The Botticelli Code

"Could the Roman Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis be tied to embedded Satanic and occultic imagery in its artwork -- some of it hundreds of years old?" I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the answer is "no," but the good folks at WorldNetDaily aren't as dubious. Promoting the new documentary Rape of the Soul -- "made not by anti-Catholic bigots, but by devout followers of the Church" -- WND writes:

Experts are featured in the film to offer detailed accounts of the subconscious programming effects of the sex and occult images on the human brain and how it promotes sex, Satanism and the occult. Religious education materials, songbooks, children's story books, devotionals and the Sunday Missals all have been found to contain embedded imagery....

"Artists from DaVinci to Botticelli have embedded subliminal images into their art for centuries," said [Michael] Calace. "In this case we found penises on crucifixes, anarchy symbols, swastikas, demonic faces and in modern works even the word 'sex' encrypted into the images. The works in question include modern artists' work currently on the covers of missalettes and hymnals that at this very moment sit in the pews of churches throughout the U.S. and on children's religious teaching aids."

The expert witnesses include Wilson Bryan Key, who "was a professor at the University of Western Ontario," and Judith Reisman, "a world-renowned author, who specializes in child psychology and the harmful effects of pornography."

See the trailer here.

Disney gets in on the fun here and here.

Oliver Stone joins in here.

Salvador Dali's "critical paranoia" here.

Ferdinand de Saussure goes mad here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Wasn't Wilson Bryan Key the guy who claimed that every Ritz cracker had six or twelve repetitions of the word "sex" on it?

  • ||

    I swear, when Reisman dies, her heirs are going to find stacks of kiddie porn, bestiality, and scat tapes in her house. She's so insane that it's got to be a cover.

  • ||

    I don't know about all that, but I still get a rise out of seeing a shiny silver crucifix hanging between a nice round pair of boobies. Make of that what you will.

    Also, if you've ever been to a house where the parents have the full-on mangled-and-bleeding Jesus-on-the-cross hanging above the bed-board ... You do have to wonder what effect that had on Dad, having that in his face while he drilled away on Ma all those years.

  • ||

    "Rape of the Soul"... Good that they chose a non-inflamitory title for this.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Thanks, Jennifer -- yep, that's the guy. I just threw in another link.

  • ||

    "Artists from DaVinci to Botticelli have embedded subliminal images into their art for centuries," said [Michael] Calace. "In this case we found penises on crucifixes, anarchy symbols, swastikas, demonic faces and in modern works even the word 'sex' encrypted into the images.

    Aint no such thing as "subliminal," so that should probably read "we imagined" rather than "we found."

    Swastika=naughty? It was a common symbol all over the world, generally meaning "good luck," before it was co-opted by the Nazis.

  • ||

    Dammit, I was hoping our Satanic sex codes would remain under wraps until at least Easter. I had party plans ...

    Actually, I haven't RTFAs but it's quite possible that naughty images got into some artwork, not at the secret bidding of the Church, but because the commissioned artist was disgruntled.

    IIRC, Leonardo DaVinci had an acrimonious disagreement with the Pope who commissioned him to paint the Sistine Chapel. As a result, you can reputedly see the face of said Pope among those DaVinci depicted as being judged and sent to Hell..

  • ||

    "made not by anti-Catholic bigots, but by devout followers of the Church"

    ...and the men were lynched, not by racists, but for their own good by compassionate white men in pointy hoods.

  • ||

    IIRC, that was Michelangelo.

    And speaking of licentious church figures, that Pope is probably in Hell anyhow, having done more than anyone else to provoke Luther.

  • ||

    I've recently taken on a part-time job as an Opus Dei assassin. I train at nights at an underground gym beneath our local church -- you know, hit the weights a little, jump around while some dude throws knives at you, that kind of stuff. Anyway, it's all true. They got all kinds of crazy shit down there. They keep Jesus's only male descendant bound and gagged in a back room.

  • ||

    Didn't Michaelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel?

  • ||

    I was hoping our Satanic sex codes would remain under wraps until at least Easter. I had party plans ...

    Planning party snacks made with Ritz crackers, no doubt. Pervert.

  • ||

    Stevo, except that it's Michaelangelo yo're thinking of, that is generally correct.

