By Eric Michael Mazur
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Sandys’s piece caused an uproar when it was installed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (1984) because she replaced the historically familiar male Jesus with an unfamiliar female Christ ﬁgure. For many, Sandys set aside a historical fact (Jesus’ maleness) in order to present a personal, political message. Religious communities have not been passive in the face of art that they ﬁnd dangerous or controversial. When Martin Scorcese produced his ﬁlm version of The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), hundreds of Christian groups picketed theaters.
A pluralistic environment provides opportunities for artists to juxtapose images and stories from multiple traditions, transposing elements from one religiocultural setting into another. ’’ Ideas and images from one religious community are increasingly related to ideas and images from other religious communities, as well as to society at large. Finally, pluralism involves the juxtaposition of religious and secular culture, and this raises questions about the nature and purpose of the arts. ’’ 18 Many religious communities want the arts to provide a kind of moral bulwark against secular values, and they oppose works of art that neglect or contradict religious values.
13. Crispin Sartwell, The Art of Living: Aesthetics of the Ordinary in World Spiritual Traditions (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), 5. 14. Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory (1940; reprint New York: Penguin Books, 1990). 15. Pastoral letter from Cardinal Grifﬁn for Advent 1953. Quoted in Norman .......................... 9234$$ $CH2 04-15-02 14:54:28 PS 41 McCLYMOND: RELIGION AND THE ARTS Sherry, The Life of Graham Greene. Volume 2: 1939–1955 (New York: Viking, 1994), 43. 16.
Art and the religious impulse by Eric Michael Mazur