October 21, 2017

Big Butter Jesus, Part Two

Editor’s note: Many were offended earlier this week when Chaplain Mike wrote about the statue outside of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio burning down. Chaplain Mike referred back to a quote from John Piper, and some were upset that we would dare to touch the “third rail” by being even slightly critical of Piper. The comments got rather heated and offensive. If you were offended by Chaplain Mike’s post on Tuesday, you will not want to read this post. Skip this one entirely. It is guaranteed to make you think.

I was traveling on Tuesday when I heard the news that lightning struck Big Butter Jesus and burned it to the ground. I laughed so hard I could hardly see the road. I laughed until I cried. How is it that I could laugh at tragedy? Well, if you had ever seen that monstrosity, you may not have considered it a tragedy. People referred to the statue of Jesus rising up out of the water, hands raised into the air, as Big Butter Jesus after the lyrics of song by Heywood Banks. It looked like one of those butter sculptures you see at the state fair. And being right by one of the busiest interstate highways in the nation, lots of people got to see Big Butter Jesus every day.

Was there anything wrong with a statue of Jesus in front of this church? Well, again, I though it was a very poor work of art. But art is very subjective. You might be reading this now and saying, “Wow, Dunn, if this is the best you can write, maybe you ought to stick to lawn care or some other profession.” There is no accounting for taste. Just because I say it is a poor work of art does not mean that needed to burn down.

Or maybe I was laughing along with the majority of residents of southwest Ohio who found Big Butter Jesus (sweet cream Jesus) to be more than just a little embarrassing.

“So, where do you live?”

“In Monroe.”

“Oh, near Big Butter Jesus?”

Sigh…

Really, the reason I laughed so hard was I now know what Michael Spencer’s duties are in Heaven. He is now in charge of lightning strikes in the Tri-State (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky) region. And—wow!—did he get accurate quickly.

Seriously, let’s look to see if there really is a problem with a sixty-two foot tall statue of Jesus that looks like it was made from butter. Are we warranted to make fun of Solid Rock Church in their loss?

There was the predictable outcry from many who said the money used to build Big Butter Jesus (unsalted Jesus) could have been used to help the poor. I was barely past St. Louis on Tuesday when I got a text from someone saying, “Instead of spending money to rebuild the statue, why can’t they help me put food on my table for my family and help me pay my past-due bills?” The original cost to build Big Butter Jesus (tastes just like Jesus) in 2004 was estimated at $250,000. That money would be better off put to use to help poor people—or, at least, that was the cry of many in the days after the fire. I seem to recall a vaguely-similar cry by some people who hung out with Jesus, something about a waste of a resources when the money could have been used to help the poor.

6Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon, a man who had suffered from a skin disease.7While Jesus was sitting there, a woman went to him with a bottle of very expensive perfume and poured it on his head.

8The disciples were irritated when they saw this. They asked, “Why did she waste it like this?9It could have been sold for a high price, and the money could have been given to the poor.”

10Since Jesus knew what was going on, he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me. 11You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me with you. 12She poured this perfume on my body before it is placed in a tomb. 13I can guarantee this truth: Wherever this Good News is spoken in the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:6-13, Gods’s Word).

Why is it we like to play the “poor” card when it deals with our disapproval of the way money is spent? And note that it does not matter how much money is involved. This was a “very expensive perfume,” but did that really matter? Don’t you get the idea that it could have been the equivalent of Aqua Velva and the disciples would still have grumbled? What was their real beef? Could it have been that they were just upstaged by a woman? Here they were, the closest friends of Jesus, the ones who hung with him day and night, and yet a woman has to come to honor Jesus and prepare him for his coming burial. Perhaps the disciples were just trying to cover their embarrassment of the fact that they had just been schooled by a girl. Time to wave the money flag to take the attention away from themselves. But Jesus is having none of that.

“You’re always going to have the poor around,” he says to them. “But you aren’t always going to have me here. This woman has done a beautiful thing for me—what she has done is honoring to me.”

Are we really hearing what I think we are hearing? Is Jesus really saying that it is more important to honor him then it is to care for the poor? This is big stuff if we are reading this right. Many of us would say that we honor Jesus in the act of caring for the poor, and I believe this to be right. So how could this act—an apparently wasteful act—honor Jesus more than helping the poor?

