Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Would Jesus get a tattoo?

Billboards have been popping up all over Lubbock, TX featuring a tattooed, crucified Jesus.

It directs people to a site called No specific church is taking responsibility for the billboards. In the "About Us" section on the site, those responsible for them say that they are just what they seem, a small group of people who want to lead others to Jesus. Looking at the site, it seems to be pretty theologically neutral. It's definitely Protestant as it features a Sinner's prayer, but I found nothing there that was particularly problematic from a Catholic perspective. It even says that a follower of Jesus needs to belong to a community of believers which is an idea found more readily in Catholic circles.

So, what about the tats?

The Catholic Church teaches that tattoos as such are morally neutral. That said, there are three main factors that could push it over the fence either way.

  1. The image used or... 
  2. the location of the tattoo could be immoral or inappropriate
  3. Your motivation in getting the tattoo could be impure. "Am I seeking to glorify God or draw attention to myself? Will my tattoo be a source of contention for my loved ones? Will getting a tattoo cause me to disobey my parents? Will my tattoo cause someone who is weak in the faith to stumble?" are all good questions to ask (Source).
A big part of the controversy seems to be the idea of Jesus having one. The website features videos where people tell their stories of how Jesus changed their lives. In these videos, an actor playing Jesus changes the tattoos on the new Christians. They were tattooed with words like "addiction" but Jesus changes those tattoos to say thing like "hope." Jesus, in turn, takes the new Christian's old tattoo onto himself. Here, it's easier to show than tell:


While the details might be offensive to some, the general idea here is very true and Biblical:
He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.- 1 Peter 2:24
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.- 2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus is the Lamb of God, not just because he's perfect or because he's cute, but because lambs were used for sacrifice.

Jesus was pure, that goes without saying, but he did bear our sins on the cross and I think that this tattoo idea is a pretty creative way of making that reality tangible for people. It makes a theological idea visual in a society in which we are getting more and more used to getting our information visually rather than verbally.

A tattooed Jesus doesn't bother me, but it can be used as a source for meditation. What tats did He get from me? What sins do I need to confess? What sins do I need to remove from my life?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Reclaiming Halloween

Thursday was my favorite holiday. I love setting out spooky decorations. I love gorging myself on candy. I like watching spooky movies and television shows and telling ghost stories. I think one of my favorite parts of the season, however, is dressing up.

And my son goes, "yeah, candy!"
As I get older, however, dressing up is getting more and more difficult. This year, I had to go as a male lion. My son was a lion and I wanted to follow the theme, but the only female cats out there were the "sexy cats." It's very degrading for a woman to have to choose between being "sexy" or being nothing at all. What does that say to women who don't fit into our society's unrealistic idea of beauty? What does that say to women who do not want to be objectified on Halloween? What about the women who just want to go out and have fun?

And don't get me started on the girl costumes. I don't consider myself a prude but I was shocked by how "sexy" some of the costumes designed for children were.
That is where Take Back Halloween comes in. I wish that I had found this site before Halloween. I know where I'm going next year for costume ideas.

Some of my more religiously conservative readers may take offense at the goddess costumes or some of the choices of heroines, but I think we can all agree that the idea of the site is awesome. The site features instructions on how to buy already made things to put together some awesome costumes for women. You don't have to be crafty to have a cool costume although some of their suggestions are not cheap.

It's kind of like this project. A photographer did not want her daughter to buy into the Disney princess mythology. She did a series of pictures dressing and posing her daughter as famous women.

My favorite of the series.
She wants her daughter to look up to real women who did great things, not imaginary girls who wait for their prince charming.
This one is also awfully cute and much cooler than a Disney princess.
Not that there is anything wrong with marriage, but the whole princess thing is really unrealistic and demeaning to the female genius. All of those "sexy" costumes are insulting. We are more than our bodies. We are more than our sexuality. We are strong. We are smart. We are passionate. We respect ourselves and we want the men in our lives to respect us too.  

I'm planning on using Take Back Halloween next year. Maybe James and I can find a cool man and woman pair to dress as. 

Maybe Take Back Halloween should branch out to girl costumes. Or somebody else should start one directed at girls. I certainly can't find one. Do you know of any sites like Take Back for girl costumes?