Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mmmm. Sacrilicious!

Warning: While I absolutely respect the individual right to worship as he or she sees fit, I also believe equally in the necessity to balance faith with a certain amount of levity.  If you are someone who takes his or her religion extremely seriously and can't appreciate some poking of fun, you'd probably better skip this post.

This morning started with a breakfast across the street at our neighbors' house: orange-pineapple mimosas, blueberry pancakes, fresh fruit, cream, and a quichey thing with an Italian name that I forget.  It was fan-friggin'-tastic.  The sun was out and it was a gorgeous day (and still is, as I write this) - perfect for wandering half a block to set up our camp chairs and watch the West Seattle Hi-Yu Parade.  And among all the usual suspects (police motorcycle formation teams, marching bands, drill teams, floats, clowns and pirates) were a handful of the local churches.  In our neighborhood, the Catholics and Lutherans are predominant, evidenced by a bajillion churches and parochial schools within a 10-block radius.

This in itself is not unusual, nor do I have any problem with a person's personal display of faith (so long as it's not infringing another person's rights).  I was raised Presbyterian, follow a Judeo-Christian moral code, have many Christian friends, and am a pretty open guy when it comes to that stuff.  But it creeped me the heck out when the Lutheran church started handing out lollipops.  Not just any lollipops.  These were large confections in the shape of various-colored crosses... on a stick.


Here's where the history geek meets the marketing guy in me and they have a brainstorm.  First of all, early Christians, is the logo you want - your brand, if you will - really the device used to execute your dude?  What happened to the fish?  When the Romans converted, were they just that much more literal?  What if Jesus had been beheaded?  Would His followers wear little guillotines?  What if He was drawn & quartered? Shot? GarrotedBurned at the stake?  Under different circumstances, modern Christians might well be adorning their churches with a dunking chair or wearing miniature stretching racks as signs of their faith.  Point being, the Roman crucifix was an instrument of terror, torture and slow execution.  Using it as a holy symbol has always seemed more than a little morbid to me.  Not exactly the kind of symbol you want to use to attract people.  The fish is a good one, and I've seen some churches use the butterfly as a symbol of the Resurrection.  Those not only make sense, but are far more attractive to the layperson.

But that's just one (unaffiliated) person's opinion, and those of you who like the whole crucifix deal, knock yourselves out.  I am just giving my readers some background so that they can understand how bizarre I found passing out crosses made of candy to promote a religion.  Using the guillotine again, for example: "Look, kids!  They'd put someone's head through this hole and drop a heavy blade down the middle, severing it from the body!  And it's made of candy!"

Of course, the jokes started flying immediately.  Rae said her salvation tasted kind of like Pledge.  Amy found it challenging to reach hers through the tight plastic packaging.  I told her she really had to work at attaining her salvation, but when she did I assured her it would be delicious.  Someone said Jesus tasted funny.  There was no way I was gonna stick a Roman execution device in my mouth, no matter how delicious, so I took mine home to share with my readers.  Tyler was brave and volunteered to try his salvation-on-a-stick (and he finished it), but complained that salvation left a strange aftertaste.

I guess this kind of falls within the realm of "odd marketing tools".  No matter what, it made the day much more festive.

*    *    *

Work continues apace.  Editing the On And On BTS reel, and finishing layout for Arrowflight 2nd Edition.  Rae is taking me out for a dinner date tonight.  It's been awhile since we've done that.  And it's a gorgeous day to do it.  Heck, it's a gorgeous day to be alive.

And that's my mode of worship.  ;-)


Lucy Leadskin said...

Mmm...dead-guy-on-a-stick on a stick.



Maisy said...

The sermon I listened to at church this morning contained the same message Todd! What the heck are people doing worshipping the equivalent of the electric chair?

I'm grateful Jesus died on the cross, but I'm mindful of the fact that it's his death on my behalf I'm grateful for, not the instrument of death.

Could I eat a symbol of a firing squad gun? Nuh. So no lolly pop crosses for me either.

Robert Pace said...

A the risk of sounding a bit defensive, the cross represents many things, one of which is the earthly sacrifice made by God as Man which redeems us from our own sin. So, the cross represents the sinner, the sin, and the salvation all on one symbolic device.

While Madison Avenue may not have pitched the cross as the the next Coke or Nike swoosh, the earliest Christians knew by direct experience exactly what the symbol represented. And since so few were literate, and scrolls and books so rare, symbols and iconography were the most potent means of conveying (and propagandizing) meaning to the flock.

Having said that, modern churches find the need to reach people in novel ways to compete with the noise of contemporary living. And to the extent that you are blogging about, and I'm responding...guess worked! God does work in mysterious ways, wot?

TD said...

I'm certainly mindful of the historic origins of the Christian religion, and have no doubt as to the powerful imagery of an execution device as one's holy symbol. And I can even appreciate the value of "reclaiming" an instrument of fear, torture and oppression and changing its symbolic power in the eyes of adherents. But I'd assume the desire to win hearts, minds and souls would lead to less morbid means with which to make the attempt. At least over time.

I've always been down with the message, just not the presentation. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so woefully behind on your posts and am just catching up, but this, I believe (wait, hang on...gotta check. Yup, thought so) actually made me pee myself from laughing. Of course, childbirth loosened things up considerably...