Cropped image of God from Michaelangelo's Creation of the Sun and Moon

Kitchen Table Kibitzing Friday – Saint Sebastian's arrows aren't like Saint Valentine's

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share a virtual kitchen table with other readers of Daily Kos who aren’t throwing pies at one another. Drop by to talk about music, your weather, your garden, or what you cooked for supper…. Newcomers may notice that many who post in this series already know one another to some degree, but we welcome guests at our kitchen table and hope to make some new friends as well.
Please do not attack Democratic candidates or drag primary fights into our community.

Cropped image of God from Michaelangelo's Creation of the Sun and Moon
The controversy over nudity in the Sistine Chapel continued after Michelangelo’s death. The artist Daniele da Volterra was hired to cover up some of the genitals in The Last Judgement by adding fig leaves and loincloths, which earned him the nickname “Il Braghettone” (“The breeches maker”). When the Sistine Chapel underwent a controversial restoration in the 1980s, many expected Volterra’s “breeches” to be removed. But while some additions by later artists were removed, the restorers decided that Volterra’s work had become an important part of the history of The Last Judgement. The director of the Vatican Museums, Fabrizio Mancinelli, believed that Volterra may have helped to preserve Michelangelo’s masterpiece, as it was spared by the Council of Trent during their destruction of other artwork in Rome in the sixteenth century. Mancinelli’s conclusion: “We must be respectful of these breeches.”…

There are more than a few religious universities that do not have departments of art (Villanova), much like some universities have rid themselves of schools of journalism (UCLA) or departments of geography (Harvard) for a variety of political reasons unrelated to their curricular necessity. In the former case, studying what to some is the cultural production of the profane in the presence of the sacred makes folks and institutions nervous. Much like putting clothes on those nudes on the Sistine Ceiling during the Counter-Reformation. Darn those gay painters and their papal patrons and rationalizing the difference between naked and nude.

Leo Steinberg approached the history of art in a revolutionary manner, helping to move it from a dry consideration of factual details, documents, and iconographic symbols to a more dynamic understanding of meaning conveyed via various artistic choices. For example, in 1972, Steinberg introduced the idea of the “flatbed picture plane” in his book Other Criteria, a collection of essays.[4] The whole of the Summer, 1983, issue of the journal October was dedicated to Steinberg's essay The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, later published as a book by Random House and by publishers in other countries. In that essay, Steinberg examined a previously ignored pattern in Renaissance art: the prominent display of the genitals of the infant Christ and the attention also drawn to that area in images of Christ near the end of his life, in both cases for specific theological reasons involving the concept of the Incarnation – the word of God made flesh.[5]……

In a recent piece for the New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog, Lee Siegel uses Leo Steinberg’s writing as a lens for understanding the correlation between Pope Francis’s embrace of gay Catholics and his devotion to the poor and afflicted. Here, Siegel notes a central tenet of Steinberg’s book, specifically that, “as a result of the rise of the Franciscan order, around 1260, an emphasis on Christ’s nakedness, and, thus, on his humanity, joined compassion to an acceptance of the role of sexuality in human life.”

Siegel points out that a Renaissance-era credo of the Franciscan order, from which Pope Francis takes his name, was nudus nudum Christum sequi (“follow naked the naked Christ”). He goes on to account for how Steinberg’s art historical thesis implies a theological premise imperative to positions taken by the current Pope on certain social and religious issues:

Pope Francis could well agree with Steinberg, who lamented that the human Christ disappeared “as modern Christianity distanced itself from its mythic roots; as the person of Jesus was refined into all doctrine and message, the kerygma of a Christianity without Christ.” That, Steinberg says, was when “the exposure of Christ’s genitalia became merely impudent.” One might add that in our own epoch the Catholic Church’s denial of Christ’s sexuality runs parallel to its denial of human sexuality, taboos that resurface in one scandal after another.

Public domain
Saint Sebastian (c. AD 256 – 288) was an early Christian saint and martyr. According to traditional belief, he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians. He was initially being tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, though this did not kill him. He was, according to tradition, rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, which became a popular subject in 17th-century painting.
Sebastian's death was depicted in the 1949 film Fabiola, in which he was played by Massimo Girotti.[27] In 1976, the British director Derek Jarman made a film, Sebastiane, which caused controversy in its treatment of the martyr as a “homosexual icon“, according to a number of critics reflecting a subtext perceptible in the imagery since the Renaissance.[1]…

In modern times, the Catholic Church has been under siege to an unprecedented degree, as much by internal rifts and abuses as by unbelief and competing Protestant sects. In response, its doctrine and its message have become all the more abstract and inflexible; all the more a Christianity without Christ. The current Pope, by heeding the call to “follow naked the naked Christ,” seems determined to make inseparable the alliance between the naked body that lives, works, suffers, and dies, and the naked body that was created with the capacity to experience physical love.

