Still Looking

Outdoor Easter decorations
Outdoor Easter decorations

Our morning walk took us past these Easter decorations. Easter, originally a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has been suplanted by a pagan celebration of spring. Not complaining, it is more fitting, just too cute. It is why Pope John Paul II tacked a 15th station of the cross onto the Passion Play. A happy but implausible ending. I prefer the gospel of Thomas (no miracles please). I was born on the feast day of St. Paul of the Cross (Italian mystic and founder of the Passionists), named after him. Father Shannon brought home a relic of St. Paul for me when he was in Italy, a tiny carbon piece in a plastic case, and I still get my feathers ruffled when people mess with the all too human story.

My brother, who converted to Judaism, was up here over Christmas and we were talking about the way we used to celebrate Christmas. He and his wife have been to Jerusalem and he was trying to remember why it was that Jesus was supposed to have been born there. His family was traveling there to pay their taxes.

All nonsense. When he returned home he did some research and sent up a link to a 2010 New Yorker piece by Adam Gopnikis. “The intractable complexities of fact produce the inevitable ambiguities of faith.” Gopnikis sifted through what historians do agree on. “All the Gospels were written decades after Jesus’ death; all were written in Greek, which Jesus and the apostles didn’t speak and couldn’t write (if they could read and write at all); and they were written as testaments of faith, not chronicles of biography, shaped to fit a prophecy rather than report a profile.”

In 1999 I entered an early version of Passion Play in the Rochester Finger Lakes exhibition and they won both The Averill Council of the Memorial Art Gallery Award and the Harris Popular Vote Award. Ron Netsky, reviewing the show in a City Newspaper wrote: “One of the largest works in the show is Paul Dodd’s Passion Play, consisting of 14 digital ink-jet prints. There are a lot of recognizable images here, mostly convicted or accused killers: the Unibomber, Timothy McVeigh, O.J. Simpson. They are mixed in with popular icons like McDonald’s golden arches and images of Father Callan and Corpus Christi Church. But none of it adds up to much. Reading the artist’s statement makes the work even more muddled: “I read the New Testament accounts and then looked for a modern-day Christ figure”: O.J? McVeigh? I think Dodd could have looked harder.” I agree, it was muddled – “the inevitable ambiguities of faith,” and it would be more muddled today.

In his “The Church of Trump: How He’s Infusing Christianity Into His Movement” article in the NYT Michael Bender writes Trump recites from a teleprompter at his rallies, “We will pray to God for our strength and for our liberty. We will pray for God and we will pray with God. We are one movement, one people, one family and one glorious nation under God.”

“They’ve crucified him worse than Jesus,” says Andriana Howard, 67, who works as a restaurant food runner in Conway, S.C.

1 Comment

One Reply to “Still Looking”

  1. What about the upstate NY angle of the story? I would say half of my eventual interest in creative stage lighting came from early visits to the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *