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“The Church, the Pope, ‘Piss Christ,’ and the Culture of Death”

By Bob Schildgen</a> The art work, “Piss Christ,” has been condemned once again, this time in Australia, where the National Gallery of Victoria shut down an exhibition by artist Andres Serrano in which the famous photo was included. The Australian Roman Catholic Church and some other religious organizations had actually gone to court to stop the exhibit.

“Piss Christ”– a big photo of a crucifix immersed in urine – previously generated a roaring controversy in the U.S., where it was used as a prime example of why the government should slash the support available to artists through the National Endowment for the Arts and was condemned by various religious people.

I wish they’d all lighten up and see this piece for what it is: not blasphemy, but a profoundly religious reflection on the place of Jesus Christ in contemporary society. Yes, it IS disturbing. So? One of the most important functions of art is to disturb, and that, dear flock, includes religious art. Hieronymous Bosch’s mad religious masterpieces are disturbing, with hundreds of stark naked people half-man-half-beast, half- man-half-egg-shell even, birds flying out of anuses, penis-like forms, half- live-half-machine poised for the thrust of a cosmic rape. Illustrations of Hell, too, are profoundly disturbing, like Michelangelo’s tormented naked sinners in the Sistine Chapel – a major shrine of Christianity in the