Sunday, January 3, 2016

Black Jesus?

Archbishop Cupich's Negro Christmas Card

The Bear had suspected Archbishop Cupich of being a psychopath, someone who cannot feel empathy. This was after his comment on the disclosure that Planned Parenthood not only killed babies, but was selling their body parts for profit. (Those people are probably psychopaths, too.) You may recall that Cupich (with that blinkless, reptilian gaze) said, yeah, but the death penalty, racism and unemployment are bad, too.

This is not the response of a human being with sufficient blood getting to his amygdala.

Now, courtesy of the Bear's learned friend at Mahound's Paradise (go there for the image), we learn that maybe Cupich, or at least his handlers, may have empathy after all. The Christmas card sent out by the Archdiocese of Chicago featured a Negro Holy Family.

On the other hand, psychopaths make their living mimicking human feelings.

While there are only about 10% more whites than blacks in Chicago, the Archdiocese has just 3% Catholic blacks.

The Bear is Unperturbed

The Bear is oddly unperturbed by this. Perhaps he is hoarding his perturbation, because he knows it must last the whole year, and the elderly gentleman from Argentina is still Pope. He's not saying the Hound is wrong. He's just saying it doesn't push any of the Bear's many, many buttons. Perhaps readers may point out to the Bear where he is wrong.

18th Century Ethiopian
depiction of Christ.
The first thing that comes to the Bear's mind is that depicting Jesus in different races is not a new or particularly objectionable thing.

The Bear doubts there has not been a race that Our Lord's humanity has not worn in artistic depictions. Since they're all persons the Bear sees nothing improper in it. However, America is now hyper-racialized, making it a special case. More about that later.

The Bear moves that Exhibit 1 be received into evidence, and published to the jury. You will observe, ladies and gentlemen, that this image of Our Lord is of a serene young gentleman with a delicate, straight nose, pale skin, blond hair plus short, blond beard, and blue eyes. No doubt you have seen many, many examples of Aryan Jesus and never given it a second thought.

Exhibit 1, "Ayran Jesus"

But surely, if racial accuracy is the sine qua non of religious depictions, then we ought to recall every holy card ever printed, and every image of the Sacred Heart, not to mention the works of the great western artists.

The earliest known icon of Christ, Christ Pantocrater, at St. Catherine's on Mt. Sinai. Although Christ is depicted as pale, he does have dark hair and brown eyes. (Dates from 6th Century.)

Oldest known icon of Christ (St. Catherine's Monastery, Mt. Sinai.)
Eyes do not point together, two sides of face different.

Russian popular style of icon (dominates Bear's
icon corner, with lampada always kept burning
before it for last 20 years).
Typical modern icon of Our Lord. (Note the
similarity with the 6th century
Pantocrater, above.)

Chinese Jesus.

Perhaps because the Bear doubts the Holy Family will ever be depicted as Bears, or perhaps it's because, no offense, all humans look a little strange to him, he's just not invested in the outrage.

The question seem to be Cupich's motives. 

Why Did Cupich Do It?

America is so hyper-racialized now that everything has to be examined under the loupe of race. Black suspect shot? Racist cops. Statue of Catholic Missionary Pierre-Jean de Smet on a campus? Racism against Indians. And if it's not race, it's homophobia, which is racism by another name. Or sexism, which is racism by another name. Were it not for their speciesist history of violence against his kind, the Bear might feel sorry for heterosexual white males.

Who knows what Cupcich's motives were, or how much input he had in the decision. If you put a gun to the Bear's head (you wouldn't be the first) he would guess someone was buffing Cupich's Social Justice Warrior credentials. Or maybe he's reminding the 47% of whites in his archdiocese that Jesus isn't just for white people anymore. Or, maybe he's telling that 3% of black Catholics that he cares about them. Probably it just seems like the Liberal thing to do. The only thing we know is it wasn't prompted by a genuine human emotion.

Who cares? Sadly, Cupich will give us many more opportunities for real outrage this year.

There has been an ocean of ink spilled on the subject of "White Jesus." Perhaps the best (at least most useful) answer is the one provided by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a 1957 edition of Ebony's "Advice for Living." (Provided on the topic, not for the theology.)
The color of Jesus’ skin is of little or no consequence. The whiteness or blackness of one’s skin is a biological quality which has nothing to do with the intrinsic value of the personality. The significance of Jesus lay, not in His color, but in His unique God-consciousness and His willingness to surrender His will to God’s will. He was the Son of God, not because of His external biological make-up, but because of His internal spiritual commitment. He would have been no more significant if His skin had been black. He is no less significant because His skin was white.
Someday, some of us may know for sure. Until then, this image is the best we have. And God didn't leave it to us in color.

The Shroud of Turin


  1. I'm with you, not too burnt up about it, though I agree Cupich's motives were more about political correctness than genuine compassion or whatever worthy motive it could be.

    A black Holy Family is more defensible in Chicago (recall a bp is to speak to the whole community, not just Catholics) than say, is a hymn in Spanish to open an Easter mass in a 99.9% white town in Southern IL. Not that I am bitter or retain any resentment. Nope. Not me. Really....

