Wednesday, 10 June 2015
The Changing Image of Jesus
I have had a bit of a hiatus in writing my post. Lorna and I spent a week (five days actually) at the Dream & Spirituality Conference at the Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina. After that we went across country to the East coast with our destination being our cottage in PEI where we are now. We had a bit of a delay getting on-line as the internet wasn’t working and did not cooperate until last night.We have attended the Dream Conference for many years beginning in 2005. We missed that last two years as we were involved with the Spiritual Direction Program offered by the Haden Institute which also runs the Dream Conference. There is a lot I could write about (and perhaps will later) that has happened in the last few weeks but I want to reflect on the image of Jesus which we encountered on our way to the Conference.
One of the landmarks on our trip to Kanuga over the years has been a giant statue of Jesus at the Solid Rock Church near Cincinnati, Ohio on the I-75 interstate. This amazing edifice was (according to my source on the Internet) 52 feet high. It was named the “Touchdown Jesus” due to its arms being raised triumphantly over its head as Jesus bursts from the ground—not the usual depiction of Jesus emerging from the tomb. The 51 feet only cover the upper half of the figure which made if even more impressive. A few years ago we had the interesting news that the statue had been destroyed by fire caused by a lightning strike. A picture of the statue is below and will give you an idea of the figure if not the truly impressive dimensions.
I projected a lot on that image of Jesus and what it might have meant for the understanding of Jesus by the people that attended that church. I must confess I was not too impressed by my impression about this Jesus. Consequently, I was somewhat pleased with the idea that God would not have been too impressed either and perhaps was making that known through the event that destroyed it. However, I also know that we are treading on dangerous ground when we impute God’s will to natural events that match our theology. I think it might be more a case of oversight of perhaps hubris that the creators of the statue did not include a lightning rod in the creation. The last year or two that we drove to Kanuga we were interested (and perhaps a little disappointed) in the lack of a statue at the church. However, this year we were pleasantly surprized when we were greeted with a new statue at the church which was not quite as impressive in size and of a very different Jesus. This statue has been dubbed the “Hug Me Jesus” statue on the internet. It is a full body image of Jesus with his arms outstretched in a position seems to say, “Come unto me”. Below is a picture I found easily on the internet. It is interesting to note that they appear to have included a lightning rod in this statue.It is said that we create not only God but the second person of the Trinity in our own image. Jesus was pictured in Western-European nations as blond haired and blue eyes for many years, if not centuries. I wonder if the change in the new portrayal of Jesus by the Solid Rock Church reflects a change in the understanding by those Christians at the Solid Rock Church of who Jesus is to them.
I think it is wise for each of us to reflect on the internal image of Jesus that we each have and how it reflects on our understanding of who we are called to be as Christians. Blessings
Hug Me Jesus