Sunday, October 5, 2008

Religious Relics & The Big (Plywood) Jesus

I admit it. I am totally obsessed with all things religious. It's not that I am a religious person as I don't do the things that "good" religious people do, such as attend church, read the Bible, be nice to people, and so on. However, I am very interested in all types of religions and denominations. In fact, Mason says that this obsession has taken over my whole life since I have so many religious relics in our house, but I disagree. It really hasn't overcome my life. I just find the whole phenomenon fascinating.

I think this fascination of mine began during my time at the University of St. Thomas; a private, Catholic college that I went to for my undergraduate degree. You see, at St. Thomas, we were forced to take religious classes in order to graduate. I can't remember how many you were supposed to take to fulfill the requirement, but, I believe, I took four classes total. Though, I wish I had taken more and maybe even double majored with a Theology degree. At first, I thought these classes were going to be awful, but they actually ended up being the best classes I ever took.

For whatever reason, I thought that the professors were going to try to brainwash me into being a Catholic and criticize me because I never attended church, but they didn't. In all of my classes the professors took the presumption that the Bible is a historical document, written for a specific people, during a specific time. Sure, they also believed that the Bible is timeless in the sense that it is Sacred and Holy and that there are teachings in there that transcend age and time, but they were also able to recognize that some of the stuff in there is very specific to those people. For instance, you know the "eye for an eye" phrase from Exodus that supporters of the death penalty always use to justify the practice today. Well, the meaning of that passage is totally lost if you don't look at the historical context in which it was written. The whole point of that phrase is to say that if someone pokes your eye out, the most you can do to him is poke his eye out. You can't go and kill him and his whole family because he screwed your eye up. Get it? During the time period of the Bible - yeah, I can't remember the dates sorry! - there wasn't any "law and order" per se, so when some guy, we'll call him, Ismael, came and stole, Abe's, herd of goats, Abe would retaliate by wiping out the whole family instead of just taking Abe's herd of goats. So, the whole point of the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" stuff is to set limits on retaliation and develop a form of criminal justice, specifically getting your "just deserts," or that which is deserved. Damn! Look at that sheeeeeeeet. I should have doubled major in Theology and Criminal Justice! Alright, alright. Enough of this. The point is that the classes didn't end up being horrible or some kind of freaky-brainwashy-crap. They actually were really interesting.

Oh yeah, speaking of the freaky-brainwashy-crap, I did have this awful ... let me say it again, AWFUL .... philosophy professor who made everyone say the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the Lord's Prayer before every class. I hated him. H-A-T-E-D HIM! He was so pretentious. I don't even remember his name. I just remember that he made us do that stuff and that he thought fishing was the most horrible thing on the face of the earth. He thought people who fish were complete "bores." WAFW (that stands for "what a freakin' weirdo")!

Ok, so back to the point of this blog which is to talk about the religious relics and, of course, the ultimate relic ... the big (plywood) Jesus. I do have quite a few religious items that are now apart of my home decor. Now before I go into this specifics of what I have, I want to say that some people will probably get their panties in a bunch and accuse me of being a religious borrower. You know, the type. The people that borrow what they like from a bunch of different religions and then just discard the rest of that religion. Well, that is not what I do. I explore and read about all sorts of religions and I don't pick and choose from them what I like and what I don't. I admit that my beliefs are complicated and I'm not going to get into the specifics here, but let's just say that I appreciate and respect all religions ...

Alrighty. Here it goes. First we have Native American stuff. Mason is a registered Sioux Indian and grew up on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, so we have some of his family's stuff, a dream catcher and sage. The dream catcher is from Mason's Aunt Doris who had it blessed by a Medicine Man on "the rez" and she told him to always hang it above the front door in the house. Normally, dream catchers are supposed to hang over your bed, but for whatever reason this one is supposed to hang over our door to keep bad people out, I guess. The sage is used for "smudging," which is where you burn it and purify the environment to get the bad "juju" out.

We also have several religious books, ranging from The Holy Bible, The Holy Qu'ran, Buddhist writings, Taoist writings, etc.