As Siegel concludes, this would seem to indicate that Pope Francis has “an ally” in Leo Steinberg, whose argument for the crucial theology of the flesh positions an ultra-sensitive subject as an affirmation of a much larger kinship with the human condition.…

Similarly, those who are martyrs, whether the rock-crushed Saint Stephen or the perforated Saint Sebastian have some relation to today’s Saint Valentine, made the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. “Many of the current legends that characterize Saint Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.[43] where curing blindness in the original history doesn’t make Valentine the patron saint of ophthalmologists. That honor is given to Saint Lucy.

There are slings and arrows and St. Sebastian’s arrows are not identical to Saint Valentine's where one is the martial instrument of martyrdom and the other a sign of marital conjoining, defined by institutions and associated texts. A recent BBC series hosted by Lucy Worsley discusses the evolution of romantic love in British fiction starting with Samuel Richardson.

Saint Sebastian Rescued by Angels, oil on canvas made after 1604, attributed to Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) ? – Work as part of the collection Schoeppler (Germany) paid to long-term Rubenshuis Museum of Antwerp. Photography realized during the exhibition “l'Europe de Rubens” of the Louvre-Lens Museum.

The heart pierced by an arrow as iconography has its own issues of literal versus the figurative, but ultimately if it is about love or lust, it is about social/cultural construction whether as gender or sexuality.

St. Augustine 17th century Oil on canvas Museum of the Church of San Paio, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
The pierced heart entered Augustininian iconography in the 17th century, owing to a passage in The Confessions: “Thou hadst pierced our heart with thy love, and we carried thy words, as it were, thrust through our vitals. The examples of thy servants whom thou hadst changed from black to shining white, and from death to life, crowded into the bosom of our thoughts and burned and consumed our sluggish temper, that we might not topple back into the abyss” (IX:3).

An embellishment to this account states that before his execution, Saint Valentine wrote a note to Asterius's daughter signed “from your Valentine”, which is said to have “inspired today's romantic missives”.

Various hypotheses attempted to connect the “heart shape” as it evolved in the Late Middle Ages with instances of the geometric shape in antiquity.[10] Such theories are modern, proposed from the 1960s onward, and they remain speculative, as no continuity between the supposed ancient predecessors and the late medieval tradition can be shown. Specific suggestions include: the shape of the seed of the silphium plant, used in ancient times as a(n) herbal contraceptive,[10][11] and stylized depictions of features of the human female body, such as the female's breastsbuttockspubic mound, or spread vulva.[12]

The Kevin Smith film Dogma's irreverent treatment of Catholicism and the Catholic Church triggered considerable controversy, even before its opening. The Catholic League denounced it as blasphemy.[3] Organized protests delayed its release in many countries and led to at least two death threats against Smith.[4][5]…

So it’s possible to see a variety of transubstantiation events in popular culture outside of religious institutions, including animation that situates its major icons into reality.

This is no different than the movie made from the musical that was adapted from the film Mean Girls based on Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 non-fiction self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes”. Similarly for the Rocky Horror Picture Show cinema remake made from the revival musical made from the movie adaptation of the musical. Culture loves its cultural reproduction, although that Waiting for Godot musical probably won’t happen until sponsorship comes from KFC or turnip/radish agribusiness. 

Saint Young Men

Jesus Christ (イエス・キリスト, Iesu Kirisuto, voiced by Mirai Moriyama in the anime[3]) and Gautama Buddha (ゴータマ・ブッダ, Gōtama Budda, voiced by Gen Hoshino in the anime[3]), the central figures of Christianity and Buddhism respectively, are living together as roommates in an apartment in Tachikawa, part of the suburbs of Tokyo. While taking a vacation on Earth, they attempt to hide their identities and understand modern Japanese society. Each chapter shows their lives during an average day, when they are sightseeing, drinking beer, blogging, or playing video games.[4][5]
While Jesus is portrayed as an impassioned person for his love for all (even for shopping), Buddha tends to be calm and thrifty, and also likes manga.[4][2] The comedy often involves visual gags and puns, as well as jokes in reference to elements of Christianity and Buddhism; for example, Jesus creates wine from water in a public bath and Buddha shines when excited.[4]…

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