Beautiful Religious Art: Michelangelo’s Pieta

Michelangelo's Pieta, 1498.

Michelangelo’s Pieta, 1498.

This has always been one of my favorite works of art. Sculpted by Michelangelo in 1498 when he was only 23, this work reflects Michelangelo’s deep love of beauty. In his younger days, Michelangelo was completely taken up with the Renaissance ideals of beauty. I wrote about this in a post a few years ago.

http://theracerx.com/2011/06/10/michelangelo-titanic-melancholy-genius-and-lover-of-beauty/

Michelangelo was a great religious artist. He was a man of deep spirituality. His art can be truly meditative and inspiring. This is the beauty of art, that it expresses so well the spiritual side of life, putting into form things are the ultimately formless, helping us to see the unseen, to even feel what cannot be seen. Good art can lead us to God. This is why I believe art is ultimately a gift from God, a great gift. No other creature on the face of the earth creates art; only man.

It is hard to believe this is a piece of marble.

It is hard to believe this is a piece of marble.

The Pieta is a magnificent work. What I find so remarkable about this creation is how supple the flesh seems, how soft and lifelike, even though this is a piece of marble. Nothing like this had been seen before Michelangelo created the Pieta. It is a reflection of the High Renaissance, of the belief common at the time that truth and beauty were intimately linked, and that we can reach God through the pursuit of beauty. Despite the tragedy of the event, the dead body of Christ in his mother’s arms, there is a wonderful calm and harmonious peace represented here, a calm and peace that speaks to the ultimate power of faith to calm our fears and dispel our doubts. These types of High Renaissance works only lasted for a while; later on in his life Michelangelo would renounce his youthful love of beauty and create works that were much more tortured and infused with suffering. I can understand those too.

The beautiful calm of Mary's face belies the tragedy of the scene, the death of Christ.

The beautiful, classical calm of Mary’s face belies the tragedy of the scene, the death of Christ.

But for today, in the early days of spring, beauty is something to be cherished and celebrated, especially the beauty of great religious art.

Spiritual Struggles

Jesus being taken off the cross, by Rembrandt

Jesus being taken off the cross, by Rembrandt

Given my recent struggles with faith, I don’t have a whole lot to say this Easter. Recently I have found more truth in artistic expressions of faith than in Church life itself. Rembrandt was one of the great masters of religious art. I find his painting exude the mystery, difficulty, and humanity of true faith. In short, his paintings are filled with a kind of dark love, a shadowy expression of faith, but a vision of God and love nevertheless. His works seems to capture so well the uncertainties of the spiritual world, of the struggles which faith engenders, while at the same time conveying a trust that, in the end, the light and love of God will prevail in our lives.

Faith, Hope and Love, these are really all we need.

Vince McAllister, Conservative Christian, Married “Family Values” Congressman Caught Making out with Staffer

Louisiana congressman Vince McAllister, the latest conservative Christian republican to fall to the temptations of the flesh.

Louisiana congressman Vince McAllister, the latest conservative Christian republican to fall to the temptations of the flesh.

So, the latest politician versed in lies and hypocrisy has appeared, Louisiana Representative Vance McAllister, a conservative Christian republican. Apparently McAllister ran as a family values type of guy, a man of the Lord, pious and devout and devoted to his wife and family. Undoubtably he is a crusader against all that is morally degenerate in our age, and promised his constituents that he would help to lead America back to the golden age of religious and sexual purity. He certainly loved his family, and his wife.

He also loved a little blonde pussy on the side.

He was caught on a surveillance video making out with one of his tempting staffers.

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/04/vance-mcallister-caught-kissing-staffer

Now, he is asking for “forgiveness” of course from his wife, his family, and most important of all, his constituents.

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness,” the congressman said in a statement. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve.”

The conservative congressman, instilling some family values in a lovely staffer.

The conservative Christian congressman, instilling some family values in a lovely staffer.

The woman however has been removed from his staff. Undoubtedly the religious authorities in Louisiana would not want such a temptress any longer being associated with such an esteemed member of Congress.

And what is a sad, but still funny twist on this story, is that the husband of the woman caught making out with the congressman, is completely dismayed by what happened. Listen to his reaction.

I’m just freaking devastated by the whole deal, man. I loved my wife so much. I cannot believe this. I cannot freaking believe it. I feel like I’m going to wake up here in a minute and this is all going to be a bad nightmare,” Heath Peacock told CNN on Tuesday. “He has wrecked my life

This is pure beta talk. Your wife was making out with a congressman and all you can do is whine about how much you loved her and how “he” wrecked your life. Yes, even in the face of the most blatant acts of infidelity, his instinctive beta pedestalizing of his beloved wife is still in operative. Well, apparently she did not love you to the same degree, and most likely you were not fucking her the way she needed to be fucked, otherwise she most likely would have not gotten with the congressman. But then again, who knows. Whatever the case, her husband is as pathetic as the now repentant congressman.

