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Guest Thinkers

The Sacred (dysfunctional) Family

Hi there all,

I am writing to you from sunny Barcelona having temporarily escaped the “winter of our discontent” that is August in the People’s Republic of Collingwood.

Last Tuesday I (and the good lady) marched up the hill to the MNAC (Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña) to admire the magnificent collections of Romanesque and Gothic religious iconography on display in that venerable institution. MNAC has a superbly collection of frescos recovered from degenerating churches in the Catalan Pyrenees.

I became interested in the portrayal of St. Joseph in a number of exhibits. You will remember Joseph in the Bible. He was the one who married Mary, and was foster father to Jesus. In one particular fresco of the “Sacred Family” the commentary notes the “surprised” look on Joseph’s face. “Surprised” wasn’t my interpretation. He looks pissed – really angry. As well he might, being “God’s cuckold”.

There are a lot of questions to be asked about the “Sacred Family”. At face value, Jesus is illegitimate, his mother and father not being married. Mary’s status as virgin primagenator is deeply questionable. It’s a good story, but would anyone really believe it at the time. One has to feel sorry for the poor girl. Poor old Joseph is left with the responsibility for maintaining of offspring of an absent father. According to the Catalan fresco painters, he wasn’t very pleased about this.

All this is not likely to provide a sound basis for the development of emotional maturity for the man destined to save humanity. The fact that he is only prepared to save that part of humanity that is prepared to abase themselves to him without reservation, is indicative of deep personal insecurity. I was not completely surprised, give his family background, that Jesus eventually went off and effectively committed suicide.

When Jesus asked the question “Father, why have you forsaken me?”, I wonder which father he was talking about?


Christmas may be Jesus’ “birthday,” but, as any mother will tell you, his mother Mary really deserves the applause. Providing the humanity half to join with Christ’s divine side, Mary volunteered to play a part from the Incarnation to the Crucifixion to the Resurrection as everything from an active participant to an interested bystander, depending on your interpretation of Christian scripture. 

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