... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

348: Mmm, Catholicism.

Long have I held a desire to own a small piece of Catholic tat. Stewart Lee, in one of his stand-up acts, speaks of lolly-pops bearing the image of Pope John Paul II's face. He asks the question whether sales of such a lolly went up or down immediately following the death of that particular minister of Christ. Did devote Catholics think that the best way to commemorate the death of Pope John Paul II would be to suck a sugar effigy of his face, or did they think that would be in poor taste. He goes on to state (one of my favourite quotes), don't get me wrong I love Catholicism; It's my favourite form of clandestine global evil.

Unusual Catholic tat is awash in the seaside markets and souvenire shops of southern Spain. Mostly it takes the form of ceramic tiles bearing the image of the sacred heart, that grotesque bleeding heart pinned to breast of Christ's robes. Occassionally you'll find an especially precious tile where Jesus is so disfigured he seems to be being portrayed as a zombie. Although carrying a wooden cross to his death after a life of poverty he, and his crucifix, are heavily emblazoned with gold and precious stones.

I am still yet to purchase one of these tiles, worried as I am about damage in transit home, but I have got myself a small pocketsized wooden triptych. The wood is light in weight and colour, basically carved on the outside, and feels easily snappable in the fingers. The hinges are flimsy and the three painted panels inside are slightly chipped and worn. I chose it over all the other undamaged ones because of a certain extra special something in the quality of the artwork.

The middle panel is of the virgin Mary holding in her arms the weird adult-shaped baby Jesus. The background is gold but with weather-worn patches spotted about, and the figures are of an unusual light-blue hue. Other triptyches bore the same image, but with much more vibrant shiny colouring to the figures ; I prefer the subdued tint. The left image is of a southern European man with a beard, presumably Jesus, holding a book in his left hand and contorting his right hand into what I think of as Buddha-fingers. The right panel is of an older beardy man, maybe Saint Paul or some shit, holding a thingumyjig in his right hand.

It's going to sit somewhere on a bookshelf in the office at home ; when choosing my first piece of Catholic tat I felt it was important to get one with a book depicted somewhere. Some had no book, and some showed a book closed. On this the book is wide open and the text clearly displayed (although it's in Greek, or some shit).

When you close the triptych, it looks a bit like a biscuit.

Want to worship this guy?  Weirdo.


Anonymous said...

You know, there is so much beautiful symbolism and rich, textured theology portrayed in this sort of ancient art. Frankly, it is a shame that you took the opportunity to mock it rather than to appreciate it. I know that making fun of religion, especially Catholicism, is the "cool" thing to do but, it is just about as worn out and old as you can get, not to mention incredibly rude. If you simply took the time to actually do some research into the church (and I mean actual research from what they teach, not from outside sources) you would find a lot of rich history, awe-inspiring art, beautiful theology, deeply moving music and a long line of gorgeous souls that have sprang forth from the midst Catholicism.

Kevin Bradshaw said...

Hi Jared,

Thanks for your comment. I couldn't agree more with your views on the fascinating rich history, wonderful art, and uplifting gorgeous music; these points are self-evident.

It may-be "cool" to mock the Catholic church, but "worn out and old"? Surely that is a better description of the church itself.

This particular post was on one aspect of the Catholic church and that is its love of weird fairground tat and gaudy piles of gold. It was not intended to reduce everything about the church down to a few hundred words.

I'm sorry you consider my views to be rude, but to be honest the church is big enough and strong enough that my pointless little blog is unlikely to make a dent!