Here is another gem from the congressman, the conservative Christian McAllister:

Here at the McAllister house, we have a big family breakfast every Sunday before church. Kelly does the cooking, and I do the dishes,” McAllister said of his wife during a campaign ad. “O.K., O.K., so mostly, I do the eating. But it’s here in this house that Kelly and I worked to instill the values of faith, family, and country in our five children. If you will trust me with your vote, you can count on me to take those values to Washington.”

So, he likes to instill the values of faith, family and country in his children. He asked his votes to elect him so he could take such values to Washington. Apparently he also enjoys instilling his tongue in staffers mouths on the weekdays.

McAllister and wife and the swearing in ceremony.

McAllister and wife and the swearing in ceremony. He is smiling because he knows how much fresh pussy his staffers will be offering him.

I love the secrets, the lies and the hypocrisies of our sexual world. It is a never ending source of fascination to see the hypocrital politicians, their hypergamous female devotees, and the pathetic beta husbands cuckolded by their supposedly faithful, God fearing wives. Life is such a circus sometimes.

Classic Beauties: Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones, in one of her more sultry roles in Duel in the Sun.

Jennifer Jones, in one of her more sultry roles in Duel in the Sun.

Although not stunningly beautiful in the traditional Hollywood way, Jennifer Jones (1919-2009) nevertheless had a unique type of beauty: down to earth, natural, somewhat wild and untamed. I did not even know much about her until I saw her recently in 1947 Western, Duel in the Sun, where she plays a half Native American, half white woman torn by both racial prejudice and her lover for a difficult rogue, played by Gregory Peck. Next I saw her in Ruby Gentry, where again she plays a somewhat wild, highly sexual creature dealing with social stigma and unattainable love. She gained her fame earlier in her career, playing a totally different type of character than the sultry temptress, in The Song of Bernadette, eventually winning an Academy award for that role as the saintly Bernadette.

Why is a girl in a hay background so evocative?

Why is a girl in a hay background so evocative?

What so intriguing about these older films is how effectively sensuality, sexuality and overall erotic passion are portrayed. There was a certain time in the post war years and before the 1960′s when sexuality was explored but without the need for gratuitous sex that later became relatively standard in all films with adult themes. And yet how much more effective are the earlier presentations of erotic passions, when love and sex and desire had to be conveyed within the stricter standards of the film codes of the time. In all drama it is simply more powerful to leave some things to the imagination, to hint at rather than graphically depict sex, to draw us into the emotional and psychological turmoil that often accompanies and is the result of the unbridled desires and intense passions of difficult love.

Jones, with Gregory Peck again in Duel in the Sun.

Jones, with Gregory Peck again in Duel in the Sun.

Jennifer Jones was a great actress at portraying the darker, sultry side of love and desire. Like all the other actresses of her time, she had to learn to convey these emotions through good acting, rather than simply taking her clothes off, as is unfortunately required of too many actresses today. As much as I enjoy seeing a nude female, I still rate ability of a woman to convey sexuality through seductive innuendo and imagination a higher quality than one who can simply show us her breasts and vagina or simulate sex in a big (or low) budget film.

The Nymphs of Spring Return

Here a lovely forest nymph enjoying a spring day.

Here is a lovely forest nymph enjoying a spring day.

Now, finally in my part of the world, spring has arrived. After a fairly rough winter the delights of spring are all that much more pleasant. I can never get enough of the warmth and sun, and with the warmth and sun come those delightful spring nymphs: wood nymphs, water nymphs, mountain nymphs, ocean nymphs, river nymphs, there are a multitude of different nymphs and they all reappear after a long winter’s hiding.

This is our first nymph of this spring, a lovely and petite Dryad, a forest nymph, who has come out from her hiding to enjoy the fresh sunshine of spring. She reminds me of Daphne, the nymph that Apollo desired, but failed to win. He chased her through the woods but before he could capture her she prayed to her father, a river god, for help, and he in turn changed her into a laurel tree. Apollo still loved her though, and in honor of her he made the laurel tree, and the leaves of the laurel tree in particular , a favorite symbol of his powers, especially with respect to artistic and intellectual pursuits, of which Apollo was quite fond.

Apollo and Daphne, by the great Italian sculpture Bernini.

Apollo and Daphne, by the great Italian sculpture Bernini.

I hope to find many lovely nymphs this spring and summer. It is always a delightful time.

The Walking Dead: Next Season’s Big Surprise

Rick and his new bff zombie from next's season's Walking Dead.

Rick and his new bff zombie from next’s season’s Walking Dead.

Attention: Spoiler Alert!!!

Now that this season’s Walking Dead has ended, we can begin to speculate what will happen next season. We can all assume that Terminus is a cannibalistic cult, but what happens beyond that? The show is known for its completely unexpected twists and turns. And I think next season will provide us with the greatest twists and turns of all.