First of all, it was a sacrificial act. This spikenard perfume was very valuable, and it was just dumped on Jesus. All of it. She couldn’t have reserved any if she wanted to as she broke the vessel that contained the perfume. Her intent was to give it all to Jesus, a sacrifice that got his attention, but not that of the disciples. Jesus saw this as an act of love, the disciples saw a waste of a valuable resource. To Jesus, there is no waste when we are acting out of love, especially love for him.

Secondly, this was a prophetic act, foretelling the death and burial of Jesus. Spikenard was used to anoint the body before it was placed in a tomb. This woman was anointing Jesus for his burial, something Jesus did not take lightly. Why would he? Jesus did not come to teach us how to care for the poor, or to teach us anything else for that matter. He came to pay our debt. He came to destroy the works of darkness by dying on the cross. We cannot forget this, for if we do, we are simply followers of another empty religion. Name for me a religion that does not urge us to care for the poor. Jesus is saying that this woman “gets it.” She understood that Jesus had to die—he came for no other purpose. Again, the disciples were so caught up in the practical and processes and procedures that they missed the prophetic.

Finally, this was the actions of an artist. It was, if you will, performance art. This woman in the act of pouring spiced perfume on Jesus was acting out the suffering he was enduring and would endure. She broke the alabaster jar—valuable in itself—signifying that we are to be broken and emptied out before Jesus. She used spikenard, a healing oil that was used not only to treat skin disease (note they were eating at the home of Simon the Leper, presumably a man healed of leprosy–perhaps by Jesus?), but also emotional trauma of deep sorrows. The healing oil was poured out on the Man of Sorrows himself. Art is always subjective and most often misinterpreted and misunderstood by those who observe it. This did not seem to bother the woman who went through with her performance even as the disciples whined and gasped at her act.

Jesus understood. He got it. And he proclaimed that this performance would be remembered for all time to come. It was the performance of a lifetime, offered for one show only, before a very small and unappreciative audience. Much art is like this, which is why it is so hard to find artists bold enough to act on their convictions through their art. Ridicule and scorn are bitter paychecks.

So the hue and cry of those who say that Big Butter Jesus should not be rebuilt but instead the money should be used to feed and clothe the poor must be held up in this light: Will rebuilding the statue honor Jesus? Will it be an act of love, or one of pride? Will it somehow show to those with eyes to see the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? And will be it an artistic performance understandable to those who view it?

I can’t answer these questions. I don’t know Lawrence and Darlene Bishop, the pastors of Solid Rock Church. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know anyone who attends that church. It is not up to me to pass judgment on their motives. I have been around many churches that operate in a similar fashion, and could have a pretty accurate guess as to what makes them tick. I certainly have my opinions as to the quality of the art seen in the first Big Butter Jesus. But just because I don’t like something does not make it wrong. If they choose to rebuild Big Butter Jesus, I hope it will be for the right reasons. Sadly, I suspect it won’t be.

Finally, I know that I have decisions to make each day as to what to do with the alabaster jars of spikenard I possess. I can consume them on myself. I can sell them and give the money to poor. Or I can use them to anoint Jesus and risk being called a wastrel, accused of neglecting the really important things of life for this mysterious God I love and chase after. Only I can make my decision, and I then must live with the consequences of my actions. As for me, I pray I will always choose to honor Jesus.

You can now hurl your comments at me. I just ask that when using profanities, please try to spell them correctly.

Comments

  1. Thank you for those comments. I need daily reminding of why Jesus came to earth in the first place. I totally agree.

  2. JoanieD says:

    “Again, the disciples were so caught up in the practical and processes and procedures that they missed the prophetic.”

    Well-stated, Jeff! And this is a great post. I know I struggle myself with the balance of how much we should share or give away to with others. In spite of Jesus defending the woman who poured perfume on him, he also said things like if someone asks for your shirt, give him your cloak too. That’s not something I actually do, at all.

  3. Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says:

    Well, Jeff, that was pretty funny stuff. In my mind, I contrast the art of “Big Butter Jesus” with that cathedral those Presbyterians in Tennessee were building a while back. Both huge, both expensive, but one much more artistic as far as my tastes go.

    I am wondering if #&$*# is spelled with two $’s or just one. I need to know so that I can hurl the proper profanity.

  4. Big “I can’t believe it’s not Jesus” Butter! But seriously, I wasn’t offended by your earlier post. I love the ministry of John Piper, and yet we tread on thin ice when we pronounce “His Voice from the clouds.” Who knows, maybe he was right, maybe wrong. As to Big Butter Jesus, it’s pure Americana plain and simple. Nothing more and nothing less. And in today’s essay you raise very good questions concerning Jesus and how we use our resources. I have no answer of course, but it’s a great question.

