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Jesus as dogcatcher, ballerina, SATAN!
March 18, 2004 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Religious right fights "Dress-up Jesus" refrigerator magnets "...Urban Outfitters is offering a refrigerator magnet set depicting Jesus on the cross. A variety of clothes for "Jesus Dress Up" include a Satan mask and tights, ballerina, and dogcatcher outfit. The sign above the cross reads, "Hang in there baby!"....A variety of clothes for "Jesus Dress Up" include a Satan mask and tights, ballerina, and dogcatcher outfit....and a Dr. Seuss hat." - So reads an Action Alert sent to the several million members of the Reverend Donald Wildmon's American Family Association which urges concerned christians to bombard Urban Outfitters with letters condemning the allegedly blasphemous magnets. But there is no need to even buy them when you can play "Dress up Jesus" online! - "Dress up Jesus by dragging the items to him with your mouse.", reads the offending website. From the AFA's suggested letter text : "While you may think it is "cute," your decision shows a great disrespect toward people of faith everywhere." - To say that I dislike the AFA would be to put it mildly, but are the refrigerator magnets indeed disrespectful ?
posted by troutfishing (134 comments total)

 
And assuming that Jesus is the one true god shows great disrespect toward people of faith everywhere.
posted by archimago at 12:50 PM on March 18, 2004


To say that I dislike the AFA would be to put it mildly, but are the refrigerator magnets indeed disrespectful ?

Yes.

Then comes the true million dollar question: are people under an obligation to always be respectful to the ideas of others?
posted by vorfeed at 12:54 PM on March 18, 2004


Yes, it is disrespectful. So are the flip-flops printed with Ganesha's image.

So what? Does everyone have to respect everything all the time?

Don't like it? - don't buy it.
posted by bashos_frog at 12:55 PM on March 18, 2004


I just went to the AFA site and used their automated email complaint, changing their pre-worded email to my own:

Dear Chairman Hayne,

I am in no way offended that your company chooses to sell the "Jesus Dress Up" sets in your stores.

Your decision shows a great respect toward people everywhere who believe in free speech.

I implore you to order your stores to immediately order more "Jesus Dress Up" products.

Your response to my concern will greatly influence my shopping decisions in the future.
posted by archimago at 12:58 PM on March 18, 2004


Well, if they tried something similar with Mohammed, instant fatwa.

Disrespectful? Try blasphemous. And stupid. Christians buy clothes too.
posted by konolia at 12:59 PM on March 18, 2004


Damn, I've gotta get my ass to Urban Outfitters and buy some before they get pulled so I can auction them off on eBay!

I actually thought their rearview hanger Christ trying to hold on to the cross was pretty damned funny. Get it? Damned? Oh nevermind.
posted by fenriq at 1:00 PM on March 18, 2004


Yes, it is disrespectful, but religion as we know it is disrespectful to rational thought. Which is worse?
posted by jon_kill at 1:02 PM on March 18, 2004


To say that I dislike the AFA would be to put it mildly, but are the refrigerator magnets indeed disrespectful ?

I dunno. IIRC, in Godspell Jesus wore a Superman shirt and a clown nose, and I'd hardly describe that as an anti-Christian work.

Plus, Jesus (as both a sacred and secular icon) has gone through all kinds of cultural represenations, some of which while irreverent were not neccessarily blasphemous.

You'll have to pardon my Jesus-o-philia. I've been reading this book on the subway lately.
posted by jonmc at 1:03 PM on March 18, 2004 [1 favorite]


Dear Chairman Hayne,

Please do your best to ignore the asshats who are attempting to blackmail you into dropping your "dress up Jesus" magnets by threatening a boycott.

You can rest assured that they all shop at Wal-Mart anyway.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:07 PM on March 18, 2004


I wonder if the AFA has heard about these fine Jesus products (nsfw.)
posted by homunculus at 1:08 PM on March 18, 2004


I ♥ sacrilege.
posted by lumpley at 1:11 PM on March 18, 2004


I'm gonna buy one. On Sunday. With my neighbor's wife.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:12 PM on March 18, 2004


WHAT DID YOU EXPECT PITHY MORTALS? Commercialize Jesus and all that will be left is MANIPULATION, DEPRECIATION, and ultimately DECAPITATION. Let's get over it and move on to the next bucket of fish heads.
posted by Satapher at 1:14 PM on March 18, 2004


i wonder what they'll say about my new soon to be ready-for-prime-time site www.sodomizejesus.com?
posted by quonsar at 1:14 PM on March 18, 2004


Donald Wildmon and the AFA have every right to make a stink about this if it offends them.

And everyone else has every right to ignore or criticize or make fun of them. Works both ways.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:15 PM on March 18, 2004


Thanks deadcowdan, Metafilter used to be so confusing!
posted by Satapher at 1:17 PM on March 18, 2004


quonsar, I thought you'd been banned? (not that I care either way, just wondering)
posted by archimago at 1:18 PM on March 18, 2004


I wouldn't worship a God who didn't have a sense of humor.

Though I must say even I find this disrespectful. Konolia's point about Mohammed is dead on, although I think it's a little silly to call people "blasphemous."
posted by callmejay at 1:20 PM on March 18, 2004


Rub the Buddha's Belly

The Buddha Beanie


Well, if they tried something similar with Mohammed, instant fatwa

but that's because, as we all know, Muslims are intolerant savages: the good reverend Franklin Graham himself said Islam is "a very evil and wicked religion" unlike good christians. and Reverend Vines said Muhammad was "a demon-possessed pedophile"

pot, kettle, Christ?
(sounds like a good title for a new Wilco song)

why o why doesn't Urban Outfitters hate gays as much as they should? they'll soon join Disney -- next target for a AFA boycott, I guess

quick facts about that fag-loving anti-Christian Mickey Mouse:


# ABC’s™ Relativity has shown what is perhaps the most passionate lesbian sexual encounter so far on network TV.
# Danzig, an occultic rock band, was signed to a Disney record label. Their music is laced with satanic themes.
# Disney helped underwrite the 1993 Hollywood benefit for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
# Disney signed Martin Scorsese, director of The Last Temptation of Christ, Casino, Taxi Driver and many other hard-edged films to a 4-year-contract.
# Disney hired a convicted child molester, to direct its movie Powder.
# Mark Gill, the president of Miramax Films, a wholly-owned Disney subsidiary, admitted that his company thrives on racy, often violent promotion for its movies.
# Priest (Miramax) is a pro-homosexual movie which depicts five Catholic priests as dysfunctionals and blames their problems on Church teachings. One priest is a homosexual; a second an adulterer; a third an alcoholic; a fourth demented; and the fifth just plain mean and vicious. The film is blatantly anti-Christian.
# Other objectionable films from Disney subsidiaries included Dogma (homosexuality), Chasing Amy (lesbianism), Pulp Fiction (sex & violence), Color of Night (sex), Clerks (graphic language), Chicks in White Satan (lesbianism), Lie Down with Dogs (homosexuality), The House of Yes (incest).
# Disney/Miramax originally purchased and intended to distribute Kids, the pornographic movie about early teen sex and drug abuse. Miramax later formed an independent company to distribute the film. It was rated NC-17 (formerly X) by the MPAA.


posted by matteo at 1:22 PM on March 18, 2004


quonsar represents a steamtrain of thought beyond the polar extremes -- both political and social -- that most grab a hold of with cold clammy hands, certain that if you aren't one way you must be the other.

