Sunday, August 15, 2004

On Graven Images

I never understood what's so bad about graven images. They're just images, aren't they? But they certainly seem to upset people who are true believers in a god who doesn't like images. Remember the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan that are no longer because of the zeal and godliness of the Taliban? Something similar may have happened in Lubbock, Texas, where a recent sculpture of the Wind God has been defaced. Though the figure in the sculpture was named the Wind Man, many Lubbockites decided sculptures of a pagan god do not make suitable decorations for a town which is fervently Christian. The General (from whom I stole this story) lists several letters by local residents, all of whom express outrage (in astonishingly similar terms and sentences) about this violation against the one-god-rule.

None of the opponents of the Wind Man approved of the destruction, though. But it's hard to see why anybody else than a Christian fundamentalist would want to destroy an innocent sculpture of some guy with puffy cheeks and air coming from his mouth.

What does the destruction of these graven images accomplish? Is it intended to wipe out alternative faiths so that nobody would, even by pure accident, come upon them and find them attractive? Why would anyone's faith be that weak? Maybe someone can tell me why graven images are so frightening. None has ever attacked me, which I cannot say about humans.

I'm a bit worried about the Sphynx in Cairo (she happens to portray my daughter), and also other great works of art all over the world. Are we going to find them struck down as some evil messages from ancient gods and goddesses or perhaps the post-modernistic art lovers? I hope not. But then I didn't think that the fourteenth century could return so quickly either.