Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Last Supper Remixed?

Photo Source: unknown (via Facebook)
In your opinion, what constitutes "Sacrilege?" Does this picture do it? Why or why not?

Sacrilege, noun
1. a technical and not necessarily intrinsically outrageous violation (as improper reception of a sacrament) of what is sacred because consecrated to God
2. gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing (Source: Merriam-Webster)

As I first looked at this, I thought to myself that there are bound to be some folks who would be offended by this picture, but then I quickly also wondered, why? Aside from the obvious, what makes this picture different than the original The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci? In Leonardo da Vinci's depiction of Jesus' Last Supper, there are also likely several misrepresentations, especially that Jesus and his disciples are depicted as seated around a table, when the cultural norm is more likely that they were reclined at the table.

I guess therein lies the main point; Jesus is, or can be, relevant to each generation. Leonardo da Vinci painted his version of the Last Supper in a way that was consistent with his European culture, just like the unknown artist in this rendition depicted Jesus in a way that is more consistent with current American culture. It is probably just as likely that an African artist would paint this differently yet again. No, for me that picture is not sacrilege; it is still tastefully and respectfully done. I see the same picture but simply represented in a different culture than Leonardo da Vinci's version.

"The Last Zombie-Supper"
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons
Certainly the secular world has created all sorts of parodies of the Last Supper, such as the Last Zombie-Supper.  In my books, this one is much more offensive. On a search through Flickr I even found a Last Cannibal Supper, but I wasn't about to publish those pictures here.

So what's the difference? Why am I OK with the first picture and not the second? Again, the first picture is respectfully and tastefully done. Unlike the second picture, it does not mock the event of the Last Supper. Even today Jesus has disciples. They may not always dress like the often idolized and utopian 1950's version of the church, but they are there, in every culture and every generation. Who knows, but I suspect that if God chose to first reveal His Son in our day and age and North American culture instead of the Jewish culture of 2000+ years ago, perhaps this first picture wouldn't be too far off the mark.

The second picture, well, what can I say? I never did understand this weird cultural fascination with zombies. The zombie phenomenon may be nothing more than innocent folkloric fun to many, but according to the previous Wikipedia link, it has its roots in witchcraft. Combine that with its utter disrespect for the things of my Lord, and well, it has turned into sacrilege, at least in my books.

Probably one of my all time favourite TV sitcoms of all time was MASH. Having said that, let me leave you with that classic "Suicide is Painless" from the 1970 movie M*A*S*H. Do you see their parody of the Last Supper in this video clip? Is this sacrilegious too?

What constitutes "Sacrilege" in your books? Is there even such a thing today? Thoughts?


  1. I think Jesus was a bit sacrilegious himself (depending how you define religion) Using sacred ceremonial washing containers to make wine in... come on, He could have simply filled the empty containers from the wine that was running low.

    Maybe we make too much of certain symbols and consider them sacred. If we didn't consider this picture of Jesus and his crew having a meal together as a sacred religious icon, there would be nothing religious there for people to poke fun at.

    I'm with you though. I don't get the zombie stuff. Personally I think it doesn't fit with whatever is pure and lovely... those thoughts we should dwell on. So I don't get zombie humor... whether it is poking fun at religious icons or not.

    1. I was also thinking about how maybe the church itself is perhaps somewhat sacrilegious by taking the Lord's Supper, a "meal" shared in fellowship with the body of believers, and reduced it to a religious observance of a wafer and thimble of juice. Perhaps that's a blog post for another day.

      Thanks for sharing a comment, Jonathan. Peace.