Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Forty years of meaningless banners

The UK Telegraph's Damien Thompson is not pleased at all with the parish banner design for outdoor events during the pope's upcoming visit:
This is the visual equivalent of the groovy fake-Celtic elevator music that Magic Circle bureaucrats very nearly succeeded in forcing on the Papal Masses. I swear, the Catholic Church in this country is incapable of designing anything that doesn’t feature Pentecostal flames that look as if they’ve been copied from a 30-year-old album cover. I’m sure the Holy Father will be too polite to wince visibly when he sees those banners – but, seriously, you don’t have to be infallible to work out that the Bishops of England and Wales (and Scotland, too, alas) have no aesthetic judgment whatsoever.[...]
Read the whole (brief) post here; and here is the banner Thompson is discussing:
Pardon me while I finish chuckling about the "...incapable of designing anything that doesn’t feature Pentecostal flames that look as if they’ve been copied from a 30-year-old album cover..." line. Man, I wish I'd written that.

Seriously, is there anything even remotely Catholic about that banner? Sure, tongues of flame = Holy Spirit--but usually such images include, you know, people--the Apostles, perhaps, in a Pentecost scene. The flames by themselves could be the Holy Spirit, or they could be the fires of Hell, or a pagan fire-ritual, or a barbecue gone awry or a campfire run amok--or any such thing. There's nothing particularly holy or sacred about the image of stylized flames all by themselves, nothing to show what the artist intends the picture to represent.

Of course, there's also nothing with which to offend the irreligious or anti-religious, and maybe in a post-Christian secularist mediocre nation-state like the United Kingdom (or like America, since we're not much better) that's really the whole point.

Meaningless banners can only offend the faithful, after all--and the faithful, weary after forty years of meaningless banners and ugly churches and pathetic music and unfortunate art, don't really have the energy left to fight over hideous papal banners to be displayed during a visit that has already been spoiled by all the fighting and controversy and general rottenness that's already been displayed, and will only get worse before things are over.

UPDATE: In the comment box, Deirdre Mundy points out that more than ugly fire can be seen in this image. Um, ewww.....

13 comments:

Karen M. Patrick said...

The only way that flame design would work is if it was painted on the Pope-mobile and Papa Benedict was wear a leather cassock.

Red Cardigan said...

Okay, Karen, now I've got to scrub my mind of that mental image...

:)

But seriously, you're on target--those flames could work as a biker motif as well as a banner design--which is why they don't really work at all.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's supposed to remind us of burning heretics...

...and/or their heretical anti-Catholic English 16th century bible translations? You know, back when the Church was all doing she could to suppress the holy scriptures, to keep those brave reformers from opening the eyes of all the poor, unthinking papists. ;)

Anonymous said...

oops... that is, "doing all she could"

Anonymous said...

What's with the little mouse arrow thing at the bottom? And why is it left-handed? Clearly the work of the devil.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Actually, if you tilt your head and look at it right, it sorta looks like a naked woman.

I assume this is intentional, so that the English papers can publish the inevitable 'avant-guarde artist tricks pope' article.

"I wanted something to show that the Church is essentially mother, that the Holy Spirit, the Life-giving force of the Trinity, is a woman," said Sr. Brunehlda, the prioress for The Little Sisters of the Elite. "The heirarchy in Rome is devoid of women, which is why the Church is dying. By forcing the Pope to confront the female nature of the Holy Spirit, my art makes a powerful case for the ordination of women. [insert cherry-picked scripture quotation here...]

Deirdre Mundy said...

BTW-- I'm not the only one seeing thinly disguised nudity here... I showed it to my husband and he started snickering....

Just another attempt to embarrass the pope, IMO....

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

Oh my goodness! Now I can't NOT see it...I mean...her! Thanks a lot, Deirdre! :P

Deirdre Mundy said...

If it makes you feel better, they look like a NURSING mom's chest!

My husband, quoting a friend's beer and pizza discourse in college: "Obviously, it's meant to represent how the church suckles at the breasts of the holy spirit-- from one comes the milk of truth, from the other the milk of charity!"

Seriously, though... not sure how the organizers MISSED that.. so it must be on purpose.

I'm going to be giggling and snickering about this all day, though... hopefully they won't have a boy's choir singing the Mass--it would be a recipe for disaster!

Clare Krishan said...

no, the 'Liberation Theology crossed with Val Doonican' is what got me snorting, mea culpa! For those who aren't familiar with the UK's home-grown crooners cut from the Perry Como mold, here he is the way I remember him growing up (70s)

http://img.auctiva.com/imgdata/1/0/1/8/6/2/7/webimg/277865451_o.jpg

and why is that so bad? There's no way my lapsed brothers and sisters will be attracted to the symbolism, they're oblivious to flames and Pentecost, with memories of Confirmation rituals of some obscure mitered crimson toga'd Bishop they'd never seen before nor likely ever saw again even more deeply repressed than all the other unpleasantness of happy-clappyisms that polluted their minds to all that is beautiful, true and good as having nothing remotely in common with the Catholic Church.

Sad... but I'll pray for miracles none the less, the Pope needs all the spiritual armour he can muster its going to be a gruelling encounter I fear.

LarryD said...

Erin - Fixed it for you

Red Cardigan said...

Aaaagh! Larry--that's awful! (In a good way). :)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Larry-- Way to go! :) I like your version much better.

Maybe if enough people alert the UK bishops to the....issues, they'll change it to an image pleasantly evocative of Medieval Canterbury or something?