It was announced last Friday the Naked Chocolate Jesus art exhibit was cancelled due to protests from the Catholic Church. I was surprised at the church’s revulsion with Jesus in any art form. You can already buy chocolate Marys and Jesuses online.

Is seeing Jesus’ pee-pee in chocolate the source of outrage? If so, how can that be upsetting in any way if he reflects us and us him — how is it possible his naked body is considered indecent or a source of aggravation?

You can see Christ is Chocolate below and if you want to see the whole naked wholeness, click on the image and you’ll be taken to a full view. I have no idea if he melts in your mouth or if his chocolate pee-pee is crème-filled or not. I know I’m being insensitive and inappropriate — but so, too, is the Catholic Church.

Here’s how the AP reported the censorship:

NEW YORK (AP) — A planned Holy Week exhibition of a nude, anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ was canceled Friday amid complaints from Catholics, including Cardinal Edward Egan. The “My Sweet Lord” display was shut down by the hotel that houses the Lab Gallery in Manhattan, said Matt Semler, the gallery’s creative director. Semler said he resigned after officials at the Roger Smith Hotel shut down the show. The artwork was created from more than 200 pounds of milk chocolate and features Christ with his arms outstretched as if on an invisible cross.

Unlike the typical religious portrayal of Christ, the artwork does not include a loincloth. The 6-foot sculpture was the victim of “a strong-arming from people who haven’t seen the show, seen what we’re doing,” Semler said. “They jumped to conclusions completely contrary to our intentions.” But word of the confectionary Christ infuriated Catholics, including Egan, who described it as “a sickening display.” Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League, said it was “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.”

I think the Naked Chocolate Jesus is a beautiful thing and it shows another side to the Christ and forces us all to reconsider his place in our lives. Isn’t that the purpose of both art and religion? Isn’t it rare and intimate when both purposes converge to give us new thought and new shining lights of insight?

Would Naked Jesus in Burlap be just as offensive? Naked Jesus in Cream Cheese? I think I’ve seen a Naked Jesus in Butter before and it was utterly revolting — from a Trans-Fat sense. Is Jesus only allowed to be celebrated in Catholic Church approved materials? Is the entire world only permitted to enjoy him in certain paints and woods and porcelain mandated by Catholics? Do those who belong to the Church of Chocolate Jesus have no say in how their icons are presented to the eyes of the universe? Hasn’t chocolate, for some, become the very embodiment of Easter?

Isn’t Jesus supposed to belong to everyone and not just the vocal outraged? Is a child’s crayon drawing of a naked Jesus just as offensive as a six foot version in chocolate? I don’t remember this sort of fury when Jesus was found in burnt toast, window reflections and tree bark
— and there was no way to know if he was naked in those visions or not. Those Jesus sightings were considered messages from the supernatural and living evidence of Jesus in our lives on earth. What difference does it make that one artist found Jesus in Milk Chocolate?

This Naked Jesus in Chocolate bugaboo is the Flag Burning issue all over again in chocolate and Piss Christ repeated in a chocolate-covered pee-pee and the Dung-Covered Madonna in faked naked outrage: Conservative political views are being cudgeled against the mainstream consciousness of the American Dream of freedom and artistic expression and dissent for political control and emotional repression. Now we need to decide what to do with a Naked Jesus in Chocolate. Do we:

  • Melt him down into souvenir communion wafers
  • Lick him like a lollipop
  • Melt him into a proper, life-sized, wooden cross
  • Nibble his fingers and toes
  • Shave him into curls for ice cream topping
  • Melt his private parts into a loincloth and baptize him as acceptable
  • Fill his hollow body with peanut butter and feed him to the homeless

Those are some of my ideas. What ideas do you have for putting a rejected Naked Jesus in Chocolate to good use? We know we already found Jesus Dead in His Grave — but who knew he’d be so quickly resurrected in milk chocolate?

43 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    I’m not outraged because Jesus doesn’t need me to defend him.
    Artists making chocolate Jesus figures isn’t much fun, however. It’s sort of like a 13-year-old yelling a swear out of a bus window at some kid from another school.
    There’s no real danger involved.
    Everyone is brave in those circumstances.
    The real fun could be trying to challenge believers of other faiths who aren’t so inclined to turn the other cheek.

