Doug Wilson has been asked by more than one CREC pastor to stop blogging about the abuse cases being handled by the CREC inquiry, including the Greenfield case. As it should be blatantly obvious by now, not only has he not listened, he and his associates appear to have been gearing up to inflict the maximum amount of damage on Natalie Greenfield for at least a month — by embarking on an abusive, aggressively-worded red herring tantrum and claiming that her father abused her, that she is a liar, and that her husband Wesley Petersen’s worldview is abominably warped because, in the course of getting his Master’s degree in art at Portland State University, Wesley produced performance art featuring himself alone in a room, naked. Because Wesley is brandishing makeshift weapons in these videos, Doug (as far as I can tell from his unspecific objection to this) insinuates that it’s something akin to domination porn — that, therefore, Wesley is the real overbearing patriarch in Natalie’s life. Not Doug. This line of attack was so predictable coming from Doug, I’ve already written about it here. The only thing was, I didn’t think that even Doug would stoop so low as to target and attempt to shame Natalie’s family.
Now, of course, if Doug really believed these videos were akin to violent porn, he wouldn’t have linked to them on his blog — particularly not when they’d been stolen and posted on Vimeo without Wesley’s permission. I assume Doug doesn’t go around looking at porn all the time, least of all directing people to watch it. And you know Doug has watched the videos he links to. It’s likely he’s watched them multiple times to make sure he disapproves.
Which brings up an interesting point: how did Doug know about these videos? Contrary to Doug’s claims, many of Wesley’s friends and family didn’t even know about them until Doug posted his latest blog. I sure as heck had never heard of their existence.
Doug’s business associate and parishioner did, however, know about them, and alluded to them in a series of highly inflammatory tweets dating back nearly a month ago in which he tagged the names of Wesley’s videos, then asked “what about enabling men to film themselves naked, put it online and then work with children?” — something nobody picked up on at the time, not even Natalie or Wesley. This particular fellow saw Wesley walking around downtown at one point a few weeks back, pointed and snickered. Even then, Wesley didn’t piece together why. He just thought it was weird.
So there’s that. Then there’s the question: how are Natalie’s husband’s art projects relevant to how Doug handled her abuse case? Hint: they aren’t, except insomuch as Doug is proving his true colors by attempting to shame her and her most constant ally with them.
But assume, just for the sake of argument, that they are relevant. Then the question becomes: is public nudity automatically sinful? Is a naked dude banging a bent piece of rebar against a wall until it begins to straighten an abominable piece of work that shows the inner evil of said naked dude?
If you answered yes to these questions, and you’re a Calvinist Christian, then congratulations, you’ve just invalidated your own religion.
If you’re a Calvinist, then you believe that Jesus is one and the same with the all-knowing, all-powerful and sinless God who predestined Jesus to die a violent death completely naked. He was publicly flogged (with a whip) and then nailed up on cross nude. Taken out of context, this would apparently sound to Doug Wilson and his ilk like the worst torture porn the world has ever seen. If being naked in public by your own volition is a sin, then Jesus was not sinless, and thus could not have validly taken on your sins.
Now, you can obviously be a Christian and not like Wesley’s art. You can think it’s in poor taste, or that it doesn’t get his intention across effectively. Such art is made for critique — and you are free to not like it or not want to see it. The nature of it being online in a controlled environment (versus in an actual public venue) means that people who don’t want to see it will not — and this is deliberate. Thus, you can flat-out hate this type of art as a Christian, but if you’re consistent, you can’t really say that the existence of the art itself is sinful.
Wesley has noted, “My work is primarily about violence and aggression as inherent human traits. The fact that people find my work sexual is kinda disturbing.” In this context, he points to the long tradition of nudity in both public art and public masculinity, perhaps most notably in the Grecian games. Male nudity points to the obvious masculine, without the cultural trappings inherent in clothing. A naked male with a piece of stick in his hand is Everyman.
If you know even a modicum of art history, you know that it’s rife with images of naked male warriors, from ancient pottery to Michelangelo’s David. And, sure, it’s a little weird when it’s someone you actually know. You might cringe if you visited the statue of David knowing it was modeled after your little brother.
And, again, if you don’t like this kind of art, there’s absolutely no reason to subject yourself to it. But warping its intent and using that as a weapon against a woman who critiques you is absolutely foul.