The aesthetics of ‘manhood’ within the paradigmatic framework of theopaschitic theology. From Brett Murray’s painting ‘The Spear’ and the opened fly to the iconic view of ‘The Anchor’ and the spiritual art of male genitals

  • Daniël Louw


The Brett Murray painting of president Zuma with an opened fly probes into the realm of manhood. It reveals the so called ‘masculinity crisis’ in the gender discourse. From a practical theological point of view it poses the question whether one can exclude male genitals from a holistic anthropology that views corporeality and sexuality as essential elements of the ‘human soul’. The following question is posed: To what extent can the theopaschitic paradigm and Christian iconic view on life contribute to the transformation of existing images on being male and masculinity? Can such a theological approach change existing paradigms determined by domination and patriarchal power? It is accepted that masculinities are products of social and cultural images. In this regard manhood is a social and cultural construct. The Brett Murray painting emphasizes the fact that the penis is still a phallic symbol and as a ‘public’ subjected to the gaze of social media. The public reactions on Brett Murray’s ‘The Spear’ are scrutinized by a Christian spiritual hermeneutics. The objective of the article is to emphasize the role of aesthetics in the establishment of a poetic gaze on manhood. It is an attempt to transform thrusting manhood into ‘compassionate intimacy’. It is argued that male genitals should be viewed as sacred and ‘soulful’ parts of human embodiment.