Much ado about statuary
A new statue erected in the chic parts of Addis is getting residents talking. Standing serene and sedate in the western parts of Bole Medhani Alem Church, the sculpture depicts someone who is currently alive.
The two meters fiber statue depicts the highest figure of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, holding cross his right hand and cane in his left hand. The unveiling ceremony which was timed to coincide with the 18th anniversary of the Patriarch’s coronation day on July 11, 2010 attracted huge crowds and controversy. Hearing the debate from afar, one would assume that this is big monument that is instantly recognizable.
In reality, the statute isn’t actually that easily spotted from ground level, and you could be just 100 meters away and not realize it.
Most members of the church and residents are unimpressed by the idea of a living patriarch depicted in stone image in front of a church in what looks like a heathen practice.They see a spiritual leader growing megalomaniacal and running roughshod for the canons of the church. Others say the statue is wasteful and untimely at a time when the church is going through financial difficulty. (Newspaper reports had it that the sculpture cost more than 300 thousand birr and was commissioned by faithful of Sefere Genet Debre Kuskuam Kidist Maryma.It was also announced that three other statues of the patriarch would be erected in Nairobi, Johannesburg and Jerusalem)
An eight-page document anonymously distributed by certain members of the church describe the whole business as a worrying development that shows the distressing situation the church finds itself in. The document argues that it is nowhere set forth in the bible or the church’s literature a saint’s life (Whether the patriarch could be called one is a different matter altogether) would be commemorated with the stone image. “It is a pagan practice that has nothing to do with the revered orthodox tradition,’ it reads.
Supporters say that the statue is a celebration of the patriarch’s life and work and the critics are the devil’s advocate who are looking for flaws where there are none. They also say this is a gift from church members and no church funds have been used.Whatever the case, the sharp discussion fueled by the statue is going to stay for some time to come.
Categories: City Journal