To ban quonsar would only cater to the bland bitchy wanking polarized banter seen in any Newsfilter post. God bless this man.
posted by Satapher at 1:24 PM on March 18, 2004


as the architect of refrigerator art.
no this is not heresy but it does inspire some folk to write articles about it.
the it.
not to with it IMO. to large. to...
iffy and cartoonish.
posted by clavdivs at 1:26 PM on March 18, 2004


Tried to send the following:
*****
Dear Chairman Hayne,

Don't let the fundy's get you down, thank you for selling the "Jesus Dress Up" sets in your stores.

I think it is "cute"

I implore you to discount this item so decent, unemployed web workers like myself can have one of these nifty items too.

Your response to my concern is unnecessary but always welcome.

Keep up the good work.
*****

but they wanted me to register. I won't register for a site I wouldn't...belong....to...or...something. maybe it's time to resurrect a hotmail account.


On another note, if you meet the Buddha on the road, rub his belly. Does a product poking fun at the Buddha have Buddha nature? I bet yes.
posted by m@ at 1:29 PM on March 18, 2004


Even Al Jourgensen is pissed at Urban Outfitters Lately!
posted by Dr_Octavius at 1:30 PM on March 18, 2004


Donald Wildmon and the AFA have every right to make a stink about this if it offends them.


I agree, free speech is free speech. However, there is something just nefarious about the AFA's site. When I went to send my above e-mail, I got the message that I needed to provide them an e-mail address so that I could be notified of the newspaper, radio or television station that they would be targeting next week. So the sole purpose of this organization is to seek out what they find offensive and bombard their target with an onslaught of complaints to make it look like a majority opinion. I find that sad. It's not like they saw something and therefore decided to complain, it's that they are going to always complain and it's just a matter of who is their target this week. I'm not saying they don't have the right to do any of this, I'm just saying that I'm offended by their need to sanitize my world.
posted by archimago at 1:31 PM on March 18, 2004


quonsar represents a steamtrain of thought

CHOO! CHOO!
posted by quonsar at 1:34 PM on March 18, 2004


I like that the AFA says "people of faith" to mean "people of faiths who follow Jesus." Nice generalization, guys.

As for the Jesus dress up... religiously insensitive? Yes. If I was a religious Christian, I'd probably be at least slightly offended and probably wouldn't shop at that store (not that I do already).

I doubt they're trying to be genuinely offensive. I imagine that Urban Outfitters caters to the really apathetic, so their buyers probably don't give a shit about religion, politics, or anything else that people get emotional about. If nobody reacted to crap like this, it wouldn't be for sale.
posted by mikeh at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2004




Disrespectful? Try blasphemous.

Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated out of nothing, "blasphemy" is the most amazing, with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for second and third place. - R. Heinlein

See also: John 10:33
posted by bashos_frog at 1:50 PM on March 18, 2004


God bless you once again XQUZYPHYR for a great great link.
posted by Dantien at 1:57 PM on March 18, 2004


I'm really beginning to tire of UO's (et al) attempts at faux kitch and pre-packaged irreverance for the insto-hep consumer class. Can we please stop rendering all of our social discourse into easily purchased tokens of which this only one example? Is this the marketplace of ideas I hear so much about? At least we've found a way to harness belligerent one-upmanship to power the GNP I guess.

So now the Christ is a dress-up refrigerator magnet. It's not witty so much as mean-spirited. The whole fish/Darwin thing is clever if not over-done, but this is just . . . confrontational.

blah blah blah fundies are out to ruin the universe and have a patent on confrontational approaches blah blah blah. They can be engaged on different planes. This only fuels the persecution complex and puts you in the same game they play. The atheist/evolutionist crowd likes to play the Rational Debate CardTM but this sort of thing is no less an irrational emotional appeal that an iconic Christ.

Sorry, I do have a sense of humor. I'm just suffering from male PMS analog or something today.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:03 PM on March 18, 2004


Boy, uo is really getting it from all sides these days. This, and the 'vote' t-shirt Dr_Octavius mentions, and who could forget Ghettopoly?

Too bad nobody ever boycotts them for being an anti-labor , pro-sweatshop, Republican cash cow.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:04 PM on March 18, 2004


Somebody said, "If nothing is serious, nothing is funny."

Is Dress-Up Jesus blasphemous? Well, yes. Mocking something that others consider sacred is simply what blasphemy is. If it wasn't blasphemous, nobody would think it was funny. Of course, such mean-spirited humor is less funny when you're the one being mocked. But hey, life is tough. Compared to getting thrown to lions or burned at the stake, "Dress-Up Jesus" can hardly be classified as religious persecution.

There's a difference, though, between this and the "Buddy Christ" from Dogma. "Buddy Christ" is poignant satire--this is "funny" for the same reason as those "Two Wongs Make it White" tee-shirts that caused such a stir a while back. If crude derision is your idea of funny, well . . . at least you'll never want for amusement.
posted by vraxoin at 2:05 PM on March 18, 2004


Are the fridge magnets any different or more offensive to the AFA than these?

Jonmc, that American Jesus book looks great. I'm going to read it if they have it in the Toronto Public Library system.
posted by orange swan at 2:06 PM on March 18, 2004


anyway, you're all free to express your disagreement with the AFA's UO boycott (or Disney's homophobic boycott, or the homophobic battle against "Judicial Tyranny") directly to the AFA chairman:

Contact: Don Wildmon
American Family Association
Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, Chairman
P.O. Drawer 2440
Tupelo, Mississippi 38803
Phone: 662-844-5036
Fax 662/842-7798


my favorite AFA site page:
Jews For Jesus Director Declares "The Passion" a Godsend

you can't make that stuff up

posted by matteo at 2:17 PM on March 18, 2004


theres nothing wrong with engaging in boycotts or mailing campaigns when you object to something. that's all part of living in a free society with free markets and free speech and stuff.

weeee!
posted by glenwood at 2:32 PM on March 18, 2004


matteo - The site is a treasure trove of amusements and curiousities! I especially liked this: "(AgapePress) - An author is confronting the growing problem of immodesty in the Church with an all-around modesty "training manual" for Christian women of all ages. ..Madeline Crabb of the ministry, "More Than Conquerors," describes herself as an author, teacher, songwriter, and bondservant, and she probably could go on if she had more room on her business card.....the author and ministry founder says God wants propriety, decency and purity restored to the body of Christ....

"God wants us to be affecting the world, not it affecting us," Crabb says, "but through compromise, disobedience, and rebellion, many women are no longer the examples of modesty and purity God wants them to be."

Crabb decided to attack the problem head on by becoming a "modesty consultant" of sorts. She wrote a book called Dressing to Please God: Clothing the Mind, Body, and Spirit, a Training Manual. The book combines basic biblical guidelines together with Crabb's considerable experience in female fashion and personal care. Dressing to Please God is Crabb's contribution to the effort to restore the ideal of modesty to the Church, starting one woman at a time. The 110-page manual is available in Christian bookstores, or from Crabb at willingtohear@peoplepc.com, and includes the author's scriptural insights, reflection sections, personal care advice, and even review questions -- all designed to help women seeking a biblical "extreme makeover" for mind, body, and spirit. "


Back to the Burkha? Does this mean God is displeased by nipple rings and edible underwear? But I thought that God had no limitations, even those of taste. Hmmm.......
posted by troutfishing at 2:40 PM on March 18, 2004


Also, I think I agree with clavdivs (if I can parse his writing correctly). The cartoon art of "Dress of Jesus" is cheesy.

