Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Anubis Controversy

Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken this long for a kerfluffle to arise.

Some Denver residents are troubled by the colossal statue of Anubis that accompanies the travelling King Tut exhibition. One concerned citizen (perhaps the only one?), one Millie Lieberman, had this to say:

"The black on it represents the decaying body. To me it's a very sick and poor representation of what we're all about here in Denver," Lieberman said. "Why would they choose that, out of the whole King Tut collection, to welcome visitors and returning residents to our city?"

(Well, since the entire exhibition is comprised of funerary goods associated with the most famous near-intact Egyptian tomb ever excavated, then having a colossal statue of the pre-eminent mortuary deity seems a very obvious choice.)

A piece posted on the All About Egypt blog picks up the point that most interested me: that some (perhaps the Concerned Citizen quoted above) questioned why a pagan god could be displayed publicly when a Christian cross could not. You can probably hear my head hitting the desk all the way over there, can't you? The response is just short of epic:

City officials said the rule of separation between church and state does not apply here because Anubis is a god from a “dead religion”.

A few thousand Kemetics of various types might beg to differ on the "dead" part, but we'll let that slide. The blinding idiocy of the assertion lies not in questions of living vs. dead religions, but in the difference between an ART INSTALLATION and GOVERNMENT-SANCTIONED SECTARIAN DISPLAYS--and that is important enough to warrant a good caps-locking. No government body plopped Anubis on a plinth and commanded He be worshipped, but there are certainly disingenuous sorts proclaiming that the Christian cross erected on federal lands in the Mojave Desert was but a secular monument to dead veterans. (I wonder if they'd defend Anubis if we stuck him out in the desert to look after the dead--that was one of His functions, after all.)

So there's your teapot tempest for today: whining about a statue of a god you don't even believe in setting a bad example of what your city stands for. And yes, in a way, I'm surprised it's taken this long for someone to make a fuss over poor old Anubis, Who has been travelling round the country with the exhibition. Maybe I'm mildly irked that the biggest thing on the horizon when I visit my favorite city is the world's tallest cross; but I've never complained about it to the media.

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