Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Catholic Art is Satanic?

I saw this article, titled Satanic Art in Catholic Church Exposed, a few days ago at the Worldnutdaily and made a note to write about it. The article details a new documentary called Rape of the Soul that claims that throughout the history of the Church, artists have been subliminally encoding “satanic and occultic imagery” in their paintings. The WND article begins with their standard breathlessness:

Could the Roman Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis be tied to embedded Satanic and occultic imagery in its artwork – some of it hundreds of years old?

The film, which is being released by Silver Sword International, contends a major cause of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church could be due to prolonged exposure to sexual and satanic images being incorporated into the religious art…

Experts are featured in the film to offer detailed accounts of the subconscious programming effects of the sex and occult images on the human brain and how it promotes sex, Satanism and the occult. Religious education materials, songbooks, children’s story books, devotionals and the Sunday Missals all have been found to contain embedded imagery.

Not since the heyday of the “backward masking” on albums hysteria have we seen something quite this silly from the moonbats. You remember that one, don’t you? That’s the one where they tried to convince us that rock bands were subliminally recording messages backwards on their albums to get their fans to kill themselves. Because nothing boosts record sales like having half your fans off themselves before the follow-up album comes out.

Bartholemew has an excellent post on his blog examining the “experts” involved in the documentary , which include our old friend Judith Reisman. She is a past winner of the Robert O’Brien Trophy for her loony belief in “erototoxins”, hypothetical chemicals that are allegedly released when one views pornography that rot the brain, in the process “subverting the first amendment.” To call Reisman a nutcase would be an insult to nutcases.

“These images, unrecognized by the untrained eye, can be a ticking time-bomb to an individual who is unaware of their presence, especially someone who is already predisposed to deviant sexual behavior,” said Reisman.

And here I thought “the devil made me do it” was a stupid rationalization for one’s behavior. Apparently, he actually did make them do it. Another “expert” featured in the documentary is Wilson Bryan Key:

Dr. Wilson Bryan Key, an internationally recognized embedded imagery expert with over 30 years of expertise as both a former professor at the University of Western Ontario and a wealth of first-hand experiences as a former advertising executive. Key is a MENSA member and author of five books on the subject.

As Bartholomew accurately points out, there is an iron law at work here: anyone who feels the need to tell you that they’re a member of MENSA when listing their qualifications – a trait here shared by our other old pal, the endlessly ridiculous Vox Day – you can expect some serious manure is going to follow. He also links to this page by Craig Johns of the University of Iowa, who points out that Key has a penchant for seeing boogeymen pretty much everywhere:

He claims the one-word cue for lust is hidden in everything from liquor ads to Ritz crackers, the holes of which he says are arranged during baking to form several depictions of the letters S, E, X…Key claims that while carefully examining a Howard Johnson’s menu, he saw that a plate of clams pictured on the menu was actually the portrayal of a sexual orgy, which included various people and a donkey.

Okay, someone needs to stop taking acid and staring at the clouds. This is seriously funny stuff, and ridiculous enough that you just knew the Worldnutdaily would jump all over it and try to make money off it. Call it the PT Barnum business plan. When you’ve got thousands of credulous suckers lined up, you keep feeding them nonsense until their bank accounts are dry.

Comments

  1. #1 Corkscrew
    March 29, 2006

    Key claims that while carefully examining a Howard Johnson’s menu, he saw that a plate of clams pictured on the menu was actually the portrayal of a sexual orgy, which included various people and a donkey.

    That guy seriously needs to get laid… Even I’m not that bad.

  2. #2 Irrational Entity
    March 29, 2006

    Bring back the iconoclasts!

    Even more disconcerting, would not these people need to move to a cabin in the middle of the woods? Dr. Key thinks that our society is filled with hidden sexual imagery while Reisman argues that porn rots our brains. By watching television, reading advertisments, or picking out dinner, they are destroying their minds. They need to leave modern society as soon as possible, or maybe that is wishful thinking on my part.

  3. #3 Anuminous
    March 29, 2006

    In the immortal words of Tom Lehrer:

    “All books can be indecent books
    though recent books are bolder
    for filth (I’m glad to say)
    is in the mind of the beholder.
    When correctly viewed, everything is lewd.
    I can tell you things about Peter Pan
    and the Wizard of Oz is a dirty old man.”

    I had an English teacher in college who went crazy over these things. I even tried to reason with her (what can I say, I was young), but to no avail.

  4. #4 Raging Bee
    March 29, 2006

    Even more disconcerting, would not these people need to move to a cabin in the middle of the woods?

    All those sex-obsessed perverts, sharing a cabin in the woods? That is SO not a good idea!

  5. #5 RPM
    March 29, 2006

    Not since the heyday of the “backward masking” on albums hysteria have we seen something quite this silly from the moonbats.

    I think that moonbats are liberals and wingnuts are the wacko right wingers. Wikipedia also supports that definition, although the entry acknowledges that it has been applied by both sides.

  6. #6 Dave S.
    March 29, 2006

    Reminds me of the anecdote where Samuel Johnson was accosted by a couple of elderly matrons and berated in that his new dictionary had several salacious words. “My dear ladies”, said Johnson, “Have you been looking for them?”

  7. #7 Soldats
    March 29, 2006

    Well, depending on how you read the bible, you can classify the RCC as being cited in the bible as being foreigners who worship a graven image on wood that cannot bring anyone salvation – in addition to them being established in a country not named after the god of the bible, but after another who they worshipping at polluted alters.

    Sounds like they’ve been pretty anti-biblical right from the start to me ;)

  8. #8 phillip
    March 29, 2006

    Awesome, I have got to start taking my dates to Howard Johnson’s. Who knew it could be so easy?

  9. #9 Jim Lippard
    March 29, 2006

    Wilson Bryan Key wrote some rather popular and completely insane books that were popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with titles like “Subliminal Seduction”, “Media Sexploitation,” and “The Clam-Plate Orgy and Other Subliminals the Media Use to Manipulate Your Behavior.” The guy could find the word “sex” or hidden images of naked cavorting people in any advertising image, or in any image that was represented to him as being an advertising image.

    The following Skeptical Inquirer articles cover his work:
    Thomas L. Creed, “Subliminal Deception: Pseudoscience on the College Lecture Circuit,” SI 11.4:358 (Summer 1987). (Also see letters in SI 12.2:211 (Winter 1987-88).)
    Anthony R. Pratkanis, “The Cargo-Cult of Subliminal Persuasion,” SI 16.4:260 (Spring 1992).
    Timothy E. Moore, “Subliminal Perception: Facts and Fallacies,” SI 16.4:273 (Spring 1992).

    Key testified for the prosecution in the 1990 Judas Priest trial in Reno, NV, where they were accused of hiding subliminal messages in their music which contributed to the suicides of two teenagers.

    He’s a complete crank.

    SI 16.3

  10. #10 Jaime Headden
    March 29, 2006

    This is a supreme case of projection. These people, if I was inclined, would need a long session on the couch.

    However, it does remind me of what my brothers joked about after seeing “Fantasia 2000″: The developers of the film had to have been toking some homegrown to have seen … “duuuuude …. flying whaaaaaaaaaales!!!” A friend of mind decided the best way to see the movie was on ‘shrooms.

    That said (not that I tried it myself) one does tend to find people in an obsessed frame of mind are more likely to attribute these fractures of reality to others. They see this as the truth, but try not to let themselves see they themselves are as perverted, and thus in their own sense of morality, must prevent ANYONE from reading that tripe. I seriously wonder if Reisman has had some personal experience in orgies to qualify her as an expert? Howard Johnson’s orgies in the bathroom because one just couldn’t control oneself? I guess the only good person is good ol’ JC.

  11. #11 Matthew
    March 29, 2006

    Why is there so much anti-catholicism in evangelical circles?

  12. #12 wheatdogg
    March 29, 2006

    The background behind these allegations is the belief among many fundies that Catholicism is not really Christianity, that the whole RCC is apostate. One of my former students, a sweet, gentle Catholic girl, went to one of our local mega-churches, where she heard a preacher tell the huge congregation that Catholics were heathens and were bound to go to hell come the endtimes. Poor girl was very upset the next day in school. Needless to say, she never went back to that church.

    I have heard and read that some of these fundie preachers actually use, consciously or not, semi-hypnotic techniques to sway their audience. The soothing music, constant repetition of phrases, audience participation and the mind-numbing length of the services affect those who are willing subjects. Maybe the RCC should go on the counterattack and charge the fundies with brainwashing.

  13. #13 SharonB
    March 29, 2006

    And I thought Pope Palpatine said it was homusekshuls whut caused the abuse crisis?

  14. #14 raj
    March 29, 2006

    The background behind these allegations is the belief among many fundies that Catholicism is not really Christianity, that the whole RCC is apostate.

    True. It was only a few years ago (I’m 56) that I first heard of the RCCi (Roman Catholic Church, Inc.) be referred to as the “Harlot Vatican, the Whore of Babylon.” I saw that on the Internet, posted by a protestant fundamentalist, and literally rolled on the floor laughing my rear end off.

    I’m not sure that RCCi art is satanic, but some of it can be quite grotesque. I noticed that when we first visited a museum in Nuremberg that had an extensive collection of paintings by Albrecht Duerer (the “ue” is “u” with Umlaut).

  15. #15 Adrienne
    March 29, 2006

    Go to the website, http://www.rapeofthesoul.com/, and watch the trailer. It shows some of the “examples” of the so-called satanic images. It’s quite a hoot.

  16. #16 Adrienne
    March 29, 2006

    Oops, that link is http://www.rapeofthesoul.com/

  17. #17 wheatdogg
    March 29, 2006

    When I was a reporter, I covered a fundie church’s record burning. (Caution: Reference to ancient musical recordings follows.) Among the vinyl burned at the stake was an album by that satanic witch from Oz, Olivia Newton-John. It may have been the album with the “Let’s Get Physical” cut. No matter, ONJ to me was so plain vanilla that I could tell I was going to have a hard time being unbiased about this ceremony.

    Things have not changed much. Now they rant about the witchcraft in Harry Potter.

    As for the fundie bias against the RCC, they just plain do not trust the Pope and all the bishopric hierarchy. To get a flavor of the bias against the RCC, check out this diatribe: http://www.justforcatholics.org/a19.htm. It’s relatively tame.

    They’re not very comfortable with the role of Mary (either one, but mostly the mom) in the RCC, either.

  18. #18 Treban
    March 29, 2006

    Okay, someone needs to stop taking acid and staring at the clouds.

    I would argue someone needs to start.

  19. #19 Dave M.
    March 30, 2006

    In my experience the word “moonbat” has been used to refer specifically to *left*-wing lunatics, while WND types are “wingnuts.” I wouldn’t care (obviously it could have gone the other way), and it is clear in this context what you mean, but I like this usage and I think we should stick to it, if only to reduce possible unfortunate misunderstandings (in other contexts, or your actual sentence ripped out of this one).

    Good points by wheatdogg and Treban!

  20. #20 Julie Stahlhut
    March 30, 2006

    Among the vinyl burned at the stake was an album by that satanic witch from Oz, Olivia Newton-John.

    Think we could get ‘em to burn some Barry Manilow recordings too? Or how about David Gates and Bread? Hearing their albums back in the 1970s made me want to throw bombs at them and run amuck in their midst with a chainsaw. Influences just don’t get more satanic than that!

  21. #21 CPT_Doom
    March 30, 2006

    I was raised Catholic, and can tell you that NONE of the art work in the trailer was familiar – not even from my attempt to audit Art History 101 in college. For the thesis espoused by these people to hold any water either a) the art work would have to be so popular that nearly every priest or Catholic would have seen it or b) nearly ALL Catholic religious artwork would have to have such subliminal images. Not to mention that the images would have be interpreted by everyone to be evil – or are they arguing there are specific images (e.g., 666) that are ALWAYS evil. If that is the case, there is a car service in NYC that is clearly doing the devil’s work; their phone number is 666-6666.

    I actually did some work on subliminal effects while a Psych major in college. We were more focused on the alleged imbedded images in movie trailers (the myth was theater owners put subliminal images of popcorn and candy in the trailers to get people to buy more). What we found was that it was physically possible for people to recognize subliminal images, but the threshold of what was subliminal was different for every person, so there was no way to put such images in a movie trailer without someone noticing (or having the images appear so quickly no one would actually see them).

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