7-foot, bronze statue that hangs 200 feet in the air on a church bell tower in East Sussex, England. It has been dubbed by the locals as "Jesus in jeans."
the holy week and easter wknd is always a bit of a mess. after 40 days of repenting madness will do that to any soul i suppose (though the modern practice itself is much softer than the ones of contemporary ramadan, from what i have seen personally). easter, an old tradition that is familiar to most of the westerners now primarily exists in forms of:
hot crossed buns
egg hunts (which is just bizarre, it has nothing to do with anything)
dyed eggs (and consequent egg/cress salads)
luncheons or brunches (family stuff made easy by long wknd)
church services (one of the two- the other being christmas)
and probably in that order of importance as well. hey there's nothing wrong with it. really. it's been a busy week. theres been lots of classical music running around town in forms of cantatas, passions, service music. extra musicians and soloists in various places. bright coloured advertisements in newspapers and shopping malls for easter gifts (the funniest one being disney promoting 'alice in wonderland' re-release as 'perfect gift for the family this easter!' but what does it have to do with anything? since when jesus promoted giving stuff around?) i think whatever it has became for every one of us, that is not one person to judge against another. the only thing i could say is that since it being the long wknd and all, that i hoped people had a chance to experience something different (not just going through the motion of it, but to really experience it, whether it being dirty pants made by sitting on half-melted hidden easter cream eggs or sitting in the church trying to not fall asleep), and enjoying those experiences for whatever it's worth.
i personally had a questions-laden easter. in so many levels. there has been much personal commotion but that's for me to keep and to hint only (ahahaha evil me), but there are much more objective issue that has been pressing in my mind: the recent (though not new) accusation of the sexual abuse regarding priests and boys.
now, im not into saying what's right or wrong. i do know what i think, but there are fervent people on both sides of the arguments regarding how it was dealt and i think if you have been paying attention to the news, one would assume you have formed some sort of opinion already. so hence, this will just be a brief reflection on such big elephant in the room. (please dont stone me in the street; if you are unhappy, simply write/talk to me. before you stone me, depending on your argument, i may even agree to be stoned)
the bible, word of the lord, have been a continuous interest to me in many levels. i was brought up in asian catholic household, the kind that takes religion seriously (my granny still thinks that i am doomed to burn since i stopped going to church). years of sunday schools. then working at the church for the main service (it's a big church with over thousand families registered). the things i have studied (western arts and philosophy) cannot be discussed as entirely separate entities from religion (impossible).
for instance, one of my favorite painters, chagall, his paintings are often drawing from the bible, literally and figuratively. all those glorious bach cantatas and passions (and others i suppose). things like symphony of psalms (stravinsky), gloria (poulenc), the continuous literary references (portrait of artist as a young man-joyce, la porte etroite- andre gide), buildings of major importance (notre dame of paris, duomo of milan), history (geneva as calvinist reform capital, the religious wars, shaping of united states in the appalachians), even consumeristic things (did you know kellogg the cereal company was born out of religious/holistic stance on health reform mvt by the kellogg brothers who ran a sanitorium, and those amish breads you will soon see in farmers markets), even to daily expressions and idioms ('forsaken,' 'by golly!' etc etc)- it is impossible to dismiss it simply.
so in a sense, im already defending myself from the criticism i may/may not take religion seriously enough. gosh the things one does in 'worries.' i may even clarify that i am experienced in catholic tradition, but really a practicing secular humanist- and that is not to antagonize one with religions, as a true humanist, one's interest lies in the welfare of fellow humans, including self, and the principles and actions i have taken/will take are based on critical thinking and that may be based on everything i come in contact with, including both religious and non-religious thoughts. only thing i disagree completely would be dogmas and dogmatism of any thoughts/ideas, including 'scientific' thoughts.
in order to not to go completely insane over this subject of sexual abuse of children, i will keep it brief. my thoughts are very simple.
1. even a single case of abuse is bad (including child, sexual and non-sexual)
2. there are long-standing cases of sexual abuse by clergymen-children (along with non-sexual abuse)
3. i do have to assume not all accusations made against to the church can be true. but some will be, the percentage of it doesnt really matter (refer to point 1)
4. therefore, the church should have issued an apology to the victims and the general public should accept the apology, along with a grain of salt (refer to point 3)
5. and that offending members of the clergy should be dealt with the appropriate branch of the general law (the secular law court), and that means the church must comply to the request of the law and try to be clear as possible (with record keepings and all). in fact, they should be the ones who are even more vigilant of such things (much like if you have an unruly child, you should keep an eye on him and do consider where to bring him for a dinner out- there are behavior-appropriate places. if risky, dont risk it. take calculated risk but winging something would be an inconsiderate gesture to other co-habitants of the world)
6. therefore, the recent action taken by the vatican regarding the recent case, drawing comparison to the current issue to 'collective violence suffered by the jews' was a bad move. and so is calling the general reaction a 'gossip.'
why is it so difficult to say 'sorry?'
if the church as the governing body have been used to the idea of apologizing for its human fault, it would have been much easier to deal with this particular issue on emotional level (let's leave the legal part as i may never get to finish this post then). these accusations are not new and there are long lines of standing victims. as mentioned, 1 person in that line is already a shame. this abuse scenario is not unique to the catholic church, true, but that should not be the ground to dismiss the charges brought forth. a human life, yours, mine, someone else, they are all the same in a sense it is a continuation and reflection of human history, from the past to the future. one's moral sets, actual biological progression, social interaction, they dont just sprout in one's mind with no preparation. even a simple seed needs water and nutrient (initially stored within seed itself, prepared by the mother plant and evolution/or creation, the important fact is that it is ready to germinate in acceptable- including non-ideal, conditions) to grow. a human being, a social animal, needs and acquires more, certainly.
i do not like pointing fingers. but in this case, i want to justify (ugh) that i am not simply pointing fingers at an entity with steaming anger. i am simply thinking: what is the morally acceptable action at this point? why did we, as a collective body, failed fellow human beings? what can be done? what is wrong with current reaction in my personal understanding? what are the things that 'should' (with grain of sand, that word) be done different from this point?
why does it matter?
because i live in a society that is larger than my immediate interest. and the repeated history of human suffering of all forms, as unavoidable as it is, can be dealt in many different ways, some 'better' than others. and because christianity have contributed many goods to the human lives (in forms of arts and religious form, take your pick), i want to see it prosper, as best as it can, in harmony with other things- coexist. it has been on heavy on my mind that most difficult thing in life is perhaps the action of 'acceptance/tolerance.' we cant all agree. on anything. we cant all understand. but that's okay. acceptance and tolerance does create enough buffer for all these differences to exist without choking others. and that's why it is so difficult. it's not a free or simple action. like pointing fingers in anger and screaming.
easter miracle can mean so many things to so many different people. it meant busy work week and some real nice cultural experiences for this monkey last wk. the failing (in my eyes) of the church at the moment is not the end of the world, but i dont think it should be tolerated either. it needs fixing. how? i donno. im going to try to think about it. if i come to a solution, that would be great, though i doubt any single human being can solve this problem. meanwhile, i am going to take liking to the idea of 'jesus in jeans,' the top picture. he doesnt have to always hang onto the cross. the whole idea of easter was he overcame the crucifixion. i dont see a reason why anyone would be NOT happy to be off the bloody cross. it's painful. and by being off the cross, he not only fulfilled the religious plot, but also became approachable, walking around in undies as the bible never specified whether he had new cloth on sunday morning (but does specify his linens were left in the tomb), so a shirt and a nice pair of jeans are good plus.
happy easter. the miracles do continue and life is full of in comprehensively amazing things. let's not miss it because one is too busy becoming a dogma of oneself.