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Wide White: Religious symbolism

Friday, May 06, 2011

Religious symbolism

Every time I see a crucifix I cringe. I hate to see the image of Jesus hanging on a cross in agony. It seems an awful thing to celebrate and I have no desire to have a religious symbol that focuses my attention on that moment in Jesus' life.

However, I don't have a problem with a simple cross. Sure, the cross was a deadly, awful instrument of death. But it's empty. There's no body hanging on it. It symbolizes the death that took place and yet its emptiness reminds us of the resurrection that also took place.

I like to think I embrace faith more than religion, though the two are certainly related. I'm not a very symbolic person though. I don't tend to find comfort in tangible things.

Is there religious symbolism that bothers you? Is there symbolism that you embrace?

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7 Comments:

OpenID secretsofawannabehousewife declared,

It's no secret to people who know me that I'm an atheist. Even still, I hate seeing religious symbols commercialized in ridiculous ways. Two things off the top of my head: 1. A cross covered with Easter eggs as a wall or door hanging. 2. Candy or cake molds in the shape of a cross.

Despite that, I do get a kick out of the "knock offs" of the Jesus fish on cars. Some of them can be quite clever, and to me that isn't as.... Serious(?) a symbol as the cross.

5/06/2011 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

A crucifix, even with Jesus, is simply a stark reminder that very religious people are still just as awful as the next person. I wish we'd use it as a reminder of our faults rather than a "celebration" and that this reminder would be realized the way it was originally intended.

5/06/2011 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Chet declared,

I don't even know about the cross. It isn't that big of a deal to me, but I did hear a message preached once out in Wyoming about it, and it was very interesting. Jesus was murdered. Hanging a cross around your neck is the same as hanging a small machine gun around your neck. Or an electric chair around your neck.

When it is put in that light, I'm a little more hesitant to accept a cross for religious symbolism. The cross was the means used to execute my saviour in the most excruciating way possible. I'm not sure I want to hang that around my neck.

5/06/2011 8:36 AM  
Blogger Keithslady declared,

I'm with Chet on this one. I'm not offended or make a big deal of someone wanting the cross symbol, but I think like he does. Never thought of the gun or chair, but instead I think of a noose and can't imagine hanging that around my neck--in any sense.

5/06/2011 9:22 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

@secretsofawannabehousewife, I'm totally with you on the chocolate crosses. Weird!

@Chet/Keithslady, I used to think about the cross as being the equivalent of the modern-day electric chair too. It doesn't really bother me any more, though I don't exactly have crosses hanging on the walls of my house or around my neck. The cross has been in use by the Christian church since at least the 2nd century and it's not going away any time soon.

5/06/2011 9:58 AM  
Blogger Jamie declared,

This subject reminds me of my time in eastern Europe where there were a lot of Orthodox Christians and churches. I thought the art work (usually icons)everywhere was really ugly and gaudy until they were further explained to me. Often times each color used in an icon had a special meaning that was supposed to lead the viewer into further understanding and worship of God. However, if the viewer doesn't understand the meaning behind a symbol, it's nothing more a form of art. So, I guess I would say I'm fine with symbolism if it leads to worship and that is something that someone on the outside isn't likely capable of discerning.

5/06/2011 4:43 PM  
Blogger Kara Jo declared,

Enjoying the comments from this post. In agreement with pretty much everything. Secretsofawannabehousewife, chuckling at your #1--and agreed. Cheesy, too. Ack.

To be honest, I kind of cringe sometimes when I see the fish symbol on cars--especially when those cars are being obnoxious on the road. Really--please don't announce that you're a Christian if you're not going to act like one--you do more damage than good with your symbol and give those wanting to live with integrity a bad name. My two cents. Oh, and that said, can't say I like the "knock off" fish with legs symbols any better as they're intended to mock the very faith I hold dear. OK, my four cents...

5/06/2011 9:16 PM  

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