  5. Dan Allison says:

    Whenever Christians want to spend an inordionate amount of money on themselves, they always go to Matthew 26 to justify their selfishness and to pretend the money is being spent glorifying Christ. That story is always exploited to rationalize the most ridiculous and unjustifiable extravagances.

  6. All I can say is that it is one thing for that woman to have honor the living, breathing man Jesus with her own perfume and another to construct massive monuments to the man. It seems too much like the statues honoring Greek deities.

    And boy do we like to play the “poor card” (Universal Health Care, anyone?). The arguments against statues of Jesus and megachurches and other heavily funded religious projects (the Vatican – nudge nudge) is not really countered effectively by being Ralphie’s mom and saying to Randy, “Starving kids in China would be happy to have that.”

    The best argument I find against such investments is that God “… is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 1715 NIV). A sober and humble mind towards faith and money is much more effective for any who might have need either materially or spiritually.

    • MWPeak says, “it is one thing for that woman to have honor the living, breathing man Jesus with her own perfume and another to construct massive monuments to the man. It seems too much like the statues honoring Greek deities.

      I agree. And I don’t think the passage about the woman anointing Jesus with perfume is the one to look at. How about instead the ones where the disciples were admiring the temple? And then God let it get torn down by the Romans? (and before that, the Babyonians…)

      Mark13: ‘And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”‘ (see also Matt24 and Luke21)

      We are allowed to laugh at this thing getting fried. After all, they built it out of styrofoam (did they have any idea how flammable styrofoam is??? And invite the lightning with a steel skeleton? Over a pool of water?

      Monument to stupidity, not to Jesus. As well as an artistic monstrosity, but we’re not going to settle that one here. (It’s just that it looks like it came out of a Christian bookstore, and scaled up a few hundred times to nail the point home…whatever that was…)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        We are allowed to laugh at this thing getting fried. After all, they built it out of styrofoam (did they have any idea how flammable styrofoam is??? And invite the lightning with a steel skeleton? Over a pool of water?

        As the guy over at Scottieriology pointed out:

        1) Giant statue in the lightning storm-swept flatlands of Ohio.
        2) With two big upraised lightning rods.
        3) Made out of COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL.

        It was only a matter of time…

        • I think it was you who directed me to Scotteriology, which is where I got that info. He also has a good video collage with Heyward Banks’ song. Makes me want to become a country fan. Very well done song and in good taste too.

  7. dumb ox says:

    I would be careful about ridiculing the “Solid Rock” folks too much. It’s always funny until it’s your own equivalent of “Butter-Jesus” that is burning to the ground.

    I really think you have the right take on this: art which points us to Christ and gospel is worth it. But the iconoclasts of the reformation thought they were ridding the world of religious art which did not point to Jesus, resulting in desecration of ancient and priceless works of Christian art.

    I think about the epiphany I recently had while praying in a Catholic church, gazing upon the large, wooden altar crucifix. Everything I need to know about God was depicted in that work of art: a God who suffers, feels pain, experiences loss, who humbles Himself to the point of humiliation, feels utter abandonment; a God who dies, and a God who defeated the greatest darkness by passing through it. I often hear about people who don’t believe in a God who would allow them to feel pain. I wish I could share that epiphany with them, that when you suffer, you want to know a God exists who knows personally and first-hand about the worse kind of suffering – rather than a shiny-happy God safely hiding away in heaven.

  8. Denise Spencer says:

    Wow. This one didn’t go anyplace I expected it to. Thanks for surprising us, Jeff.

    Butter statues? I haven’t been to a state fair in a long time. I just remember the corndogs…

    I have, though, also wondered if Simon the Leper was healed by Jesus. If so, it seems as if he would have had more of a clue. In Luke’s account (ch. 7), Simon himself is the one who (mentally, not verbally) questions the woman’s actions. Interesting note: In Luke’s gospel the Simon of the story is a Pharisee. Luke adds the dimension of gratitude for forgiveness on the woman’s part. “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much…”

    And “performance art?” Now that was original. I’ll never again read this story quite the same way. That’s a good thing. On the other hand, I just listened to that song, so now I may not get to sleep tonight. That’s not a good thing. “Oleo Lord….”

