Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Coo Coo for Cocoa Christ

Remember how upset we enlightened westerns were when the Islamic world erupted in outrage over cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him? How could they get so apoplectic over an image? How could they not understand the centrality of freedom of speech to democracy, and the centrality of democracy to everything we believe to be holy? They must be so medieval; so backward; so frightened of freedom as to be unredeemable.

Lucky for us we live in the heart of Christendom where such madness could never hold sway. Unless of course you happen to sculpt a nude chocolate image of Christ crucified.

This exactly what Cosimo Cavallaro, and Italian-American artist in Manhattan did, and the response was, well positively medieval. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called it “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.” Cavallaro and his wife began receiving death threats—not from irate Muslims, but from, can it be, God fearing Christians. Yes the followers of the God of Love and Prince of Peace plot to murder the Willy Wanka of Christian iconography.

Can you imagine Sam Harris, one of America’s leading atheists, threatening to kill someone for making a chocolate nude of Marilyn Murray O’Hare? Religion is the breeding ground for violent nut jobs. If Christians demand moderate Muslims decry the madness of their fanatic co-religionists, I think it is only fair that Catholics come out and disavow the dark (chocolate) fantasies of Bill Donohue, and Protestants disavow any connection with or support for the chocophobes in their midst.

Personally I like the idea of a chocolate Jesus. It certainly makes the idea of eating his body far more palatable to me. Imagine a new faith with a communion of chocolate body and hot chocolate blood.

The fact is some 15 years ago or so, I wrote a novel, never published, entitled “Play Kaddish For Me” in which the hero, a psycho-P.I., battled a bishop of a new brand of Christianity that did in fact eat chocolate Jesuses at its communions. Actually, every believer who died was turned into chocolate and eaten by loved ones at her or his funeral.

Like I said, the novel never left my computer, so the Catholic League never tracked me down, and Protestant hit squads left me alone. I always hoped to publish the story some day, but after reading about Cavallaro’s experience I will reconsider. I might be willing to die for my faith, but I have no desire to die for someone else’s.

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