I would have done this as the "Dress up Jesus as the 'Village People' " refrigerator magnet set. Just saying....
posted by troutfishing at 2:45 PM on March 18, 2004


In penance for their sacrilege, Urban Outfitters will now be selling sackcloth at 50% off.
posted by Hildago at 3:05 PM on March 18, 2004


Ooops... "Dress-UP Jesus", that was. A little unintentional sin!.... Sacrilege! Blasphemy!..... Abomination!...... evil ?
posted by troutfishing at 3:07 PM on March 18, 2004


It's not witty so much as mean-spirited. The whole fish/Darwin thing is clever if not over-done, but this is just . . .

tired and lame.
posted by y2karl at 3:16 PM on March 18, 2004


Here's the letter I wrote:

Dear Chairman Hayne,

I just wanted to send you an e-mail of encouragement. Many right-wing religious organizations have objected to your Jesus Dress Up magnet, but I feel it's totally appropriate and a funny satire of the Christian religion. I just wanted to let you know that most Americans approve of your store and your products. I strongly urge you not to bow to pressure of the right-wing's culture war. Keep up the good work.

posted by Bag Man at 3:22 PM on March 18, 2004


Aren't these the same people that always depict Jesus as a white guy? Shouldn't that offend some equally "faithful" folks?
posted by SweetIceT at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2004


..Madeline Crabb... describes herself as an author, teacher, songwriter, and bondservant,

Bondservant?

It's Jane. Jane Bondservant.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:42 PM on March 18, 2004


JESUS WAS NOT CULL'AHD! despite living in the middle east, he managed to be born white... like all good hearted god fearing people!

While the rest of the bible is god's honest truth, the part about 'skin the color of brick' was metaphorical for 'thick skinned'!

IceT will burn in hell.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 4:01 PM on March 18, 2004


I actually went to see a performance of klezmer music and theatre a few weeks ago. For me, one of the more shocking moments was the sketch of the divorce trial between Humanity and God (during which the judge repeatedly tells God to shut up and listen.) Even as an atheist from a childhood a liberal Methodist church I was a little bit shocked. Not only could they get away with it, but the sketch had most of the audience rolling.

I just don't understand the point of religion without humor.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:06 PM on March 18, 2004


"...but I feel it's totally appropriate and a funny satire of the Christian religion."

If memory serves not too many people here in MeFiville thought the Ganesha flip-flops (mentioned in previous comment) were all that funny. I made a comment in that thread about not being able to take people that worshipped elephants seriously and of course someone had to asking if I was joking (maybe,maybe not). Why did they ask? Because civilized, educated people don't bash an ancient Eastern religion like Hinduism they stick to bashing the religion of bucktoothed,rednecked yokels from Mississippi. IMHO the whole "persecuted Christian" thing stems in part from the fact that it does seem ok to bash or ridicule Christianity but not Hinduism or Islam etc... Put a dress on Jesus,that's funny,make a joke about Mohammed being a pedophile,that's not.

Maybe it's just me. Being agnostic I really don't have a dog in this fight but that's the vibe I seem get here.
posted by MikeMc at 4:26 PM on March 18, 2004


I think this is a really funny product and I think i'm going to go buy one for the fridge in the parish hall.

If Berean was carrying this there'd be no comment whatsoever; this is just the religious right's need to put a claim on their sacred icon: he's ours, he ain't yours, keep your filthy secular liberal hands off my christ...
posted by hob at 4:27 PM on March 18, 2004


Scary, uhuh. And she fits it all on a business card !

Bondservant - Sounds like an S/M term, right? Here's the dictionary meaning - "NOUN: 1. A person obligated to service without wages. 2. A slave or serf.
ETYMOLOGY: bond(man) + servant." (American Heritage Dictionary) Here's the useage among the current American Christian religious right - "  The passion of Christianity comes from deliberately signing away our own rights and becoming a bondservant of Jesus Christ. This can only happen with your part, just as a pastor preaching an incredible sermon, we have to hear it and apply it to make it incredible. We can do this together as a faith community, first by the parents, then by the church.....Please go to the Lord as prayer warriors, and seek Him on what role He is really calling you to for our Young people!"

A "bondservant" is, apparently, a christian who has chosen to elevate christian faith - and all the flows from it - above most personal desires. Also, "Bondservants in the Bible were slaves who chose to stay with their masters after their time of service was done. Their ears would then be pierced to signify their love their masters. (from "God's Bondservant"

There is a christian band called Bondservant. They seem to have few fans. These Christian rockers have a song* called "Bondservant"

Christian bondservants in training may, it seems, sometimes desire carnal relations with other like minded Christian "bondservants in training"

Bondservancy seems a little bit akin to a sort of demonic possession, but in a good way - assert some christians : "... A bondservant is one who, having been given his freedom, gives it back so he can exercise his love dependence. ...A bondservant is one whose will is completely consumed by the will of another."



*"Bondservant" - "Why should I care? What should i do?
change who I am, cuz you dont like my point of view.
Judgement comes from all sides, there is no middle ground.
Double standards cant measure my worth, I am who I am.
I don't dress to please.
And I dont care, I dont care who sees.
You'll never be satisfied by me.
Why should I care, what should i do?
Change who i am cuz you dont like my point of view.
Am i now trying to win the approval of all men?
I tried that in the past, the end result won't last.
And i dont care , i dont care who sees.
You'll never be satisfied by me
(2x)
I have reason for what i do.
I have my convictions too
(2x)
I know what He did for me a servant of God I will always be
look at yourself before you judge me.
You've got nothing better to do,
than prove who's better than who.
LOOK INSIDE OF YOU!!"

posted by troutfishing at 4:27 PM on March 18, 2004


I honestly find it disrespectful depicting Christ with long hair, not that long hair is wrong, see me. These people are nuts and more so having media supporting their cries.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:33 PM on March 18, 2004



There is a christian band called Bondservant

if you play their records backwards you can hear Ronald Reagan's voice

posted by matteo at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2004


I just realized that the "bondservant ethic" must be one of the cultural streams behind the religious right's apparent desire to foist a sort of moral tyranny on the rest of us - they're used to the concept of personal subservience already, and so it doesn't seem especially threatening to them.

hob - "keep your filthy secular religious hands off my secular christ...

It sounds good THAT way too! Great slogan.

thomcatspike - Wasn't the historical Christ supposed to have had short hair? (or so I've heard). That was the cultural fashion among Jewish men of the time, correct?

Matteo - And sometimes you might swear you've heard Joseph Goebbels reading, aloud, the writing of Edward Bernays. But you would be incorrect, mostly.
posted by troutfishing at 4:41 PM on March 18, 2004


I don't know anything about this AFA group, and frankly they strike me as a bit reactionary... so I'll just pass on defending them. But all that aside, I'm surprised at the lot of you: "So what? Does everyone have to respect everything all the time?"

Yes — or at least do their best to. Isn't that the hallmark of a civil society — isn't that a part of the society that so many of us here claim to embrace: a tolerant, open-minded, thoughtful society? Or is that only for folks you agree with?

Sadly, this isn't about a draconian measure of respectfulness (as bashos_frog's question implies), but of going out of one's way to offend.

Had this been a Dress-Up Matthew Shepherd, Martin Luther King Jr, James Byrd Jr., or Auschwitz Victim, this discussion would have been markedly different.

So many here cry "free speech", but this isn't a story of the government refusing someone the right to be heard... this is a group of average citizens making good use of the tools available to them to complain about something they find wholly offensive. (In fact, it's this sort of commercialization and trivialization of public discourse that makes it so difficult for complex issues to be discussed any more... which anyone not wanting Bush to be re-elected should be very concerned about.) The ad hominem attacks only seem to underscore a general inability in our society to discuss things of any import.

