O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Six Jesus Statues That Creep Me Out

Jesus statues: Like MTV reality shows and limericks about an island south of Cape Cod, rarely are they made in good taste. Occasionally they are just plain disturbing, as in these examples…


1. Drowning Jesus

This 62-feet high sculpture of Jesus rises out of a reflecting pool near the 3,000-member Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. It faces I-75, and is supposed to be Jesus with his hands raised in post-Resurrection worship. But the placement at the end of a reflecting pool doesn’t exactly say “Glory to God” so much as it says “Help! I’m drowning.”


Or, in the fall, “Touchdown!”


2. Ninja Victim Jesus

Some people might be taken aback by the a bit-darker-than-typically-Jewish olive skin tone of this Jesus, or by the frilly lace undergarment he seems to be wearing beneath his royal purple robes. But me? I’m concerned that, in addition to his crucifixion wounds, his head has clearly been pierced by trident-shaped weaponry. Had there been ninjas at the crucifixion, I could have gotten a lot more of my elementary-school friends to visit Sunday School with me.


No idea where this Jesus statue comes from, but that’s OK, because I’m not sure I need to see it in close proximity.


3. Weirdly Overdressed Baby Jesus

Toward the beginning of the 17th century, a statue of the infant Jesus was given to a group of discalced Carmelites in Prague. The donor was a Spanish princess who’d received it as a wedding gift. The Carmelites set it up at their monastery, and performed special devotions to it twice a day until the monastery was plundered in 1631 by a bunch of Lutheran Protestants during the 30 Years War. The statue was thrown into a pile of trash behind the altar, until seven years later it was joyfully rediscovered. Today you can see it at the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague — along with a number of ornate outfits that have been made for it over the years.


Yes. Outfits. According to the stories, this little baby Jesus statue protected Prague during the 30 Years War. And today, those who pray before this statue of baby Jesus can expect blessings, healings, and spiritual favors. So people love this statue, and make clothing for it.

Of course, baby Jesus would have come from a working-class village, and probably wouldn’t have been caught dead in these fancy duds even on the day the Magi arrived. And anyway, there is no way such a wide robe would have fit in the manger. Who puts babies in that kind of twerpy clothing anyway? One leaky diaper and you’ve ruined a good tapestry.

And according to most parenting magazines — and basic physics — you’re not supposed to put gigantic crowns on the heads of infants, especially during those first few months when they have weak little necks. Sheesh.



4. Jesus with Gaping Chest Wound

Look, I’m pretty sympathetic to Catholicism. Have some good friends who are Catholic. Love the Catholic devotional writers like Manning and Nouwen. Really appreciate the Benedictines and am a huge fan of the saints. (The religious ones, though the football team’s OK, too.)

But I’ve never understood the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotional statues and paintings. The hand and feet wounds are disturbing enough. I don’t need Jesus calling my attention to his open chest cavity and the apparently still-beating heart located inside it. Even if that heart is beating for me. And even if mystical light is shining forth out of the aorta and even if the whole thing is surrounded by a tiny little crown of thorns. Because, I’m sorry, that’s weird.


For what it’s worth, the whole Sacred Heart of Jesus devotional theme — which is supposed to call attention to Christ’s love for humanity, and encourages me to show my own love and adoration for him — seems to have begun with a series of visions experienced by Sister Marguerite Marie Alacoque, a mystic French nun in the 17th century.


5. Skateboarding Jesus with No Skateboard


For its 50th anniversary, Our Lady Immaculate and St. Philip Neri Catholic church in England wanted a contemporary-looking statue of Jesus to be placed 100 feet up in the air near the top of the church’s bell tower. So they commissioned a barefoot Jesus who was wearing jeans and a mostly unbuttoned dress shirt to match his artfully unkempt hair and trimmed beard. And also, apparently, he needed to look like he was riding an invisible skateboard. And also, it was windy.

Why? Because the church “wanted a figure of Christ not in suffering but dynamic and welcoming.” And nothing says Welcome to Our Church like a levitating sk8tr boi Jesus in a hurricane.



6. Jesus You Should Take a Step Back From

During a spectacular lightning storm in Rio de Janiero in February 2008, the world’s largest Jesus statue, Christ the Redeemer at the top of Mt. Corcovado, got struck by lightning. Sure, there’s that whole thing about lightning striking the tallest structure in an area, but let’s ignore basic meteorology to get to the confusing theological implications of this event. Like: what does God have against giant Jesus statues, and why?


