Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Would Jesus Have A Nipple Ring?

I had kind of an odd moment while shopping at a local mall. It wasn't a bad event but it was something that opened my eyes to a creative new clothing medium. The fact that it took so long for me to realize what was going while in the store that I have to admit to thinking that this was a very brilliant version of a kind of viral marketing that you don't tend to see in the world of religion.

Most of the time walking around the mall was spent walking past most of the stores without a strong need to go in. It wasn't until I saw a very interesting looking clothing shop that looked like a Hot Topic. All of the standard displays and colors were prevalent and, for a moment, I thought I was actually in a Hot Topic store. This place was near where they used to have a store so all I could think of was that they just moved the store from one place to another.

Upon entering the store, I poked around the hoodies to see what they had but my friend pointed out a tshirt rack nearby. She held up one of the shirts that had "I *heart* JC" on it. Picture the classic New York City shirt and you'll understand. We looked at it for a moment before speaking.

"Do you know what the 'JC' means?" she asked.

My reply was, "Do they mean the guy from NSync?"

She gave me a quick look of confusion.

"Maybe Jesus Christ?" I stated.

We kind of looked at each other for a moment and then kind of walked around the general area. It was only at that point that I started to read what was written on the hoodies that I had been looking at. All of them had all manner of Biblical text on them. My brain took it's time hitting the final realization and it didn't go all the way until I scanned the large board near the front door with all of the car decals for sale on it. The last choice? The 29th Psalm. Trust me when I say that you'd need a pretty large rear window to fit all of it on it.

My friend walked over to me and we just kind of looked at each other in an odd mix of understanding and confusion. I went into the store expecting a Hot Topic experience and this wasn't what I thought that I'd find. We headed out of the store and then looked up at the store masthead which read "NOTW" in neon. A quick scan of the window displays gave us the full name of "Not Of This World". A momentary pause for complete realization was followed by walking away to go to the store that I had intended.

This whole event left me laughing at how amazingly brilliant I thought that the creator of that store was. Until I took the time to totally scan the whole place and pay close attention to the details of what was being sold, I never even knew that I was in what amounted to an alternative Christian clothing store. I've been so used to going into a store that looked like that for my "alternative clothing" store that I had no clue of the whole story until I had been in there for a couple minutes.

All of this led to me thinking about what Jesus would think about something like that. The art in most of the Biblical paintings and films make Jesus seem like the world's first hippie but most of the religious scholars are carrying around the idea of Jesus being this figure of the establishment. If you go by their views, it's really hard to think of Jesus rocking a hoodie and baggy pants while listening to Jars Of Clay. Their version would never be seen like that and might not even associate with them at all.

If you actually read the Bible and don't force your own ideas of belief onto the text, the personality of Jesus is really not the establishment at all. What his words seem to be saying is about the idea of acceptance and trying to bring in as many people as they could. The only feelings of dislike that can be found tend to come from Jesus reacting to the evils of people like the moneylenders. He spent more time with the people that would both then and now be considered the dregs of existence, like the homeless, prostitutes, and the sick, than he did with the ruling elite.

The creation of the store might be a way to prostilize in a new way to a younger audience but I'd have to give it a compliment just for the idea alone. Any group that requires their members to be as bland and regimental as the current religious elite will find that they will quickly find their numbers shrinking and shrinking. It's a benefit to everyone to bring in all of the various different groups and their list of interests. You just need to be careful that you aren't selling off your beliefs to make a trendy buck.


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