  9. Well, Denise and Jeff, I finally went and listened to the song about Big Butter Jesus. It was pretty funny. “Sweet cream Jesus” and all. But you know, there likely was a lot of people that loved that statue and maybe every time they drove by it, they said a little prayer or at least remembered that Jesus was with them to help them navigate through this world. So to all of them, I say, “Sorry your Jesus statue burned up.”

    Hey, in Maine we have two big carvings of Native American men, two big Paul Bunyans and one blue ox belonging to Paul Bunyan. Ted may be able to recall some other “big” statue-type of things that we have. There MUST be a big lobster somewhere that I am forgetting about. I live inland, so am not as familiar with the coast though I DO love the coast and am heading to Boothbay Harbor for the day. I don’t know what our largest Jesus statue would be. Lots of Catholic Churches have statues out front, but I can’t think of any enormous ones. Yup, I am getting off-topic again. Time to go to bed and I didn’t get to read any of Michael’s book except for the first few pages. My hubby wanted me to watch a movie with him. It started out looking really dumb, but then made us laugh and did have redeeming qualities to it: “Role Models.” It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, for sure. But we laughed and that’s good.

    • Jonathan Blake says:

      I’m just shocked that you have huge Paul Bunyan and Blue Ox statues in Maine. Is that where he’s supposedly from? If so that’s not where I imagined him being in the stories….

      Again thank you Jeff for taking this post somewhere I never expected and revealing something valuable to us.

      • JoanieD says:

        Hi Jonathan. I think Minnesota may be the State that really claims Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox. but I think he is beloved in Maine because Maine is such a forested state and thrived on logging its trees for years. There is still a lot of logging going on here. It’s not quite as “romantic” without log drives down the rivers and all, but the forests of Maine still provide a living for thousands. The statues are in Bangor (I think) and Rumford. The Blue Ox is also in Rumford, but separated from Paul so that people will go to the downtown section of Rumford and maybe go shopping! I love the Paul statue, but I have to agree with the critics of the new Blue Ox that it’s pretty ugly. Bad color of blue. And he’s nowhere near the size he would be if his size matched that of the story.

    • Melanie says:

      We have a big crayfish (lobster) in Kingston SE (South Australia). It has a great fish and chip shop at the bottom. Would anyone mourn its loss if it burnt down? Probably. Its a long way between distractions traveling here.

      I admit I really don’t understand mourning for the loss of a large, inanimate, emotionless, loveless and perishable statue (and unattractive) even if it did remind you of some aspect of your faith. I find the fleeting moments the ones where my faith gets perspective. I don’t need a statue. A child giggling, a storm approaching or looking through my telescope tells me more.

      • FollowerOfHim says:

        Melanie:

        I gather (through the amusing Yank-goes-down-under account of Bill Bryson in his In a Sunburnt Country) that this sort of attraction is a) common in Australia, and b) does in fact save one’s sanity in driving long distances.

        I vaguely recall his having stopped somewhere in Australia (NSW, I think) to have a look at one of these attractions. It seems to have been built on a bovine theme and involved a bull that was, ahem, more anatomically accurate than one might have been expecting, including, as it did, pendulum-type effects that the viewer could set in motion with a no-doubt photo-worthy shove.

        Or maybe it was actually this lobster, with anatomical caution thrown to the hot, burning winds of the Outback….

    • I tried to answer this last night but the internet went out!

      Yes, there is a large Paul Bunyan in Bangor, Maine, former lumber capital of the world. Paul Bunyan belongs here, not Minnesota. They kidnapped him.

      No big lobster statues that I know of. That would be tacky. Well, that means there MUST be one somewhere.

      Two statues I know of honoring native Americans: one in Skowhegan and one in Bar Harbor. The one in Bar Harbor was donated to the town by the sculptor, who was trying to place one in each of the 50 states. His statue for Maine was of Glooscap, a legendary figure. It was placed on Rt 3 just entering Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor, but when it came time for repairs the town officials were going to scrap it, so it was enthusiastically adopted by a businessman and moved down the road a ways after renovation. Still available to the public, and it’s really a nice piece of work, no matter what the officials thought.

      • Ted, there is another large statue or carving of a Native American man. It’s in Freeport.

  10. “For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matthew 26:12-13 KJV).

    • It seems wheresoever the Gospel is blogged in the whole world, this lightning strike has been told for a memorial to Touchdown Jesus. There just seem to be some Christians for whom no Christian T-shirt, no Christian bumper sticker, no Christian artwork, no Christian film, no Christian music, no Christian Gospel tract, no Christian witness, no Christian exhibition of any kind is ever good or good enough.

