On immodest angels . . .

I’m not a fan of censorship.  Don’t even get me started on book banning.  So when I saw these two pictures side by side, my censorship flag went up!  The image on the left is “The Resurrection” (1873) by Carl Heinrich Bloch.  What a beautiful painting.  I love it.

On the right is the image as it appeared on page 54 of the Ensign (the Mormon church’s monthly publication for adult readers) in December 2011.  Still a beautiful painting, but it seems fair to assume that it’s not what the artist intended.

Some friends and I identified a few differences:

  • In the Ensign version, the angels’ wings have been clipped (=removed).  That’s because Mormons don’t believe in angels with wings.
  • In the Ensign version, the angels’ bare shoulders have been covered.  That’s because Mormons believe that bare shoulders are indecent.  This standard has even recently been extended to include 4 year old girls.
  • In the original version, the angels’ bodies are naked below their arms.  In the Ensign version, the naked skin underneath the arms is discreetly covered up.

This is nutty.  I feel like someone has hijacked my religious train car and steered it right off the rails.  We’re so concerned with modesty that we have now taken to modifying a beautiful piece of artwork (originally painted in 1873) before publishing it in our official church magazine so that it reflects our hyper-viligance with regard to modesty?

What do we hope to accomplish by doing things like this in official church publications?

And, perhaps most importantly, why did Jesus get to remain immodest?  I mean, come on—a little consistency goes a long way, doesn’t it?