28 September 2010

Another Rorschach Test

This painting is called "One Nation Under God", by Jon McNaughton (click here for a greatly enlarged image, and the artist's own take on the work).  It depicts Jesus Christ with the U.S. Constitution, surrounded by various hagiographic depictions of historical American figures.  The huddled masses, as it were, seem to be in awe of the document itself.

What do you think?  It seems pretty creepy to me.  Just as I would not limit Our Lord to be a super-duper Karl Marx, as the liberation theologians would have it, so I would not limit Him to be a front-man for the Constitution.  This is without regard to what the Constitution is or is not.  It strikes me, too, to have a sort of "Mormon" quality to the depiction of Christ.  You know, like you see in the less-good examples of their literature--"here Jesus is distributing communion to the native Americans who were really the lost tribe of Israel, etc."  And, finally, what kind of traditional Catholic would I be if I didn't admit to a certain level of discomfort with Christ surrounded by such a fawning representation of known Freemasons, freemasonic symbols, and a secular document drafted in large part by Freemasons.

Your thoughts in the combox.  Am I crazy?  Strike that question; I know the answer.  What do you think about the painting?

15 comments:

athanasius_magnus said...

Well I'm surprised you didn't say it, but Lincoln certainly doesn't belong anywhere near Christ.

Andy said...

Agreed Athanasius, nor Jefferson et al.

It is, in fact, a very creepy picture.

ATW said...

Creepy is right.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't have too many issues with this artist's work, though it irritates some of my Traditional sensibilities just like this picture did in the 1980s.

Now, what is more interesting is this artist's depiction of our current administration in his work 'The Forgotton Man'. Though it suffers from the same questionable character descriptions, and though out of the scope of this blog post, it (at least visually) more starkly represents the realities of our present age. The artist captures a moment of extraordinary poignancy.

HSDAD

X said...

The one thing I agree with is that the guy on the cell phone is going to Hell.

Anonymous said...

I find it ironic that a document that never mentions Christ or the Blessed Trinity - and was written by Deist - could somehow be intimately associated with the King of kings.

JJR

Peggy said...

Creepy. This "God-and-country" evangelical view is quite off kilter at times.

Titus said...

One could have made a similar piece of art without it devolving into quite so much silliness. It's easy as an orthodox, and especially a traditional, Catholic, to get rather down on the Unite States---there's a bit to be down about, really. But the Constitution is a remarkably good governing document, especially for a country inhabited by Christians (it has shown some limitations in the face of more robust pluralism). Furthermore, the peace, liberty, and prosperity enjoyed by the great majority of Americans, and particularly by the vast masses of Catholic immigrants, should properly be viewed as the blessings of Providence.

Of course, none of that is to say that any of the individual framers or presidents were themselves models of Christian virtue. Nor does it imply that the policies of the federal government in any age have been, ipso facto, the manifestation of the Divine will. The painting seems to imply both.

But those facts don't themselves make it inappropriate to recognize the blessings that have been bestowed on our land, or to pray that it continue to be protected. I have seen numerous murals, often in older immigrant parishes, of the United States or some city therein shielded by Our Lady's mantle. That, it seems, is the appropriate Catholic patriotic iconography of which we can approve.

Anonymous said...

Ok, there is a very 'Mormon' quality about the piece ... replace Christ with Moroni, horn in one hand, Constitution in the other, and you might have something suitable for framing in any Freemason home.

That aside, I think McNaughton knows that from a purely artistic standpoint, this style of painting will effectively carry the intended message; that we've 'lost our way' as a people. His message might have been more strongly and accurately illustrated though, while at the same time placing everything in its proper order. Rather than Christ holding up and pointing to our Constitution, perhaps Him seated on His throne in majesty with the founding fathers and 'us' kneeling on the steps before him would be a good start. A penitential nation with one heart and a common plea for the restoration of all things to Him who has blessed our Country.

HSDAD

Badger Catholic said...

It's Mormon, recently we discussed this over at The Crescat blog. http://thecrescat.blogspot.com/2010/04/thank-you-kind-readers.html Some others there were familiar with the artist.

I like Vincenzo's version better.
http://i43.tinypic.com/153pchd.jpg

Anonymous said...

TheTimman
I agree with your comments exactly. Why do Americans as distinct from citizens of other democracies/ elected oligarchies feel the need to se anything divine in the American Constitution.
It is recognised in catholic teahing that in countries where Catholicism is a minority religious tolerance should be practied. The Church should have freedom to act and spread its teaching. The Stae has the right to critique and limit religious practice based upon civil harmony. Islam for example would and could be banned as its practice threatens civil harmony through violence. There are limits to religious tolerance.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Christ is saying "You have betrayed me by worshiping this paper instead of me?" "What is this?"

Anonymous said...

SURREAL....
absolutely surreal.



But then, again....

there's THIS blogsite...




-cdg

Latinmassgirl said...

I may be the only commentor who bothered to read what the artist meant by the painting. I think that one can conjecture all they want, but there is nothing like hearing what the symbolism stands for by the artist himself!

He is lucky that his painting is bringing about so much talk from people, both positive and negative. Most artists' paintings are hardly viewed until they are dead!

Peggy said...

When I hear/read Rohrshach:

"Ooh, Ooh! Pick me Mr. Kotter!"

Then when I read the word "oratory" here, it rhymes with an old Little Rascals chant of boys eagerly awaiting the girlie dancers in one of their shows.

"We want the Flory Dories." (Oratory-->Flory Dory)

Yes, I see my brain malfunctions extensively.