  2. Har har harrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
    Um, this is fabulous. I love the article. Love love love it.
    I think we should eat Him, obviously. Why waste good chocolate? I think I would’ve been much more willing to participate in Communion growing up if I were partaking in chunks of Chocolate Jesus. Yum!

  3. Most of the commentators on my blog said it should be eaten – some were concerned about the amount and the sell by date came into question – ie could they eat that much chocolate before the sell by date!
    I think it should be exhibited somewhere else – if not eating sounds like a good option .

  4. Hi Chris!
    Now how can you not be outraged as a Catholic but Cardinal Egan and that other rabid fellow are so out of sorts? Is there a disconnect of faith here or what?
    Do you believe in a brittle Jesus or not?
    I was raised in a church that claimed Jesus was all-powerful and indestructible. He was the King. He was UNchallenged in any evil effort.
    The Catholic Church, however, seems to believe in a fragile Christ that cannot temp challenges or wondering or outside-the-box thinking. I am not sure how much blind faith one can place in so hollow a figure that a piece of art can crumble Jesus and what he stood for into mere M&Ms.
    Why do you think a naked Jesus is chocolate is childish? Do you not honor the artist’s inspiration to reckon Jesus in a new way that challenges the current permeable thought?
    What is the role of the artist in society? To confirm what is already known, or to challenge commonly held beliefs that only exist because they are unchallenged?

  5. Hi Nicola!
    Oh, that’s so funny covered this in your blog! I confess I haven’t visited there since I was told me p-off by your commenters concerning my non-support of ear candling as something safe.
    Hmm… now a milk chocolate ear candle… that’s something to chew on! :mrgreen:

  6. Well I think it entirely depends …
    Is he made from that delicious chocolate that they seem to reserve especially for Easter eggs?
    Or
    Is he made from that revolting chocolate you find in Christmas tree decorations and advent calendars?
    And either way does that constitute a religious comment by the artist 😉

  7. Mike!
    I think we need to assume that Naked Chocolate Jesus is made of the finest chocolate available in the world!
    I was, however, disappointed to learn he was made of milk chocolate. I guess the dark chocolate would make his facade into a Racial Issue as well as a Religious One. 😀

  8. Hi David,
    I wonder why the Church gets upset about these types of things? You would have thought that “Banned in Boston” would have taught some in the leadership that it is better to ignore, than to give free publicity.
    Jesus made that chocolate and the artist, so there must be a lesson to learn there. There is some irony in the fact that Catholics hold as a core belief that they are eating the Body of Christ when they take communion. Maybe we should be happy that the artist brings the Mystery of Faith to the secular world via his artwork.
    Could it be subversive in that way? It’s something to think about because it gets people thinking about Christ during the Holy Week!
    Maybe I see these types of things seem blase because they are relatively common in the art world. If it has been the first time some sort of artwork designed to challenge Christianity had been created, it might be one thing, but ever since Andres Serrano, the bar for “shocking” has been set pretty high. I refuse to get too excited about these things. There is worse stuff out there in the world that needs some social commentary.

  9. Chris!
    I agree! The Catholic Church has lately come off as fragile and wounded and waiting to be pricked at every indignity. The Christ we know, it seems, is stronger than the church!
    The Church should learn to condemn less and ignore more.
    If your faith is strong, then what can it matter how others choose to interpret the Christ figure? It has nothing to do with your vision and meaning. You choose the Christ image you prefer and no one should bother you about what you choose to admire.
    I think this faked outrage is all about glory seeking in the most anti-Christlike way imaginable. These vocal few, these sirens of argument and hatred, choose to lambaste instead of love and cogently want confrontation instead of love and peace because they crave personal attention and selfish fame.
    I think the role of the artist in society is to challenge beliefs — cementing some and shattering others — it all depends on your own internal dutiful watchtower and moral compass for goodness if you are affected wrongly or not. The challenge of living a right life is finding your mark again after being struck from it.
    I agree that when it comes to shocking, Piss Christ is hard to beat. But the lesson in The Piss Christ — for me anyway — is that Christ himself is undeniable and strong and impenetrable to anything that tries to confound him. He is happy and available wherever you find him. Even in a beaker of urine.
    You can pee on him, cover him in dung, or eat his chocolate pee-pee and none of it matters because he is beyond earthly delights of the longing body. He is the original It, the eternal The Man and the King of All Kings, right?
    So let’s let him be the King and not worry about the pretenders to the throne.