It's a shame, really.
posted by silusGROK at 4:45 PM on March 18, 2004


I actually went to see a performance of klezmer music and theatre a few weeks ago. For me, one of the more shocking moments was the sketch of the divorce trial between Humanity and God (during which the judge repeatedly tells God to shut up and listen.) Even as an atheist from a childhood a liberal Methodist church I was a little bit shocked. Not only could they get away with it, but the sketch had most of the audience rolling.
If the audience was largely Jewish, the fact that they weren't shocked isn't surprising. There's something of a Jewish tradition of rabbis putting God on trial, and generally convicting him (can't find any links for this - sorry).
posted by kickingtheground at 5:17 PM on March 18, 2004


That was a handy tool:

Dear Chairman Hayne,

I am highly amused that your company is selling the "Jesus Dress Up" sets in your stores.

While you may think it is "cute," your decision provides a much needed sense of humor for people of faith everywhere.

I implore you to order your stores to expand your line of "Jesus Dress Up" products to include other religous icons.
And I hope you will ignore the small minded humorless toadies of the AFA.

Your response to my concern will greatly influence my shopping decisions in the future.

posted by 2sheets at 5:23 PM on March 18, 2004


2sheets, if there's such an influx of automated letters like that they may not note the subtle changes and just add another notch to the complaint column: odds are at this point they just have an intern at the computer going "angry e-mail, angry e-mail, rat from Jay, angry e-mail...."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:37 PM on March 18, 2004


MikeMc: IMHO the whole "persecuted Christian" thing stems in part from the fact that it does seem ok to bash or ridicule Christianity but not Hinduism or Islam etc...

Context context context. Exactly who managed to successfully colonize whom for most of the 18th, 19th and half of the 20th century. Given how most of us live in a culture where the possibility of an anti-gay amendment to State and Federal constitutions has become a nasty political fight, I must admit minimal sympathy for accusations over an anti-Chistian bias because a handful of people choose an admittedly crude and disrespectful joke.

And in fact, a large part of the time what is called "disrespectful" frequently involves Chistians engaging in inside jokes. I think in the last year, I've seen scandal over the pooping pope and the Madonna incorporating elephant dung. However, both of these exhibitions were created by professed Chistians working in traditional styles and media of non-European Chistian iconography. Last Temptation and Dogma were attacked in spite of the professed Christian faith of their directors.

kickingtheground: If the audience was largely Jewish, the fact that they weren't shocked isn't surprising. There's something of a Jewish tradition of rabbis putting God on trial, and generally convicting him (can't find any links for this - sorry).

I had always been told this, but I've never really experienced it before. I've also always been told that its a big mistake to talk about Judo-Chistian religion because they don't just agree about Jesus, but also about the nature of God.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:42 PM on March 18, 2004


Yup, it's disrespectful. Crucufixion is brutal, and despite my general irreverence and fondness for blasphmey, I found it offensive. But just like The Passion, the fuss will just sell more magnets. I think the nails turned into jewelry are pretty gross, as well.
posted by theora55 at 6:05 PM on March 18, 2004


"Had this been a Dress-Up Matthew Shepherd, Martin Luther King Jr, James Byrd Jr., or Auschwitz Victim, this discussion would have been markedly different."

well, maybe the reason would be because gays (Shepherd), African-Americans (King, Byrd), Jews (Auschwitz) are still victims of prejudice/persecution/both of the above right now in the US among other places. Fundamentalist Christians, at the moment, in the US, own the White House ("God told me to strike Saddam", the GodHatesFags constitutional amendment, etc), the Supreme Court (Thomas, Scalia etc), a nice influential chunk of Republican Congress, the Justice Department (prayer breakfasts, daily Bible readings, etc), etc etc etc
Fundy Christians (because I don't see less reactionary Christians, for example the Catholics, trying to boycott UO) are also currently enjoying, courtesy of their Born Again Crusader in Chief, their nice remake of the "Crusade" (and I'm quoting Bush, before his handlers told him to lose the crusade talk of course) in Mesopotamia -- one would assume that fundys could, in a political environment like this, take a little tasteless joke (because of course the Jesus on the cross dressed as the Cat in the Hat is indeed tasteless) with a modicum of humor that they clearly lack.
but the fundy culture of aggressive lobbying against free speech apparently knows no limits. and no shame (since they like to whine about being "persecuted" by those evil "elites" (and I refer as always to Thomas Frank for the whole "elite" debunking)
posted by matteo at 6:14 PM on March 18, 2004


I've also always been told that its a big mistake to talk about Judo-Chistian religion because they don't just agree about Jesus, but also about the nature of God.

I also hate the "Judeo-Christian" thing. As I see it, it's a way for Christians of European descent to say, "Hey, we're part of an ancient culture: our religion is continuous over the past 6000 years!" Which is an exaggeration, to say the least. Similarly, the phrase "Judeo-Christian Culture" strikes me as an especially WASP shibboleth. And what does something like "The Judeo-Christian Tradition" even mean? People use that particular phrase in a political context to describe, for instance, the values of modern liberal democracy; does that mean that they're excluding any parts of our cultural background that come from the pagan Greeks or Romans? Is such a thing even possible? It's a stupid, meaningless, catch-all.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:16 PM on March 18, 2004


matteo, good to know your standards are established: mocking people you sympathize with or see as oppressed, bad. Mocking people you don't understand and disagree with: good.
posted by namespan at 6:28 PM on March 18, 2004


Not to mention that you just tarred christians with a pretty damn broad brush. Or do you think all muslims are terrorists too?
posted by namespan at 6:29 PM on March 18, 2004


Yes — or at least do their best to. Isn't that the hallmark of a civil society — isn't that a part of the society that so many of us here claim to embrace: a tolerant, open-minded, thoughtful society? Or is that only for folks you agree with?

silusGROK,

You are confusing tolerance with respect. You are insured the former in a civil society and not given the latter because it's a free society.
posted by john at 6:37 PM on March 18, 2004


Threads like this bring out the worst in MetaFilter-land. I wish I had not read any of this. I need to remember never to read Christian related threads on this site.

That said, UO is the same company that made Ghettopoly around Christmas. Looks like they excel at publicity through offending people.
posted by internal at 6:38 PM on March 18, 2004


"they may not note the subtle changes "

That's why I suggest using a subject line like "Keep up the good work"

"I wish I had not read any of this"

Cue up the world's smallest violin for the persecuted christians.
posted by 2sheets at 7:06 PM on March 18, 2004


" mocking people you sympathize with or see as oppressed, bad"

heh. of course it's subjective, you probably don't think racism exists. I do. I'm funny like that.
but at least you got one thing right -- I sympathize with the oppressed. that's the difference between you and me, I guess.
;)


"Or do you think all muslims are terrorists too?"

nope, it's _your_ buddies who usually make that mistake.
I'm on the side of the tolerant ones, I'm one of those who think that 1.3 billion Muslims are getting a raw deal because of a few thousand fundy thugs.
happy to spell that out more clearly for you.
but I confess, I have a problem with fundamentalism (Muslim, Christian, Hindu, etc). BUT I'd rather see a tasteless webpage every once in a while than have a rabid bunch of medieval homophobes decide what I can or cannot see or do.
again, I'm funny like that.
oh, and I admit to have very little patience for homophobes.

(I'll of course defend the right of the fundys to speak out. I just don't think they're doing any good, that's all).
and thanks for trolling a needless answer (to a question asked in bad faith) out of me anyway

posted by matteo at 7:14 PM on March 18, 2004


internal - really? I've seen no name calling at all on the thread. And no one is really coming down on those who do find the product in question offensive. I'm still conflicted about it, with strong feelings on both sides.
posted by troutfishing at 7:28 PM on March 18, 2004


That said, UO is the same company that made Ghettopoly around Christmas.

