sweet Lord" seems to stem from the medium involved. If it had been sculpted of marble, it would be hailed as a masterpiece. But the milk chocolate (and the obvious pun in the title of the piece) seems to have created a bittersweet taste in the mouths of the viewers. This is a pity, since the actual sculpture is beautifully executed.

Shockingly, people who are supposedly followers of Jesus Christ have made death threats to the artist. The same Jesus Christ who healed the ear of one of his enemies (Luke 22:50-51) would not condone such behavior.

This is the Easter season, when thoughts turn to both Jesus Christ's resurrection and chocolate bunnies. Cavallaro combined the two into a work of art. We are a nation of chocoholics: Why not combine our almost sacred worship of the confection with a sacred moment in history?

We should merely be glad that Cavallaro didn't use jellybeans.


The Lazy Iguana said...

You know how it is. There are those who look for things to offend them. They flock to stuff that offends them. They can not get enough of it.

Teletubbies on the TV. Chocolate Jesus sculptures. Elmo. Bert and Ernie living together in Sesame Street. Bowling on Sunday. The entire city of Key West. And so on. They seek these things out so that they can get offended and then bitch about it to anyone who will listen. And of course there is this "liberal media" who is never very far away and always willing to give these people as much free air time as they want.

So here is what I want to know. Would it be less offensive if the artist used white chocolate?

If something offends me, I do not look at it. Or listen to it. I pretty much ignore it - to the best of my ability. A sculpture is very easy to ignore. It just sits there, unable to move, speak, or form a parade.

The death threats are great. Some "Christian" values there huh?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Lazy, the death threats are so pitiful. I wonder if the threateners actually deceive themselves into believing they're better than the Muslims who do the same thing?

Do you really think white chocolate would've made a difference? I'd surely like to hope not. But, you could be right (even though Jesus was Jewish and farrrr from white).

You're right: The "liberal" media has certainly given them a lot of press over this.

Aunt Jo said...

I love chocolate and I love Jesus, but I just don't think I could eat a chocolate Saviour! I would smell him though.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Aunti Jo, I admit, I don't know if I could nibble on a chocolate Saviour either. But if they melt him down and sell the chocolate in candybar form, I wouldn't mind. Funny how that is, isn't it?

Matt said...


Was the chocolate Jesus hollow or solid in the center?

'Cause the hollow ones were always the worst gyp, never mind the symbolism. :)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Matt, an excellent question! I don't know, but I would vastly prefer a solid one. And if we are registering preferences, I rather have dark chocolate...

And, of course, as you point out: The symbolism is important. If it were discovered that the sculpture was hollow, we'd probably have another "scandal" on our hands.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Well lets see here. Would I eat a chocolate Jesus. I say why not! The "Lord's Supper" ritual is done all the time. This is my body, this is my blood. Except the body is a stale cracker and the blood is grape juice or wine depending on if you are Baptist or not.

But a chocolate Jesus would add a whole new level to this! You could break off some of the Jesus chocolate sculpture and do away with the stale cracker.

I think the white chocolate VS milk chocolate would make a difference to those who are "very offended" - even if they do not realize it. Face it, the real Jesus did not look like the picture of the guy hanging in "white" churches. And yes, in black churches they DO have a black Jesus.

Now I do not know if the real Jesus looked like Al Sharpton, but I know he was not blue eyed, did not have straight well managed hair, and did not have fair skin. Do they have "olive chocolate"? You know lighter than milk chocolate but darker than white chocolate? It would probably be very good!

Senor Caiman said...


I love robin eggs.

Go Gators.

daveawayfromhome said...

I've been reading Andrew Sullivan's book on the Conservative Party (and its hijacking by fundamentalists), and he lays it out pretty well. To a Fundie, there is only one truth, and anything that deviates from it is evil, anything that threatens it is evil, anything that mocks it is evil, anything that even questions it is evil. Once you've labelled something as evil, it's sometimes a short trip to destroying that evil, hence death threats.

Incidentally, religion is not necessary to be a fundamentalist, but it sure helps.

daveawayfromhome said...

By the way, I'd say it was obvious that Jesus has a filling at least partially made up of nuts.

Cranky Yankee said...

Jesus would have loved it,

On the night he was betrayed, he took bread and gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you.

When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

If Jesus didn't have bread at the last supper and only had chocolate we would celebrate the Eucharist with chocolate to this day.

Some of you non-catholics won't know what I'm talking about.

BOTOH - I think this is another "penis" issue.

~Deb said...

In all honesty? I think the sculpture is brilliant! “My Sweet Jesus”. In my view, the artist didn’t disrespect Jesus in any way.

That’s true, we really don’t know what Jesus truly looked like, but in theory, He from from Israel and supposedly had traits of those who were Jewish----dark thick curly hair, a thick black beard and big almond-shaped eyes with darker skin, due to the region. On a show I saw on the History channel, it said that Jesus’ eyes were not likely to be blue, or green as we see in many photos of Him.

Anyway, back to the sculpture. I personally felt it was a tribute, rather than a mockery.

Also, if we eat the flesh of Jesus (bread), and drink the wine of Jesus (wine), then why not chocolate? :)

And how lovely that our 'so-called Christians' are making death threats!

Saur♥Kraut said...

Deb, dittos, all the way. ;o)

Cranky & Lazy, If I had to guess, I'd guess that Jesus probably wouldn't have cared whether we broke bread or chocolate, since he only asked that we do it in remembrance of him. There IS a part in the Bible later, where Christians are warned not to turn the remembrance into a party (apparently they were using it as an excuse to really carouse). As long as they're not losing sight of the meaning behind it, there's no big deal. It's a ceremony of symbolism.

Cranky, ultimately is IS a penis issue, along with the fact that the medium is not a classic one (chocolate! Gasp!) Hmmm, I seem to be dwelling on penises lately. Today I'm dwelling on diseases, but we can always tackle penile dysfunction! ;o)

Daveawayfromhome, Well, Jesus may not be nuts (he was a very cool guy), but some of his followers certainly are. Of course, the same could be said for other religions, too.

There's another great book called "It's My Party Too," by Christine Todd Whitman. It also speaks of the hijacking of the Republican party. And I would have to argue that you really have to be religious to be a fundie. It's religion (not spirituality) that creates the frothing-at-the-mouth fervor in fundies. There's nothing else that can induce this type of passion (with the exception of Hitler, I suppose). Of course it needs to be pointed out that although all fundies are religious, not all religious people are fundies.

Senor, Robin eggs were good. Remember those horrid-but-mesmerizingly-yummy marshmallow monstrosities that were coated in some sort of candy shell?

Lazy, Exactly! Incidentally, I object mildly to Jesus being portrayed as black, just as I object to him being portrayed as white. And the Bible says that he wasn't good looking (and he couldn't have been effeminate) so I picture an unnattractive, muscular Jewish man. I'd like to see THAT picture on display in churches. I guess no one wants to deal with reality.