    Except I think I was some Cardinal or other that he was pissed off at and painted a very unflattering minor picture of*, not the pope himself, who as I understand it is the model for the God in the God and Adam touching fingers scene.

    *rotting in hell or something.

  • ||

    I believe that Isaac is correct--the mocked individual in The Last Judgment was a cardinal. Michelangelo probably liked living enough not to do something like that to a pope, anyway.

  • ||

    Hey hey hey, that's Doctor Judith Reisman. She worked hard for that communications Ph.D.; the least you can do is let her use it to vaguely imply she's qualified to opine on psychology.

  • ||

    Yeah, she didn't spend three years in Evil Communications School to be called "Ms".

  • ||

    anarchy symbols, swastikas

    Since anarchists and nazis (as noted above) hadn't appropriated these icons yet, how's it relevant to their argument?

  • ||

    Wouldn't it be great if the dirty pictures in the missalettes caused the clergy sex abuse crisis?

    It could be cured just by fixing that.

    Devout Catholics, huh?

  • ||

    Worse than all that, the subliminal messages caused Dan Brown to write Da Vinci Code.

    Evil.

  • Captain Holly||

    This reminds me of the Old Days (the 70's) back when we played Stairway to Heaven backwards on our turntables to hear the satanic messages embedded therein.

    What a ripoff. As many times as I tried it, I never heard "sweet Satan"; I always heard "Hey stupid, you're ruining your needle".

  • ||

    Well the Bible indicates that Catholicism is a false religion. So it isn't too far of a streach to go the rest of the way like these folks have.

  • ||

    "you're obsessed with sex."

    "*I'm* obsessed with sex?! You're the one drawing all the dirty pictures!"

  • ||

    On the other hand, Holly, if you played "Another One Bites the Dust" backwards, it did sort of sound like they were saying "it's fun to smoke marijuana," but only if you'd already made that discovery first-hand.

  • ||

    I think it was Oreos that had the secret messages, not Ritz Crackers. Ritzs are just sort of lumpy and blobby; Oreos have lines and shapes. Amazing trivial connection: I am right now at this very moment sitting next to the great-niece of the founder of Opus Dei. She doesn't take after him much.

  • ||

    If they want to badly enough, people can always find "hidden" images and messages. It's one of those weird quirks that makes us see faces in things like power outlets, woodgrain, clouds, etc.

  • ||

    I heard if you say "Church Church Church" three times fast in a chanting mode at the right pitch that you will become posessed by Satan. I never had the nerve to try it though, anyone care to give it a shot and let us know how it works out?

    Ok, just kidding.


    I tried it out, and it works, and I'm just trying to get you all to lose your souls too.

    In all truthfulness, I swear, I'm about as serious here as those who think Chruch artwork is embedded with Satanic images.

    Which is to say, it is all true. A ha ha ha ha.

    :x

  • ||

    I think it was Oreos that had the secret messages, not Ritz Crackers

    I did a Google search--it was definitely Ritz crackers. I wonder what Freudian conclusions Key would make of me: I don't care for Ritz, but I like Club crackers. Fear of sex sublimated into an urge for violence, perhaps? Or maybe just an elf fetish.

  • ||

    anarchy symbols, swastikas



    Since anarchists and nazis (as noted above) hadn't appropriated these icons yet, how's it relevant to their argument?


    Yeah, right. And next you're going to tell me Moby Dick isn't about a big wang.

  • ||

    Experts are featured in the film to offer detailed accounts of the subconscious programming effects of the sex and occult images on the human brain and how it promotes sex, Satanism and the occult.

    Hmm... when you equate sex with Satanism and the occult, that might just be your problem right there.

  • Timothy||

    All part of the human brain's amazing capacity for finding patterns, even where there aren't any.

  • ||

    Whoa. I just saw Bloody Mary in the reflection of my monitor.

  • ||

    Oops, I confused Michaelangelo with DaVinci and a cardinal with the pope. Thanks for the corrections, guys -- I was obviously speaking ex rectum.

  • ||

    It's all very simple:

    1: Man is gay and grows up in very Catholic household.

    2: Catholics have unrealistic morals regarding sexuality and gay man must stifle his urges.

    3: Gay man joins priesthood to escape himself.

