Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR

Crossing the line that I usually don’t cross

For me, this picture of Jesus is pretty sobering. But it also inspires me.

At first, this image offended me. Let me explain: People ask me all the time if I have a “line” that I won’t cross to what I’m willing to blog about. Well, when it comes to “Jesus Pictures,” my rule has always been that I wouldn’t post images of Jesus on the cross. I think I’ve crossed that line only once or twice. But for the most part, I avoid using them. As a Christian, I can’t make light of images that depict Jesus on the cross because, even if their funny or unrealistic, the cross of Christ is the center Christianity.


For me it’s sacred.

But this image is different for some reason. While Jesus is depicted as if he is hanging on a cross, there’s no cross. Instead, Jesus looks to be standing on a post of some sort and has bags of things–shopping bags full of nice things, I believe–in each of his hands. I don’t know what the artist intended. And I’m happy about that. I think good art shouldn’t tell you how or what to think. I think truly good art creates a space for people to wonder and think and debate and create ideas. I also think good art should inspire good art.

Any ideas or thoughts come to mind when you look at this image?

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Marcus LYnn

posted August 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Perhaps the artist is critiquing American Christians who worship at the alter of consumerism. “Didn’t Jesus die so that I could go shopping? What? I’m supposed to carry my cross and follow him and put others first? OK, I’ll Christmas shop for others than.”

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Fantastic, thought-provoking picture.

I think it nicely sums up a lot of what you talk about on this blog–the marketing that has tainted Christianity.

Or it could be a depiction of what some Christians believe Christ’s love is for–to give us things.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Made me immediately think on the “Prosperity Gospel” and the teaching that Jesus wants to save you to give you nice stuff.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Jesus certainly comes bearing gifts. The American Church somehow assumes those gifts are paid for by Benjamins (like a sack full of Mickey Mouse dolls and a bottle of Crystal). Jesus assumes the gifts are bought with blood. One is comfortable, the other is messy.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I have to agree with the above comments. It appears there is some sort of thread about Christianity and consumerism.

Very interesting… I also appreciate your view on posting pictures of Christ on the Cross.



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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

WOW: What a statement,
Not sure what it means:
My first thought was about an old punk song:
Bad Religion’s: American Jesus

I looked again and it looks like Christmas Packages, so maybe it is taking a shot at how we have turned a holiday that should point us to the cross into a shopping spree.

Either way it is pulling at my heart in a very interesting way.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

The missing Cross is a power statement… Makes me really think about how often the Cross is missing in life.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm

we have replaced the cross of Christianity with the shackles of consumerism & materialism…

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm

What’s up with the DISNEY reference in Jesus’s left hand?.. Reminds me of the old Baptist “Disney BAN” days…

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm

The piece is by Banksy and I’ve always seen it as a work against consumption. Jesus didn’t come bearing Christmas gifts or Easter eggs but that items are what we see (while not always seeing Jesus) around Christmas or Easter.

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Matt Beard

posted August 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Maybe it’s a shocking way to remind people that Christmas (they look like Christmas presents, especially since that looks like a candy cane on the far left) is really about a celebration of the gift of Christ. I realize this isn’t a manger scene like we would normally think of at Christmas but maybe the gifts are in His hands so that we can see how insignificant they are compared to the gift of the One Who holds them? Just thinking out loud…

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ed cyzewski

posted August 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm

It’s as if he’s bleeding the bags… As if he died so we could be happy and comfortable. Thanks for sharing this. It’s worth considering.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Isn’t it painfully obvious?

Jesus came to die so we could all get presents at Christmas! Duh!


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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I love it and hate it. It packs a strong message that makes me sick about myself but also sick for the ones that would glance at it and not feel conviction either way.
I think it was Switchfoot that said ” Lord save me from myself”

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I’m pretty confident it’s a criticism of materialism that Christ did *not* die so you can life an affluent life of luxury. And a pretty drastic contrast between the ultimate Gift of God vs the gifts that most would prefer.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm

“The Gospel According to Capitalism” would be an interesting tag line

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm

we set those lines for ourselves because we see the world a certain way, and it’s how we function. and then something comes along which steps all over our lines–questions that perspective–and we have to choose how to respond.

this work reminds me of the central image of my name is asher lev, in which the crucifixion pose is the expression of a certain type of anguish, and the use of this image is a deep violation of the painter’s heritage.

i’m sure many people would react in many different ways, but for me this is a very succinct and apt image for expressing the message behind it.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 1:31 pm

To me, this picture represents Christianity in America! Jesus died so we can have the things of this world?! A double whammy. He dies for us, we show our loyalty to the ones who killed him (the world). Nice. Things must change. WE must change!


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posted August 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm

The candy cane makes me wonder who’s birthday is it?

But it is an obvious depiction of American idols.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I got the feeling of Christmas honestly.

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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted August 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm

well I don’t think anyone buys the prosperity gospel so wholeheartedly that they would make this artwork not as a critique…

and there is definitely something to the cross not being present…

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Nicodemus at Nite

posted August 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

You’re right, good art leaves it up to the viewer to decide. That’s one of the things that frustrated me about all my English professors in college. They tried to tell me that Anne Carson and other poets meant this and only XYZ.

