In the case of ‘Murdering Christ', this essay (which was originally a compilation of stream-of-consciousness notes taken from my sketchbooks) came before any of the drawings in the series. I had seen some Mexican drawings, woodcuts and paintings of Christ and the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Mexican Museum of Fine Arts in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. These works inspired me to finally express my own feelings concerning the suffering and the murder of Christ.
The Murder of Christ, as I see it, is still taking place. Every time the headlines announce another member of society being murdered by the State in the name of justice being done, I feel nails being driven through flesh to stake. Every time a self-proclaimed Christian advocates murder of the poor and "meek" in America for their crimes against society, I feel the jaundice stare of Judas and his kiss of death.
I began to write in my sketchbooks about the murder of Christ before I started to draw about it. I was sorting through my feelings. I wrote stream-of-consciousness and it required some polishing before publication, but here it is:
In Jean Paul Sartre's essay on Vietnam, he asked a rhetorical question, "Why did Hitler kill Jews?" Sartre qualified the question by asking further what a "Jew" had to do to be marked by Hitler for death? In truth, he didn't have to do anything. It was what he was, a Jew, that marked him for death.
"Why did Hitler kill Jews?" Because they were Jewish!
It was said that Hitler was never absolutely sure he had no Jewish blood coursing through his veins. There are psychoanalysts that will suggest by Hitler's attempted genocide of the Jewish race, and the murdering of millions of Jews, Hitler was murdering the question of his Jewishness.
"How can I be Jewish? Look at the million of Jews I have murdered!"
The leader, the governor, the king, the fuehrer -- is an expression and tool of people's ways of life. One Ivan the Horrible cannot make into passive creatures two hundred million peasants, but the appropriate number of peasant mothers can. And these two hundred million silent, enduring peasants CAN make the reign of Ivan the Horrible last.
-- Wilhelm Reich
Who murdered Christ and why? What is truth and what role does it play in the murder Of Christ? Christ never said he could "save" anybody. It was his flock that invented this idea! Much that has been attributed to Christ was the invention of his followers. The followers of Christ were not believers by faith, they had none. Christ ending up on the cross demonstrates, irrevocably, how little faith his followers had in him. Did Christ ever say he would "destroy" the temple? He did say the "temples would be destroyed" (which came about years later), but to Christ, in my opinion, this was self-evident.
The followers, the murderers, of Christ truly expected to see miracles! Miracles that they, themselves, attributed to Christ. They wanted Christ to be exactly the way they wanted him to be. Christ never claimed to be the "King of the Jews," yet his murderers nailed him to the cross to prove that he was!
As Christ hung dying from the cross, those who had once admired him and shouted his praise, now chastised him, "Let the Christ, the King of the Jews, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe."
Christ was murdered for not being whom his murderers wanted him to be. He was nailed to the cross because his murderers wanted to see a miracle. They had no faith! Gone were his followers, his friends and his admirers. He, who they called the "Son of David," hung dying, nailed to a cross.
Where were the choruses of "Hosannas" these murderers use to sing in praise of him? From the cross, Christ heard only, "Come down from the cross so that we may see and believe."
His murderers got the State to proclaim the death sentence.
"What wrong has he done?" Pilate asked.
"Wrong"? Christ did no wrong! This is why Christ was chastised. This is why Christ was tortured. This is why Christ was murdered. The cruelty, like that of a Nazi physician's, was well calculated to make Christ suffer with as much agony as was humanly possible. Nails were driven through flesh and tendon, live flesh, Christ's flesh. Nails were driven into his feet, feet that carried him through gardens, forests and sands. Christ was murdered for not being who his murderers wanted him to be and Pilate, with no choice except to execute the people's will, Christ's murderer's will, sentenced Christ to his dog and pony show, the crucifixion.
Atop the cross they hung the words "King of the Jews." Beneath these words, dying, Christ pleads with God the Father, "FATHER, FORGIVE THEM: FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO." Like the Nazi murderers who plead ignorance to the death camps and the mass murder of the Jews, Christ's murderers also, "Know not what they do."
The murderers of Christ, like the Nazis, sought to make Heaven here on Earth and, in doing so, in their drunken desire for power and miracles, sinned. Sinned against humanity.
Proponents of the Death Penalty in the United States are quick to point to the atrocious acts of violence and murder committed by those murdered by the State. Everyone knows that American justice is bought with one coin, or another, and those murdered by the State are too often the black, brown and/or the poor.
Who is without doubt that justice has been served through the death penalty? Who are being murdered by the State? Do innocent men die? What miracle does the State see in the murder of its poor, it's "meek" and its condemned? Marx said that members of society look to the State for an "example." How can the State murder members of society for murdering members of society when murder is the will of the People?
If one innocent man is murdered by the State, the State continues on with its murder of Christ. The Christian Right supports the death penalty in the United States. Those who nailed Christ to the cross, because they wanted miracles, power and Heaven on Earth, are the very same ones committing murder in the United States today. They murder the poor, the black and the brown. They murder those who were taught, by example, by the State, that we murder because we are without faith. We murder Christ because he told us, "The meek shall inherit the Earth."
Gary Dobry is a painter and a writer. He is represented by the Judy A Saslow Gallery in Chicago and his novel, Kingdom Come, published by Hats Off Press, is available anywhere books are sold. Dobry studied painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studied at the Universite' de Paris and recieved his Diplome de Francaise from the Sorbonne in Paris. Dobry was named by Pioneer Press as one of the "Important Artists of the New Millineum" and has been featured on PBS's ArtBeat, CLTV, The Chicago Tribune and The Daily Herald. His current showi at the Judy A. Saslow Gallery runs through December 28th, 2000. You can see Dobry's work on his webpage : http://www.onthecanvas.com.
To read Dobry's second essay, "Murder and the Intellectuals," click on the NEXT button below.