Sunday, March 28, 2010

Virtual Sistine Chapel

On the Vatican website you can tour the Sistine Chapel in a simulated way. Thanks to Prof. Scott for finding this. It feels a lot like a video game actually, a very dizzying and awkward to manuever videogame but you can get really great quality images of every inch of what Pope John Paul the Great referred to as "the sancuary of Theology of the Body".

Michelangelo's depictions of the human body painted right on the walls and ceiling of a building as prominent in Catholicism as the Sistine Chapel is very affirming for me and what I feel called to as a Catholic figurative artist. I was eating lunch with some (Catholic) friends and showed them my sketchbook which includes life drawings from nude models and they were teasing me about it. They were joking, all in good humor of course, about how I believe "God wants me to draw naked people". I could tell that they were having a hard time reconciling God with the naked human body which is a reflection of our cultural attitude we have aquired. The truth is that the human body has very much to do with God in a very particular way. God made people in His image. We tend to think this means that our spirits our made in His image and our bodies are just sort of shells containing our spirits. Actually, God's image in us doesn't stop at our non-physical selves but spills over into our physical bodies. God's image embraces all of man, integrated body and soul. Our bodies and our souls are inexorally connected. The body expresses or makes visible the soul. In all of creation, it is the human body which most concisely communicates by making visible the invisible spiritual reality which is God. I could go on and on from many different angles...but what more does God have to do to get it through our thick heads and hearts that our bodies are not to be estranged from Him. I mean for crying our loud consider the Incarnation. Break it The God of the universe took on human flesh. Why did He do this? To espouse us, all of us-including our bodies, to Himself. He took on our humanstuff to redeem it, and this redemption is an ongoing process. Don't believe for a minute that God doesn't have anything to do with our bodies...He is VERY intensely interested in the union of our bodies with His own assumed flesh. Just consider the Eucharist, where Jesus offers Himself entire...His very flesh, to be taken into our own bodies. Hmmm...I think He wants to have very much to do with our bodies. Jesus, God incarnate, is all about NOT being estranged from our bodies! I hope through my art I can do a small part in proclaiming this truth of integration... that of our own bodies and souls and of our whole selves with God in Christ.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome! Thank you for posting this! I will have to share it with my art history professor. We finished the Renaissance a while ago, but I think it would still be cool to bring up for class.

    Beautiful reflection too! It is so awesome how our faith engages all of our humanity... and so sad that this is so little understood!