A new fashion statement – crucifixion spike jewelry?
A Reuters article from February 20th says, “Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” is ringing up sales for tie-in products ranging from “witness cards” with prayers on them to “nail” pendants that signify the spikes driven through the hands and feet of Jesus Christ….Along with the cards, [a] company is selling a cross pendant, bracelet and a key ring via the “Passion” Web site and in specialty retailers like Christian bookstores. But it is the nail pendant that is among the best-selling items. “If you see someone wearing a nail, that is really going to cause someone to ask, ‘what is that,” Dwight Robinson said. “It gives the wearer the opportunity to share their faith.”
So, what do we think of this? Before any of us start getting too huffy about other traditions merchandising the sacred, let me tell you about a trip I took to Nauvoo during the temple open house period in 2002.
I traveled from Chicago with some gal pals for a women’s gathering which included attending the temple open house and eating dinner at the Catfish Bend River Boat Casino. An interesting mix. The streets of Nauvoo during that late spring/early summer were festooned with welcoming banners and sidewalk kiosks selling candy, hot dogs, t-shirts and trinkets. I walked by one storefront and saw something in the window that took my breath away: a T-shirt with a profile of Joseph Smith and some of the historic Nauvoo buildings with this motto across it:
I Walked Today Where Joseph Walked.
Obviously this was a morphing of the famous song, “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.” Its lyrics are meant to move us closer to Christ and His, well, passion for us. But here was this outrageous t-shirt doing the very thing other Christians lambaste us for – nearly deifying Joseph Smith. Why do we give them such fodder!? I’m grateful for the prophet, surely, and I’m beholden to the Restoration. But let’s keep First and Last things first.
Maybe it’s my Protestant heritage. I was reared on the understanding that God – The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost – is the ultimate authority. I still believe this. Any humans – however righteous or called they may be – are not divine and to treat them as such rubs raw against Commandment #2 – Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
I knew I had to do something on the streets of Nauvoo. If I bought it – as some kind of witness to a crime – would I in fact be aiding, abetting and funding the (at best) misguided folks who don’t see a problem with the line they have crossed? But could I let something so egregious pass without taking some kind of stand?
I finally decided to buy the image in canvas bag form. In fact, I determined to buy all of Nauvoo’s most disturbing merchandise. (I turned the bag inside out and use it to store these other items.) This decision was with the promise that I would use them as visual aids to discuss the exploitation of the sacred. Here’s my collection to date:
The canvas bag with “I Walked Today Where Joseph Walked” on it.
A key chain with the same motto, including a tiny plastic footprint filled with dirt from Nauvoo
Fingernail clippers with the Nauvoo Temple on them.
Tiny toothpick holder in the shame of a beer stein with the Nauvoo Temple on it.
A shot glass with the Nauvoo Temple on it.
A misting fan with the Nauvoo Temple on it (to cool you in the Mississippi malarial plains?)
Temple trading cards.
A golf ball with the Nauvoo Temple on it – (so you can whack it into the wild blue yonder?)
I have expanded this now to include a Salt Lake Temple shot glass and a battery-operated hamster wearing a missionary suit and “Elder Rodent” name tag with a whirling Book of Mormon. It dances to “Kung-Fu Fighting.” Someone offered me a “Jesus Action Figure” once but that was too far over the line to include in my collection. I have seen the Book of Mormon action figures, the Angel Moroni antenna topper, the CTR faux beanies but somehow they don’t carry the same horrific punch for me.
So just when you think I’m on some snooty, humorless high horse, I’ll confess that on my nightstand is a glow-in-the-dark cross which I treasure. It reminds me of a similar item given to me by a childhood Sunday School teacher. Each night when I go to sleep in the glow of that goofy little souvenir I associate it with God’s love and a teacher’s care. Call me a hypocrite, but to me that’s pretty sacred.