Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping Abreast of the Virgin

The Mexican edition of Playboy Magazine sought to honor the Virgin Mary by placing her on the cover of their December issue dressed only in what looked like a white tallit (Jewish prayer shawl). I know what you're thinking: Where did Rami get a copy of the December issue of the Mexican edition of Playboy? Who says illegal immigrants aren't good for America? Anyway many Mexican Christians were offended, and, to tell you the truth, so was I. Jewish women in Mary’s day didn’t wear prayer shawls and I resent Playboy for in any way covering up the nude body of Maria Florencia Onori, the model who posed as Mary for the cover of the magazine.

To investigate more deeply into this sacrilege, I spent a few hours on line trying to find fully nude photographs of Ms. Onori. Unfortunately, I couldn't find even one; but I did find lots of nude paintings of the Virgin Mary herself. No not full frontal nudes, but beautiful paintings dating from the Renaissance. Almost all of these were of the Virgin nursing her Son. Interestingly enough, where Playboy hid the Mother’s left nipple behind the tallit, these earlier artists had no fear of displaying her breast (albeit her right breast) nipple and all. One authority (OK, me) suggested this was the actual origin of Jesus' teaching about cheeks: If they suckle on the right breast, turn the other breast also.

At first I thought these paintings merely captured a wardrobe malfunction ala Janet Jackson, but upon further research I discovered that the reason the Virgin was shown with an exposed breast was to highlight the fact that God, who, in the form of baby Jesus, was about to suckle that breast, had truly become flesh.

It turns out that Playboy is far more in tune with current Vatican thinking about the breast of the Holy Mother than are the people of Mexico. According to the official newspaper of the Vatican (Officiali Newspapori Vaticani or something like that), the Vatican has called for the ending of a four centuries-long cover-up of the holy Breast and Nipple instigated by, at least in the Church’s view, prudish Protestants. Oddly enough The Breast and Nipple is a favorite pub of many Protestant Brits. (See how much you learn from this blog; too bad much of it is made up.)

It seems that with the emergence of Calvinism in the 16th century sex was considered a sin (or at least it was in the case of Calvin's parents), and showing the breast and nipple of the Mother of God was considered immodest and shameful. While never embracing Calvinism per se, many Catholics in France, Ireland, and northern Europe adopted the no-nipple philosophy of the Reformed Church, even as the Church in Rome resisted it. My own suspicion, though I have absolutely no evidence to prove it, is that Calvin’s mother breastfed him throughout his teenage years and always under the cover of a cloth. Since I also have no evidence to disprove my suspicion, I am sharing it with you here as if it were fact.

Anyway, the Church is moving toward a revival of a bare-breasted nursing Mary and I think the Catholics of Mexico ought to be grateful to Playboy for adhering to the Vatican’s desire. I know I am.


Karen said...

Your take on world events and happenings - whether fact or fiction -- is much more entertaining and enlightening than news magazines, newspapers, newscasts, and talk radio -- all of which could be fact or fiction as well!

Do you think the Mexican Playboy's depiction of the Virgin Mary would have played better on the front of Vogue? They've had other nude, pregnant (or not pregnant) celebrities "tastefully" grace their cover!

Rabbi Rami said...

Thanks for the kudos, Karen, and, yes, Vogue would do nicely. I think reprising Demi Moore as a very pregnant Mary would be eye catching.