Question for the crowd: Have you ever seen a Jesus statue you actually liked?

Comments read comments(16)
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posted March 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm

This one was interesting, as it was done to make Jesus look like the people of that culture, rather than the skinny, well-coiffed gent favored in most paintings.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm

The buddy Christ in Dogma was pretty awesome…

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posted March 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

There is one in Waco that has a spotlight on it at night, creating a looming in the dark Jesus.

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Sara Beth Stout

posted March 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I actually just saw that first Jesus drowning last weekend and wanted to take a picture b/c I just couldn't believe it. Who would do that? Anyway, glad to see I'm not the only one that thought it was weird!

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posted March 1, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I actually liked the weeping Jesus at the OKC Bombing Memorial. While not part of the offical memorial, it sits on the site of the Catholic Church Rectory that was destroyed. While some people differ on it's meaning, my impression was Jesus weeping for the great tradgedy that happened there. It was very powerful.

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Maria D. @ DownrightDomesticity

posted March 1, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Although I thought the Weeping Jesus statue at OKC was beautiful, I couldn't shake the nagging thought, "Facepalm!"My alma mater had a really cool life-sized bronze statue of Jesus sitting on a bench in the campus garden. Wish I could find a picture!

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Matt @ The Church of No People

posted March 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Christ of the Ozarks is pretty creepy looking. If you don't know what I mean, give him a Google. You'll see. I only wish there was an elevator inside ride to the top.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 6:14 pm

In early 1994 I was near the end of a whirlwind tour of the world, literally. And in the last few weeks of that trip we stopped at the unfinished "La Sagrada Familia" church in Barcelona. Antonio Gaudi's work isn't exactly for me, but as I recall there is a sculpture garden with the stations of the cross on one side of that massive church. The statue of the "scourging at the pillar" was very moving and powerful for me. I tried to find my journal entry for that date since i was sure I would have written about it, but there is nothing – after several months on the road I didn't write much at all about those last few weeks. I think I was most moved because it presented the reality of that whipping, what it may have felt like and thus a real demonstration of Jesus' tangible suffering for the freedom of humankind. Not sure if you allow links here or not, but here's the URL of one photo of it that I found on flikr You can only see part of it, but it gives an idea.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm

if i could post a picture of a Jesus statue i would. last year i went to Oaxaca Mexico and visited some cathedrals, and saw some disturbing images of Jesus. One where He is in a glass casket (well saw that one 3 times in different locations), one with little tokens all around Him on the cross, and a creepy baby doll that was suppose to be Jesus. there is some parade where everyone dresses up their baby Jesus' and marches them down the street. so disturbing.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 10:54 pm

aparently, Drowning Jesus was also a fan of THE Ohio State University:

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Tess Mallory

posted March 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Extremelyyyy interesting. Amazing how the world can view Christ inside their imaginations. I remember the poster from the 70s of Jesus laughing. For some reason it disturbed me. I think I could have handled Jesus smiling, but this was big guffaw picture. I don't know why it bothered me. I bet Jesus has a great sense of humor. He'd have to, to love me. :))thanks JB!Tess

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posted March 2, 2010 at 9:24 am

There's a statue of jesus in front of the administration building at notre dame. With outstretched arms, he's facing the golden dome that has a gold statue of mary. The inscription says "venite ad me omnes," which is often translated as "jump, mom, I'll catch you."Notably, the statue was broken by a falling limb during a wind storm around good friday 1995. There was a lot of speculation about whether the statue would return by easter. I don't think he made it.

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posted March 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

We have one that we call the Surfing Jesus in Corpus Christi. What is even better is the verse that they have listed does not go with the statue!

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Katherine Laine

posted March 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm

My first thought was of a song by Sawyer Brown called 800 Pound Jesus where the artist talks about finding an 8ft tall statue of Jesus at a garage sale. Classic."An 800 pound Jesus / A bigger man than you or me"

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posted March 4, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Ok…I'm so happy that you mentioned the gapping chest wound Jesus because my grandmother has a picture of this in her house, in the guest room where I always used to stay the night when visiting. It scared me as a kid, and then I always felt guilty because I didn't like it. :) Thanks for the laughs. My husband and I were rolling as we read all of the funny comments on the statues.

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Sarah Elizabeth

posted March 9, 2010 at 12:38 am

Seriously. The first one keeps my family going every time we make the long trek from Florida to Michigan.

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