Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Freedom of Spirit



The Pope talked of it today at morning Mass.

He spoke about the risk: "Moving forward on this road is somewhat risky, but it is the only road to maturity, to leave behind the times in which we are not mature."

I don't pretend to know the Pope's mind, nor do I intend to 'teach' anyone or anything on this blog - I simply log my thoughts, sharing some of them here.  Don't put a lot of stock in what I say, listen to your teachers - the Church, the pope and the bishops.  I'm often wrong about things.

That said, the Pope's words today remind me of my learning to paint.  I never studied figure painting because I was afraid of temptations against chastity.  My temptations were so intense when I was younger, I thought maybe I was possessed.  Therefore, if I had taken a class and had to paint a nude, I probably would have ended up in a bathhouse on my way home from school.  So I avoided studies. 

Eventually, many of my paintings required that I paint nudes - so I depended upon good photography books - which also sometimes included erotic images - although not pornography, sexual acts, etc..  I worked through the physical responses my body made - ignoring impure movements. I adopted the habit of praying while I painted - not just while painting icons, but even while painting profane subjects.  (Profane: Nonreligious in subject matter, form, or use; secular: sacred and profane music.)  With the help of grace, I worked through my issues and objectification of the body.  I understood I could have studied at a wonderful Atelier after all! 

Without getting into detail - this is where I kind of, sort of, understand Christopher West and his version of Theology of the Body.  I said I understand something of his theory - I do not have the competence to enlarge upon that, nor am I qualified to.  Yet other bishops and priests seem to approve of West's work - so what can I say?   Except that I always recommend Fr. Richard Hogan's work.

To sum up, all I'm really saying here is that today's homily from the Holy Father made me think of that growth experience in my painting. 

Painting, risk and Matthew Shepard and...

I once did a painting around that period which I titled Matthew Shepherd.  Not a few commenters on my art blog expressed disdain for it, as well as the fact I would dare paint him with a halo.  It's unfortunate they misunderstood the image, although it demonstrates why I'm not a successful artist - if I can't convey an  simple idea understandably - I'm not very good.

 I originally intended the figure to be another St. Sebastian.  While painting the piece - which in fact is more or less simply a study, I received news of an art show.  The curator of the gallery knew of my work and asked me to show what I had in a group show, which also happened to be the inaugural show of his new gallery.  I abandoned work on Sebastian, and decided to call the unfinished piece Matthew Shepherd - because he was in the news at the time and the figure's face and hair reminded me of the man - and the figure in its unfinished state, appeared a little 'scorched'.  I left the halo to suggest the goodness of all men, made in the image and likeness of God - I was not 'canonizing' the poor man. 

I wanted the figure to be viewed as a human being, tied to a fence, left by the roadside, beaten, stripped by robbers - hoping the viewer might recall the parable of the Good Samaritan.  In one sense, the politicization of the murder of Matthew Shepherd caused many passers by to look the other way, some even condemning the victim.  No one stopped to help him, to nurse him, to save him - rather they exploited him for their own agendas - and continue to do so today.  Hence the painting isn't really of Matthew at all, but a roadside casualty of violence: a victim of robbery and exploitation; and worse, in death, a victim of political agenda, as well as fear and anger - culminating in hate.

Obviously, this post took a different turn from what I intended. 

A friend has been posting on the recent violence against gay men in NYC.  I'm not aware that violence is spreading against gays around the country - in fact I assumed it was no longer much of an issue, but evidently in NY there has been an increase of attacks and beatings.  In the past week 3 gay men have been attacked, I think a couple of weeks ago, a couple of others were attacked as well.  Stories here and here.

Is it significant?  It is Gay Pride Month after all - even the gay publications point that out, warning gay people to be aware of those who really do hate gay people, may be out to bash - despite the fact that they can be prosecuted for a hate crime.

My friend, whom I respect, asked why Cardinal Dolan hasn't spoken out.   

The question wouldn't have occurred to me.  In Manhattan I think there are many beatings of a whole range of individuals every week.  I don't know the crime statistics - but I'm sure they are rather high.  I'm not excusing it - I'm just saying.  For instance, a couple of weeks ago in Minneapolis, 2 male joggers were attacked and beaten by 6 Somali men.  The men weren't gay - they were white.  Archbishop Nienstedt never mentioned it.  I'm not sure it is the local ordinary's job to speak out every time there is a possible hate crime, although in NYC, law enforcement and the Mayor have done so in the cases involving gay men.  Perhaps the Cardinal will say something eventually.  I totally understand my friend's frustration however - I feel badly that men are attacked by other men out of hatred for who or what they are.  It is occurring by the thousands to Christians throughout the world.

As for gay bashing - the Church really does condemn it already.

I often refer to the CDF Letter to Bishops on the subject.  It strikes me as an interesting combination of condemnation, as well as what I would term 'prophecy'.
10. It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. 
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase. - CDF Letter
The Church absolutely condemns irrational and violent reactions against homosexual persons.
7. “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. 
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase”   - CDF Considerations
Pray for God's peace, for God's way of holiness, to seek first His kingdom.  Love one another, do good to one another.
"The law of the Spirit makes us free! This freedom frightens us a little, because we are afraid we will confuse the freedom of the Spirit with human freedom. " - Pope Francis, Homily, 6/12/13
My apologies to my friend Thom if this seems less than supportive, it isn't intended to be.

If I offend any of the readers, please accept my apologies and pray for me.

1 comment:

  1. Not at all, Terry. I always respect your perspective.

    ReplyDelete

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