Friday, October 19


My favorite Pantokrator (perhaps after some of Sir Ninian Comper's Apollonian experiments) is the gentle, melancholy Christ of Cefalù, a rugged, sun-bleached town clinging to a hollow in the Sicilian coast. So I couldn't help being amused and pleasantly surprised by its making a guest-appearance in Take the Cannoli, a collection of essays by Godfather-obsessed contrarian Sarah Vowell:
At least no one was inside the church. The only gaze upon me there
came from the looming, sad-eyed Messiah. The Jesus in the mosaic is huge, three times larger than any other figure inside the church. And there's something menacing in the way he [sic] holds the tablet with the word of God on it. But his face is compassionate. Witht that contradictory mix of stern judgment and heart, he may as wel have been wearing a tuxedo and stroking a cat and saying something like, "What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?"
Okay, Christ as Don Corleone...maybe not my first reaction; Our Lord seemed more achingly sad at the wickedness of the world, and yet bigger and grander than it--and earlier on my own visit there, I'd seen visible proof of such sin when I stumbled into a deconsecrated chapel on the mountainside and discovered a chalk magic circle on the floor--but still, I'll give Sarah points for possibly the most hilariously original riff of Christian iconography I've read.

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