Nah, they just distributed it.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:31 PM on March 18, 2004


matteo, you know absolutely nothing about my politics if you think that I consider the people in the white house right now my buddies. If you think that must be so, that really just shows exactly how broad and, shall we say, thick that brush you're using is.

I'm on the side of the tolerant ones

Then you'd better re-examine the consistency of your own beliefs. A person who's experienced exactly how it stings to hear that all homosexuals are promiscous pedophiles who shouldn't ever be left alone with the children should really know a lot better.
posted by namespan at 7:36 PM on March 18, 2004


Christ people, lighten up!

What I'd like to see is something like this in a W likeness! ;)
posted by LouReedsSon at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2004


You know, I'm really starting to like Urban Outfitters.
posted by effugas at 8:18 PM on March 18, 2004


It's tacky and tasteless. We, as individuals and as a society, should strive for better.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 PM on March 18, 2004


This is too stale to justify contoversy.

You can already buy Moses Action Figures, Stereotypes of the World Dolls, Pope Innocent III, or, yes, even the Big Man Hi'self.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:51 PM on March 18, 2004


Damn this magnetized Spaceman-Jesus-Devil-Ballerina grabassery, I want on THE QUONSAR TRAIN!!

Seriously. Don't go gettin' banned or nothing MR. QUONSAR, sir! You might be the only truly sane head in the joint.
posted by loquacious at 10:21 PM on March 18, 2004


Egg and the chicken, John — why on earth would I tolerate someone or something for which I had no respect?

And civil_disobedient: nothing on this planet is new.
posted by silusGROK at 10:43 PM on March 18, 2004


It's tacky and tasteless. We, as individuals and as a society, should strive for better.

Are you kidding?
posted by Satapher at 12:26 AM on March 19, 2004


"I just wanted to let you know that most Americans approve of your store and your products."
Nice to see that you are now the official spokesperson for "most Americans" Bag Man. I'm sure you've done extensive polling to back up your position.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:28 AM on March 19, 2004


"I just don't understand the point of religion without humor." (KirkJobSluder) - This point stopped me in my tracks. Religion without humor...

Christianity, and Islam take themselves so seriously! They share, also, a history of conversion by the sword. Christianity has a long, long history of religious violence resulting from doctrinal disputes, of crusades and inquisitions, of towns and their peoples put to the torch, those burnt alive, those whose bodies were broken on the rack....the Inquisitions produced a fantastic and almost inconceivably sadistic menagerie of torture devices and methods....

The prototype of modern police state methods might, indeed, have begun with the methods of the first Inquisition, against the Cathars ; lists of names produced under torture were cross referenced and new lists produced with the most commonly appearing names at the top. Then, the next round of subjects to ne tortured, punctured, crushed, seared, severed, and stretched. Then, new lists.....a relentless and very effective approach which left untold bodies strewn in it's wake.

Hinduism, also, has it's history of violence. Buddhism has comparatively little of this.

How do doctrines of love and tolerance get so twisted around into their near diametrical opposites?

I think humor - which restricts, really, the realm of that considered "blasphemous" - helps to inoculate against such perversions of faith.
posted by troutfishing at 4:25 AM on March 19, 2004


So many here cry "free speech", but this isn't a story of the government refusing someone the right to be heard... this is a group of average citizens making good use of the tools available to them to complain about something they find wholly offensive.
Free speech is telling others what they can sell? These people find their fun sticking their noses in other folks business. My pastor would have belt them in their nose, no joke. I'm not advocating violence yet their were times when one would shrug and move on with "their life" like The Bible tells them otherwise their sinning, judge not.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:48 AM on March 19, 2004


Shouldn't they, like, just turn the other cheek?
posted by Blue Stone at 6:14 AM on March 19, 2004


why on earth would I tolerate someone or something for which I had no respect?

dude, because you live in a democracy! We all have particular opinions, sense of humor, ideas about what's respectful and what's respectable, but because we're a free society, we don't try to change everyone's perspective to match some supposed ideal, but rather tolerate all those different branches of our population. Where to draw the line can sometimes get a bit tricky, but generally if it isn't actually harming individual people, it doesn't deserve to be restricted.

This is definitely old though. I have a "jesus action figure" from xmas about 3 years ago, which I think was sold thru UO, though it was a gift and may not have been bought there. The idea of making tacky/cutesy toys out of sacred icons has pretty much run its course by now, I'd say. I also have a plastic buddha from at least 10 years ago, and a glow-in-the-dark saint. And a squeaky venus de milo. All of them were gifts, and ones I loved.
posted by mdn at 6:29 AM on March 19, 2004


This stuff isn't really that bad if you think about it. I drove across the country a few years back and stopped in a store off the side of the highway somewhere just west of the middle of nowhere. In it they had all kinds of Jesus-memorabilia to send your friends back home, only this stuff didn't come with the "Just Kidding" attitude most of the crasser commercial stuff has attached to it. People are dead-serious about their in this part of the country, yet saw nothing sacriligeous about crucifix lamps and "Jesus is Your Savior" mugs. Can you just imagine waking up to a cup of Savior in the morning? Yeesh.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:45 AM on March 19, 2004


The best part of waking up, is Jesus in your cup.

I've had this repeating in my head for the last 5 minutes and thought I would share it with all of you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:54 AM on March 19, 2004


yee that matteo back pedal, what cut-out this person is. So jewish people where the only ones killed at Auschwitz? or do you just label it a jewish horror because what, they where the majority?

I'm on the side of the tolerant ones, I'm one of those who think that 1.3 billion Muslims are getting a raw deal because of a few thousand fundy thugs.

wow a few thousand fundy thugs are holding the entire muslim world....hostage?
ya expand on that matteo...any solutions?
posted by clavdivs at 7:54 AM on March 19, 2004


mdn: um, I think you missed my point. John says "You are confusing tolerance with respect. You are insured [sic] the former in a civil society and not given the latter because it's a free society.", and all I wanted to say was that tolerance grows from respect.

troutfishing: having a sense of humor about one's idiosyncrasies really is important... but you're asking religious people to have a sense of humor about their god — which seems to fly in the face of what worship and awe are all about.

thomascatpike: yes, freedom of speech includes the rights to complain, boycott, picket, whathaveyou. Perhaps I didn't articulate well enough: crying "free speech" for the controversy-mongers and trinket fetishists at UO while missing the point that the good (perhaps misguided) folks at AFA are just exercising a different form of free speech is laughable.
posted by silusGROK at 8:01 AM on March 19, 2004


and all I wanted to say was that tolerance grows from respect.

not really. I mean, you can say it grows from respect for the rights of people, or something like that, but it certainly has no direct relationship to respect for the individual beliefs and ideas themselves. The ACLU defends members of the KKK, for their right to do their stupid hooded thing - that doesn't mean they have respect for those beliefs. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion guarantees the right to dissent. If we all had to be "respectful" of christians and authorities, this would not be a democracy. It would be a closed theocratic state. The fact that we can make fun of the president and of the dominant religion of the country, is fundamentally important to our continuing to have a democracy.

(And yes, it does make a difference whether you're making fun of your own or another's culture; and whether you're making fun of those in power or those oppressed. Although the latter (in both cases) are legally acceptable, they serve no democratic purpose (checks and balances) and are just mean-spirited - kick 'em while they're down, sorta thing.)
posted by mdn at 8:12 AM on March 19, 2004


I'm thinking about ordering the Dress Up Jesus. It looks like a good product.
posted by ewkpates at 8:16 AM on March 19, 2004


silusGROK: having a sense of humor about one's idiosyncrasies really is important... but you're asking religious people to have a sense of humor about their god — which seems to fly in the face of what worship and awe are all about.

