Monday, July 15, 2019

Modern Joseph and Mary

I've seen some Christians calling the above modern-day Joseph and Mary artwork "blasphemous". They argue it's "blasphemous" due to "political expediency" and because it's "disgusting" to depict the holy family in a plain manner.

  1. Political expediency.

    a. I don't know that the artist's intention is about politics at all. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. However, I wouldn't be able to tell based on the art alone. At most, I could see some hints, but it's not entirely clear to me.

    b. If the artwork is about politics, then presumably it's in light of illegal immigration and/or refugees. If so, then I'd disagree that illegal immigrants and refugees across the border are in the same situation as Joseph and Mary. At the very least, the artist arguing for a parallel between the two would need to present an argument, but I don't see any argument presented.

    c. However, even if the artist's intention is to parallel Joseph and Mary with illegal immigration, it's possible to divorce the image from its political connotations. At least it's possible to have the same kind of image which is apolitical.

    d. And even if it's somehow immoral to parallel Joseph and Mary with illegal immigrants or political refugees seeking asylum in the United States, how is that necessarily blasphemous too? It's unethical for me to steal, but theft isn't blasphemous, per se.

  2. It's "disgusting" to depict Mary and Joseph as plain.

    a. There's a visceral reaction in the use of the word "disgusting". What's that based on? Besides, something can be disgusting, but not blasphemous.

    b. I don't see what's necessarily wrong with depicting "the holy family" as more homely than we might imagine. Aren't most people average-looking? Nothing wrong with that.

    I take it most Christians believe Isaiah 53 is messianic prophecy. Isa 53:2b describes the Messiah as one who "had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him". As such, it seems Jesus had at best average looks. Typically children tend to look like their parents. If a child has average looks, then it's likely their parents have average looks too. I'm speaking a general rule, but of course there may be exceptions.

    Should we expect Joseph to look as handsome as Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, or Jaime Dornan? Should we expect Mary to look as beautiful as Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, or Alison Brie?

    c. Suppose it's somehow immoral to depict Mary and Joseph as plain. Even so, not all things that are unethical are necessarily blasphemous too.

    Let's take me as an example. I don't want to brag, but objectively speaking I'm so devastatingly handsome, tall, and well-built that beautiful women swoon at the sight of me irl. I know, I know, it's a curse. At any rate, it would be inaccurate to have an uglier actor like Henry Cavill play my part. What's more, perhaps it might even be unethical (arguendo) to inaccurately depict me as uglier than I am. Nevertheless, I don't see how it's likewise necessarily blasphemous. For one thing, I'm just a human being.

    Wouldn't that be the case for Joseph and Mary too? Can one commit blasphemy against other humans?

    Does having Jesus as their child somehow change what it means to blaspheme?

1 comment:

  1. Of course Mary and Joseph were plain folk. But I think this depiction slides past "plain" into "slobby" territory. Tuck your shirt in, Joe. Lace up those shoes.