      • Well said!

        I am reminded of a story I heard told by one of the members of the (Christian) band Salvador. When they were working on their album “So Natural,” they actually got a call from the writer of the song “Heaven” asking if they would like to put it on the album. The writer thought it would be a good fit for Salvador’s style.

        But Salvador started to wonder if they should use the song. It was originally written for and recorded by the country band Los Lonely Boys. Not only was it secular music, it would be Salvador’s first cover of a song on an album. But they liked the song. What to do?

        When the Salvador member was talking with his father (a pastor) about this decision, the father said, “Do you think that recording this song could positively influence one person to turn towards Jesus? If so, record it.” With that, the decision was made. The song was recorded. And I think it turned out very nicely (not that I ever disliked the LLB version).

        Art meant to praise God should be encouraged. If you don’t like it personally, so be it. But don’t hate somebody for following their heart.

        • I don’ t like the logic of that story because it throws the door wide open to superficiality for the cause of winning people to Jesus. And personally, I find authenticity a higher pursuit than converting lots of people…

          Are we supposed to assume that the artist was following his heart, or should there be a depth to the work that suggests that? I’m no art critic, but that statue shouts to me “there’s no substance here, so we thought we’d make up for it in grandiosity.” Not that it’s true about those people, but that’s what I would think every time I saw that statue. Subjective judgment, sure, but at one time there was a standard for judging such things in art….I’m not really sure how it was arrived at, and I guess that’s part of the great 20th century art debate.

  11. Jeff, I agree with the heart of your post. I remember having similar conversations about this very NT passage when a very large and ornate pipe organ was donated to my seminary’s chapel. Many were the (self-righteous?) grumblings among the student body about how the money should have been given to help the homeless. It was only after a rather firm rebuke from a wise professor (from this very passage) that the furor seemed to die down.

    Still, may I quibble with what is, admittedly, a secondary (or even tertiary) part of your post? You said: “Well, I though[t] it was a very poor work of art. But art is very subjective.”

    Yes, art is very subjective… but I don’t think it should be–especially among Christians. There is such a thing as good art and bad art–art that testifies with excellence to truth and beauty (both of which are defined by the God we worship) and art that doesn’t. So, I think its right and fair for Christians to distinguish between good art and bad art, whether in music, painting, poetry, dance, film, architecture, or sculpture. In fact, I think its something we don’t do enough of. Not only do American evangelicals (my people!) seem chronically unable to appreciate good art, but they also do very little to nurture its creation (not to mention their seeming inability to distinguish art from propaganda and kitsch).

    All this is to say, I do not make light of the sadness and shock experienced by the people of Solid Rock Church at the destruction of their sculpture. At the same time, I do not hesitate to say that it was (and will be, if they rebuild it the same way) bad art. I pray that the planners and artist(s) involved in the re-building project would not only have good hearts that seek to worship Christ with their work, but also the depth of insight to recognize what kind of craftsmanship will produce art that reveals (in limited form, of course) the truth and beauty of our Creator.

    Thanks again for your good thoughts, Jeff. Personally, I appreciated both “takes” on the issue here at IMonk.

    • OK, so I don’t really intend this to be a personal attack, but I think we have to be careful when trying to judge “good art,” as you put it, “art that testifies with excellence to truth and beauty….”

      Doesn’t the Bible tell us to “make a joyful noise?” It doesn’t say “sing a beautiful, lyrical song.”

      In my opinion, God isn’t looking at the “outside” of my art any more than he looks at the “outside” of my heart. God looks at the intent of my actions, and if my actions involve art, he looks at the output as a reflection of the input, that is, my motivation and emotion.

      If I write the most beautiful song that includes words of praise and hope, but I do it because I want to sell it and make money for myself, is that “good art”? If I write a poem that lacks meter, includes poor word choice, and has muddled understanding, but I do it purely out of love for my savior, is that “good art”?

      So as for judging “good art” or “bad art,” I will try to chose to surround myself with art I want to experience every day. If that isn’t BBJ, then that is fine. But if someone else wants to praise God by constructing a statue, regardless of how it looks when done, I should be happy that they are praising God. If I don’t want to look at it, I am welcome to turn my eyes.

      But God will judge based upon the heart behind the “joyful noise,” regardless of how it sounds to my ears. And who am I to stand in the way of someone else’s praise and worship?

      • sigh

        • Chaplain Mike, I hope your sigh wasn’t directed at me! 🙂

          Jay, I’m afraid we’re not understanding each other. I’m not talking about the acceptability of a piece of art to God as an offering of worship (or, “joyful noise,” as you said). I agree that my child’s finger painting is as acceptable to God as the Mona Lisa, provided both are offered with a heart eager to worship the Creator. (And, I must say that I personally prefer to see my child’s painting to the Mona Lisa any day of the week!)

          But, what I’m talking about making a determination, as human beings situated in culture and civilization, that something is good art or bad art, art that reflects the true and the beautiful and art that does not. A person without a heart devoted to God can create something true and beautiful, despite the fact that they do not know the One who is those things. And, based upon such factors as natural skill, giftedness, etc, such a person can do a better job than one whose heart is devoted to God.

          Obviously, God still will be blessed by the creation offered by the heart worshiping him. But, the testimony to God’s truth and beauty will be carried out most fittingly by the more gifted artist. (Hence, Moses didn’t assign the most fervent craftsman to work on the tabernacle, but the most gifted [Ex 31:6].) And, it is these enduring reflections of God’s goodness and good creation that will be gathered into the New Jerusalem as the “glory and honor of the nations” at the new creation (Rev 21:26).

          Certainly, the discussion about what exactly qualifies something as “good art” is ongoing (constituting the entire field of aesthetics), but I think some issues are pretty easily settled, by thoughtful Christians and cultural observers generally (i.e., propaganda and kitsch vs. real art, as I said in my first post). I humbly request that my fellow evangelicals be more attentive to these things.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        All I can thinkg of re Jay is what local SF litfans said back in the Eighties:

        “IT’S GOTTA BE CHRISTIAN — LOOK HOW SHODDY IT IS!”

        • Sigh…how true that is.

          LOUD SIGH…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I remember something in the Bible about “A righteous man is vexed,” something about “vexation of the Righteous.” Someone told me this was a common theme in Proverbs or some of the prophets.

            All I can say is “Good thing neither of us are drinking men.”

        • I have this strange vision of the Pieta draped in felt banners.

  12. “Fascist architecture of my own design
    Too long been keeping my love confined
    You tore me out of myself alive

    Those fingers drawing out blood like sweat
    While the magnificent facades crumble and burn
    The billion facets of brilliant love
    The billion facets of freedom turning in the light

    Bloody nose and burning eyes
    Raised in laughter to the skies”

    -Bruce Cockburn

  13. Louis Winthrop says:

    Oh! So it’s Big BUTTER Jesus! To think I’ve been mis-pronouncing it all these years…

  14. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    Jeff and Chaplin Mike – this statue, while in bad taste art wise and probably wrong in motive too, is quite similar to an item that can also be seen along I75 up at the exit for the Big South Fork Rec area here in Tennessee or for the locals, the Huntsville/Oneida (pronounced Oh-ni-duh here) exit. Just before you get to the exit as you’re headed north there is a huge white cross that was put up by a church in the area there and interestingly it’s on a road that leads to one of the biggest adult entertainment hang outs you can imagine – they get a lot of semi-truck traffic amongst other things. Additionally, the adult hang out’s land borders up against the land the cross sits on I do belive.

    What’s funny is that that huge, gigantic cross has acomplished nothing in terms of curbing the traffic going down the road to the adult hangout. I travel quite a bit in my pipe organ rep job and every time I come down I75 on the way home in the evenings the place is packed and running over and everyone of them has to pass right underneath that huge cross. I find this absolutely hilarious in the sense that I can image the sermons preached with scortching anger – hell fire and brimstone towards the place and the people that frequent the place yet the adult place is packed out and the church building is probably half full or less on any given Sunday if it’s typical of most chuches these days. If they intended to limit people going to the adult hangout or even shut it down – it hasn’t worked and probably not going to and much to the church’s frustration (I would think) the truckers and others frequenting the adult establishment seem to have no issue driving under/past the cross as they go to and from the place.

    That huge metal cross is probably as tall and wide as the jesus sculpture that was struck by lightening and is equally odd in where it sets and I suppose the motive of the church that put it up was probably similar to the church in Ohio – I think both missed it. Next time I’m traveling up that way I’ll snap a photo and post it – really is an intersting situation.

    • They have to pass under the cross in order to get to the “adult entertainment” establishment? That will preach, my brother. That right there will preach.

  15. I met Darlene Bishop, who co-pastors Solid Rock Church (the home of “Touchdown Jesus”) with her Husband in Mason Ohio.

    I and several others toured one her “outreach ministries” on the church’s campus several years ago as part of a ministry with which I was involved . It was interesting. The facility is lovely and well-equipped. We also met one or two of the staff as well as some of the folk to whom they were ministering.

    There are a couple of impressions I took away from the time I spent there: 1) the huge professional photographic portrait, on the beautiful, elaborate, elegant easel, of Darlene Bishop in the foyer of the facility (this ministry is named in her honour) b) her testimony about this ministry and iii) the actual demographics of the ministry and how it’s run.

    :sigh:

    There is no doubt in my mind as to the reasoning behind the statute being built in the first place…much less when and how quickly it will be rebuilt.

  16. Never even heard about “Touchdown Jesus” aka “Lower-Priced Table Spread Jesus” before. This reminds me of the Weird Al Yankovik song, “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnee-so-taaaa”!

    Lightning strike. Unbelievable… The irony is devastating. In the old days, wouldn’t we have taken this as a sign of Divine displeasure?

    I guess it took the good Lord 6 years to stop laughing long enough to accurately direct the lighning.

    (Sorry. Back to lurking.) 8-}

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This reminds me of the Weird Al Yankovik song, “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnee-so-taaaa”!

      Which actually exists.

      Like Big Butter Jesus on one level, an expression of kitsch that can only be classified under “Americana”. Kind of crazy in a “What were they thinking?” manner.

  17. From a purely practical point of view I suspect there is almost always something more useful to spend money on than the gifts of candy or jewelry or trinkets that we buy for loved ones. For the price of a dozen roses a guy could buy a pretty big bag of rice to feed the poor. One could say the same about the dear lady who leaves money in her will to buy a new stained glass window for the church or for a fountain or some other beautification project. But we know that just as the woman poured out the expensive perfume, these are gifts of love.

    Now, in my opinion, we are talking about a vastly different thing when a preacher stands before the congregation and says to let the Spirit guide you to dig deep in your wallet because this new building project is Kingdom building. And then when the building project costs much more than projected, let the Spirit guide you to dig deep in those nearly empty wallets once again. Then when the church is running a deficit of $30,000 a month because it is trying to pay off a building three times the size the church could possibly use, give and give until the wallets are empty. Even though this building, the source of so much pride for the pastor who has a beautiful monument to show off, quickly decides that new fences must be put up to keep the riff-raff out. (I have no idea how he persuaded the congregation that new fences were Kingdom building.)

    Gifts of love and gifts to feed a pastor’s ego are vastly different thing.

    As to the statue, just as the sun shines on the good and wicked, as the does the rain, lightning tends to strike tall objects with metal frames.

    • What I’m saying is that churches should lead by example in the ways they spend the congregation’s money. It’s not about how it could have been better spent on the poor, because the poor may be the very ones digging into those wallets for one last dollar.

  18. “some were upset that we would dare to touch the “third rail” by being even slightly critical of Piper” Third rail – Nice, and so true!

  19. Slight tangent….

    I do feel the world will be saddened at the loss of the big statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro if it, too, were struck by lightning or fell as the consequence of a major earthquake.

  20. If the lightning strike was due to bad taste, Thomas Kinkade had better not set foot outdoors ever again.

  21. Cincygirl says:

    Say what you will about “Touchdown Jesus”, and let it be known, only posers refer to our favorite graven image as “Big Butter Jesus”. Here in the Cin-Day corridor he is always Touchdown Jesus! 🙂

    But for an entire week this town talked about nothing else. Talk radio, office water cooler, church meetings and neighbors watching the kids play while having a beer….ole TJ was the topic of the day.

    As my husband just said a couple of hours ago, 30% of the people loved him, 30 % hated him but it was the other 40%, the ones who wanted to know what you thought…priceless.

    Funny local comments included some of my favorite: Give the insurance money to the poor, just toss a big, old bed sheet over the remains and make him the Holy Ghost.

    Rebuild him and add John, Peter, and Paul so Buckeye fans are happy: O-H-I-O

    And as I said: How are those of us who live near Kings Island suppose to give the tourists directions to Trader’s World now? ” If you pass Touchdown Jesus, you went too far!” Is it ok for Christians to give directions using the other landmark at that exit?The Hustler Store???