Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Chocolate Balls of Jesus

I'm working a block away from the Roger Smith Hotel, where a new exhibit was to open today at their well-known art gallery. You may have heard or read some of the buzz about the Chocolate Jesus and the Church's successful efforts to kill the exhibit. It appears the Catholic hierarchy has more important things to do than investigate its own cadre of child molesters and rapists. Nope: they've got to start a campaign against anyone showing Jesus' dick.

So here's some news for the bloviating Catholics: Jesus had balls, and so did lots of other gods throughout religious history. If I believed that god was a human, I'd want to get to know every inch of Him, wouldn't you? Damn, I'd want to know what God's asshole looked and felt like, too.

But god doesn't have an asshole, nor any genitalia that we'd recognize as such. Pan (above left) did, and so did Bes (right). They, too, were the work of imagination and visual metaphor, just like Jesus. But the cultures that spawned these gods had no FOX News commentators or hypocritical Cardinals to suppress artistic imagery.

By the way, guess what else—I found this page, which is loaded with pics from Christian iconography featuring some pretty well hung guys, including "Saint Priapus."

That this sort of oppressive censorship is happening in the cultural capital of the world, under the guiding hand of Cardinal Egan, is mildly sickening.

But the true believers are getting a little uncomfortable these days, with bestselling authors like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris around. Pastor Rick Warren recently challenged the latter to a debate, which had some amusing highlights. Here's one:

RICK WARREN: I see the fingerprints of God everywhere. I see them in culture. I see them in law. I see them in literature. I see them in nature. I see them in my own life. Trying to understand where God came from is like an ant trying to understand the Internet. Even the most brilliant scientist would agree that we only know a fraction of a percent of the knowledge of the universe.

Yep, Pastor Rick, yer right. Religion is a lot like the Internet. The Bible is the original proto-blog; televangelism is like really loud spam; and the Torah is kind of like Internet Explorer, what with all those rules and the potential for malware attacks at every turn. When I consider the world's religions, I often feel like my spiritual IP address keeps changing; and who can deny an insidious connection between the Old Testament and myspace.com?

Now here's a story that doesn't mind being dirty. For while MC Rove sanitizes everything he touches, spinning deceit and corruption into pristeen, germ-free truth; and while those Catholics raise their kids to be Easter-Sunday perfect (cleanliness is next to godliness); science is pointing us in another direction: it's good for you to get dirty.

Exposure to dirt may be a way to lift mood as well as boost the immune system, UK scientists say.

Lung cancer patients treated with "friendly" bacteria normally found in the soil have anecdotally reported improvements in their quality of life.

Mice exposed to the same bacteria made more of the brain's "happy" chemical serotonin, the Bristol University authors told the journal Neuroscience.

Common antidepressants work by boosting this brain chemical.

I am reminded of a comment I heard from an old RN with whom I worked many years ago: "Bacteria aren't evil, Brian, they're just doing their jobs."

Finally today, a tribute to a man who is arguably the world's greatest living writer. I remember getting chills on reading the first few pages of 100 Years of Solitude, and again for Love in the Time of Cholera. Happy 80th, Senor Marquez.

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