We are getting ready to go to England and I'm hoping to see a lot of churches as church architecture is a love of mine.
I was studying a catalog about Durham Cathedral, since we hope to visit there, and this painting made me laugh out loud.
Amid all the glory to God in this 1,000 year old cathedral is this editorial cartoon above of St. Margaret of Scotland and her son David. This painting is actually so repulsive that I couldn't find a picture of it online and I had to scan it from the brochure. Sure there must be one online, but it wasn't easy to find. As you see, it depicts St. Margaret of Scotland as an insane, sadistic schoolmarm and her son, David, as a sort of gizmo character. Give him water and he will kill.
One other point, St. Margaret the malevolent schoolmarm also has her feet covered. In classic Catholic symbolism this is the sign of a demon. Saints, on the other hand, are always portrayed with uncovered bare feet, in part so that the faithful may kiss them. In other part so that the superstitious may see they are not, in fact, cloven hooves. In this case, I think the hooves are there. Odd that gizmo has one bare foot showing. Maybe he is half a Christian.
Given the direction of the Anglican church these days (even the Archbishop isn't a Christian), it isn't really surprising that they actually put the painting in the church. Personally I think it was probably done to deliberately enrage the congregation and I suspect it did its work. The local priestess, pictured at right in her jaunty teardrop earrings and roman collar, is still trying to sell the painting, though I note her homily promoting it was given April 1, fool's day.
I'm just guessing that the handful of remaining Christians hate the thing. The local bishop characterizes the painting as 'not comfortable' but he claims it fits perfectly into the space. That sends me into gales of laughter halted only by the shocking thought that this is what the bishop of Durham thinks of one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.
Of course, I don't have to tell anyone that this is contemporary art -- 2002 by Portuguese painter Paula Rego.
I have a theory, maybe some of you might be interested in, but probably not, who knows. It is simply this: Church architecture -- and art-- post 1955 ALWAYS portrays Christians and Christianity as evil. In every facet of Christian building and art, artists portray Christianity as evil with confusion, criminality, hopelessness, or outright malevolence. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes not.
For your examination, some evidence:OLD SPARKY
The most obvious case, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in which the bishop's chair is designed to look just like an electric chair:
Compare it to the Florida electric chair:
Eerie. A few armstraps and a little juice and we could send Cardinal Mahoney to his eternal reward. Oops. Sorry.
The Cathedral itself is built not so much as a testimony to God as a sound bite. Unlike all the great cathedrals of the world, this one you can sum up in one photo:
Isn't it kind of, really, just hilarious that Los Angeles has a cathedral that appears to be sided in aluminum? It has lots of edges, but only one dimension. Perfect for LA, really. Inside it looks like a airport terminal, some say bus station, but I think bus stations are often pretty:
The shot below of the nave makes the place look like a television studio:
Finally, this statue of Mary (Our Lady of Angels) is situated so that you can look up her dress as you walk in the cathedral. Thank God, the depiction isn't too literal. But the thing that leaps out at me is the architectural rendering of 'walking the plank.' She looks as if she is about to be sacrificed to the volcano gods. Strikes me as somewhat deliberate that virtually every part of this cathedral whispers 'pagan sacrifice.'
The statue caused a lot of controversy since Mary appears in a semi-protestant position, hands open and arms out but not as lifted as the protestant prayer stance so that Mary seems to be expressing hopelessness, not prayer. In addition her head is not covered, a immodest depiction of a Jewish girl that, in this case, makes her look strikingly like a dyke with a dress on.