I have religious candles that I obtained from Kroger, Walmart, and from my favorite place of all .

I also have Buddhist items, namely Bodhisattva's:

Stephanie got me an early Christmas present of the Virgin Mary, which I absolutely love!

There's also a gargoyle for protection. We have two more sitting on our front porch. The other day, one of our neighbor's told Mason his very religious wife thinks we're evil because of our Last Chaunce Cemetary and the gargoyles. Here's what I think .... "Um, lady you live in public housing in Chauncey. Let me say it again, YOU LIVE IN PUBLIC HOUSING IN CHAUNCEY! You have no right to judge."

Anyway, as you can see, I'm a bit obsessed. So, now, anytime, people see cool religious stuff they tell me about it. Needless to say, I was psyched when Stephanie told me about the Big (Plywood) Jesus in someone's front yard. Stephanie found it when her and Ryan were out driving around. I believe their conversation went something like this:

Stephanie: "JESUS!"

Ryan: "What????"

Stephanie: "No, Jesus!" (pointing to the giganto Jesus in the front lawn)

When Stephanie told me about it, I just had to see it. I tried to go on my own but ended up getting totally lost, but, luckily, Steph took me out to snap a picture of it. Big Jesus doesn't look very big in the picture, but that is because he's way off the road next to these people's trailer. I didn't feel right about going all the way up the driveway to take a picture of him, so the one you see is taken from the road. It looks like it's a 12 foot tall Jesus that is made out of plywood. He actually has a purple piece of cloth draped around him ... He's awesome!

Yeah, I know it's a really bad picture, but I have a crappy camera and I couldn't zoom in anymore ...

I guess the one good thing about my obsession is that I live right smack in the middle of the Bible belt and all sorts of religious relics are at my fingertips!


Tiffany said...

I have things to say, so just bear (or is it bare) with me:

1. There is no mention of the Jesus band-aids I bought you. I'm slightly disappointed.

2. Is that really a school bus next to the 12" tall plywood Jesus?

3. We could totally steal that thing. Jesus. Not the school bus.

4. I was just telling Sami on Friday how I might pick up a religion because I don't have one. I'm considering Buddhism and Judaism. I know just about nothing of either. So I need to do some research.

5. In reference to the whole capital punishment and the biblical aspect: I can't speak for everyone in the world, but when I say eye for an eye, I'm not referring to The Book. If you poke out my eye with a pencil...well first I'm gonna get it patched up. Then I'm gonna kick your ass. Then I'm gonna poke out your eye with a pencil too.

6. Remember when I went to Bible study with Scott and Jodie? They used this book that you can buy at Borders or any other book store that is supposed be a literal interpretation on the Bible. I forget what it's called, but check out I was really into it for awhile. It was making sense. Then we started talking about the book of Revelations and they said that Jesus would scoop up all the believers on a space ship when the false mesiah comes. That was the end of it for me.

Tiffany said...

Oh, and a couple more.

7. Did you circle the books in the pictures?

8. What's with the vase thingy?

Tiffany said...

I retract #8. It's the sage. I get it. :)

Danielle and Mason said...

Yeah, I realized I should have included the bandaids when I posted this ... I also forgot about the dashboard Jesus. Crap.

That's cool about Jesus picking up people in the spaceship! I need to get that book just for that!!

And, sure, when you say "eye for an eye" that might not be what YOU mean, but The Bible is still where it comes from nonetheless ... The same principle is also in the Code of Hammurabi. I was just making the point that when you take something out of the context in which it was written it loses it's meaning (or the meaning gets distorted), which has happened a lot with the Bible.

Danielle and Mason said...

Oh, and, yes, I circled the books with my editing program.

Tiffany said...

nerd. LOL I don't have an editing program like that!n

Angie said...

Great Blog Danielle.... I Saw Steph & Ryan at Wallyworld tonight. Told her I was driving through the Big C town today and saw your next blog entry..... Some guy in all camoflauge with his tree stand on his back! :) Never a dull moment in Chuancey.