Monday, October 29, 2007
My Sweet Lord
Cosimo Cavallaro uses a brush to touch up one of his controversial sculpture's in his exhibition.
His likeness is on watches, mugs, tattoos and dashboards. Some have seen it on the sides of buildings and in assorted pastries.

But if you want to get a whole mess of attention about where to put Jesus, nothing beats a bath in chocolate.

Call it blasphemy, free speech or a little bit of both, a Canadian artist has finally received the green light to showcase his religious-themed, cacao-inspired art.

Titled "Chocolate Saints ... Sweet Jesus", Cosimo Cavallaro's exhibition (which opened this past Saturday) features a life-size, anatomically correct sculpture of Jesus. The shocker is simple: the diety is made out of milk chocolate -- 200 pounds worth.

It's the artist's medium of the moment. And it's generating plenty of controversy.

A few months back, Cavallaro was assailed in his failed attempt to showcase the chocolate Jesus during Holy Week. The Catholic League called it an assault on Christian sensibilities.

That was then. As for now, Cavallaro tells the Associated Press he means no ill will to the Catholic Church, saying, "If my intentions were to offend, if I did do something wrong, I wouldn't be doing this. But I didn't do anything wrong."

Do you agree?

-- By Gabe Falcon, "360" Writer

Posted By CNN: 3:12 PM ET
  21 Comments
Dear Gabe,

Maybe I see this issue from a different perspective than most people do because I am an artist and studied art history in college, but I didn't understand the controversy over "Sweet Jesus" earlier this year and I don't understand it now.

Although I am not comparing Mr. Cavallaro's "chocolate Jesus" to a great work of art, there is a precedent for it. There is a wooden sculpture called the "Crucifix" (1492), attributed to Michelangelo, in the church of Sto. Spirito, Florence that features the nude figure of Christ. It is said that his intent may have been to depict Christ as heroic in the fashion of a mythological Greek hero. Horatio Greenough employed the same technique in his 1840 sculpture of George Washington (Washington D.C.) whose pose was taken from ancient Greek sculptor Phidias's Zeus. This sculpture also caused great controversy, mostly because people did not understand its intent. I don’t know if Mr. Cavallaro's intentions are honorable or not, but he may very well have had the same reasoning.

What is offensive about this piece? Is it that it is done in chocolate or because it is nude? If the controversy is based on the nudity, are these same people offended by Michelangelo's depiction as well?

I think the Catholic League should be more concerned with the number of priests molesting children and less concerned with "Sweet Jesus." I think the priorities of the Catholic Church are sometimes dangerously misplaced.

Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 4:22 PM ET
I doubt that the Europeans would express this level of outrage over the depiction of a nude Jesus. I would be interested to know what they think about it.

I know there are levels of decency that everyone can appreciate as far as nudity is concerned, but unfortunately, compared to other countries, the United States has always had an unhealthy hang up over nudity in general.

Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 4:45 PM ET
Completely. He did nothing wrong. Considering I've been exposed to everything from horrendous plastic nativity scenes in front yards during the Christmas holidays to the awe-inspiring beauty of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, I'd have to say this work is less of a tacky debacle and more of a piece of artwork. Have members of the Catholic League ever considered getting a collective life or taking a couple of art classes, especially in art history? I hope Sweet Jesus is a huge hit. And if I could only get the George Harrison song out of head now, things would be perfect.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 4:51 PM ET
He didn't do anything wrong. However, it will be interesting to see if all hell breaks loose like it did with the caricatures of Mohammed.
Posted By Anonymous : 5:06 PM ET
Hi Gabe,

As far as I see it, there is never anything offensive about Jesus.

This sculpture of "Sweet Jesus" does not seem in any way disrespectful -it is the artist's interprtation, it is not ugly, it looks well done. Jesus, from what I hear, was sweet, so what is the big deal? Clearly I must be missing something.