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Amy Nabors

posted August 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm

As mentioned before makes me think of the Prosperity Gospel. Christ didn’t die for us to become monetarily and socially successful.

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Clay Conry

posted August 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Been thinking a lot about ideas connected to this picture myself. When I saw the thumbnail in my reader I was offended. But mostly I clicked to see exactly what line it is you don’t usually cross ;).

Anywho. It spoke to me a critique of consumerism w/in the church. And the prosperity gospel.

Here’s where I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Where does giving till it’s sacrificial end? Do I give till I can’t afford to have cable? Is that the standard of NT Giving ? How much consumerism is too much? I know Jesus is our example of giving ( and vs. 8 & But He gave everything. If we follow his example do we need to move into a cardboard box?

These are legitimate questions… Aren’t they?

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    posted September 25, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Clay, I think those are two of the most valuable and legitimate questions that most Christians will never ask. In fact, I have felt my faith system collapse over the last few years largely in part to this topic.

    I feel that Christians have seized Christmas especially and turned it into something consumerist and Hedonistic. As Christians, people are supposed to be teaching children that things such as toys and other earthly pleasures do not matter; that the things of this world will fade and that our treasures lie in heaven. But come Christmas time, what do we do? We buy them gifts and toys and things completely opposite of what we (should) tell them the rest of the year. It’s completely backwards and it makes zero sense. I have begun to despise Christmas time because I can’t shake these thoughts of consumerism dominating the season. When those presents start opening and little children begin to squabble and lock horns over the same toy on Christmas morning it breaks my heart and at the same time infuriates me. It is human to be selfish, I get that. It comes much more naturally for me to think of myself and my needs and wants than it ever does to think of someone else first. I also understand that if God really is perfect love, then the most selfless thing he can do is create others to simply enjoy Him. But I think Christians, if they really and truly believe that Christ is Gods son that was sent to earth to show us that we are broken and that something inside of us will never be right unless we believe in Him, that we are all here to bring glory to him and to love others as we love ourselves, if Christians were really living this story then we would see Christianity doing a lot more saving of the world and a lot less causing confusion and thoughtful doubt for onlookers as to whether or not this belief system is really the best thing for the world.

    I have difficulty making peace between a faith in God/Jesus Christ and the lives that believers are told to live, and lives that believers actually live.

    So should we live in a cardboard box? Why not? If faith and trust in God really is enough then where are the Christians that are living this story and pointing others’ lives to the Son by their own love, joyfulness and peace? Deep down I know there have to be people out there living this story somewhere. But what about the other 97% of Christians living a life that is telling a much different story? The only way I can reconcile is that there are going to be a lot fewer people in heaven than the majority of Christians comfortably believe.

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posted August 11, 2010 at 9:22 am

Made me think of how some people replace what Jesus sacrificed on the cross with what we call the Prosperity Gospel. So many Christians and even mega-churches (I like to refer to them as Six Flags Over Jesus) get lost in having to keep up an appearance or image.

A couple friends of mine were church shopping. Went to a large church that seemed successful and nice. I am not exactly sure what ministries they provided to their community, but one of the main things they brought up in the service that day was how they needed more money to continue operations. Praise the Lord they raised a little over $90,000 that month. Their goal to sustain each month? $120,000. Where is the room for ministry to others in and out of church? Ridiculous if you ask me.

It’s so easy for consumerism to take over our lives and think that we should have nice and stable things in life. I honestly really like this artwork. Would I buy it for my place and hang it up? No. Would I encourage others to figure out what it means to them? Yes.

Thank you for sharing!

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Chris Ward

posted August 11, 2010 at 11:06 am

When I see this image I immediately think of Reverend Billy & The Church of Life After Shopping. I think the image is quite accurate as Christianity as a religion is not fashioned in a vacuum. The notion of the consumer is, in my mind, completely tethered to the notion of the individual which Xstianity used as its platform to stage a reformation. Without the Renaissance we’d have no Reformation and no Reformation means no consumer. Again, Christianity, in large part is the reason why we have Best Buys and Walmarts. You cannot separate them.

Check out the ‘new’ church

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posted August 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

I used this as the illustration for my Christmas post a few years back… but then nothing is sacred on my blog :). Banksy has become cliche in the world of street art/graffiti and ironically now makes money from his gutsy portrayals of consumerism like this – but more power to him. This is, imo, Jesus Art At Its Best.

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jennifer h

posted August 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm

My first thought was “Jesus is the reason for the season”

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Amy Courts

posted August 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I love the Mickey ears and candy cane. It makes me laugh, but reminds me of the time I spent in Gulu, Uganda. People just aren’t attached to their stuff the way we are; they’re attached to each other, to Christ.

When did we start believing Jesus died to save our stuff instead of our souls?

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posted August 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I think about how it’s us that killed him: Us and our desire for comfort and being right and making God into a being we can control to get what we want. (A pastor said, “We think God is vending machine in which you insert the coin of prayer and receive the candy bar of blessing.”) What we want is something easy to satisfy and make us feel good, not something hard.

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Jenn Porter

posted August 23, 2010 at 7:22 am

I know I’m late on this…but this reminds me of the Derek Webb song Wedding Dress…

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