April 18, 2005

Your Turn: Church Signals


‘He should have been brought up with many, many sisters and have a lesbian in the family.’

…This is part of the criteria offered for selecting a new Pope in this week’s The Way We Live Now feature in the NYT Magazine

If you were to critique this essay, you could say it does a perfectly adequate job pontificating on the need for a more progressive Catholic church.  What it doesn’t do, however, is provide any explanation of this accompanying image (except to say that the cardinals hold the future of the church in their hands).  Because the article can’t decide if it’s about church reform or a greater female influence on the institution (unless the suggestion is that they are one in the same), it is even harder to read this visual.  Are we looking at two men with a woman in the middle?  Does the image depict an appeal, an argument, a discussion, or something else?

Assuming that these gestures have a basis in Christianity (personally, I recognize the hand on the left as forming the Buddhist “chinmudra” symbol, relating to realization, reflection and teaching), I am at a loss to interpret this image.  Any help?

(You can find the article, titled “Communion,” here)

(image — Ralph Gibson in The New York Times Magazine)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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