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The definition of the word art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. Religious art was created in order to inspire and uplift.

Over the years the primary look of religious symbols and art have reflected the Anglo-Saxon, blond, blue eyed variety. It was very rare that art strayed from the typical expected paintings and sculptures. This was something that we believed. The truth is that as early as the 14th Century art showed diversity. It wasn’t that the art had not been created. It was just not shown. There have been findings that as early as the 14th century artwork displayed African Americans in icons.   In the last few years, there has been a great deal of debate on what Jesus Christ looked like. Many people refer to Revelation 1:13–16 as specific information on what Jesus Christ physically looked like.  A few years ago there was even a television documentary that aptly described the many face of Christ and took into consideration the influences of where certain art was created.

Debate on the color of Jesus’ skin has often resulted from interpretations of various darkly-colored, aged depictions of Jesus’ mother Mary, referred to as the Black Madonna. Another catalyst for such debate can be found in the Philippines, where, in the nation’s capital, Manila, an image of the Black Nazarene carrying the cross is revered by thousands of devotees

These days the image of Christ has evolved into one that evokes discussion. The cartoon ‘The Boondocks” had an episode in which they discussed “The White Jesus” vs. “The Black Jesus”. Is there a politically correct way to discuss and view art? I do not believe there is a way. Art is completely subjective. It is an artist attempting to interpret an inspiration given to them. Are there things that can patently offend people? I do definitely believe there are lines for the sake of good taste that challenge people to what is acceptable. A few years ago there was a firestorm in New York City over an exhibition at a major museum that displayed less than respectful interpretations of images of religious icons.

This past Christmas showcased more ethnically diverse holiday offerings in Nativity Scenes, Cards and supplies than in the past. It could be possible that we are considering the geographic evidence of what people looked at that time. Forensics is playing a greater role in stating that many of those truths that we held in our spiritual and religious world were untrue  and far  more diverse.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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