I don't get this. It seems to be only a small segment of very uptight folk that have this idea that you just can't joke about religion. I'm also wondering if a part of the difference depends on how important the whole "smiting" thing is. There seems to be a big gap between the folks who honestly believe that god will smite them (or the United States) for a minor infraction, and the folks for whom God as a more benevolent parent figure, you might not always get along bit the relationship persists.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:05 AM on March 19, 2004


KirkJobSluder: quoting me, then not even addressing what I said directly is a little misleading. Read the quote again: I agree that religious folk need to have a sense of humor about their own idiosyncrasies — and the way those are perceived by the world — but jokes about Mormons having a lot of children, and Catholics paying for indulgences are a completely different matter than expecting (if not outright demanding) that folks take matters of grave personal import lightly — or standing idly by while others do. I have very tender feelings for my God, and ignoring those feelings — or outright flouting them — is just mean-spirited.

I'm careful to call President Bush, "president" (even though I don't care for the man one iota)... I'm careful to call African Americans, "African American" (though I think the sobriquet a titch over-labored)... I remove my shoes in the homes of people who consider such respectful... I keep my voice down in places of worship — even those that are now little more than museums... I do my best to see multiple sides of an issue... and all of this comes from my sense that all of God's creatures are important (precious, even) and that they deserve my respect for just _being_.

Anyway, it would appear that I'm in the minority on that issue (at least here)... so I'll just let this thread roll off the screen without commenting further.
posted by silusGROK at 9:52 AM on March 19, 2004


"...you're asking religious people to have a sense of humor about their god — which seems to fly in the face of what worship and awe are all about." - silusGROK, I understand the impulse, the tendency of people to take offense. For this reason I find "dress up Jesus" gratuitously offensive. I think that's the point. But I don't think the product is exactly being flaunted in public, and the vast majority of people who buy it will enjoy it in the privacy of their own homes.

Look at it this way - should the religious right be able to declare "I find X offensive to my religious beliefs, so X should be banned"? Of course they are not attempting to ban this product, but the explicit goal of instituting "Biblically derived" laws in the US has been stated quite explicitly by many in this group. presumably, a "Biblically based" legal system would institute certain bans on behavior, expression, dress, consumer choice....

There is also a somewhat subtle theological issue at play here : the very definition of the "divine" is that which transcends human understanding. God is beyond human conception. God is also, by definition, infinite and capable of all things. So who are humans to presume that they can know what is or is not offensive to God?

There's something of this argument inherent in the Islamic ban on depictions of God - all attempts to render the likeliness of God will be incomplete and will lead us astray. God is formless, infinite, and beyond our puny human understanding.

So, in this context, the current Christian insistence on rendering a presumed likeness of Jesus (as stand in for God) - as well as attempts to mock that rendition - seem fundamentally confused.

Let me rephrase that : if God is truly infinite and beyond human understanding, aren't those who hold that God will take offense in such relatively minor issues of taste actually guilty of a type of presumptive blasphemy?

Of course it is usually inadvisable to cause others, or groups, offense - for any reason. But that, to me, is a tale of basic human emotional response and of tribalism - and not of divine will.
posted by troutfishing at 10:59 AM on March 19, 2004


Oh, and.....

silusGROK, your point about the value of respect for the traditions and sensibilities of others is quite well taken. The basic conflict I see here involves the perception - on both the part of the religious right and their secularist opponents - that the enemy of each is both gratuitously assaulting cultural sensibilities and seeking to impose values on society at large. This conflict is now perceived, by both sides, as a culture war.

There is an impasse here, with the religious right saying "Your free speech and behavior are offending my religious sensibilities" and the secularists responding "Well, your attempts to curtail my freedom of speech and expression are offending my political beliefs."
posted by troutfishing at 11:12 AM on March 19, 2004


Of course it is usually inadvisable to cause others, or groups, offense - for any reason. But that, to me, is a tale of basic human emotional response and of tribalism - and not of divine will.

agreed.

Philosophical, unhostile sense of humor
Jokes to the SA person are teaching metaphors, intrinsic to the situation and
are spontaneous. He can laugh at himself, but he never makes jokes that hurt
others.


-Maslow
posted by clavdivs at 11:16 AM on March 19, 2004


Tolerance and respect aren't the same thing. I tolerate heavy metal, for example, on the radio, in as much as I don't bomb radio stations and lobby congress to make heavy metal on the radio illegal.

But I don't respect heavy metal. No sir. Give me a long haired hippy freak on an acoustic any day. Heavy metal bastards...

I think silusGrok is, under the guise of being respectful, actually doing harm to us as a society. When we make fun of each other, we challenge each other's tolerance which is important, for tolerance has too many real challenges not to keep in shape with silly ones.

More importantly, it is by dismantling other people's ideas that we learn to dismantle our own, and simultaneously challenge others to defend their ideas against dismantling.

Respect should be earned, not provided to any fruit cake with a church to some poor guy nailed to a cross.
posted by ewkpates at 11:19 AM on March 19, 2004


But I don't respect heavy metal. No sir. Give me a long haired hippy freak on an acoustic any day. Heavy metal bastards...

*cocks shotgun*
posted by jonmc at 12:06 PM on March 19, 2004


Respect is understanding the importance and commitment of others.

I show respect for you when I do not smoke in your non-smoking home. I show respect for you when I do not serve beef brisket to you when you're a vegetarian. And I show respect for the majority population when I do not mock their religion by creating tacky little Jesus gags.

This society could do with a lot more respect.

I find it interesting that MeFi loves the gag-Christ, but hates the lips-urinal.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:14 PM on March 19, 2004


This society could do with a lot more respect.


Right. Let's start with that county in Tenessee where they want to drive all gay people out because of what their religion tells them.

Your analogy is skewed. I show respect to your religion by not persecuting you because of it or trying to legislate it out of existence. I show respect to you by not smoking in your non-smoking home or serving the veggies meat, but that doesn't mean I won't make satire out of nonsmokers or veggies when I want to.
posted by archimago at 1:18 PM on March 19, 2004


FFF, thanks for your post.

The main One offended by this magnet is the Lord himself and I am confident He knows how to handle it. At some point the persons responsible for it will have an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting.
posted by konolia at 1:28 PM on March 19, 2004


I have to be on NBS's side this time. My daughter is the "psyche" of "Psyche Dress Up".... (Please no
proposals will be delivered -- she's married now.
)

Yeah, the Jesus thing is perhaps a bit tasteless,
but frankly I think most people wouldn't have noticed
if the AFA hadn't called attention to it. But as
Civil_Disobedient mentioned - lamps and other things
are just as tasteless and don't come as "tongue in
cheek" types of purchases. I've a feeling it was done
for attention -- remember "Bad publicity is better than
no publicity!"

posted by Timebot at 1:48 PM on March 19, 2004


I show respect for you when I do not smoke in your non-smoking home. I show respect for you when I do not serve beef brisket to you when you're a vegetarian. And I show respect for the majority population when I do not mock their religion by creating tacky little Jesus gags.

You are conflating two different things - personal respect and society-wide "respect" which is really repression. The analog to your first two examples would be not giving this gift to a christian friend, or not showing up drunk to church and giggling through the sermon, or something like that. The analogs to your third example for the other two would be suggesting that no one should sell cigarettes or meat.
posted by mdn at 2:01 PM on March 19, 2004


ah, archimago got to it before me. sorry for repetition.
posted by mdn at 2:03 PM on March 19, 2004


The main One offended by this magnet is the Lord himself and I am confident He knows how to handle it. At some point the persons responsible for it will have an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting.

