Saturday, October 13, 2007

Euphemisms for "sin" in MOBIA's Prodigal Son Exhibit

Maureen Mullarkey opines in the New York Sun for Oct 11 ("Scratch and Sniff Sin") that there is more than a whiff of euphemism in descriptions of sin and repentance in the Museum of Biblical Art's current exhibit of illustrations to the Lucan parable of the Prodigal Son.

She notes that "the exhibition offers a splendid selection of mainly paintings and prints that range from the 15th century to the present."

She knows enough about the parable to say, "Moral awakening is the pivot on which the story turns. Without a change of heart — metanoia the Greeks called it — there would be no expiatory homecoming, no occasion for absolution.

Emphasis on that radical contrition is vividly embodied in the works on view but absent from curatorial discussion. The sermonette reduces to easy verities a Judeo-Christian reflection on the terrible beauty of the bond of an ineffable God to a willful creation. In MoBIA's sentimental gloss the story merely "highlights the universality of love between parent and child, the consequences of misbehavior and the miracle of forgiveness." It accomplishes this for us all, "regardless of one's faith tradition or lack thereof."

The word "misbehavior" does not, she concludes, convey the gravity of sin.

No comments: