I’ve never been a hero worshipper. Perhaps the delusion set in when I realized several years ago that nobody really has all the answers. The “experts” (I’m even sometimes shackled with that designation at times) are limited by the same mental capacity as all Homo sapiens. Our elected officials do their best to find solutions, but at the end of the day oil still gushes into the Gulf, priests still violate children, and unemployment continues to wreck lives. No, hero worship is counter-productive and leads only to disappointment. Not that there aren’t people I admire – there are many – but they have their shortcomings too.
One of my admired people that often surprises those who know me is Meat Loaf. I really don’t qualify as a head-banger, but my tastes in music vary widely. With Meat Loaf the attraction is the sincerity evident in his voice. He may not write his own material, but the man feels the songs he belts out. So it was that I made a rare music purchase when Hang Cool Teddy Bear was released earlier this month. On glancing through the liner notes I was pleasantly surprised to find Boris Vallejo’s Crucifixion among the art.
Anyone familiar with the fantasy-style artwork in most Meat Loaf albums will not be surprised at finding Vallejo’s work, but this particular piece, reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s “religious” paintings, presents a depth of feeling to the crucifixion that most theologians diminish in their desire for profundity. The Jesus in this piece is sealed within the cross, raging for release. Most devotional paintings show a placid Jesus accepting, with existentialist-type calm, his long-foretold fate. I find Vallejo’s work compelling for the same reason I enjoy Meat Loaf’s performances – there is real emotion here.
Religion has little to offer the world in the way of rationality. Theologians have generally accepted the fact that religion runs counter to reason and therefore its value lies elsewhere. What is left when reason is gone is emotion. When reason tells me there are no heroes left, emotion sometimes convinces me otherwise.