Here is what I have learned from an inside source: the humans and zombies will learn to live in peace together, and here is a leaked photo of Rick Grimes with his new BFF prove it. In end, Mika, the little girl who knew the zombies were more than just zombies, was right all along.

The humans and zombies will then unite to defeat the world’s truly greatest apocalyptic threat: Obamacare. (source: Fox News).

A Simple Case of Beauty

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One of the qualities of a good photo is a nice combination of light, shade, figure and form. A good photo, especially a good erotic photo, should evoke something, a type of atmosphere, a more ethereal quality which helps us escape from the mundane sameness of our daily material world. Healthy love and eroticism must always be imbued with a certain degree of spirituality, or at least psychology. Sex cannot be merely physical; it must also be spiritual, rooted in some type of love, and seeking some type of transcendence.

Art has the power to express these things, whether in writing or painting or photography. Photography is a great modern medium for erotic art, because it is both real, yet also imaginary. A good nude photo can represent and ideal of love and beauty, of the mysteries of sensuality and eroticism, in a way that few other artistic mediums can.

I find the above photo a nice example of such things. There is nothing too extravagant in this photo, and yet in its simplicity, a nude set against a soft white background, there is a sense of mystery and beauty that somehow expresses something deeper than the mere physicality of a nude body. It is a nude which hints at the fuller meanings of our erotic existence, the love and beauties of life, and the healthy respect for the hidden yet ever present powers of our sexuality.

This Year’s Difficult Lent of Doubts

Rembrandt captured so well the spiritual side of life...

St. Peter In Prison by Rembrandt. Rembrandt captured so well the spiritual side of life…

Although it is now Lent, this year’s Lent for me is pretty much non existent. The spiritual life however is not.  What is religion and what is spirituality? What is the spiritual world? Does God even exist? These are some of the questions that have been plaguing me for well over a year.

I don’t have any answers at the moment. What I do know, at least for myself, is that prayer and spirituality are still important, despite my estrangement from all forms of organized religion. There is a certain kind of eternal beauty to a healthy spirituality, a truth and beauty that surpasses all other kinds of beauty, even the erotic.

I love the above painting by Rembrandt. It is, in all its simplicity, an expression of the deeply complicated world of the spirit, a world we often must confront in the isolation and loneliness of our own existence. Although others can help us along our path and journey towards God, in the end it is always an individual bond that we must either accept or reject, a bond that we might find liberating or stifling and one with which we often find ourselves struggling. Prayer and contemplation are one means of finding our truth path in the spiritual world, and this painting seems supremely contemplative, as St. Peter is surely musing on his own death and what lies after.

I hope to once again find clarity in my spiritual life, but until that time arrives, in the meantime, I do find some clarity on the beauty and eternity of God through such wonderful artistic works as this.

Belle Knox: Duke Student Turned Porn Star

 

This is an interesting interview Piers Morgan did with Belle Knox, the overnight sensation of the adult film industry. Knox (not her real name), took up porn to help with the outrageous costs of Duke University (47,000 a year tuition). What I find most interesting about this interview is how composed Knox is, especially in defending her decision to do porn. She unabashedly and enthusiastically embraces her decision, saying it is hers, and is unapologetic about her deep sexuality. In a world where most girls are still quite uncomfortable about their sexuality, and most people still quite hypocritical about the existence of porn, she is quite refreshing.

Belle Knox, the latest sensation in the porn world.

Belle Knox, the latest sensation in the porn world.

It is also interesting to hear her say how she receives most flack from the other female students at Duke. Unfortunately, many of them are quite hostile to her, which has in turn dampened her social life at the school. This is not surprising. As she says, they are probably jealous because they know their boyfriends are most likely watching her porn. Morgan then tries to corner her on this, saying that of course it would be so horrible for maidenly girls of Duke to catch their lecherous boyfriends watching porn, to which Knox replies, “there is nothing wrong with watching porn.”  She rightly sees how “petty” and “ridiculous” such reactions to porn are, especially among females. Morgan has no answer for that. She also mentions how the frat boys are also hostile to her. This is also not surprising. Undoubtedly many of them secretly jerk to her porn, then hate her afterwards, which is often the common reaction to most people who secretly watch porn. At the end of the interview it also seems apparent that she has a major girl crush on Amanda Knox (after whose last name she took on her own screen name, Knox). Yes, I can imagine a porn film with Amanda Knox and Belle Knox would be quite the sensation, and quite hot too. Let those crazy judges in Italy get a hold of that. If only…

Knox, looking more prim and proper here...

Knox, looking more prim and proper here…

So she is an interesting figure. As a young woman she is quite self assured about her decision to do porn, quite comfortable in her sexuality, and that makes her quite ahead of most of the uptight harpies and hypocritical dudes who tend to frequent the refined grounds of colleges and universities today.

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