This seems like a futile attempt by the Catholic church to remove the attention from their real problems. I for one am not buying it. They need to get real.
Posted By Pati McMillan, Camp Hill, PA : 5:34 PM ET
Some people take things WAY TOO SERIOUSLY in life. We ARE destroying our own planet, remember??? The only known one that is able to sustain life, right????
But seriously, I think this chocolate Jesus should be melted immediately and shipped to me via Fed Ex. Overnight.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 5:36 PM ET
Why do we assume that his sculpture depicting the Lord's crucifixion is intended as a mockery? Maybe the artist meant to honor Him.
Posted By Laura - Tulsa, OK : 5:41 PM ET
I think the Catholic church needs to spend more time on important things. They need to be more concerned about why they have to kick out nuns from their home to help pay for the lawsuits of their priests for molesting children. To me it seems like that would warrent more of a concern than some artist creating a scupture of Jesus out of chocolate.
Posted By Amber, Ft. Wayne IN : 5:43 PM ET
Let's hang a chocolate likeness of the prophet Mohammed in a hotel lobby and see if there's any "reaction". I think there would be!
Posted By Riley R. - Exeter, Ma. : 5:44 PM ET
I think the Catholic church needs to spend more time on important matters. They need to be more worried about why they have to kick out nuns from their home to help pay for the lawsuits of their priests for molesting children. To me it seems like that would warrent more of a concern than some artist creating a scupture of Jesus out of chocolate.
Posted By Amber, Ft. Wayne IN : 5:45 PM ET
I like it. It's not the artist's vision that counts anyway; it's what a person takes away from the art that matters. Looks like now there will be chocolate in heaven !
Posted By Steve - Peoria, IL : 5:47 PM ET
Looks nothing like him, just some chocolate-covered guy mimicking Jesus. Where's the beard?
Posted By Ann, Houston, Tx. : 5:50 PM ET
What bugs me is that when artists make a "controversial" depiction of Jesus, Christians are told to deal with it. But when the cartoons of Mohammed came out, Western countries including the US were "politically correct" and sensitive to Muslims, and didn't want to "offend" them by publishing the cartoons. Can someone 'splain the difference?
Posted By ronnie - knoxville, tn. : 5:55 PM ET
My bottom line is , just don't eat it. On the other hand, you don't see animals activists getting all worked up over chocolate bunnies being eaten at Easter, do you?
Posted By Mary C -Springfield, Mo : 6:01 PM ET
I thought the Christians were out of the Middle Ages. I was wrong. Fusing about this piece of chocolate is like complaining about the Danish caricatures of Muhammad. What's next, burning the Canadian consulates and the embassy?
Posted By Peter : 6:02 PM ET
With all the stories in the world to cover why is 360 bringing this one back? Was there a lot of interest? Ye gads. Cover something important, like why is Ann Curry going to get to see penguins as part of the Today Show's Ends of the Earth series and Anderson and Jeff did not see penguins? On Peril we saw tigers, elephants, turtles, polar bears and seals but no penguins. Penguins are where the story is. And chocolate is for eating and should not be embroiled in controversy.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 6:06 PM ET
I feel that people are totally missing how humorous all the controversy is. It's a depiction of Jesus... no one minds if you use stone, wood or fabric to make an image of Jesus. I am not a Christian, but if I was I would be thanking artists for bringing new attention to my Lord.
Posted By jamie r - rockville, md. : 6:07 PM ET
Come on people, get a sense of humor or go to church and ask for one !
Posted By AJ, Yountville, CA : 6:11 PM ET
Sorry but I think it's hysterical! Hy-ster-i-cal!
Posted By Anonymous : 6:14 PM ET
I hate to rip up the ideas about the "attitude" of Catholics. I'm not Catholic and I find it quite offensive.

Perhaps the "artist" would appreciate an exact replica of his mother, anatomically correct of course,to be created in marshmallow creme and displayed for the world to see.

Completely edible is the description given to the Christ figure. I'm sure his mother will appreciate the same love and respect that others feel for Christ.

Maggie C
Posted By Anonymous : 6:15 PM ET
Ronnie:

The difference between showing this and publishing pictures of Mohammad is that we don't expect Christians to riot and kill people. Some Western news networks choose not to show the cartoon, not out of respect or being "politically correct" (whatever the quotes mean), but because they knew that doing so would cause real world reactions that would lead to more people dying in riots.

Are you suggesting that the news networks would have served someone, anyone, by publishing the cartoon in more places? They had extensive coverage showing how ignorant the radical Muslims looked, rioting because of it.

Are you saying that Christians should aim for the same low standard?
Posted By Brad, boston, ma : 7:15 PM ET
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