If I find myself with a spare :20 minutes to kill and a church is nearby, I always duck in for a quick meditation session. I’ll say one thing about people in churches: they know how to keep their mouths shut. The silence is conducive to a peaceful meditation.
Our Lady of Pompeii is just off 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village. It’s an old school Italian church that contains many of the types of icons that drove me out of Catholicism many years ago and into the loving arms of Buddhism. I don’t have the right to call myself Buddhist yet but I may get there someday.
How is Buddha typically depicted?
An overweight, happy man. He wishes well on everyone, regardless of their theological beliefs. There are no sad Buddhas and no condemnation if you don’t follow him!
Christian icons? Lots and lots of pain and suffering. Here we have St. Lucy with this afternoon’s blue plate special: eyeballs of martyr. Does that come with toast?
Here is St. Rocco showing off his fancy open, festering sore on his leg. Yuck!
I'm not sure who this chap is, but someone better tell him that the top of his head is on fire!
He reminds me of Mayor Ralph Perk of Cleveland, whose hair caught on fire during a 1972 ribbon cutting ceremony when he got too close to a welder’s arc.
And here is Christ, dead in his mother’s arms. Just imagine holding your dead child in your arms! Horrible imagery. And remember, he died because you are a sinner. I’ll bet you’re sorry now.
The Christ in this statue has the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. This pic doesn’t do them justice. They’re sky blue. What are the odds that someone who was living in the Middle East in the year 35 A.D. had Tiffany box blue eyes? Well, you have to play to your audience, I suppose.
And here is Christ carrying the cross in Louis XIV splendor.
Look, I don’t mean to poke fun (well, perhaps just a little) but the relentless negativity—the scenes of torture and mayhem—finally did me in. And they teach this stuff to children! Should a church look like a Halloween haunted house with scenes of gore and violence? Have you seen
the Stations of the Cross
? It’s not right. Count me out.