Italians used to be so good at culture. Painting, architecture, music, food, fashion. Roman Catholicism attracted the greatest artistic geniuses and inspired them to create masterpiece after masterpiece.
Alas, high aesthetic standards for Western religious iconography are now debased. Catholic artistic mastery is a forgotten art. The Church itself killed its own art, and it will not rise from the grave.
Most sensitive people are repulsed by the hideous abominations we now call churches. When the architect vomits onto his sketches for new stained glass, the Bishop writing the check calls it perfect.
Now let’s consider the Vatican, repository of 99% of Earth’s carved Carerra marble and home to the most magnificent images ever conjured from oil and canvas. To visit that place is to be in awe, from the mosaic floor up to the painted domes. It’s a sensory experience that can convert the hearts of heathens and elevate even the devout to a new level of devotion.
As proof of its power, the Pieta—the most refined object ever devised by human hands—has been the victim of numerous hammer attacks over the years. It now sits behind bulletproof glass. You may have stood in front of it. I’ve heard people gasp in its presence. Its power is real. Does any piece of art convey so intensely how Mary cradles her son? It’s hard to emerge from the experience unscathed.
Christmas nativity scenes seek to transmit a similar emotion. A good nativity is a still from a movie, the greatest story ever told. It’s important to see it, not just hear it described. It’s easy to forget what a manger is until you see a newborn lying in the donkey’s dinner bowl. The best nativities are adorable, beautiful, realistic, charming, representational. Children perform nativity plays around the world, reading from the script set down in the bible, costumed as the characters. My children have played angels, shepherds, and once one of them had to wear a big yellow star costume.
The fools who run the Vatican, sadly, have other ideas. I tweeted about it today. Caretakers of the greatest treasures of western culture, they are instead blind, hairless moles, burrowing deep into the muck for their nasty trinkets. A realistic and charming Nativity that delights families visiting Rome? How utterly contemptuous that would be. No—we must find something that makes conservatives and traditionalists mad. This year they chose a “nativity” made up of oversized, stylized carvings from the late 1960s. It has to be seen to be believed.
One figure looks like a bizarro astronaut, the rest look like Playmobil figures melted in a fire. Whoever made these things was tripping hard on acid. In fact, I’m pretty sure if you broke these things open you’d find a few bindles of hash stashed inside. The guy who chose this as 2020’s official nativity scene was definitely taking fat rips off a pipe.
Hey, that’s what the sculptures are—giant bongs!
You’d think an organization stocked with flamboyant gay men would have slightly better taste.
It’s sad and I hate it. Now, I’m not calling for a hammer attack on these figures, because that would be wrong. But if someone did attack these figures and smash them to bits, I wouldn’t be mad at all.