I dunno, maybe the Lord himself would think it was funny, no? I mean, how can you be sure he wouldn't have a sense of humor about silly little gag gifts?

I'd think any god responsible for humanity would have to understand comedy. On the other hand, if god is meant to be a perfect being, then he would think (rightly) that he was perfect, and those who think they're perfect are generally not good at laughing at themselves...
posted by mdn at 2:22 PM on March 19, 2004


The Lord has a sense of humor (He made me, and I'd consider that proof positive.) But I can tell you if it were me on that cross and me on that magnet I would not be laughing. And if it were MY CHILD on that magnet I'd be enraged.

And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with my sense of humor.
posted by konolia at 3:35 PM on March 19, 2004


Conflating my ass. If you want society-wide examples, let's talk about niggers. Why isn't that term used? Because it's deeply offensive to a great number of people... just like making fun of Christ is deeply offensive to a great number of people.

Konolia, ain't no one gonna be having "an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting." Save those sorts of mindless religious platitudes for your church friends.

Respectful intolerance. That's the key.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:42 PM on March 19, 2004


And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with my sense of humor.

I would disagree, in this case...

Save those sorts of mindless religious platitudes for your church friends.

...but at least you're not the only one around here who is so afflicted.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:57 PM on March 19, 2004


I can tell you if it were me on that cross and me on that magnet I would not be laughing. And if it were MY CHILD on that magnet I'd be enraged.

That's why you're neither God, nor the Messiah, and shouldn't presume to speak for him.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:14 PM on March 19, 2004


And if it were MY CHILD on that magnet I'd be enraged.

But didn't his dad make him hang there for some greater good type thing?
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:17 PM on March 19, 2004


Yes, which why mocking it in such a fashion is so incredibly offensive.
posted by konolia at 7:28 PM on March 19, 2004


Konolia, ain't no one gonna be having "an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting." Save those sorts of mindless religious platitudes for your church friends.

five fresh fish has made his pascalian wager. Step right up, you too can be next! Everyone has to, after all. But that's really not the issue here. The issue isn't even really free speech, except as it's tangentially related to ones right to be a total asshole.

Because silusGrok hit it on the head here. It isn't as if some important point is being made with "free speech here" -- no compelling rational or rhetorical argument as to why those damn fundies are wrong. Nope, this is the simple elementary school tricks we all learned in the playground -- find something important to the other kid (you know, the smelly|smart|different one you don't understand and don't like) and mock it mercilessly until it hurts. Smooth guys --- that oughta help resolve the culture wars, shouldn't it.

No really -- tell me how this is going to actually help even your agenda for a better world, fff, matteo, troutfishing, et all....
posted by namespan at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2004


namespan - I've said it already, though not in terms of an agenda. Those who presume to speak for God.......presume.

They presume : and human presumptiom demeans God.

So, to put it bluntly - those who presume to express what God wants are blasphemers.
posted by troutfishing at 8:13 PM on March 19, 2004


Don't feed the troll, namespan.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:15 PM on March 19, 2004


I'll say it once more : human presumptiom demeans God.

And who am I? My words themselves presumptuous....
posted by troutfishing at 8:22 PM on March 19, 2004


Ooops - "presumption"
posted by troutfishing at 8:25 PM on March 19, 2004


Hey, y'all want to place the eternal cosmic bet that there is no God to answer to, why, go right ahead...but your bookie is laughing as he takes the bet.
posted by konolia at 8:35 PM on March 19, 2004


konolia - I take your bet and raise it.
posted by troutfishing at 8:39 PM on March 19, 2004


but your bookie is laughing as he takes the bet.

Naturally, konolia, since I'd have to be dead to collect a win. But I'm still right.

No really -- tell me how this is going to actually help even your agenda for a better world, fff, matteo, troutfishing, et all....

It's not that complicated. If enough people mock enough religious symbols enough of the time, people in general will feel that the culture in general does not take religion seriously. People who are not religious will feel slightly more comfortable, slightly more like the cultural consensus includes them; people who are religious will feel slightly less comfortable and slightly more excluded from the cultural consensus.

And that is one tiny step toward a better world: a world where religion is a private matter, people don't take themselves or their beliefs too seriously, and nobody expects religious dogma to govern or even influence public policy.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:13 PM on March 19, 2004


Well again, context, context, context.

This is perhaps an easy one. I agree that the dressup Jesus fridge magnets are tacky. However, my concern is about the larger issue. The people raising the biggest stink over this are not demanding a more respectful environment in general but a monopoly over what gets said and expressed in civil discourse.

Ultimately, it is my experience that the people who complain most about these things are fundamentally unwilling to agree to disagree. They don't just want to get rid of Jesus fridge magnets, but any voice that does not match theirs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:32 PM on March 19, 2004


people who are religious will feel slightly less comfortable

No we won't. We don't base our comfort on your convictions.
posted by konolia at 9:41 PM on March 19, 2004


Namespan, five fresh fish agrees with you on this one. Don't lump him in with trout and matteo just because of his banter with konolia.
posted by Ptrin at 9:59 PM on March 19, 2004


OK, so the only place I have seen this type of product is in the house of a christian girl I know, who lives with 3 'never been kissed' christian girls. They are by far the most 'religious' of my acquaintences and spend a good proportion of their spare time on religion based activities. I have even seen hand drawn 'Jesus is love' type phrases posted on walls about their house, which are put up completely without irony. They are comfortable with their faith.
They can see that this fridge magnet is a harmless bit of fun, for me it doesn't even register. There are far worse things in the world to worry about being done in the name of Jesus.

Who, other than christians with a sense of humour, would want a Christian religious icon on their fridge?

I have Too Much Coffee Man.
posted by asok at 6:00 AM on March 20, 2004


Good point, asok. As much as I enjoy poking fun at religions, I find the idea of a fleshy, blond, long haired cartoon Jesus on my fridge to be really, really unappealing - like the Disney-ified cutesy version of Jesus. If I have to look at Jesus iconography, I'd prefer to look at the Catholic version - bloody, tormented, in pain. I find the representation of a cutesy cruficied Jesus to be a type a cultural insanity - and, I agree, I do see it as far more likely that these magnets would be on the fridge of an American fundamentalist evangelical christian family. My brother indoctrinates his kids with cartoon characters spouting biblical verse, and these refrigerator magnets (sans devil suit) wouldn't be at all out of place in his house.
posted by troutfishing at 8:08 AM on March 20, 2004


My brother indoctrinates his kids with cartoon characters spouting biblical verse
*pictures a Mickey Mouse saying, with a smile, "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." -- and shudders*
posted by amberglow at 8:39 AM on March 20, 2004


...your bookie is laughing as he takes the bet.

Konolia, please take this message to heart: you sound like a vapid idiot when you mouth insipid tokens of religiousity.

I hope you're well aware by this point that I feel that if your religious beliefs help you cope with living in this world, that's a generally Good Thing, even though I believe at the same time you'd be better off learning to deal with reality full-on.

So it's not that you're religion I'm addressing here. It's that you make it so damned unappealing by saying such stupid things.

Quit witnessing to us.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 AM on March 20, 2004


Here, I hope I can help you understand just how empty your religion is to those of us who aren't in your church. I expect you'll feel about these statements the same sort of "bleh." that I feel about yours:

The main One offended by this magnet is Zeus himself and I am confident He knows how to handle it. At some point the persons responsible for it will have an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting.