  10. I think it may be more about the *right to be offended* and an attempt by the religious right to restore the perceived imbalance between the respect they have to give ( under law) to other religions, when they are not afforded the same.
    The representative who campaigned against this exhibit made the point about “never daring to do something similar of the Prophet Mohammed naked with his genitals exposed during Ramadan.”
    (Quote from BBC – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6513155.stm)
    There was also all the fuss of the *cartoons* of Mohammed – and yet ones of Jesus Christ and God are common place.
    I think they are trying to obtain the protection in law ( and in our minds) that is afforded to other religious groups such as Muslims.
    I actually found the sex toy insertables of Jesus and the Virgin Mary far more disturbing than this Chocolate sculpture.

  11. Hi David,
    You are right. If your faith is strong, it shouldn’t be shaken by anything that humans can do.
    It’s the same thing with the flag. If someone wants to be foolish and release carbon and greenhouse gasses into the air burning effigies and flags, more power to them. It just shows how strong our nation is that we don’t throw protesters into prison or reeducation camps.
    I’m inspired!
    I want to make my own performance art project:
    I’m going to make a giant globe out of chocolate — the seas could be made of dark chocolate and the continents of milk chocolate. The polar ice caps will be made of white chocolate.
    I’ll suspend the chocolate Earth under a heat lamp and let it slowly melt into a vat of trans-fatty acids.
    A guy wearing a Haliburton hat will hold a hair dryer to demonstrate the destructive power of “Hurricane X.” This will also speed up the Earth’s melting process and dramatize the effects that carbon fuels have had on global warming.
    While this is happening, I’ll have a Hugo Chavez look-alike hand out ice cubes to the people in the crowd.
    Eventually the Earth will drip into the boiling hot oil and cook up like a fried candy bar at a county fair.
    I’ll have the audience get some of the yummy treat and we will all pile into a SUV and take a Sunday drive while enjoying our fried chocolate treat. :mrgreen:

  12. David,
    According to our custom, the traditional idols of deities are made of clay and on a particular day the clay idol is made ‘alive’ and be ‘god/goddess’ by an expert priest through religious rituals. Supposedly, you can’t make an idol ‘alive’ unless it is made of clay.
    Now look at this – this one is made of tin
    http://entertainment.webshots.com/photo/1167329619057588418WZHzxx
    This one is made of coconut skin – quite an art work, right?
    http://entertainment.webshots.com/photo/1167328848057588418VyNMpl
    and this one is the height of creativity – made of dry fruits!
    http://www.hindujagruti.org/denigrations/sculptures_idols/index.php?id=4
    I still remember my grandma being flabbergasted – “why are they worshipping those? They should keep it in a museum, or eat it!”
    I could see where she was coming from.
    Talking about ‘naked images’ –
    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/jul2006/husa-j03.shtml
    Where as, the erotic sculptors of Khajuraho Temples in India are considered as one of the finest artwork in the world!
    http://www.indhistory.com/hindu-temple/hindu-temple-khajuraho-temple.html
    So why are we crucifying someone who is painting ‘naked images’ of Hindu deities?
    Because he is a Muslim??? Then when are we going to demolish Khajuraho?
    Finally, what to do with the naked chocolate Jesus? –
    “Enjoy the art work as long as you can, then the obvious – eat it!”

  13. Excellent comment, Gordon, and right on target and in the spirit of the message of the day, thanks!
    We will miss you during Passover and we will DO EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER TO BREAK THE INTERNETS!
    If you were offered a chocolate yarmulke — would you wear it, eat it, or dip it in peanut butter? If you wore it, would others be offended? If no chocolate is Kosher, then substitute carob for chocolate.

  14. well, I’ve visited Lenny, Maine’s life size chocolate moose whose on display with chocolate trees, a life size chocolate turkey, and varios assoted chocolate wildlife, bunnies, squirrals, ect. That is cute, a sweet rendition of God’s creations
    this on the other hand is just plain vulgar, all I can say is, I do not like it.
    ~~EK