    4: Gay man is surrounded by young boys for years.

    5: Gay man abuses some of the boys.

    The evidence for this is clear. The ratio of gay to straight pedophilia is roughly the same as the ratio of gays and straights in the general population. But in the church, the ratio is bent heavily to gay.

    The RC Church created this mess. It's all on them.

    JMJ

  • dhex||

    well, and the guys who molested the children.

  • ||

    Stevo,

    Or you were right. I've always thought da Vinci was really Francis Bacon. Maybe Bacon was Michelangelo, too.

  • ||

    No dhex, were it not for stupid religious doctrine, these men may well have lead normal gay lives - no molesting.

    JMJ

  • ||

    If the French and the other allies hadn't defeated Germany in WWI, then Germany wouldn't have allowed Nazism to rise with all of its horrors. Therefore, the Holocaust, etc. are the fault of the Allies, and the Nazis were innocent victims.

  • ||

    No dhex, were it not for stupid religious doctrine, these men may well have lead normal gay lives - no molesting.

    Must... resist... feeding trolls... troll associating homosexuality... with pedophilia... must not take bait... argghh...

  • ||

    finding patterns, even where there aren't any.

    "even where there aren't any." That's an anagram for "Rene never ate the wary hen." Spooky.

  • ||

    I'll bite. JMJ: Being a member of the clergy and being gay == molester? That's an enormous leap over as empty a chasm as your head.

  • ||

    My favorite Reisman document

    http://www.drjudithreisman.org/archives/pinkswa.doc

    "THE PINK SWASTIKA AND HOLOCAUST REVISIONIST HISTORY"

    Basically, the root cause of WWII was that the Nazis were all a bunch of hardcore fags.

    I cant believe these people can make careers out of this gook! I have to learn how to be a Profitable Wingnut.

    JG

  • ||

    That's an enormous leap over as empty a chasm as your head.

    Nope, not insulting.

  • ||

    the root cause of WWII was that the Nazis were all a bunch of hardcore fags ... I have to learn how to be a Profitable Wingnut.

    Check out Gus van Sant's film Elephant. The gay Nazi motif is used to explain Columbine. Apply theory as needed.

  • ||

    rafuzo: Being a member of the clergy and being gay == molester? That's an enormous leap...

    I don't think it's that much of a leap, actually. While I definitely think that pedophilic priests are ultimately the ones to blame for their own actions, the repressive doctrines of the Catholic Church has historically created an environment wherein "normal" gay impulses were demonized (literally) and those who felt them were made to feel evil. To someone religous enough to join the priesthood this would provide a very powerful warpage factor.

    Okay, either that or the Church just appeals to pedophiles because it provides a bounty of sweet, succulent young altar boys to prey on.

  • ||

    I cant believe these people can make careers out of this gook! I have to learn how to be a Profitable Wingnut.

    Best damn thing Gilmore has ever said. I'm with you on this one man!

  • ||

    I read one of Wilson Bryan Key's books, and my favorite example sums it up: it was a Playboy centerfold from the '70s, a beautiful nude blonde reclining on some satin sheets. Key had "discovered" that if you held the centerfold up to the light so that the printing on the other side showed through, in the folds of the sheets in one corner of the picture you could kinda-sorta see the word "sex." That was the "subliminal seduction," don't you see. The beautiful blonde wouldn't be enough, so they had to slip that word in there so that Playboy's readers (or at least those who held their centerfolds up to the light) would get the right idea. Sheesh.

  • ||

    My grandmother always believed that nuns wore habits to hide their priest-implanted pregnancies. But she was a near-illiterate East Texas redneck born at the turn of the 20th century, so she had a bit of an excuse. WTF is wrong with everyone else? "Embedded imagery expertise"????

    And "These images, unrecognized by the untrained eye, can be a ticking time-bomb to an individual who is unaware of their presence..?" You mean, like what happened to River?

    I'm not going to compare anti-Catholic hysteria to the far more dangerous blood libel and other anti-Jewish smears. But I've always thought that if "the Jews" really did control US foreign policy, the world financial system and most everything else on the planet, they would be able to manufacture much better PR for themselves and that whole Palestine situation would never have gotten this bad, you know? And the M.E. would be a bit less excitable.