This assumes, of course, that you believe Zeus isn't real.

Mickey Mouse has a sense of humor (He made me, and I'd consider that proof positive.) But I can tell you if it were me on that cross and me on that magnet I would not be laughing. And if it were MY CHILD on that magnet I'd be enraged.

See? Meaningless drivel. Mickey Mouse has no sense of humour: he's a human invention, an imagination, a cartoon. He didn't make me, and he didn't have any children. He can't be outraged: he doesn't actually exist at all.

Can you begin to comprehend the areligious view? Do you get that such bullshit phrases and commentary detract from your argument? Can you please quit it?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:14 AM on March 20, 2004


five fresh fish:

Like many others, I was raised with an enforced reverence for the symbol of Christ on the cross. Even as a kid, I came to consider that the adult's fixation on drinking blood and horrible torture had more to do with some kinky grown-up (replacement for) sex game than than any kind of investigation into the mind of God.

As a survivor of emotional abuse (fear, shame) and physical abuse (spare the rod, spoil the child) at then hands of the Christian cult, I feel emancipated by this parody, whose purpose, it seems to me, is to sap the haughty reverence out of the Christ on cross symbol. This symbol has oppressed me and millions of others, and we have a right to mock it.
posted by squirrel at 10:39 AM on March 20, 2004


You feel emancipated by a fridge magnet? The symbol has oppressed you? Are you sure you want to say these things?

I'll agree you have the right to mock it. No doubt of that.

The question is more one of whether you should mock it, and in particular, should mock it by selling it as a kitzch item nationwide.

I say you shouldn't. You want to do an art installation where you emancipate yourself by working out your religious demons in media, you just go right ahead. But to commoditize your emancipation? That's where it just becomes tacky and unnecessary.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2004


"*pictures a Mickey Mouse saying, with a smile, "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." -- and shudders*" - amberglow, fear not. The talking christian cartoon vegetables which teach "biblical" morality focus on the New Testament and only say nice things (as far as I've seen though, and that's not very far!). Still, my brother may have a secret stash of Old Testament cartoons I'm unaware of.
posted by troutfishing at 11:30 AM on March 20, 2004


Thanks for responding to my comments, fffish.

You feel emancipated by a fridge magnet? The symbol has oppressed you? Are you sure you want to say these things?

Come now, this is disingenuous: symbols clearly are important. If they weren't, there would be nothing objectionable about selling a parody of a Christian symbol. Your line of reasoning here is like incredulously asking a Jew if a swastika, per se, is oppressive. You're smarter than that. Symbols have power, and thus parodying them has power.

But to commoditize your emancipation? That's where it just becomes tacky and unnecessary.

I think I see your point here. If what you're saying is that a legitimate and possibly important expression of dissent has been cheapened by commerce, I would agree with you. But then your issue is more with capitalism than with any particular product.

I'm obviously not the only one who feels oppressed by Christianity in its current hegemonic form (which is to say nothing against Christ). There is a huge market for products that parody Christianity. How you would go about distributing these parody materials to those who feel they benefit by them, if not through commerce?
posted by squirrel at 1:40 PM on March 20, 2004


The main One offended by this magnet is the Lord himself and I am confident He knows how to handle it. At some point the persons responsible for it will have an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting.

First off, this seems remarkably presumptuous on your part - do you really mean to speak for God?

It also sounds like something Silvio on the Sopranos would say.
posted by jmignault at 3:36 PM on March 20, 2004


if god is meant to be a perfect being, then he would think (rightly) that he was perfect

I can't be bothered with this thread, but I must pull you up on this one mdn. If God exists, and He's "perfect", then He knows He's perfect. It's a different thing from "someone thinking they're perfect" and not generally being able to laugh at themselves. Thinking your perfect is an ego-based, (ironic) weakness of the human condition. Being perfect is a concept - perhaps a reality for a deity. Two entirely different things.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:05 PM on March 20, 2004


I stand by my statement, jmignault.
posted by konolia at 4:18 PM on March 20, 2004


As long as people are making bets, the odds are 67% in favor of God existing. Of course, it might be a biased study, since the scientist is 95% certain.
posted by john at 5:18 PM on March 20, 2004


Hell, squirrel, I feel oppressed by Christianity in many ways, too.

I resent the intrusion of religion into most social and every moral discussion; I resent the tax-free ride these businesses -- and that's what they are: they have salaried employees and a managerial structure -- get because I'm forced to cover their part of the tax burden; I resent the idiocy of Sunday as a holiday in preference to any other day of the week; and I hate the abuse that is being perpetrated on bodies and minds.

You mentioned swastikas. Is there much of a difference between selling a line of swastika-embossed fashions and horned devil-costumed Jesus? I don't think there is.

And so while I resent the intrusion of religion into damn near every aspect of my life, even including my swearing, I can still understand how deeply offensive this product is.

I think it would be wrong for UO to release a line of hoodies, caps, and tees with big ol' swastikas emblazoned across their front and back, maybe a nice "Heil!" scripted across it. And I think it's wrong for UO to release a line of Jesus dolls with dress-up S&M leathers.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:26 AM on March 21, 2004


I know that you and I have similar views of Christianity, per se. It would be useful to know if I inferred your point about commerce correctly.

To clarify, I mentioned swastikas only as an illustration of the power of symbols, as a retort to your implication that symbols are meaningless. I did not and would not to compare the swastika to the parodied Christ symbol this thread addresses. Hoodies and caps with swastikas on them--which exist--are in an entirely different spirit. For starters, swastikas are symbols of oppression that imply a specific threat, while a parodied Christ symbol deflates what is for some a symbol of oppression.

As a side note, I see that konolia stands by her decision to speak for God. Like many others, I find that deeply offensive, and more blasphemous than Christ on a pogo-cross.
posted by squirrel at 10:18 AM on March 21, 2004


spacecadet, I was just making a joke. I do think the idea of a "perfect" being existing in any kind of delimited form is pretty (oxy)moronic, though. If there were a god, he would not speak as god. He would divide himself up into countless separate and imperfect finite (in time as well as space) bits who would then all fight about whether he existed :)

fff, how can you continue to claim this product is clearly offensive if some percentage of the buyers are christians themselves? No Jew would by the swastika sweatshirt. This is obviously of a different nature than that. I think I mentioned that I have a few kitschy religious icons of my own, which I find humorous and interesting, a bizarre cross-section of the sacred and the tacky - but it is not obvious that things which combine the sacred and the tacky, silly, ordinary, or cute are automatically offensive.

Some may find this jokey and irreverent. Others may not see it as commentary at all, but merely as representation in a fun, everyday sort of way. But even if you see it in the first light, that is quite different from a swastika.
posted by mdn at 11:25 AM on March 21, 2004


spacecadet, I was just making a joke. I do think the idea of a "perfect" being existing in any kind of delimited form is pretty (oxy)moronic, though. If there were a god, he would not speak as god. He would divide himself up into countless separate and imperfect finite (in time as well as space) bits who would then all fight about whether he existed :)

Point taken. I think the concept of "perfection" is interesting to say the least. It's very much a human concept too - our own weaknesses drive us to this fascination with perfection. Is it a fear/disappointment of our own limitations? Do we even know our own limitations? If we assume a narrow band of our own capabilities, it leaves our imagination to ponder the unknown area beyond this margin of knowledge and dream up super-beings (gods) who know the whole Universe. What we don't know or understand, we dream of some imagined Father who will take care of it in His stride. It's certainly a comforting thought, even if it is nothing more than wishful thinking.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:24 PM on March 21, 2004


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