    1. Our Mexicans are invisible. You see some getting ready for their noon Spanish Mass if you hang around long enough after the 10 a.m. It has always struck me as inconsistent with the unity of the Church to have a separate Mass for Mexicans. Least of the Bear's worries, though.

    2. Maybe one Mexican family is at our parish. They are middle class English speakers. Otherwise, there are several Latin Am adoptees with white AMerican parents including neighbors and several of my kids' classmates.

      Here in StL Metro Latinos can go to OLOS (& Holy Fam I think) for Spanish mass.

      Yes, we would be united under a Latin mass.

    3. We have many, the Bear understands, but they are largely kept employed by the many orchards around here.

    4. I may be mistaken but I recall that the miraculous facial image of Our Lady of Guadalupe reveals a distinctly Hispanic young woman, as does Our Lady of Akita reveal an Oriental woman, etc. It doesn't bother me one way or the other, but I agree that it is wrong to use the representation of a sacred personage to effect a racial statement, pro or con.

  2. I agree that at the limit, depicting Jesus as, say, black, yellow or ridiculously white is just as innocent as and no more harmful than, say, painting renaissance clothing onto Biblical characters. It's the context that might make it (in my own words) "toxic", or not. As you imply, we're probably on the same page here, though our "buttons" might be arranged a bit differently. God knows the knaves are trying to press as many of them as they can on both of us. Or so it sometimes seems.

    Have you heard the claim by some of the Shroud people that the emergence of depictions of Jesus' face in art (as you imply, there might have been many years when people didn't do it) coincided with a purported temporary unveiling or exhibit of the Shroud? Then again, those early images don't seem to look much like the "negative" on the actual Shroud.

    1. I once had a conversation with the microscopist that did the most recent shroud work, Dr. McCrone from Chicago. (We were doing a case.) He was adamant that his identification of iron proved a red pigment was used. I'm not very impressed, since who knows when that pigment was added. So much other evidence argues for its authenticity, and the Christ-haters have utterly failed to produce anything approaching to the Shroud.

      One suspects that Cupich is motivated by gaining SJW points. He is playing a very calculated game that will take him far. Just another lib, like his boss, as far as I'm concerned.

      (And I'm keeping all my White Jesus pictures.)


  3. I'm outraged only when Jesus is depicted as Buddy Hackett.

  4. What complicates things delightfully is that (to the best of my knowledge) we don't actually know what the ancient Israelites looked like, since most modern European Jews are of Kazakh heritage, according to genetic studies. Living in between Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Arabia, and with all the invasions, exiles, and presumably some amount of diaspora intermarriage, they may have looked quite different from our expectations.

    Like you, I have no inherent objection to portrayals of Jesus et al in different cultural and racial contracts. Our Lady of Guadalupe is a young Mexican girl, after all, and think of all those medieval paintings of biblical scenes with everyone dressed like contemporary Dutchmen. But when it comes to Cupich, you just know this is yet another in the endless series of dreary leftist didactic moments. They've always got to be teaching us a lesson.

  5. No fan of Cupich but not
    bothered by this. I just gave a beautiful holy card with a very Asian looking Our Lady of China to my son's girlfriend who is Taiwanese.

    Thanks for the oldest icon of Jesus. He has a Spock eyebrow.

    Seattle kim

  6. I enjoy varying depictions of Our Lord and Our Lady, since we don't actually know what they looked like. My personal favorite is Our Lady of Guadalupe, because it was given to us by Our Lady herself (and also because I love St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin). As others here have noted, it shows her as a mestiza.

    So I'll save my annoyance with Abp. Cupich for more important actions. Sadly, I expect we will see them.

    1. There's a story that St. Luke wrote the first icon, and it was of Our Lady. Wouldn't THAT be a find!

    2. St. Luke is said to have been the artist depicting the original image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said to be in a small church in Rome, the Church of the Holy Redeemer, on Via Merulana between St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.

      My mom had been reading a short book about the devotion shortly before she and I visited Rome in 2011; she was adamant that she wanted to make a pilgrimage to see the image, so we did.

      Some sites state it's the original; others that it's one of a few remaining copies made directly from the original. Either way, its history is fascinating and confirms Our Lady's pleasure with her depiction.

  7. I tend to think that something like the St. Catherine's Pantocrator is closest to His true appearance - he was Jewish, after all. Dark hair and eyes, fair but not too fair skin (a little olive, perhaps)... The "Aryan Jesus" never felt right. Christ wasn't a Swede.

    Of course, this isn't a case of local inculturation. His Excellency is clearly reaching for politically correct plaudits. This is much more about gaining the approval of local civic elites (who are mostly white) than it is that of his small African-American flock.

    1. Exactly right. Liberals preen like macaws in the Amazon basin. See me, I'm the right sort. Just so you know. Yep. Me being multitolerant.

  8. This study - including revelations of those involved - is quite convincing

  9. All hail mighty science


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