Religous Art
by Andrew MacArthur

    It is the winter of 1999
    and Sister Wendy has had a wonderful idea
    to select and present a new painting of Jesus
    -a kind of gift for Christ
    on the last Nativity-
    in the pages of the National Catholic Reporter.

    If I would choose Degas' bourgeois child-molester,
    above the green corpse on Grunewald's altar
    it is because Jesus is not the cause of our grief.

    And, if I'd want a portrait by Whistler,
    over Leonardo's 'Salvator'-
    it's because He's not the cure, either.

    If I prefer a girl with a pearl earring by Vermeer
    before a gamboge gargoyle by Gaugin-
    it is because we are not the cause of His grief.

    And I'd be with the genteel girls of Sargent
    instead of match-stick figures from Matisse-
    because we aren't the cure for His grief.

    It is because Christ (like us) just doesn't
    need a new museum piece
    -in heaven Jesus has everything.

    It is because this is what Art teaches
    -all our love is here on earth,
    all our mornings in this world.

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