(Mother of God Icon written by Jan Isham, available here)
Lots of emails from outraged folks wondering why I haven’t commented on Playboy’s putting a nude image on its cover and suggesting it is the Virgin Mary.
The headline reads, “te adoramos, Maria,” or, “We adore you, Mary.”
Is it vulgar and insulting? Sure is. Is it worth my ire? No. And I’ll tell you why.
Because the people responsible for that cover have dissed the wrong guy’s mother, that’s why.
Jesus has big shoulders. He can take what idiots throw his way. But you don’t diss his mother, fool.
Have you ever noticed that even Madonna, who routinely drags her carcass around with a crucifix she can hang herself on, or a cross she can burn, or a statue she can make out with while pretending to have the stigmata, never disrespects the Theotokos, the God-bearer, Mary-most-Holy, the created creature who gave birth to the Creator?
That’s mystery you don’t mess with. Even Madonna Louise Ciccone Penn Ritchie knows it.
Back when Christopher Hitchens was on his Whack-A-Christian Book Promo and Debating Tour, he and a priest had a little fracas, in public. I don’t believe either man was experiencing his finest hour, and the priest said to Hitchens, “And you will either die a Catholic or a madman, and I’ll tell you the difference...”
Sadly, the priest’s statement caused such an uproar that the difference never did seem to get recorded. I – like many other Catholics – humorously wondered how anyone could tell the difference. It was a joke, but I did understand the point the priest was making.
Oftentimes people push farthest away from them that thing to which they are most attracted, because they know they are attracted, and that the attraction makes them vulnerable.
People who harbor the illusion that they are completely in control of themselves, their lives and their destinies, will resist an attraction to anything that they know will – upon embracing it – ask them to relinquish that illusion.
So, Playboy – having done everything possible over the last 50 years to declare itself completely of the world and the flesh – is perhaps wondering if it has made itself sufficiently clear. Thus it feels the need to make a profound pledge of allegiance to the flesh, and to all that is mortal, and “as grass” or as “fleeting as a Texas wind.” It declares, “we belong to the prevailing culture,” which – because of the fickle nature of man – is always a dead thing. Pop culture is DOA, Dead on Arrival, because it floats on a stream, and as Chesterton said,
“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. ”
No sense in getting all nuts over that cover. No sense getting nuts over a dead thing.
In my experience, people who go out of their way to disrespect Mary generally get surprised. Perhaps someone involved with that cover will die “a Catholic or a madman.”
Maybe he’ll be able to tell the rest of us the difference!
All joking aside, it is also interesting to me that the image was released the same day the Vatican released a teaching on the dignity of the human person, Dignitas Personae.
The paper has to do with humanity and bioethical questions, (you can read it here) but I found it just a little ironic that the two things were released on the same day. The Dignity of the Person should be considered in bioethical matters, of course. But it should also be considered in terms of the people involved with putting a young woman into a soft-porn focus, or the dignity of the people who – in their weakness – will be enticed by it.
And, of course, we have every reason to expect that the dignity of a young Jewish girl, who begins an entire pageant of salvific interaction between God and humanity with a humble, faith-filled “yes,” should be considered, too.