Can I ask you, Bluecolor, do you think that Jesus really looked like any of those paintings? Was he a pale white guy with a scraggly beard?
When I was a Christian kid, all the people in the bible were depicted as if they came from Northern or Western Europe. The only diversity you got was with the Three Kings, where sometimes one looked Asian and one looked African. There were Abyssinians, Ethiopians, Nubians and Egyptians, but they never looked the way those people really look. Even Abraham, who was from Iraq, looked like a skinny Santa Claus in a bathrobe, ie. a German-ish guy with a big beard. In reality, he probably looked more like Sadaam Hussein.
I think that many Christians in the US are prejudiced against the Middle East and have to reconcile with the fact that their most revered icons are from there. Do you think that Christians would think differently about the bible and their faith if the images were more accurate, like having the people look Middle Eastern, since they were, well, Middle Eastern? I am serious.