\“All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.” –Scott Alexander
Telling voters to “just accept” money offered by politicians but “vote with your conscience” is akin to warning smokers about the dangers of cigarettes but allowing tobacco manufacturers to continue selling their products to the public. If something causes harm to one’s morals or health, the act itself must be altogether prohibited—terminate the root of the cause to destroy its major capillaries.
Encouraging voters to keep the cash in exchange for an unlawful favor is tolerating evil; the ends do not justify the means.
Resisting corruption starts with refusing the bait and, if vote buying is to be completely eradicated (which is impossible given the country’s electoral system and squalid attitude), the roots must be eliminated.
In 1521, Michelangelo just finished decorating a famous ceiling—“What a ceiling it was!” exclaimed Old Testament and exegesis professor Ronald B. Allen.
The artist’s masterpiece was the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Allen pointed out, amid “conditions of terrible discomfort,” Michelangelo spent nearly four years painting the ceiling.
He continued: “He lay on hard scaffolding board, breathing intolerable air and having eyes and skin constantly inflamed with plaster dust. All the while, the impatient Pope Julius II would periodically climb the scaffolding and threaten to toss the master to the ground if he did not finish his work more quickly.”
The formal unveiling took place on October 31, 1512. In that moment, Christian theology and humanism were connected.
According to arts professor Charles H. Morgan: “[Michelangelo] joined two powerful philosophies, the Christian ethic and the perfect human, at the moment of their most sympathetic coexistence.”
This blending of Christian and human strains was perhaps nowhere more evident than with Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” which depicts Adam with his left arms stretched out with God rushing toward him, surrounded by a storm, clouds, and cherubim, stretching out his hand in a dynamic gesture towards the extended finger of Adam.
“In this painting,” Allen suggested, “We are there a microsecond before the giving of life!”
For Morgan, he sees it at the church giving nourishment to humanism and, in the painting, they are meeting on an equal scale. Despite the tranquility of the scene, he also senses irony in the painting in that a struggle was about to burst between the church and humanism as the power of God will be challenged by man, whom heaven had empowered.
Allen introduced another view of the famous painting, which was presented by Samuel Terrien of New York City’s Union Theological Seminary.
“Dr. Terrien, in a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco several years ago, observed that there is another figure in the painting in addition to God, Adam, and the cherubim,” Allen observed. “This other figure is a beautiful woman whose head is nestled in the left arm of God, who looks with anxious interest on man whom God was enlivening.”
He noted, the woman goes unnoticed because of the viewers’ interest in the space between the fingers of Adam and God.
Allen continued: “Her presence causes us to ask, ‘Who is she?’ Is she the as yet unformed Eve, awaiting the awakening of need for her in her mate? Is she, as some Catholics have imagined, the Blessed Virgin Mary, anticipating a significant day long in the future when God would have a ministry of mystery for her? Terrien brushes away these and other conceptions with his great discovery: This woman is wisdom. It was with his arm around wisdom that God created man, his finest creature. I suspect that Morgan’s point of view more accurately represents art history. But I am convinced that the viewpoint of Terrien is one [needed] to understand theology rightly. [This] painting points us to one of the most significant elements in our understanding of what it means to be truly human: We were created by God to be wise.”
Alex P. Vidal, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