Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#172 Calvin praying at the cross

Bumpers and rear windows across America are rife with stickers of Calvin either peeing or praying. The original Calvin never paused to pray at a cross in any of the Calvin & Hobbes cartoons, but Christian culture has taken it upon itself to concoct such an image and mass-produce it as a bumper sticker.
originalcalvin.JPGThe other stickers show Calvin peeing on such assorted effects as American vehicle manufacturers, Osama bin Laden and NASCAR numbers. Bill Watterson never gave his permission for Calvin & Hobbes stickers to be sold but this hasn’t deterred their production. Calvin didn’t do any territorial/desecratory peeing in the original cartoon either but these bumper stickers are still seen en masse across the red states and in a few blue ones as well.


calvinbl.JPGMaybe Christian culture feels that if Calvin is shown praying instead of peeing then it’s okay to nick his image, since it’s for a good cause. Maybe Calvin is praying forgiveness for pissing on everything. But why Calvin, of all cartoons? Is it a veiled reference to John Calvin? Or a far-fetched reference to C.S. Lewis? Calvin’s mean teacher is named Mrs. Wormwood and Wormwood was a character in The Screwtape Letters and Christian culture reveres C.S. Lewis, but that’s about four degrees of separation and this is getting complicated. Would the person who had the idea to make Calvin-cross-stickers please speak up? We’ll grant you immunity if you’ll just explain yourself.

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posted July 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Haha! These stickers are bountiful in my hometown. I’ve always wondered Calvin’s connection to Christianity. He was quite mischievous. Maybe that made him a good pop-icon figure to represent atonement? Who knew Calvin would be used as a modern day Thomas Aquinas?

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posted July 21, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I remember Christian culture was unusually fond of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons when they first appeared. I remember my dad owning three books of the comic strip. This was before your blog…before blogs in general…but if it was a 2010 invention Christians would probably have liked it. Maybe because it was a kind of 90’s centered hip cartoon when it came out…like a watered down Bart Simpson…borderline adult funny, but innocent because of Calvin’s age and viewpoint.
I’m only speculating of course, but I think that’s why it morphed into an icon for Christians everywhere.

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Rollo Tomassi

posted July 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Hahahah!! The Snark strikes again, too funny. You’ll also notice that both Praying and Peeing Calvin tend only to appear on the backs of large SUVs. Take a moment to look for Calvin on your way out of the Church parking lot this Sunday and count them.
Why Calvin? He’s so much easier to draw than Opus from Bloom County.

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posted July 21, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I can’t find my old Calvin & Hobbes comics but in one of them (The Essential Calvin & Hobbes I think) he talks about this. Calvin was named for John Calvin. Hobbes was named for Thomas Hobbes, “a philosopher with a dim view of human nature”. Mrs Wormwood was indeed named for the character in The Screwtape Letters. Watterson also took the opportunity to state that he’d never licensed Clavin for merchandising and asked his readers not to support those who stole his work.

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posted July 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm

The blurry motivation for such weirdness could be summarized as: when they see something they find offensive, they can’t help but to make a Jesus version. Communication/winning ideology competitions is surely most effectively done via bumper sticker.
We should make an SCCL logo praying at the foot of the cross, eating a Calvin praying at the foot of the cross sticker! Everyone will SURELY understand THAT! Did I just BLOW YOUR MIND?!

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posted July 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Chrissy, AWESOME. Hahahahaha.
I love, love, love the comic strip. I think Christian culture loves it without really getting it…Watterson has a lot to say about love, and a lot to say about the redemption that comes from friendship, and the redemption that comes from an open-eyed view of the world, from being able to see its horror and its hopefulness. There’s a lot mixed in about vivid imagination and the struggle to live in a reality that is often boring and unendurable.
Watterson is pretty good at living in the question in his comic strip…he seems fairly comfortable with avoiding answers. Christian culture, of course, cannot stand this. There must always be an answer. So Calvin, full of mischief, who loves his best tiger friend more than anything in the world and who cries at the death of baby raccoons and rages at the desecration of the beauty of the natural world, well, we can’t let that kid NOT be saved! We have to make a conclusion! We won’t suffer the openness of unanswerable questions!
The pissing Calvins are just as stupid.

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posted July 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Chrissy: consider it blown. Let me add only two words: cardboard & box.
For the record, the pissing Calvins I thought were even stupider. So I always considered the praying Calvins as reactions to the pissing Calvins more than reactions the Calvin & Hobbes strip itself.
Not sure that makes it any better, but it makes me feel better.
Anyone see the decals that have Calvin and/or She-Calvin also praying?
(I love the new captchas: “the crazing”)

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posted July 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Has anyone combined the two versions? Calvin pissing on the cross. With a caption “Don’t steal!”.

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posted July 24, 2010 at 5:13 am

Oh, this isn’t a hard one. Calvin is the perfect representation of the eight year old barbarian an awful lot of white American men sense themselves basically to be on the inside.

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posted July 29, 2010 at 2:14 am

please Please PLEASE don’t forget that WATTERSON NEVER DREW A PEEING CALVIN and that, to quote him, “the only people who have made money from Calvin and Hobbes merchandise are thieves and vandals.”

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posted July 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Maybe Calvin pissing on “Intellectual Property Rights?”

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posted August 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Simply one more example of derivative ripoffs rather then any original creativity. Bill Waterston must have been totally annoyed at first. Now it has become its own cheesy statement. The actual Calvin from which this comes – as in Calvin & Hobbes – would not be caught in that posture at that place. The Calvin (17th century Jean) upon which the character was based might have, but it does violnce to the essence and intent of the character that had sprung from Waterston’s mind. Now what would Hobbes have thought?

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