    Likewise, if the Catholic church were really able to do all the boogedy boodgedy stuff it's credited with, then maybe there wouldn't be a severe shortage of priests, maybe the capital C Church wouldn't be shuttering little c churches all throughout the West from lack of congregants, maybe the pedophile priests wouldn't get caught and dioceses wouldn't go broke paying settlements to abuse victims, maybe pews would be packed for every Mass by millions of those unwitting Cathbots of the untrained eyes.

    If an organization is A) sneaky, powerful, and omnipresent, then it shouldn't be B) frequently and visibly in deep crisis. You think?

  • ||

    PapayaSF:

    I'll bet Key had to wade through a lot of Playboy centerfolds to find that one...

    All in the name of resexrch, of course.

  • ||

    Okay, either that or the Church just appeals to pedophiles because it provides a bounty of sweet, succulent young altar boys to prey on.

    Comment by: Godfrey at March 28, 2006 02:25 PM

    That's your answer.
    IMHO, these men ALREADY were child molestors and they thought that their faith and the grace of Holy Orders would help take away their problems.
    Multiply this with the problem of a scandelous hierarchy who just wanted to cover their asses as opposed to tackling the issue head-on (with an all to sympathetic public towards the hierarchy), and you get BAD NEWS.

    Also, if there is a problem with celibacy=going crazy and molesting kids (since that's what most people figure is the locus of the RCC's problem with it's priests), then why don't we see teenage boys going after 8 year olds?

  • ||

    Not to mention that priestly sex abuse is not limited to Catholic churches. I believe there are cases of abuse within the Mormon church and an ongoing case against some Hare Krishna temples.

  • ||

    Yeah, right. And next you're going to tell me Moby Dick isn't about a big wang.

    I dunno, I think it's hard to read the "Squeeze of the Hand" chapter and not come to a conclusion that Moby-Dick may just be about a giant wang.

  • ||

    I am not sure if I understood this correctly, but didn't he say he found the word "sex" is some of the imagery that was hundred of years old? If so, does that really make sense when these artists are ITALIAN? Correct me if I am wrong, but why would they use the English word "sex" in their imagery?

  • ||

    And yet, in a weird turn of events, the song "Sex" by Berlin does not contain the word "sex" in its lyrics.

  • ||

    1: Man is gay and grows up in very Catholic household. 2: Catholics have unrealistic morals regarding sexuality and gay man must stifle his urges. 3: Gay man joins priesthood to escape himself. 4: Gay man is surrounded by young boys for years. 5: Gay man abuses some of the boys.

    Since most US dioceses have had "altar girls" for decades, the same sequence should play out for heterosexual men (many of whose desires are likewise not consistent with Catholic morality) who enter the priesthood; yet as you admit most cases of priestly molestation are homosexual in nature.

    While your explanation may provide you with a convenient stick with which to beat the Catholic Church and any other organization that disagrees with you on this subject, it doesn't fit the facts. Then again, that's never been a problem for you before, has it?

  • ||

    Stevo Darkly et al,

    Michaelangelo was also massively pissed when his work on the Sistine Chapel was altered to cover up male genitalia and other undesirable depictions. IIRC, there was a snake wrapping itself around the cardinal you mentioned and biting him in a very sensitive region of his anatomy.

    I can only imagine, when the Sistine paintings were restored in the 1980s, what went through the minds of the restorers as they uncovered all these long-forgotten naughty bits. It was probably like the first time you realized your parents had sex.

  • ||

    My parents did not have sex, you libelous cur!

  • George Arndt||

    One of the definitions of a "pervert" is one who sees sexual meaning everywhere. The people behind the movie as well as much of the religious right and the Taliban, look at even the most innocent things as sexual. So, the puritans are just as horny as the hedonists. But, at least the hedonists are more honest about what they truly desire..

  • ||

    And yet, in a weird turn of events, the song "Sex" by Berlin does not contain the word "sex" in its lyrics.

    And, not so coincidentally, Berlin was the capital of Gay Old Nazi Germany. Hmm, anyone check Berlin album covers for pink swastikas lately?

  • ||

    Is this like the "Blair Witch Project"?

  • ||

    ...redux

  • ||

    But in brand new drag?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement