Crucifix act meant to help ‘children in Africa,’ she says





Madonna performs in Tokyo last week.


CROSSING OVER: The summer silly season must be over, since the list of things to get upset about seem to be growing, both in size and seriousness.

Madonna, who can usually be relied upon to arrive at a controversy like an ice cream truck at a summer playground, got an early start out of the gate with a televised version of her latest concert tour, which is supposed to feature the increasingly strident Material Girl “striking the pose” on a huge, electric crucifix.

Not surprisingly, there have been protests against NBC, who plan to air the concert special during November sweeps week. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, has said that the network’s willingness to air the show unedited is deeply insulting to Christians, especially in light of the news division of NBC falling in line with countless other organizations last winter in refusing to show the Danish satirical cartoons that caused riots in the Muslim world.

Donohue said that if NBC “does air the ‘mock crucifixion,’ it will send a message to the 85 per cent of the American population that is Christian that their sensibilities count less than Muslims ... And that is not a decision that any responsible person or company can afford to make.”

As a Catholic, I disagree with Donohue, and consider the implicit threat in his statement unfortunate. If Catholics, or Christians in general, want to prove that they’re different from the raging mobs, they should let the show air, encourage viewers to watch if they want, ignore it if so moved, and allow Madonna to alienate more of her fan base than Evita or American Life did.

Right on cue, Madonna has defended her megawatt crucifixion, telling Reuters that it was meant to “to bring attention to the millions of children in Africa who are dying every day (or) are living without care, without medicine and without hope. I am asking people to open their hearts and minds to get involved in whatever way they can.

“I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today, he would be doing the same thing.” As statements go, this is neither simple-minded, obfuscating, absurd, nor top-heavy with blinding selfimportance and hubris, is it? You have a choice between cutting a huge anonymous cheque to a charity, or draping yourself over a glowing cross on a stage in front of thousands of people every night while promoting an album; I think I know what Jesus would do.

In related news, Britain’s Channel 4 is starting production on a documentary that will see Gunther Von Hagens, the German doctor famous for his travelling road show of plastinated corpses, crucify a corpse to study the medical aspects of Christ’s crucifixion, according to a story on the Digital Spy website.

The network has defended the documentary as a purely scientific and historical investigation that “will not be a specific representation of Christ,” but a leaked memo from Firefly, the production company, described the show as a “90-minute film for More4 in which Gunther plastinates ‘Jesus.’”