116 used in Christ's passion, he sees this visual and literary practice not just as a prayerful recollection, but also as an act of adoration (p. 129). To stress the double sense of intimacy (a private act) and spectacle (a public act) which the "arms of Christ" simultaneously evoke, conveys better to us the meaning of this devotion than exploring the list of individual instruments can. What Hirsh wants to make clear is how this spectacle, which seems so alienating, could yet draw medieval people in and serve a meditational purpose as they prepared for the Last Judgement. To underline the central relevance of this devotion, he compares the medieval arma Christi with the arma urbis of contemporary North American culture. Comparable to the cross, there we have the gun as the central icon (p. 145). But whereas the devotion of the "arms of Christ" allowed the spectators to derive power from identifying themselves with the victimized Christ, the gun as the icon of the modern arma urbis has the countereffect of signalling the helplessness of a getthoized people underneath the outward projection of a reign of terror. In either case, it is not so much the "arms"
Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis (in 2006 continued as Church History and Religious Culture) – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1998
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