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In Ireland the debate around Sheela na gigs is perhaps to illustrate that the Catholic orthodoxy of the past is perhaps not quite as monochrome as it is sometimes painted by the fundamentalists.
Sometimes, somehow, some feminine imagery managed to weave its way into the structure of Church (and other) architecture, and not in the approved Virgin Mary saintly suffering pose.
Whether one attributes this to pre-Christian or Celtic influences, or to more (then) contemporary rogue heterodox influences, or even to officially condoned or at least tolerated bawdiness at the time is open to conjecture and further research, but it is difficult to envisage such motifs being incorporated into modern church designs.
Not only did the more recent and austere protestant and dissenter traditions not tolerate much in the way of graven images in church architecture, but the heavily romanised Catholic tradition seems to have become more and more focused on stereotypical crucifixes of a tortured Christ and virginal Madonnas and child.
Sexy it isn't, unless you are into BDSM.
Index of Frank's Diaries
The person(s) who compiled the Sheela na gig collection that Oui links to are struggling with two unknown sets of knowledge--early modern, ecumenical christian dogma and pre-historic ethnography on the island living.
By pre-historic I mean only not written, not documented, narrative about the political economy of the tribūs, its various aspects including but not limited to sexual mores of the OPPRESSED and the OPPRESSORS! (Historical illiteracy, or oral tradition, at the further reaches of Greco-Roman, East-West imperial administration is a well-heeled joke: "There has even been a book written on the subject called "The Vilein's Bible" which documents how church sculpture was used to provide moral lessons to a largely illiterate population of poorly educated people.") That's a thought derived from the "authoritarian" vein of "victimology" present in contemporary studies of sociology.
Then there's another way to read the icons, that refers to syncreticism which has been a particularly fruitful analytical model in studies of comparative religion, of which iconography. Ironically, missionary role in 500 years slave trade of American (not US) natives and Africans provide ample evidence of "tolerance" and "intolerance" in conversion outcomes. That evidence is documentary, oral, and iconographic.
Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
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