The controversial street artist, Banksy, today unveiled what is described as a piece of "anti-Christian artwork" - Cardinal Sin is a replica of an 18th century bust with the face replaced by a series of tiles which are apparently meant to represent the pixellation effect used to conceal the identities of victims of child abuse. The statue is considered to be a statement on the child abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic church. Banksy says it is a sort of Christmas present ...
I have to say that I find modern art interesting although I am dubious about some of it. I rather like Banksy's statue with its representation of new media superimposed upon old stonework. Perhaps he is intending to juxtapose old attitudes to the Church hierarchy, shown through the reverential bust, alongside our modern contempt and anger at corruption in the Church, shown by the obscured and vandalised face. I don't have any problems with artists condemning corruption in the Church or exposing its flaws. What I am more concerned about is the comment from the artist, 'At this time of year it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity - the lies, the corruption, the abuse.'
So, corruption, lies and abuse constitute the true meaning of Christianity ? I don't think so! Christ was a an iconoclast, someone who had a vivid turn of phrase, describing religious authorities as "whited sepulchres"and not hesitating to overturn the tables when he saw lies, corruption and abuse. The Christian Church throughout the ages may have often traded on lies and abuse, but Jesus himself spoke up against power and corruption. The Incarnation should also strike us as iconoclastic because it smashes to pieces some of our ideas about the nature of God. It also challenges our human ideas about power and hierarchy; Mary tells us that it is the work of a God who "hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts and the rich he hath sent empty away."
So, what is the true meaning of Christianity - and isn't it time to reclaim it?