Sunday, March 13, 2005

The scandal of particularity (Female Jesus?) and some wasps

The Telegraph reports on controversy in an Italian town following the decision to cast a woman as the Crucified Christ in the Good Friday Passion Play.
On Good Friday, after night has fallen on the medieval Umbrian town of Alviano, the crowds flock to a spellbinding re-enactment of the Passion of Christ.
From the ancient piazza they watch as the bare-chested actor playing Jesus, head crowned with thorns, is tied to a cross 35ft above the ground, fixed to the ramparts of the 15th-century castle.
This year, however, the figure spotlit on the cross will be a woman - a 29-year-old ballerina named Elena Angeli - who was cast by the play's director, Corrado Sorbara, to show the "other, feminine side of Christ".
His controversial decision has split the town in two. While elderly residents talk of heresy and blasphemy, prompting the mayor to call for the play to be scrapped, younger people support Mr Sorbara's choice.
It's just another reaction to the scandal of particularity and the philosophical paradox of the concrete universal. The fact that God chose a particular people and deigned to come among us as a man is something that the hearers of the Gospel have always struggled with. We find a resistance to it in early gnosticism and it also offends our modern-day egalitarian instincts. Ironically, God's supreme mercy and kenosis is seen as too restrictive, whereas the de-specificised gnostic view which detaches salvation from its historical context ultimately tends towards the denial of the reality (and neccesity) of that salvation.
On a more positive note, there's an interesting report of how special wasps have been used to help preserve a Cranach alterpiece.
A sixteenth-century altar in one of Germany's most historically important cathedrals has been saved from woodworm not by the application of chemicals, but by a swarm of wasps.
The Cranach altar in the Erfurt Cathedral was being destroyed by the wood-eating insects, but officials delayed taking action because they feared that chemical treatments might damage its 11 painted panels.
Instead they adopted a pioneering technique which may now be emulated in historic buildings across Europe: releasing 3,000 parasitic wasps, which feed on woodworm larvae.

An Obituary
Telegraph Defence correspondant and pagan priest.
After his departure from the newspaper, Greenfield became involved in paganism and his former colleagues heard tales of him dancing naked at stone circles. He was 65 before he had his first tattoos and he told a friend that the thing that most embarrassed him about his past was that he had worn a tie-pin.

No comments: