Jesus Junk: My Take on Christian Memorabilia

October 2nd, 2009

I own a rather large collection of Jesus stuff. I have 3D Jesus pictures, Jesus nightlights, and a coffee mug that looks black until you pour hot coffee in it, and then Jesus magically appears on the side.

My mother-in-law bought me a Jesus wristwatch for Christmas one year. I loved it. Jesus was in the middle with the names of the twelve disciples at the numbers.

“Hey Steve, what time is it?”

“It's quarter after Judas.”

I have dashboard Jesus that looks like he was in a car wreck (I'll give you a moment to think about the irony there). I absolutely loved the “Buddy Christ” figure that was in the movie Dogma. I have a Jesus action figure that comes with loaves and fishes. A company called Train Up A Child put out Jesus action figures in both white and black. I have one of each. I once had an autographed photo of Jesus. It said “Best Wishes…JC.” It wasn't personalized or anything. I'm thinking maybe it was a fake. Someday I hope they come out with a Jesus Pez (Look! It's never empty!).

I guess the question is, are these things wrong? I enjoy them because they make me chuckle, and I can get a conversation going with my students about them. I'm not trying to slam people who take these “seriously.” If they can get a spiritual connection from Jesus night-lights, then more power to them.

I read a recent magazine article that said “Jesus Junk” (their words not mine) is a three billion dollar a year industry!

Is the cross becoming just another Nike “swoosh?” Does it lose the meaning if we overuse it? Or should we be getting the symbol out there any way we can? If Jesus comes back do you REALLY think he's going to want to look at a cross (thank you Bill Hicks for that last one)?

The little silver fish on the back of a car doesn't make me feel closer to God. It certainly doesn't make a person a better driver.

Is it okay in the eyes of God to commercialize the Holy Spirit? What would Jesus do with What Would Jesus Do? (Say that five times fast.)

Perhaps the reason this stuff exists is that we are a culture that must see it, hear it, smell it, and touch it, before we believe it. Faith is difficult. Maybe such items give us something to hold on to.

There's a wonderful woman named Charlotte who runs a Christian preschool in Florida. I sometimes go there to read stories to kids. She has a Jesus doll. It's a two-foot high cuddly doll. Kids can play with him. She's taken some heat for that. Some folks think it's irreverent. “Inappropriate” is the word they use and the word I've come to loathe. I remember growing up with Jesus on a pedestal so high that I couldn't hope to reach him. The kids in Charlotte's school will grow up thinking Jesus is someone they can hug when they're lonely or sad. I know which of these I'd prefer.

I'd like to have a cup of coffee with Jesus. I want him to sit with me at a cheap little diner somewhere. We'd get several pieces of pie, two forks, and two cups of coffee. I would show him my coffee cup and he would chuckle. I would show him my action figures and see if he blew coffee through his nose. I would get him to sign a new picture.

He's a hard guy to know sometimes. Maybe those of us in the church might get a better response if we took him off the cross more often and let him shoot hoops and laugh once in a while. Which guy do you think your teens would rather hang out with?


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.